Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Installment 4.14: Till Debt do us Part

McDevitt listened to the war-room members go around and around and around.  The topic involved the economy and printing currency and welfare and….

About the third time the argument circled around to the starting point he quietly observed, “You guys are over-thinking this.  It is not that hard.”

McDevitt’s comment stopped everybody dead in their tracks.
“What do you mean?” one of the cabinet members asked.  “One of the functions of government is to run the economy and that is complicated.”

“If we do it your way we will turn into Cali in less than five years.  More immediately, we cannot do it the way you are talking without using the Cali Federal employes, and I can guarantee you that they do not want us to be successful.” McDevitt said.

“This is what we are going to do….” McDevitt said.

Father Fred looked up from the sermon he was putting the finishing touches on for tomorrow’s service.  He heard the growl and clatter of a diesel engine getting closer and closer to his church.  One seldom heard diesel engines anymore.

The sound of the air brake “Whooshing” really got his attention.  He left his desk and walked out into the parking lot.

“Mornin’ Padre” the driver said.  “My name is Bucky Christensen and I have a load of food for you to distribute.”

“Well, it is about time.  Folks in the neighborhood are getting pretty hungry.  We haven’t seen any walkers but it was getting close.” Father Fred replied.

“Couple of details we gotta go over before I unload.” Bucky said.

“What details.” Father Fred said as a small crowd started to gather.  There was not much entertainment in the neighborhood and the simple juxtaposition of Father Fred, who looked like a scarecrow and Bucky, who looked like a short version of Santa, and the enormous ‘retro’ truck was visual comedy at its finest.  The dialog was a bonus.

“First, you get 100, fifty pound bags of corn.” Bucky said.  “I deliver on Tuesdays and Saturdays.”  That made sense.  Today was a Saturday.

“Second, these bags of corn are paid for but Tuesday’s are not.  It costs me $6 a bag to buy it at the farm and pay myself and cover wear-and-tear on Old Red here.” he said while pointing at the truck with the tattered “P” pennants on each fender.

“On Tuesday you get another 100 bag after you pay me $600, cash.  Or you can give me $1200 cash and get 200 bags.  If you don’t give me anything then I don’t even unlock the trailer, I just drive to my next drop-off spot.  Regardless of how much you pay you owe me 100 clean grain bags next Tuesday.”

“We don’t have that kind of money!” Father Fred said.

“Well, then you probably ought to charge the folks who come to pick up the corn.” Bucky phlegmatically said.  He had been having this conversation several times a day for the last three days.

“Can’t do that.” Father Fred said.  “The Bible is very clear about not turning the church over to money changers.”

Bucky had been raised a Southern Baptist and knew his way around the Bible and the last three days had sharpened his understanding.

“Tell me Father, right at the end of John, Jesus tells Simon-Peter something three times.  Gotta be pretty important if he is saying it three times.  What does he say?” Bucky asked.

Father Fred reached into his pocket and pulled out a Bible.  “I think I know the answer but I want to be sure I get it right.”  He quickly found the passage.  “He said ‘Feed my sheep’ three times just before he told them to convert unbelievers.”

“Now I ain’t arguing against your point about turning God’s house over to money-changers but seems like the Bible has an answer for that too.  If I remember correctly it is right near the beginning of Acts in Chapter Six.”  Bucky knew for a fact it was right near the beginning of Acts Chapter Six because the preacher at the first church where he dropped food off had wrestled with his conscience for a solid sixty minutes before finding reasons to do it Bucky’s way.

Father Fred flipped the Bible open to the specified spot.  “Says to appoint deacons to distribute food to widows and orphans so disciples can keep preaching.”

“Got many single-parent families in the neighborhood?” Bucky asked.

Father Fred sighed.  “Way too many, really.”

“From where I sit, they don’t look all that different from widows and orphans, if you know what I mean.” Bucky said.

“OK, we will give it a try.” Father Fred said.

Bucky said, “You can sell this food anywhere but I will always be dropping it off here.  It has good roads to it and a good parking lot.  You don’t have to be running it out of your church sanctuary is what I am saying.”

“What if we want to buy $1200 of corn next time?  We don’t have that kind of money.” Father Fred asked.

“Well, then I recommend you visit ‘Till Debt Do Us Part Pawnshop’ just down the street.  I think they might have an answer for you.


Matthew, one of the three men Father Fred pressed into service as Deacons walked into the pawnshop and looked around.  There was a large banner above the checkout that said “NEW!  Business Loans Made HERE!

The man behind the counter was wearing a nametag identifying him as Rusty.

Matthew walked up to the counter and got right to the point.  “Hey Rusty, tell me about business loans.”

Rusty said, “It has to be in a basic industry like food, transportation or clothing.  It has to be in the neighborhood so I can keep an eye on it.  It has to be simple enough for my dumbest nephew to run it because default is not an option.  If you fall behind I put one of my nephews in charge and you lose your money.”

Matthew had a fairly quick mind and immediately realized that the grocery store automatically qualified.  He also realized that it might also apply to a business he wanted to start.

“What if I wanted to open a bicycle repair shop?  What is the next thing I would have to do?” Matthew asked.

“You write it up.  Nothing fancy.  Just the cost of parts, cost of the tools.  What you expect to charge…you gotta have markup cause you gotta pay yourself and some folks are gonna stiff you.  What you are bringing to the business?  The cash flow you expect during the first couple of months?” Rusty said.

“That doesn’t sound too hard.” Matthew said.  “Anything else?”

“Yeah, you have to take on an apprentice: One of my nephews.  I was serious about my not eating any losses.  Ain’t no more money coming from this grubstake.  This is seed money.” Rusty said.
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