Bulls Make Money. Bears Make Money. Human Beings Get Slaughtered.
I came from nothing. My widowed mother worked two jobs from nine in the morning until nine at night just to be able to afford health insurance for the both of us. I know you don’t give a shit. No one really does, at the end of the day. But I need you to keep reading. Because these facts are very important to the situation I find myself in today.
We never had money for much. But my mom always promised to save just enough to send me to college. I struggled through high school. Science and English were never really my thing. I sucked at Math. History seemed interesting, but who the fuck could guarantee a career in that? I kept my grades up at a respectable margin and breathed a wild sigh of a relief when an acceptance letter came in from a reasonably priced state school nearby.
I had made it. A lifelong mission engineered to push me towards a career that could provide for myself and others was one step closer. I buckled down. I worked on my grades. Sure, I partied a little bit too much, but it never got in the way. I knew that my goals had to be higher than that of my classmates if I ever hoped to bring my small family out of the generations-long struggle of just barely scraping by.
I was hired at Wentworth Financial a week before graduation.
My mother was diagnosed with cancer a month prior.
The job became our saving grace. I can still hear her tears cackling through the speaker phone in my dingy apartment. “God will provide, Matt. God will provide. I always told you that.“
She couldn’t work anymore. My father’s life insurance was enough to pay for one person’s healthcare. Not two. And so my employment became a life jacket. I clung to it for safety and climbed the waves accordingly. First one in the office, last one out. The paychecks were nice. But soon I was greeted with the problems of the real world. Half of my money went to rent. Another quarter to food. Another ten percent to necessities like a car to commute and a new bed to sleep in.
It wasn’t enough. I needed more. I always needed more.
My firm had an investment division. I was not hired to work there at the time. But I had heard rumors from coworkers that those folks made the most money. I slipped my resume in an email to the head of the department. My performance reviews were perfect. My coworkers liked me. I worked hard, and so, my application was accepted and I transferred to the new division within Wentworth a week later.
My first few meetings were standard. Somebody’s grandmother wanted to open a bakery. A single mom wanted to start a hobby shop. A father of five wanted to open a sports store. Every individual came with their own sob story of heartache and constant defeat. I approved them all.
My intentions were not pure. The riskier the investment, the more interest, and the more of a kickback in store for yours truly. The bills started to stack higher around this time. Mom’s cancer got worse as Chemotherapy and Radiation progressed. She started to lose her hair. She looked thinner and thinner every day. Her skin started to crack and dry. Her voice started to sound less alive.
One Monday, a man approached our office with a radical idea. The timing could not have been more perfect.
“I would like to open a treatment center for the poor,” was his opener. “There are thousands of people in this city struggling to afford medical bills. I want to make the whole process cheap as can be.“
Mr. Morgenson seemed normal enough. A pale bald head met a fuzzy beard and bespectacled brown eyes. He spoke with passion. He gave examples. He showed business numbers and financials and testimonials. The low charges would make his books tight. He would be required to pay heavy interest. But, fuck it, the concept hit close to home. I approved the funding and sent our latest client on his way.
The following week, Mom fell when she was home alone in the evening. It took until the following morning for her to reach the phone and call me. I found her soon after, a pile of skin and bones stretched lazily across the floor of her own bedroom.
“I stopped going to that doctor. I can’t afford to die in peace, sweetie, is it not a wonderful world?“
Her words shook me to my core. Part of me expected that everything would be okay. I would do the work. I would get the job. I would be successful. And everything else would just… fall in line.
I checked Mom into Mr. Morgenson’s clinic the same day.
The paperwork was minimal. All initial treatment required a week long stay at their offices. The patient would then be released home and be required to stop in four times a month. Nobody seemed suspicious that day. Nobody seemed like they had alternative intentions.
And yet, something nagged at me, after dropping her off. Why did no one ask for my phone number? Why did the office seem so small? We had granted a substantial investment. Surely they could afford to do something a little… more.
And so I decided to stop by for a visit after my shift. I called and told Mr. Morgenson the same. He sounded hurried and worried by the sound of my voice. He tried to get off the phone as soon as possible. He tried to say he was busy. That just made me more suspicious.
It rained that night. Waves of white mist shrouded my vision of the street as I struggled through the short walk from Wentworth to Morgenson’s office complex. The place looked deserted as soon as I showed up. Tinted glass met locked doors and a sign that said the doctor was away.
But if he was gone, where was my Mom?
I pounded at the door for over an hour. No one answered. I tried to look through the tint to see what was inside. I shouted and screamed for anyone to answer but soon it got dark and the street itself turned dark and empty to passing traffic.
I decided to break the glass.
I knew that was against the law. I knew I could lose my job. But the only thing that kept me tethered to that career and reality whatsoever was the ever living premonition that I was doing this just to save my mom. The misery never mattered. The struggle of boredom and long hours never meant shit. As long as she was okay, so was I.
I took off my shirt and shielded my hand with the cloth. Then I punched. The glass shattered everywhere and cut into my arm. I ignored the blood and undid the lock on the other side.
The office was empty and quiet. A light dimmed in the corner reflected a door to the ‘back’ room that every doctor has. I jimmied the handle and found it luckily unlocked.
The scene that sat before me was nothing short of horror film.
Rows of empty hospital beds lined both sides of the room. The sheets were stained with blood and bits of viscera. Buckets of entrails and other internal organs were left unsanitized in the center row. I walked past them in a daze. There was a long cabinet at the back of the room. Like the type you would see in a morgue. Neat labels met cramped handwriting that described the contents.
Mr. Marlin: All internal organs intact.
Miss Jenkins: All internal organs intact.
Then, at the bottom, written in fresh ink and rushed writing.
Mrs. Richardsen. Stage III. Eyes ready for transfer.
The police swarmed the office an hour later. Evidence confirmed that Mr. Morgenson was harvesting cancer patients and selling their still functioning organs to wealthy recipients. I was fired and nearly arrested for the investment. They never found a trace of him, my mother, or any other victims. Just one pair of baby blue eyes. DNA tests confirmed a match.
I lost my apartment in the aftermath. But I still keep those eyes with me on the streets. Sometimes I wish they could see a life better than being poor. Sometimes I still hear her voice begging God, Jesus, Satan, anyone who will listen; for something, anything more.
Is it not a wonderful world?