"Jackson, if you'd listen to me you'd be able to afford decent wine." She handed Jackson a paper sack with two bottles of wine. Claire had been putting money into dotcom stocks and was trying to get others to join her. Jackson was too stubborn. "Doesn't it bother you to see everybody around you getting rich? It's not too late, you know." And apparently this was the case, because shares kept going up and up and up. Jackson didn't follow the market, but did listen to NPR.
"Get out while you can, Claire," he said. "You'll thank me later. This whole country's gone crazy. It's the South Sea Bubble all over again." Father Ray came to his wife's defense. "It's diff erent this time." "It's always 'different,' "Jackson said. He deliberately didn't take the wine out of the sacks until he was in the kitchen. Claire had spent a fortune on two bottles of white Burgundy. "Did you hear about that guy in Atlanta," he said, "who killed nine people and wounded I don't remember how many? He was a day trader."
"He went crazy," Claire said, "because he lost money, not because he made money."
"I don't want to be around when you lose all your money."
"Jackson won't listen to anyone," Claire explained to Pam. "If he'd listened to me, he'd be a millionaire right now. Or at least a hundred-thousandaire."
She turned to Jackson: "Pam's just taken a course in day trading. She's going to help us all get rich. We're going to form an investment club. Pam will be our guru."
Pam was a poet. She'd taken up day trading to supplement her income, because there's not a lot of money in poetry. She'd gone to a seminar on day trading in Chicago that lasted a full week. Claire said, "You paid fifteen hundred dollars. Right?"
"What did you learn?" Jackson asked.
"Don't hang on to stocks overnight."
"Extra risk. You don't need it. Especially when you're starting out." "What kind of risk?"
"Well, if you go to bed holding on to your shares and they devalue the currency in Brazil, you're in trouble up to here." She indicated her chin. "That's what happened last August. The Dow dropped five hundred points."
"But it came right back up," Father Ray said.
"How do you know what to buy and sell?" Jackson asked.
"You get up in the morning and watch CNBC. You see who the guests are. If they're on CNBC they're not going to be bringing bad news, so you buy those companies.
"You want to get in and out and make a lot of small profits. Everything is liquid, so you can buy at sixty and sell at fifty-nine and an eighth."
"Why would you do that? I mean, why would you sell at a loss?"
"Sorry. You could buy at sixty and sell at sixty and an eighth. Better?"
"If the market goes up..." Pam said. "If you make two hundred dollars a day, that's an extra fifty thousand a year."
"Don't be such a stick in the mud," Claire said to Jackson. "Pam says we should invest in ShoppingKart .com. Start with five thousand apiece. You can come up with five thousand, can't you Jackson?
You've got nothing to spend your salary on. Unless it's your Save-the-Pygmies fund. Tell them about ShoppingKart.com, Pam."
"ShoppingKart.com's going to be huge. It's going to target the entire American retail grocery market. It's a ten- billion- dollar company."
"What does ShoppingKart.com do?"
"They're reengineering the entire grocery industry. They've got a three-hundred-thirty-thousand-square-foot warehouse in Oakland, and they've signed a deal with Bechtel to build twenty-six more, all over the country. You go on line and make a list. You've got three hundred different vegetables to choose from, three hundred fifty kinds of cheese; seven hundred wine labels. They assemble your order, send it to a docking station, and then it's delivered right to your door. Profit margins of twelve percent. Do you know what the average is for supermarkets?"
Excerpted from Snakewoman of Little Egypt by Robert Hellenga. Copyright © 2010 by Robert Hellenga. Excerpted by permission of Bloomsbury. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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No Man's Land
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