I kinda like where this is going. Knowing the roadmap to this story makes me more excited to write it and find out exactly what happens (the roadmap gives me directions, but the details are still a great, uplifitng surprise to me as they unfold).
In this week's installment, we discover the plot's first major turning point, the DNA which affects everything else right up until the famous final scene. Here we go...
Doubling Your Money
This “that time of the month again” was going to be different for Curtis. Rather than examining his financial statements, he put them aside for a bit and chose instead to examine the rest of his life.
Grabbing a coffee from his Nespresso machine (one button, one pod; so perfect for him), Curtis sat down at the circa-1950 oak teacher’s desk that anchored his home office/den/library, jiggled the wireless mouse to fire up his giant-screened Mac, and divided up a Word doc into two columns, each headlined by a possible option for a stress-free future.
1) Stop working.
2) Stop worrying.
He realized he was one of the lucky ones. Unlike countless millions whose fates were authored by others, Curtis actually could make what are called “lifestyle choices.” His were drastic, but simple.
The first option was a remote possibility, but only if he would eliminate the extras he’d become accustomed to in the past two years and rigorously adhere to a rigid budget. Curtis suspected he could handle this imposition, but didn’t really want to. It was how he lived, and without too much complaint or suffering, before the sale of SnowBalls. The difference was that, back then, he was absolutely enamored with his job.
Since he cashed in, to paraphrase BB King, the thrill was gone. Although he still liked his colleagues that remained (the new owners has cut back, which was the catalyst for two of his original partners hitting the road), still liked his industry, and still liked travelling for it, he couldn’t convince anyone when he said he actually loved any or all of it. The attraction of retiring before he was 40, and pursuing only passion projects, was heart-racingly appealing.
The second option was also a possibility, but only, he figured, if his current nest egg was bulked up to twice its size.
And if that were indeed the case, well…both option 1 and 2 were possible simultaneously .
Curtis chuckled to himself as he typed that alternative onto his screen. He considered calling on his financial advisors and handing them the challenge of doubling his life savings. Then his brain swelled noticeably with the vision of their response:
They’d bring out charts and projections and plans that would show, if perchance they’d make the right choices, and if luck was on his side, and if there were no natural disasters in China, and if another dumb-ass European country didn’t overspend like drunken Beverly Hills housewives, and if no new pandemic viruses pop up, and if the western world maintains its faith in democracy and capitalism, and if Al-Quaida is defeated in Somalia, he would almost certainly double his money…in seven-to-ten years. Provided he’d live that long.
Nope. Case closed. Make this a question that will go unasked to one, or all, of his Fab Four.
So Curtis turned to the next best thing—the modern-day oracle (or at least the updated Magic 8 Ball) known as Google. Calling it up to share the screen with his lifestyle choice doc, he typed the words “How can I double my money?” into the search bar.
Within one-tenth of the time it would take for any one of his advisors to blink, Curtis was inundated with a torrent of somewhat relevant response. Atop the list came this advice from Kin Hubbard, a humorist and journalist who died about a century ago, but one of sage economic counsel nonetheless:
“The best way to double your money
is to fold it over once
and put it in your pocket.”
Curtis chuckled again as he scanned the remaining list of get-rich-quick schemes and sketchy, less-than-legal suggestions his query attracted. Ethiopian bankers. Gold mines. Rainforest jungle berry-based drinks. Land in Florida. At least a dozen “Next Facebooks.” A fool’s paradise of rewards.
But—and here comes this tale’s turning point “Big But”—just as he was about to log off, tear open Miranda’s envelope and face this month’s revelation of dreaded volatility, his curser brushed by the paid search ads that snuggled the screen’s right-hand side, drawing his eyes to their respective offers. Although all different, they were harmonized—each one of the top five tried to lure him to at a casino. In Vegas, in Macau, on native reserves, on cruise ships, or just one mouse-click away on his desktop.
Obvious by his nature, Curtis wasn’t much of a gambler. No appeal. True, he’d been to many a casino in his life, but usually just passing through to get from his hotel room to a conference centre while stuck there at some industry event. His entire casino career maybe spanned the timeframe of a cross-continent flight, and was driven by childish, non-wagering ulterior motives. Over the years, he’d maybe throw away $50 or so per trip in slot machines for no reason other than to be amongst their colored lights and electronic cacophony for a few minutes, and twice he sat at the Hard Rock Casino’s roulette wheel, laying down the absolute minimum “outside bets” just to benefit from the free drinks, the ambiance of the pulsating playlist and the parade of outrageous rockstar wannabes and scandally-clad hotties that hung out there.
He thought back to one “life-saving” $10 bet he’d put on a Hard Rock Red—a win would bring him $20 and buy him time for at least one more Sam Adams; a loss would leave him chip-less and force him to surrender his seat to the over-cologned, slick-haired, Al-Pacino-in-Scarface-lookalike literally breathing down his neck.
Not the most pleasant memory in the life of Curtis Stanfield.
But perhaps the most important.
For it had spawned a plan. A financial plan for his future.
One that would shock his Fab Four, and perhaps leave Kin Hubbard doubled over in his grave.
One where, no matter the outcome, he would come out ahead.
One that, once and for all, with one supreme supernova of volatility, would eliminate all future financial uncertainty from his existence.
Curtis was going to lay it all on the line.
On one spin of a roulette wheel.
Literally once…and for all.
To be continued next week...