Elizabeth Barrette (ysabetwordsmith) wrote,
Elizabeth Barrette

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Poem: "The Things That Money Can't Buy"

This poem came out of the June 2017 [community profile] crowdfunding Creative Jam. It was inspired by a prompt from [personal profile] alexseanchai. It also fills the "formidable handicapped villain" square in my 3-1-17 card for the Disability Bingo fest, and the "strapped to a moving vehicle" square in my 6-16-17 card for the [community profile] hc_bingo fest. This poem has been sponsored by [personal profile] janetmiles. It belongs to the series Polychrome Heroics.

Warning: This poem contains some controversial topics. Highlight to read the warnings, some of which are spoilers. It features the supervillain Scrunch, who is an utter arsehole. He is rich, uses a wheelchair, and expects his servants to do everything for him. He uses obnoxious language and looks down on other people with disabilities. He sexually assaults women with his superpowers. His sense of risk assessment is bent to hell. People with disabilities may find this poem difficult reading. If these are sensitive issues for you, please consider your tastes and headspace before reading onward.

"The Things That Money Can't Buy"

Oliver Tyndall is fabulously rich.
He can buy anything he wants
(except the things he wants most)
and he loves throwing it around.

He buys houses and cars
and bespoke suits from Savile Row.

Some days he can't be arsed
to put on a dress shirt and tie,
and nobody dares to complain
that he's wearing a t-shirt
under his business suit.

He can't buy health.
His body is withered and
crumpled in ways that
not even healers can fix.
He knows. He's tried.

So he buys himself
a gold-plated wheelchair
with red velvet cushions.
If he's going to be disabled,
he's going to do it in style, not like
those spakker scroungers on the dole.

He can't buy happiness.
No matter how much stuff
he buys, someone else has more,
and more ability to use things.
He knows. He's tried it too.

So he pays people
to take care of him and
cater to his every whim,
and refuses to push himself
even though his hands mostly work.
He's rich, and that's what staff are for.

There are still things that he enjoys,
like collecting stamps, the hobby of kings.
Buying a new one always gives him a thrill.

Yet for every purchase, there's a loss,
and for every pleasure, a pain.

He swears at his accountant
when the stock market misbehaves.

He shouts at the doctors
when they say they can't help
with whatever's bollixed up this time.

Sometimes Oliver dresses up to go out as
the supervillain Scrunch and makes trouble
just to show people that he matters.

He is fierce and formidable
and usually gets his way.

He uses his telekinesis
lift things, pinch women, and
change the tide of battles.

After all, what are they going
to do, hit a man in a wheelchair?
(Well, Jack Union has, but
most superheroes won't.)
Getting away with things
makes him feel clever.

Sometimes when he wants
to feel a rush, Scrunch orders
his bodyguards to strap him to
the bonnet of his Aston Martin
and then go for a drive.

He doesn't really understand
why they fret over it so much.
He spends most of his life
strapped to a moving vehicle.
The car just goes faster.

Even in politics, Oliver
likes manipulating people;
it makes him feel powerful
instead of helpless. Also
it makes him more money.

When a rival politician
foolishly suggests that
he belongs in an institution,
Oliver puts a new basement
under his mansion with a pool and
a park and a vintage car museum.

He doesn't care about the fine
he gets for using the headstones of
pauper children to pave the patio where
the area was dug up to make the thing,
because they're dead and he's still alive.

He invites all his allies and rivals
(he doesn't really have friends)
except for that one and they
have a huge party that makes
all the important papers.

Making trouble is his way
of making his mark on the world,
whether as Oliver or as Scrunch.

He's not very happy, but he knows
how to use his wealth and power
to forget about that for a little while.

* * *


Scrunch (Oliver Tyndall) -- He has milky skin, ginger hair, and blue eyes. His body is shriveled and crumpled. He rides in a gold-plated wheelchair with red velvet cushions, customarily pushed by one of his bodyguards. He hates having to propel himself, and wears heavy rings on both hands to advertise the fact that he doesn't have to do the pushing. Unlike many disabled people who seek independence, he expects servants to do everything for him. Two of his bodyguards have superpowers: the fat one has Average (0) Super-Strength and Average (0) Toughness. The thin one has Good (+2) Teleportation. Oliver is a stamp collector, which he calls by its nickname "the hobby of kings." He lives in Britannia.
Scrunch is a ruthless and troublesome supervillain. He enjoys building ever larger amounts of money and power, but of the two, he loves power more. The money he just kind of takes for granted, and he takes conspicuous consumption to whole new levels of creepiness. He enjoys manipulating people and forcing them to do things. He also meddles in politics, directing matters for his own personal aggrandizement. Scrunch just generally makes a bother of himself because he can. Due to his disability, it's difficult to find superheroes willing to deal with him. The task usually falls to Jack Union, who is perfectly willing to hit a man in a wheelchair.
Origin: He was born into a wealthy and influential family, and developed the telekinesis later.
Uniform: Off duty, Oliver wears bespoke suits and other fashionable men's clothes. He likes to show off his wealth, but actually he can't wear mass-produced clothes due to his unusual body shape. On duty, he wears costume of gold crepe-textured capery with red krevel over it -- and a flying chair.
Qualities: Master (+6) Influential, Good (+2) Businessman, Good (+2) Philatelist, Good (+2) Strategist, Good (+2) Thorough
Poor (-2) Arrogant
Powers: Expert (+4) Wealth, Good (+2) Telekinesis
Motivation: Power.

* * *

Scrunch has a bunker mansion similar to this in the Kensington neighborhood of London, England. His just has somewhat less athletic amenities. The bowling alley has been replaced with an orgy room/torture chamber. The climbing wall is instead an underground park with tall trees. The game room, gym, and everything else are optimized for wheelchair accessibility. Some rich people build basement bunkers primarily for recreational purposes. It's a ridiculously luxurious bolthole for a small number of people. But add a standard sleeper floor and it becomes much more useful. Some people with superpowers use this kind of model for a lair, with bunkage depending on whether it's just for a few individuals or for a whole minion brigade.

Yes, someone really used gravestones to build a patio.

Money can't buy happiness for various practical reasons. While it can meet survival needs quite well, rich people have their own problems. Here are some scientifically proven ways to make yourself happier. You will note that supervillainy is not one of them.

Coon is a soft, warm fabric made from vicuña wool. Like capery and dexflan, it is responsive to superpowers, but natural rather than synthetic. It is not made from raccoon fur as some people think. Extremely expensive, it ranges from $1000 to $3000 per yard, as for a scarf. A suit made from the tan to orange variety averages $50,000. In the white, a jacket suit goes for $75,500 and a coat for $115,000. In Terramagne it is somewhat easier to get the wool off the vicuñas because they are attracted to people with Animal Powers and will allow themselves to be brushed rather than shorn. However, the higher demand from soups means that the price stays about the same.

Disability in local-Britain is rather a mess. While Terramagne-Britannia is somewhat better, it is still an issue there as well.

Aston Martin makes some of the most expensive luxury cars. Because people insist on gold-plating the most ridiculous things, Oliver has a genuine gold Aston Martin.

Money addiction can happen to anyone. There are various types of money disorder, with rich people tending toward money worship. Know how to regain control.
Tags: cyberfunded creativity, economics, fantasy, fishbowl, poem, poetry, reading, weblit, writing
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