The Emporium Gazette
Issue 56 -- December 2003

The Split
by Bob Nailor

"John?" Betty's voice echoed in the stairwell. The sound of her rushing up the stairs conveyed an unusual sense of haste. "John? Can you hear me?" The normally soft and melodic voice now pierced the air in plaintive shrillness. "John?"

"Yes, dear." He appeared in the first doorway of the hall.

"Oh," she said softly. "Look!" She raised the newspaper for John to view while pushing him back into the room. "I thought of going to the bank today..." She thumbed through the pages. As she manipulated the page into a nicely folded section, she quickly added, "They're running a special."

"Really?" John perused the paper searching for whatever Betty wanted him to see. "A special, you say?"

"Remember last month when they offered a ten percent increase?" Betty bubbled with excitement as her fingers quickly pointed out the ad. "Well, now they are giving two options; an even split or a spread across multiples."

As John listened to Betty briefly explain the details, her eyes danced with enthusiasm. "Do you think we should?" he questioned. "After all, I am forty-four. Would it be a wise move at this time?" Her beaming face answered his question. "Which were you thinking of using, dear?"

"The twelve!" Betty answered. "The twelve on an even split. That would give us two sixes."

"Two sixes... interesting..." John let his hand pass over his chin and slide down his neck. The forefinger and thumb massaged as he thought. "That could certainly give us some diversity."

"With the eight, and the two sixes, our flexibility would be almost unlimited. And if..." Betty looked about conspiratorially. "And if we can get a ten percent increase later, just think!"

John nodded. "Go ahead. Sounds like it might be a great deal in the long run. Take... ah..." He frowned in thought. "Jackie. Yes, take Jackie, with you."

Betty shook her head back and forth. "Can't even remember the names of our children. It isn't like we got them yesterday. You're getting old; poor dear." Betty gave a mock frown at John as she patted him on his cheek. She spun to leave, turned back and blew him a kiss. "See you later, love." She stepped into the hallway. "Jackie? Jackie?" Again her voice blared in the stairwell as she began her search for their daughter. The sound of Betty's clicking heels dwindled as she hurried down the staircase and out the front door.

* * * * *

"Good morning ma'am. May I be of service?" The young clerk cheerily greeted them as he stood up from behind the polished desk.

"Yes, thank you." Betty returned a smile. "I am here in response to your ad about the split." She placed a portfolio on the desk in front of him and he quickly scanned the cover sheet.

"I see. Be seated. What did you have in mind?" He unobtrusively watched Jackie as she sat down.

"I would like an even split, six each."

The clerk's eyebrows lifted only slightly. "I don't see any problem. Will that be an identical or a simple split six?"

"I don't believe it really matters. Could you show me the different options available to us?" Betty's speech was at a

controlled volume, but under the facade of strained calmness, the wild excitement of change raced through her.

The young man gestured to show the direction. "If you would step this way, please. The second door on the right will be our demonstration room." He grinned bashfully to Betty and Jackie as he opened the door for them to enter. "Allow me to turn down the lights. That will allow a better view of the different choices as they are projected. I'll start with the identical splits." The clerk dimmed the lights and turned on a small projector. "As you can see," he continued. "The particular selection you requested at six is limited, but nonetheless, has very good opportunities with three possibilities."

Betty's head nodded as she viewed the three projected onto the screen. "The middle one..." she started. "Would that be a safe choice?"

"Very prudent." A click and the screen instantly filled with an enhanced picture and full details. "As you can see, this option has had a very good past, and we only foresee optimum growth with a minimum of input."

"Thank you." Betty said while wondering if she was being hustled. "May I now view the others available?"

"Certainly. Which of the other two would you like to see next?"

"I'm sorry, I meant the singles." She hesitated. "Oh, and could you put a hold on the one I just viewed. I wouldn't want to let such an opportunity slip through my hands."

"Very well, ma'am. Continuing on, then, I have eleven options available for the simple split." The clerk manipulated a couple of buttons and a temporary hold was placed on the request. "If you would like more information on any of the current opportunities you are viewing, I would be more than happy to show you."

"I don't believe so; at least, not on any of these." Betty let her nose wrinkle in light disgust. "But I do have a question about the identical split. If I were to take that particular selection, could I trade-in or split just one of them at a later date?"

"No, ma'am. The identical options must be kept together. If we allowed splitting of identicals..." He hesitated and shrugged his shoulders. "I think you understand what could occur." He rolled his eyes about for emphasis.

"Yes, of course, how silly of me. Well, then it is settled." Betty smiled at the clerk. "I believe my husband and I will take the identical split."

"Very good, ma'am," the clerk replied as he turned the lights back up. "I'll have the paperwork started immediately. We'll get your portfolio and..."

Jackie looked at the clerk, a small tear in her eye.

"Now, now, a sad face does not become one so cute," he said. "You just come with me, young lady." He took her hand. "We'll take care of this business and have you out of here in no time." He led Jackie to the door.

He turned back to Betty, picked up the portfolio and started going through it.

"I see you already have an eight. I think everyone will be happy with the choice you have made. Of course," he said, absently while mulling over the paper, "not having a twelve around will alter the way things are done." He closed the portfolio and turned to look at Betty. "Now lets go get those cute six year old twin boys for you. Follow me, please."

Bob Nailor is author of "The Secret Voice," an Amish-Christian story, "Pangaea, Eden Lost," an adventure story, "Three Steps: The Journeys of Ayrold," a Celtic fantasy, and "2012: Timeline Apocalypse," an end-of-time tale. He is also included in several anthologies and collections. Check his website at

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