“You don’t think the things you learned in your human school will be useful?” Tomas was looking around, pacing around, sniffing the air.
“Well. Why am I going to need to know history now? Or literature?”
“Hrmph.” He sat down with a thump. “Because you will need to remember the past. Don’t you people have a quote about that?”
“Those who don’t remember the past, I think.”
“Are doomed to repeat it. yes. You’re going to want to remember that information, so you can share it.”
“If the world depends on me remembering my 9th grade global studies, we’re screwed.”
“Surely you remember one thing.”
“Ninety and ten. And irregular coastlines.”
She stirred the heating soup with a chopstick. “In developing countries, especially with , um, bad leadership-“
“Those. Ninety percent of the wealth is held by ten percent of the people.”
“So they’re controlling everyone else with their wealth. How does that help you here?”
“Well, I don’t have any wealth, and I don’t know where the people are with wealth.”
“But that’s what you need to find. Wealth, or people with wealth.”
“You want me to be a dictator?”
“Better than being dictated to.” He grinned at her cheerfully. “At least, in my book. So what’s wealth?”
“Money.” Duh… She was surprised to find him shaking his head at her. “What?”
“Money is what you use to buy wealth. What good is a bunch of paper?”
“It buys stuff from… damn. Okay. But the guys who had all the money before, they can have supplies, and probably full roofs, and all that stuff.”
“So that’s a good place to start. Supplies and a roof are wealth.”
“Supplies and a roof. Check. Wait. So, people who had money might have wealth, right?”
“Right. In the world we were living in, money was almost the same as wealth.”
“You know a lot for a hobo.”
“You know enough to know that I’m not a hobo.”
“Yeah, but I’m having a hard enough time dealing with everything else that happened right now. Dealing with the fact that you’re a 300-year-old fairy is just too much.”
“That is fair. Back to your lessons, then, and I believe your can of foodlike stuff is burning.”
“Caramelizing.” She stirred it carefully. “So, right now, wealth is ‘things people need and want.’ Okay. So, I don’t want to be poor. And I really am, right now. We are, unless you have a lot more up your sleeve than I think you do.”
“We’re rather poor right now. But. Did you take physics, did your school teach such a thing?”
“Physics? Yeah.” She stirred her food again, wondering where this was going.
“So you understand the idea of potential energy, yes?”
He was sounding less and less like a hobo every minute. “Yes. Like a ball at the top of a cliff has a lot of potential energy.”
“So what we are sitting on, my dear student…” He sounded positively Giles, now, as he sat a pebble on the edge of their rooftop campground, “is a great deal of potential wealth. And all it needs is a little shove.”
Armona watched as he tipped the pebble off the edge.
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