Paul Penney (Flash Fiction)

Published by Mackers in the blog Mackers's blog. Views: 126

Paul Penney shuffled in his pocket for some change. He was skint. Capitalism nowadays is a load of balls, he thought. So the richest 1% feast at the trough while the rest of us normal folk live off of austerity scraps? Yeah that’s fair….NOT

Paul Penney was childish, but he was also an intellectual. He had grandiose ambitions of writing a ferocious critique of the corrupt, capitalist system—how it was not only unjust, but inherently unjust and unfair. But he can’t. His idea was, for now, on the back burner. See, Paul Penney doesn’t have a home to go to. Well he does, but it isn’t a mansion. He doesn't have the composite materials to write such a challenging piece. He could go to the shop and get some stationary, but that would cost money. Everything costs money. How ironic, he thinks. Finding the means to fight capitalism one has to engage in the practicalities of capitalism.

Paul finds himself in the dole office, which he feels is full of plebs, as usual. Paul does not like plebs. Politically speaking, he is decidedly anti-pleb. I don’t belong here with these dregs, he mused to himself. Television shows and fleeting mad thoughts about his life-situation merge together in quasi-humorous combinations.

“I’m a tortured genius get me out of here!”

“Who wants to be unemployed?” And so on.

What if he were to act though? He could only dream. All this causes him terrible worry. So much uncertainty: about jobs, about lifestyles, about the future. Specifically he’s worried that to denounce capitalism he could effectively kiss his chance of a good career in the financial sector goodbye. Jobs are always hard to come by. Ruling out a whole sector would just make it even worse. It’s all about widening his options, not shortening his job prospects to any one, specific market. Basic common sense. A risky business indeed, but all businesses were risky, even personal ones. It was what everybody aspired to. You know the free market and all the rest? They say through business and the free market cometh innovation. Paul Penney could extract this simple maxim and apply it to himself. Innovation of the mind, becoming a true leader, expressing that which cannot be expressed by the uneducated - like Comrade Stalin.

He sits down in the dole office feeling like a big lemon. He sees his regular acquaintance, Peter Pound, come in through the door and sit down a couple of spaces in front. He strikes up a conversation.

“Peter! How’s your mother?”

“Not too bad, Paul”

“Is your Da still workin?”

“Eh…Naw...He’s dead Paul.”

“Oh right, sorry about that. At least when one person leaves the world that frees up some space for the rest of us, eh?”

“Giving all the jobs to the foreigners these days...” said Peter. “Our chances are slim in this environment”

Paul was sympathetic to his friend. He grunted in tacit agreement. He was a xenophobe.

And as though the same thoughts and worries flitted telepathically from the minds of those in hardship, Peter Pound mused on his life situation. Capitalism is a load of balls, he thought. But what kin ye do? Propaganda always wins anyway. Peter like Paul intended writing a ferocious critique on inequality. But he felt he could write the most legendary thing, a herald of objective truth, and it could always be nullified by a counter-point of lies; something ridiculous, but logical—plausible even—that would lie in the minds of readers who try to find the truth, but whose head is cluttered with the lies that grapples with it. And Peter’s piece would be pointless then, fading into obscurity on some anonymous blog buried deep in the depths of a vast internet; found only by low-lives like Peter and Paul with too much time on their hands, who couldn’t do anything even if they wanted to.

“Such a struggle, Paul, isn’t it?”

“It is surely, my friend”

“Insurmountable even?”

“Oh yes I would say so indeed”

The inexorable shift of the queue to be seen continued unabated. Those that make up the human conveyor belt look around themselves in idle boredom. Some are impatient, fiddling with their forms that contain the all-important details that make up their life: their name, date of birth, age and qualifications. For many, the qualifications are blank. To translate, that means they’re more fucked than the average desperado. Paul is staring at the back of the head of Peter, and just in front of Peter sits a man known as David Tennent – known to his close circle of friends as David “The Tenner” Tennant.

While these men were strangers it wouldn’t take a genius to work out they had more in common than their collective unemployment. Their surnames mocked them daily, and were an acute source of pain when contemplated in conjunction with their empty bank accounts. Because if you add a penny, a pound and a tenner together what do you get? Not fuckin’ much in today’s inflated society, let me tell ye...
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