Dead Money

Dead Money

A voice from the grave

Since I was a little boy, the bank has encouraged me to save.

‘Save it, you have it; spend it, it’s gone.’

Every Friday I’d put two shillings into my passbook and then bank it.

‘Save it, you have it; spend it, it’s gone.’

That witty phrase, created by some advertising copywriter, echoed persistently in my mind and eventually became a foundation of my life. Then, through my youth, it would cause me to evaluate every purchase.

I needed funds if I was to attain anything in life, and the only way to get this money was to save. And by trusting the bank to safeguard my finances, and add interest—which was three percent in 1960—I envisaged imminent wealth.

But not now.

Lying here, encapsulated within this coffin, devoid of any external feeling, I can only imagine what is happening, as my physical form is certainly in decay. Not that such matters hold any significance. My peace of mind comes from avoiding the present.

My bank account grew, but not at the same rate as my thoughts. The bank’s saving and not spending slogan played in my mind each time I’d attempt to buy a treat. You know, an ice cream or a small bottle of ‘Coca Cola’. I developed into someone who watched every penny throughout their life. The bank’s early savings encouragement was clever, though their ultimate aim was to control my expenditures. Their concern lay not with my well-being, but with their own gains. The banks were wise at encouraging me to ‘save’ with them. But now I know they wanted me to ‘spend’ with them. They really wanted my money by pretending to care about my welfare.

‘Save it, you have it; spend it, it’s gone.’

My waist, once thirty-four inches, surely needs a tighter belt now—not that it matters in my situation—it’s not as if I am going anywhere in a hurry. My situation is grim; I must divert my thoughts from the present moment—these grotesque visions are doing my head in. I must use this time for reflection and resentment, and perhaps a sprinkling of revenge.

My life became a financial crusade, with every penny hoarded and every potential expense being given the ‘evil eye’. The bank’s brainwashing was a success; I was shrewd at saving and even more shrewd at purchasing — and then the guilt…the guilt. Those occasional ‘Triple Treat’ ice-creams, or ‘Weston’s Wagon Wheels’ left me in despair. I had wasted money.

‘Save it, you have it; spend it, it’s gone.’

As you may have guessed, that slogan developed into a mantra and ended up causing me a lifelong battle with constipation. A physical manifestation of my financial anxiety.

And as the banks intended, I secured a car loan, a credit card and a mortgage. They told me my life was great. But their slogan remained—it was immovable, just like my bodily functions. But that is in the past. What if it was constipation that caused my demise?

‘Stop it. Stop it. I have to escape the present.’

You know what happened, of course. After a life of watching every penny I’d spent—my relatives starting doing the same—and it wasn’t their money they were watching.

‘Don’t buy me anything, Grandpa.’

‘Don’t buy me anything, Dad.’

‘Don’t waste your money, Uncle.’

Of course, they didn’t want me to spend. They wanted that cash to remain in the bank.

To think I even skimped on my funeral. Weeks before I passed, I trudged that sad road of funeral homes. Searching. In time I found an establishment that had burial packages cheaper than cremation. Can you believe that? I made it very clear in my will that my wishes were to be followed and that I was to be ‘buried’ and in a language my family would understand.

‘Don’t fucking cremate me.’

It’s too final. What if they’d cremated Jesus? Yes, that is a thought worth pondering.

I’m not sure if this coffin came with a light. I don’t think so. Anyway, I don’t want to see what’s happening. Must be an army of ants feasting on me by now. Fortunately, I have no feeling.

I look back at my life. What could I have done differently? Why did I leave so much money? Excess money. But I couldn’t spend it. I felt guilty every time I went to make a purchase.

My shoes were deteriorating—terrible choice of words at this moment—but I couldn’t bring myself to waste hard earned money on another pair. My car was falling apart. The television needed repairs. The roof was leaking.

‘Save it, you have it; spend it, it’s gone.’

Don’t get me started on the banks. When it suited them, they brainwashed me into saving money and then later in life re-brainwashed me to spend. Right up to the end, they sent me brochures about trips, merchandise and investments—too late, you bastards. You’ve already set me in my ways.

It took death to open my eyes. Now my extended family have free money.

What I saved, they’re spending. Fast.

Maybe I should’ve started a new mantra when I retired.

‘Save it, they have it; spend it, they won’t.’

They didn’t work for it or get constipated over it. They just had a windfall at my expense. What I saved they’re spending—and fast—I’m sure of that. They’re all above ground, cashed up and living the life. Probably spending at their high end fashion stores—and not even bargaining the price! Nothing much I can do about it; it’s theirs now.

I just know there are ants in here. No comforts at all—probably white ants.

Why didn’t I buy a better coffin?