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Fish Stocks Limited

My cut's £150,000, yours is £350,000. Not a bad year. Well, not bad for us, anyway.
Now, about those good causes, sir. I believe there's a good hotel a few streets west of
here that does an excellent dugong steak. They are always open for donations.”
“Don't be so cynical, Stan.”
“Don't be so self-righteous, sir. What's the point in helping the poor and homeless
when you're the one who made them so? Hypocritical, that is. No, I say don't let one
hand know what the other's doing, that way if both are on the take then you needn't
worry about it. Come on, I'm hungry.”
There were marble veins of fat in Stan's dugong steak, a sign that it was the very
best quality. With a previously hidden refinement he cut into it, and with equal
refinement the steak oozed blood onto his plate. Ambrosius hadn't touched his yet,
and instead was playing distractedly with his fork.
“Eat up, sir,” said Stan. “It's some good stuff. Melts in your mouth.”
“Stan, I can't stop thinking of what we did to those people. Do you think...“
“No I don't,” said Stan, chewing his words and swallowing his steak. “Life's better
that way.”
“But I never wanted to...”
“No, nor did I. I did point out all this to you at the time. I made a special mental
note of it. I never lead anyone astray who's truly innocent. The time for guilt has
passed, the deed's done now.”
“But it was so easy...”
Stan smiled. “There are two ways of making money in this world. One is to work
hard. This rarely works, but some people like to try it. The second way is to be
ruthless. Some people find this hard, and that includes me. I have a conscience,
though many would argue against that. I have to get over that every day. You, on the
other hand, are different. You have no conscience.”
“I don't?” Ambrosius didn't know whether Stan was trying to pay him a
compliment or offend him.
“No. Do you feel bad about cheating all those people out of their homes?”
Ambrosius thought. “Yes.”
“Now look deeper. Do you feel bad?”
“Yes.”
“Deeper.”
“Yes. Stan, I feel bad about what I did.”
“You're a liar as well, then. I have a way of telling these things - when your life is
sin, you pick up on these things pretty quickly. Ambrosius, your morality is all
cerebral; it doesn't go any further than the first few millimetres of your brain's surface.
All the strong, animal parts of your brain don't hold to your morals. Some people are
just like that.”
“And you're different?”
“I've got very strong morals, but I go against them. I used to be good, angelic
even. You know what changed? I had a fall.”
Ambrosius thought back to his fall from a tree, the fall that started all this. “What
happened?” he asked.
“I used to be honest,” said Stan, “a window cleaner by profession. I liked to think
I gave people clarity. O ne day I fell off the ladder and hit my head on the floor. It was
one of the busiest streets in town. You know how long I lay there?”
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