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The Plutocrat Next Door

The new guy in the unit next door has night terrors. We can hear his screams through the thick new walls of our building. Grandma says that back before the Uprising he was an aluminum tycoon and his factory poisoned the river, killing dozens of people. She says my aunt Tina was born missing a lung because of him and that he deserves to suffer. But I can’t help feeling sorry for him when I see him in the hallway looking all haggard.

His name’s Bob and he works at the Design Complex like I do. I make educational holograms for children in the Young Scientist program; Bob’s a janitor. He wears an old-fashioned suit and tie to work every day, which irks some of the old timers, who say it’s like showing up to the office in military fatigues. I think it’s Bob’s little way of thumbing his nose at the Revolution. Maybe he’s trying to retain some shred of capitalist dignity, but there’s no shame in being a janitor; he makes the same pay I do. Besides, he’ll get his turn to chair the Governing Board just like everyone else in the Collective.

My therapist says many former plutocrats suffer from depression and anxiety. When the Uprising began they expected to be slaughtered in the streets, so it was a letdown when they simply found their bank accounts emptied and their industries expropriated by the Council. All their human needs are now amply taken care of but they had a hard time adjusting. Some will never fully rehabilitate.

Bob mostly keeps to himself, so I was surprised when he paid us a visit at home the other night. He was going door-to-door selling shares in this new venture he concocted, some sort of derivatives scheme indexed to communal crop futures. All speculative financial instruments are outlawed, but I listened because his spirits lightened as he gave his sales pitch.

“If our yield is good this year—and all indicators suggest it’s going to be—you would stand to make a huge return on investment,” he explained, appraising my reaction.

“Sounds great,” I said. “I’m in.”

“Excellent! I’ll draw up the paperwork.”

“Nah, that’s okay. Here, let me give you some money.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yeah, Bob. I trust you.”

I handed him a stack of currency from the broom closet. I haven’t used cash in years.

“You’re making the right decision,” he said, beaming. It was the first time I’d ever seen him smile.

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