"Blak Lantern" Henry Richards

I too was confused, until I realized that the model for understanding the whole thing was sitting in the trunk of my car. I have been driving around Seattle with it for months now:  a battery-powered coin counter stuck on “on”, counting perfectly identical wafers of air. At first, I had decided to donate it to some good cause, like Good Will, along with a bunch of other stuff and get the microscopic tax deduction. (I bought this thing back when Sharper Image was just getting the reputation for being artful at featuring junk in up-scale; design-conscious shops hosted by with-it 20 something’s rattling off why Shaper Image junk is better than other junk. Sharper image junk was, well, just sharper!  Cooler. (I had wanted a coin counter for months. I had the fantasy of rolling up all the pennies, and even the silvery coins lying around my home office cabinets and counters and in nooks and crannies of my car, but especially the pennies, because they actually are worth more than one cent as scrap metal. You could actually use them to wire your house, with enough work at it. You know how pennies can pile up like hordes of dead roaches lying around on top of each other, all helter skelter, after the Unthinkable has happened, I mean the Apocalypse, the second coming of Raid.  Unlike the roaches that will survive the nuclear holocaust, these dead dud cooper shells didn’t desiccate as the weeks and years tick by (the love of money is surely the root of all evil and the wages of sin is death), mocking all decency and mortality they had stayed heavy enough for me to almost break my long toe (you know the one that’s always competing with the Big Toe by trying to be the longer toe (It’s such a puny 90 gram runt, but then its running in the tight field of only four other competitors, and its clearly the only one with a chance of beating out the Kauna Toe, Mr. Krakatoau to you, bub.) when I kicked a Glad bag of them in my office, which had been propping the door open like a half-packed sandbag. I had been pretending it was a kind of lumpy, slumped over pigskin, after giving up on shooting paper balls into my wastepaper basket, as being too much like shooting fish in a barrel. When I look down at my long toe duct-taped to my Kahuna toe, I see clearly why office football has never caught on like office putting or wastepaper lay-ups, but at the time it had felt like a manly, non-nerdy thing to do, until I had done it and then cast from the garden, had to walk around for weeks with the secret castration anxiety of a guy with an offending, rebellious long toe taped to that same envied Big Toe, the disapproving, unwilling Big Brother who you can’t shake and who can’t shake you, like you were duct-taped side-by-side by Mom.)) The guys at Sharper Image sold me said battery-powered coin counter with lots of those little paper condoms you fill up with quarters or nickels or those roach-head Lincolns, and yes, when rolling coins, as in much in life, size matters. I actually counted several bags of coins, at least of wine-rack refill value. (I had had even more loot forthcoming back in the days of the great Green Rush, back when S &H Green Stamps went from the Green Shield Standard to electronic “green points” and there was a run on the Redemption Centers. Many were called and much was chosen. (There were still millions in Green Stamps that were never cashed in. Better round-up your greenbacks, history repeats.)  When I hauled my rolled coins proudly into the  bank, and heaped the bags like gold ore on the counter in front of two 20-something Neo-con finance nerds who somehow reminded me of the same guys at Sharper Image who sold me the electric toothbrush “with a frequency for cutting plaque that none of them can touch.” I had to push the bags through the bullet plate glass contraption that keeps out offending dental decay and even Bonnie and Clyde. They looked at my bags of loot as though they had been the end result my walking my pet elephant through the neighborhood while scrupulously observing the leash laws. (They had the same look on their faces that I imagined must have been on the face of a local court clerk when my brother showed up to pay the fine of their local-yokel speed trap for us urban city-dwellers who were guilty of driving while reasonably civilized. He paid in odd change sitting loose in bursting plastic bags and torn paper bags. He said he had counted it and that if they didn’t believe him, he had time to wait for them to count it on the spot)  Anyway, these nerds told me that no way could they take my count as accurate, they would have to count it again, and that mean they would have to unroll it, which meant a fee for me. After that the dust grew on my coin counter and it was put out to pasture via my trunk. It has never made it to Good Will, despite my good will to get it there. I put it in a plastic see through bag, complete with the paper condoms (which would protect you from the filthy lucre, had there been any) and left in batteries. I have been cranking out these air coins, and by golly, that’s the key to the perpetual motion machine. Whenever I look, it is still cranking them out. With each whirl, a plastic gear turns and makes these air wafer coins and rolls a stack of them in an air spiral and pays itself to keep going. Sharper Image has gone bankrupt. Green Stamps are worthless after the decades in the sixties when folks had just started forgetting how to save, and the rewards catalog was the most widely circulated publication in the United States and three times as many Green Stamps were being issued than U.S. Postage Stamps, which is, after all, a kind of cash. (What’s the last time you’ve seen a Green Stamp). Now they are closing down the U.S. Postal Service too. I understand now how they also have been cranking out these air wafers, Congress, Wall Street and them, and the US and Them (China, of course) are duct-taped together like the long-toe and the Kahuna toe, but neither brother wants to give in to who is really the Kahuna toe, and who is just, you know, long, but not as long. That’s how I figured out what is going on with Congress and Wall Street. Really, after tracking it like through obfuscations as bewildering a labyrinth of parentheses you are forced to run for speed like close hurdles, but sometimes they’re spread out, just to trip you up.) But I swear, I am pulling over to Good Will sometime this week, and I am asking the guy from Pakistan who runs the place what he thinks is fair to put on the blank tax receipt (the one they give you for donating stuff ) for the gift of my perpetual motion money maker and counter. A one and how many zeros?

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