Fiction: The Creation of Wealth

November 10, 2017 Fiction , Literature , POETRY / FICTION

Nikola Tasic photo



Ken Poyner



I make a living fashioning spears.  I have my shop at the back of my house, stack my raw materials in a shed just beyond the outhouse.  The shavings and stone flakes left of my industry go into the garden.  Every part of the production chain is accounted for, and my efforts are to the public good.


The overall design of my spears was originally very basic.  I could deliver varying lengths of shaft, differing angles to the spear head, lash the stone to wood with better leather or more of it in the more expensive models.  But what I added, to what might have remained a common sense stick with a point, was merely the persistence of stone at the business end, and an eye to balance the added weight against length.  When tossed, my spears do not tumble.  They do not shimmy like reeds in the wind.  When they strike the point does not break off, nor does it thump ineffectively dull against hide.  I earn my premiums.


I would not be a spearmaker if I did not have a good eye for business.  This is no religion; it is art only so long as it keeps the artist fed.  I noted early in crafting my business model that some people would buy more than one spear.  Some would buy back up spears, and some auxiliary spears.  Some would buy entire families of spears, two or three at a time, and then store them at home in every room, eerily ready for the hunt or for battle, prepared from any exit route across the topology of their living spaces.  Volume matters.  I cannot grow so fond of the beauty of one spear that I lose track of the utility of the many spears.


At first, I merely experimented with different spearheads.  I could make them narrow and knife like, or I could flatten them out like a hammer with a point.  Once I had given up the practical, I could fathom spearheads of innumerable clans, many seeming to have no possible purpose, no use in any endeavor native to my customers.  It was never my intent to justify or fulfill need, but rather to simply sell spears.   It is the regular geometry of cash in hand that in the end is my motivation.


Some of these new spears suffered a loss of balance, and in the air were triumphantly in-artful and clumsy, rounding out the trip from throw to ground like a wounded bird filtering the feather drift for lift and finding none.  Not only does this not matter, but it seems the smaller the potential uses for my wares, the more prized they are.  I command a higher price for items that can have no worth except in their possession alone.


I have begun to add feathers and other adornments.  At first, I would not add beads because they would interfere with the murderous function of my exquisite killing devices, but I have learned that such does not matter.  Those who spend the most on my creations often have the least ability to consummate a fatal action.  The opulence of their spears compensates for the lack of lethality in their abilities.  So I now have adorning shreds of waste metal and additional baubles strung with strips of leather or surplus cloth, entwined beneath the head or along the shaft, flowing so far behind the main business article that they drag on the ground behind the owner as he carries his spear explosively in the street, strutting so as to make the trail behind him a barrier to those who inattentively follow.


I am working on a spear that it would take three men to hurl.  It would not go far, and would most likely land without inflicting any damage, but it will be unique and unquestioned.  Surely it will be bought by a man who has no intention to arrange any collection of his neighbors so that he and they can toss it.  It will sit in his living room, extending out one of his windows and become in the dark an impediment to clear passage.  He will recline satisfied in one corner of his receiving room and consider it as though it were a trophy, as though it were the head of some fearsome beast he had himself felled, or the ears of a dozen maimed enemies.  It will be placed in his boasting chants as through it could be used to defend his honor, or make revenge for the childhood slights of his past which now so violently drive his present needs.


There is no extreme I cannot sell.  The fact of the spear itself supersedes the use of the spear.  Each bedazzling armament creates the market for the next constructed escalation.  I have an industry that feeds itself its own ever-growing output as its next regenerating input: a feedback loop that means I will forever have business.


You should consider the depth and breadth of your own arsenal.  Has it become out of date?  Is it too small for your place in the hierarchy?  Have you felt too often that being civilized is your only option?  Surely, you remember that time, long ago, though seeming sweetly like this last weary Tuesday, when you were pushed from behind by one of the older boys; and he and his leathery mates would not let you up, knocking you back and placing a conquering knee to your chest, laughing.  How you squirmed and the other children transfixedly watched you, some in pity, some in delight, and all you could think of was how you might escape, then how you might avenge:  how to pound the even out of the odd.


I am always building the next.  While the intent of my devices may be small, the show I can make them put on is as large as the thunder of an unseen storm.  You can reaffirm your soul; you can create a balance in the randomly arranged history of your grievances.  Purchase, perhaps, a magnificent spear that you cannot lift with one hand, that has to be balanced across one struggling shoulder or the other, and, if allowed to sway too far one way or another, cannot by anyone be controlled.


Go ahead.  I dare you.







Ken Poyner

Ken Poyner’s fiction and poetry has appeared in such diverse places as The Alaska Quarterly Review, Poet Lore, Asimov’s Science Fiction and Fact, Corium, Menacing Hedge, The Legendary, Full of Crow, and dozens of other print and digital venues. He has been nominated for four Pushcart Prizes, a Best of the Net award, a Sidewise award, several Rhysling awards, and taught in the Virginia Poets in the Schools program. He has been a security guard, a paneling salesman, a programmer, a network engineer, a systems engineer, an information systems security specialist, and a network administration instructor. He has had more than 1100 stories and poems published in more than 300 venues.

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