Aut Caesar Aut Nihil

-Loquacious Llama

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far far away…wait, I’m telling this wrong, actually. No, this story takes place in a place much like this, in a time much like ours. It’s a fable, yes, but I’d like you to see it as more of a parable, if you can. Now, where were we? *pages shuffling* Ah yes. Here we go.

One fine spring morning, a merchant loaded up his donkey with bags of salt and set off for the market to make his living. They had walked for a few miles when they came upon the shallow river they passed on their way every day. The merchant waded in and beckoned the donkey to follow. Unfortunately, the donkey slipped and fell into the river and realized that the bags of salt loaded on his back had become lighter.

There was nothing the merchant could do, except return home and try his luck the next day, loading his donkey with more bags of salt. As they reached the slippery riverbank, now deliberately, the donkey fell into the river and, regaining its feet with the weight of his load much diminished, brayed triumphantly as if he had obtained just what he desired.

The man watched all his efforts flow away in the river for the second time and quickly put two and two together. He returned home again but loaded his donkey with bags of sponges the next day.

The donkey, again playing the fool, set on its way. On reaching the river, it fell into the water again. But instead of the load becoming lighter, it became much heavier.

The merchant, thinking it had learnt its lesson, heaved a sigh of relief. But since this is a mad, mad world we live in, and nothing ever works out that simply, he found a summons to the court in his mailbox the next day. The judge, on the grounds of animal cruelty, ordered the merchant to apologize to the donkey, treat it better, pay a hefty fine and, as if to rub it in, waggled his fat finger at him in warning. The donkey, it turned out, had friends in high places and was pulling strings to get its way. The merchant, an honest man, who had never done anything but mind his own business, tried appealing to the better senses of the authorities, only to find deaf ears all around. So he dragged his feet home and slept a fitful sleep, troubled at the unjust prospects tomorrow would bring.

The next day, the donkey wasted a large portion of the salt again. And the day after that. And the day after that. The merchant soon grew accustomed to this recursive life of quiet despair, dying a little inside every time his labours washed away, like so many tears in the rain.

At first, he chalked it up to plain stupidity, Occam’s razor, you know? He even felt a little pity for the donkey, after all, it was completely oblivious, lacking even the tiniest shred of self-awareness. How could it know what hard work meant, what it meant to ache, what it meant to be hopelessly human, what it meant to be alive?  It was a dumb beast, nothing more. Maybe it would stop someday, he hoped, maybe it would understand how much of a pain it was being, he hoped through the neurotic nights and miserable mornings, even when he should have known better, he hoped.

But the donkey grew arrogant as the days passed. He knew how helpless the man was, trapped in a system far beyond his control, and began to take advantage of that, rolling about in the river like a baby frolicking in a bathtub, until the bags were nearly empty. Then it would strut out as a stallion would, braying at the man in what could only be hoarse laughter. The merchant had begun to question the very nature of his seemingly futile existence, if it was even worth making the trip, if any of it mattered at all. And on one such gloomy winter morning, walking back, drenched to the bone, he finally snapped. Enough was enough, he couldn’t keep going on like this. Something had to be done.

What the donkey didn’t know was that the merchant had been accumulating a stockpile of Bitcoin over the last three years, what with an unlimited supply of electricity and a high-speed internet connection, he’d managed to save up quite a bit, you see. And in an age like ours, where even toddlers with a functioning Wi-fi connection can find links like this and this, one shudders to imagine what a net savvy adult can accomplish with resources like that at his fingertips.  

And so the next day, the donkey proceeded to splash about in the river again, unaware of the laser sights lining up on it, when BANG! With the salt, its brains melted down the river, never to be seen again. The merchant smiled a broad smile and walked back home with a spring in his step. Tomorrow was going to be a good, good, good day, after all.

Moral of the story: People have limits; don’t push them too far, nitwit.



Filed under Prose

2 responses to “Aut Caesar Aut Nihil

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