Flash Fiction #132
“The Free market is the most efficient, Loh.” Mot says while reading the Financial Times in the main cabin of his yacht. His butler, Loh, standing behind him, is a little out of spirit, considering the fact that he might be dismissed and the yacht can be impounded soon, due to the financial strain Mot has incurred on himself.
“Oh, Loh, smile a little, will you?” Mot says to his butler. “Something is bound to turn up. Don’t worry.”
Loh looks at Mot with thinly concealed dislike and dismay. If Mot had not got himself involved in this aimless treasure hunt at the Strait of Malacca, his finance would not have been wracked so badly. Financing such a project and wishing that he could get a windfall of antiques from the shipwrecks under the water. What a crazy scheme. And now Mot is going to reap the bitter harvest of his expensive impractical seeds of adventure.
A diver in full diving suit climbs on board. He swiftly strips himself of the frog-skin like outfit and comes into the cabin to sit on the empty chair beside Mot. His name is Naiv. Between Mot and Naiv, there’s a strange bond of friendship and regard. Mot comes from an illustrious family. If Mot’s great grandfather didn’t abdicate the throne and eloped with his favorite cook, Mot would have been a member of the royalty and several times richer. His crazy uncle and narcissistic grandmother did equal damage to the family’s reputation and financial situation. Still, under reduced circumstances, he managed to graduate from the snobbiest schools in Europe and North America, returning home with a strange mixed lingo and a penchant for imported food. He did well working for financial companies until he took on this treasure hunt that has drained his coffer. Naiv is a fisherman turned professional diver. He hates schools and didn’t even finish high school.
“Market is perfect, isn’t it? Now you see there’s a market correction today. Don’t you just love free market?” Mot says to Naiv, who enjoys listening to him even if he doesn’t understand a word he is saying.
“How’s your diving? Find anything?” Loh interrupts Mot and says.
“Loh, I sent you to the best butler school in London and I can’t believe this is your manner.” Mot says.
“Actually I did find something really valuable. Look.” Three pairs of eyes fixated on the beautiful porcelain dish Naiv produced. They know they have hit the jackpot.
For two weeks, the sinking ship is fully searched and all the valuables are brought on shore. Most of the porcelains are in pieces, but still there are more than 300 vases that are intact. They are all placed in Mot’s office with 24 hour security, admired and evaluated by experts they have invited.
Naiv takes a day off to relax and to recuperate from the stressful mission. When he comes back the following week to get his share of the spoil, he finds that Mot is in a celebratory mood.
“Oh, Naiv, come to drink some wine with me. I worked all night last night, and still I am so excited that I couldn’t go to sleep. I have researched all the porcelain historical records, plotted the best curve, and found the optimal position for our 300 valuable treasures. And the number is 30. I used the most advanced math modeling tool and the calculation takes several hours…” Mot continues to ramble, but Naiv can’t understand what he’s talking about.
Loh emerges from the inner room, where the porcelains have been stored, with goggles, protective outfit, and a hammer. “I have completed your ghastly mission, sir. And please take a look.”
Mot leads Naiv to the inner room, and Naiv is shocked to find the room filled with smashed treasures. Only 30 porcelain vases remain unscathed.
“What did you do? What do you do this for? Are you crazy?” Naiv screamed.
“Oh, Naiv, 30 is the optimal number. One piece more will affect the global antique porcelain market. If there are 300, and it will send the price crashing to the bottom.” Mot says.
“I can’t believe this.” Naiv takes a handful of broken pieces and he is about to cry.
“Oh, Naiv, you have no idea what a market is. It is a beast. I tell you. This is why there’s a shortage of houses available to people, just to make houses more coveted and desirable. If it is freely available, the housing market will crash. This is why health care is unaffordable. If we have universal health care, nobody can make money out of it. This is why there is such an unattainable beauty standard for 99% of women. If women are not desiring the unattainable looks, the beauty industry will go bankrupt and the cosmetic surgeons will go homeless. Scarcity is everything. Scarcity is the key.” Mot says.
“I feel dizzy. I have to lie down here.” Naiv says and lies down, his head next to the broken pieces.
“Well, you are going to cut yourself. Naiv, what is going on? I mean I know you’ve been poor all your life, but you are rich now. I mean 10% is yours and 3 porcelain vases in their optimal price will make you a millionaire. You don’t want to be so excited that you can’t even stand up.” Mot says.
Mot and Loh carry Naiv to the next room where there’s a big sofa. When he finally lies on the sofa, Naiv says, “Now I understand what you have been saying all along. It’s not a real free market, is it? You created this market. You are one of those who created all these scarcities so that the market can work efficiently for you.”
Then Naiv faints.