The Problem of Currency

by Kevin Lorenz © 2002

The problem of currency conversion was solved by the simple installation of what he called “monies emlimicreation machines.”

These ingenious inventions eliminated the need for collecting all the various genuine and counterfeit monies into their respective banks. Here they would be sorted and counted and then either destroyed or converted into the new, impossible to counterfeit, futuristic and aesthetically pleasing form of currency.

Samuel’s machine simplified things.

Once the individual monies elimicreation machines were installed into every single vending machine—within the jurisdiction of the new unified government—the various machines themselves became the currency exchangers. Each existing machine, after the monies elimicreation modification, has the ability to assess the quality, count the value, and then melt the old currency into a smooth liquid. The smooth liquid is then heated to extreme temperatures to remove impurities, and fortified with the right blend of vitamins, minerals, and preservatives to ensure the new currency would be as healthy, attractive, and intelligent as the new government.

There were problems getting stupid coins and bank notes to behave as intelligently as the new government, so the new coins were to be made young and vibrant, but with a kind of dull, stupid appearance, Samuel explained. The smelting process was silent and perceptible only to those with highly developed olfactory senses. Samuel assured the Council that no one would notice the faint smell of sulfur during the melting stage or the odor of baked leaves during the purification process. He insisted the average citizen would be far too occupied salivating at the rumbling of the Coke can to the bottom of the vending machine or too mesmerized by the turning screws and wheels that would release the “Honey buns” from their glass prisons to notice these wispy smells.

The average citizen might be a little surprised when he doesn’t get the old greasy change he expects but will quickly understand and embrace the new currency, which, during the final stage, is fortified with the experimental drug contentozine. This drug, which is easily absorbed through the skin, had done wonders in the way of lowering the divorce rate, and could certainly increase the public’s tolerance for a new form of currency, Samuel assured them.

His presentation finished, Samuel sat quietly with his tattered manila folder across his lap. A bow tie sprouted from his neck and he smiled a kind of callow smile from behind his thick glass lenses. He waited patiently for the Council’s response.

“We will discuss it,” said the Controller.

He motioned, and the Council rose and approached his chair and encircled it. There were some disapproving warblings and some loud, indiscernible outbursts that were quickly muffled under mustaches. Samuel removed his timepiece from his shirt pocket, smiled coldly at his reflection while checking the time, and lowered the timepiece back into his pocket.

“Six hundred thousand a machine, right?” The Controller asked, his mouth full of food.

“Correct,” said Samuel, and gave a congenial, innocent-in-the-ways-of-the-world little scientist smile.

“At a total cost of seven trillion?”

“Well, yes, that’s the highest foreseeable estimate.”


The Controller mumbled something to the circle that was imperceptible to Samuel and one of the circle burbled something back. Amid the rumblings of the exclusive conversation Samuel caught the words, “But the coins won’t look as intelligent as we are,” but these words were quickly stomped down by some muffled warbling on the other side of the circle.

Finally, they all found their way back to their seats and squeezed their bellies under the table. The Controller shoved the last of his “Honey bun” into his mouth and crinkled the cellophane wrapper into a little ball and rolled it on the table. He smacked his lips on the last of the tasty morsel. He thought and chewed, eyeing the silly little bow tie on the scientist’s collar. “Scientists are so technical. They just don’t understand how the world works,” he thought to himself as he swallowed the last of the Honey bun. A feeling of contentedness passed over him, swelling from his belly outward.

“It’s a brilliant idea. Where do I sign?”

“Right below Article XI on page 6, Mr. Controller,” said Samuel, clumsily flipping through the pages.

With sticky fingertips, the Controller grasped the pen and signed his name firmly.

“You won’t regret it, I assure you,” said Samuel.

He looked at the signature and put the papers back into his scrappy old notebook. He gave a slight, kind of nodding bow and turned and exited the room, tripping over the threshold as he had done on his way in.

“Damn scientists,” said the Controller. “They’re so out of touch.”

Some of the Council coughed and cleared their throats in agreement; somebody chuckled and opened a Coke.

* * *

At the other end of the building, Samuel quickly closed the door to his office and laid his tattered folder on the chair next to his desk. He dug through the dog-eared and crinkled papers until he found the crisp, heavy paper he was looking for. The broad strokes of the signature at the bottom were so recently put down that the dark ink was still wet and shiny in the florescent light of his little office. Samuel ran his thumb in a circle around the seal stamped next to the signature, the official seal of the new, unified world government. He lowered the document slowly and raised his head with a wry smile. He giggled as he caught his reflection in the mirror.

“Silly-assed bow ties,” he thought out loud.

x x x

Read more Flash Fiction? or Back to the Front Page?