In a universe far too close to here, Tark and Mara were one week into their 30-day plan to single-handedly rescue the reputations of the world’s super-rich. Ruminative steam rose from the sparkling glass roof of their 12th-storey penthome in the heart of Dublin, startling some seagulls, which had yet to detect the military-grade anti-avian cannons just thirty seconds away from detonation.
“I have to do my bit,” said Mara. “Give back to society. It’s my duty as a person of great consequence.”
Tark looked up from the 22-carat-gold-plated laptop his wife had handed him, tears glistening in his eyes. “And so you have. This is magnificent, my darling,” he breathed, shivers of excitement rippling through his impeccably muscled five-foot-two frame.
Mara’s dubiously lush lips pursed in an approximation of a smile as she stretched languorously on the antique chaise-longue. The sun poured in the windows of the penthouse as the cannons fired, and berserk squawking ensued. Somewhere in the street below, a small child was crying its heart out, having doubtless been told it could not have something it rather wanted to have. All was blissfully right with the world.
Her idea was magnificent. She knew it. In order for a global PR campaign to succeed in rescuing the reputation of the super-rich, they needed a champion, and she had found hers in fiction. It felt like her entire life had been rushing to meet exactly this point. In creating Jane, a deceptively ordinary and yet cunningly reluctant heroine for the moneyed masses, she had created a masterpiece.
Tark shook his head in wonder. “It’s a masterstroke that she neither inherited her wealth, nor intended to be wealthy,” he said. “You’ll get a job in politics out of this. You mark my words.”
“I always do, my Lord.” Mara registered Tark’s shudder with a smirk. He loved it when she pretended to be subservient. So did she.
She had only begun to write at 5:00am, just after her morning class of Punching Pilates, the new craze in mixed martial yoga which dealt most harmoniously with her aggressive tendencies, and she had already completed 20,000 words of the novel which was going to take the world by storm at Christmas.
Jane, her heroine, an outwardly philanthropic woman whose ambition had been to eradicate world poverty, was about to accidentally became obscenely wealthy through the invention of a compound which turned contaminated water into instant high-grade champagne. The ensuing flood of the world’s super-rich into deeply polluted and impoverished third world areas would upturn real estate values all over the globe, and transform Jane into a multi-billionaire overnight.
“It’s the philanthropy angle,” said Tark. “You can’t beat it. Most billionaires are expected to pay lip service to it, which is why, as a PR tool, the effects are usually limited. But by making her entire ambition philanthropic–”
“The provision of clean water for the world’s poorest people–” Mara interjected.
“Only to have it turn on its head and make her rich–” said Tark.
“And through no fault of her own, push poor people even further to the margins where they no longer even have access to dirty water, let alone clean water–”
“It proves that nothing is really the fault of the super-rich!” finished Tark. “Genius!”
“I thought so, yes.” Mara fluttered her eyelashes at her diminutive husband, whereupon he seized his cue and, leaning over the chaise-longue, kissed her thoroughly.
By the time they came up for air, a thousand new ideas had begun fermenting in Mara’s mind. She knew where Jane would go next, and how much money she would make out of it. All she needed now, was an antagonist.
“I need a villain,” she said breathlessly, much to Tark’s delight.
“You always need a villain.” He held one of her skeletal hands between his own; she reached up with the other to stroke the shimmering bald expanse of his head. “That’s why you married me.”
She blushed prettily. “Oh, you!”
He kissed her again and nuzzled her ear. “Your villains are always the best part of your books, my tantalising tarantula. I can’t wait to see who this one is going to be.”
“Well, obviously it’s going to have to be an environmentalist,” Mara mused. “Someone who doesn’t wash their hair. Someone idiotic enough to refuse bribes, who wouldn’t know Prada from Primark.”
Tark shuddered again. “I’m already appalled,” he said.
“Someone truly nefarious, who thinks that the supply of bubbly should be operated on a collective basis, with microfinancing schemes for the local poor,” said Mara dreamily.
“Someone who loves Charles Dickens,” nuzzled Tark. “Although the fellow had a certain charm to him, I must say. God be with the days when the rich were benevolent and the poor were just lazy.”
Mara grabbed the shining sphere of her husband’s head and held his eyes with the fierce longing of her own. “We will have those days again, my love,” she said. “In fact, I can feel them here already.”
*EDITOR’S NOTE… this post was scheduled in advance. Tark and Mara are extremely busy and important and may not be in a position to immediately reply to comments. Taking over the world is a cruel mistress, but they will be back to you as soon as they can.Embed from Getty Images