Fish Stocks Limited HTML version

Chapter 19 – In Tuition
It is strange the way connections are made when a lot of people live together.
Ambrosius caught a rickshaw into the city centre, incidentally giving the driver
enough money to buy a fish for tea. This fish was caught by a fisherman who used the
money from its sale to feed the petrel that drove his boat. He proceeded to catch a
bumper haul of infinity fish. He then sold these fish to a dealer in town, which
brought down the price of fish a small amount. This slight drop in fish prices caused
other traders to lose confidence in the price of fish, leading them to sell more of their
stock. An avalanche ensued, both making and breaking fortunes as it went.
In a strange way then, the fare for today's commute can affect the movements of
the markets next week. This is why Ambrosius had to smash his abacus to start
making money: the interaction of such an astronomically large number of factors goes
into determining the price of fish that any attempt to predict the fluctuations minute
by minute fails - all but that peculiar ability we call intuition. The strange thing about
intuition is that it is extremely difficult to justify, yet often accurate. How is it that we
“know” something, without being aware of the logic for such knowledge? Clearly we
are drawing upon something hidden and mysterious – powerful too. Why does that
spark which we call perception not venture into that hidden part of our soul? The
evolutionary advantage of doing so must surely be vast. Perhaps then, there is
something fundamental that stops us perceiving those dark, powerful areas of our
souls. Do heaven and hell lie in these waters? Does God? It is easy to get distracted
with such matters, so enough for now. Let us just concentrate on our protagonists day
at work.
There was tangible electricity in the air as Ambrosius entered the trading floor,
eyes flickering microprocessor glances at him, evaluating and assessing this peculiar
new component. Ambrosius integrated himself into his work with measured diligence;
today was less frantic than yesterday, and he had more time to think. Under less
pressure Ambrosius performed less well, but with less risk. The deals he made were
solid and he made a reasonable profit. By the end of the day he was tired and happy,
like he had just eaten a well-rounded meal. He went back to Stan's hovel and talked to
him for a while about his day, then they enjoyed the perks open to the wealthy
amongst the City's restaurants and nightspots.
Such a routine continued for days, then weeks, then months. Work became second
nature to Ambrosius. But as he became wealthier and wealthier, Stan became
increasingly pale and wan, and ever more distant. One night, about five months after
Ambrosius had started his job, Ambrosius felt compelled to ask his acquaintance
about his increasing melancholia.
They were in their favourite restaurant, the one where they had first enjoyed
dugong steak. This time they had ordered and enjoyed a fine infinity fish fillet and
were sitting digesting and supping an equally fine cognac. The conversation, as had
been increasingly the case over the past few weeks, was sparse.
“It's just that I feel...” started Stan when Ambrosius tactfully mentioned his
glumness. “Well, I feel as though I have granted you a wish – be that for good or bad
– but I feel like I am unable to grant my own. This is not because I lack the
resourcefulness, it is simply because I don't have one. A wish, that is. What do I want
more than anything else in the world? I can't say.”