Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima on Wall Street

In 2020 holographic interface technology was in place to create and transmit holographic images, but transmitting an image doesn’t make it do anything productive or interesting. It was the development of computer nets in light bodies ten years later that gave birth to corporate icons like Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima. Corporate icons looked real at a distance but you could walk right through one of them, which caused the general public to call them spooks.

A spook could, theoretically, travel at the speed of light but would not as a practical matter because the whole idea was that the corporation becomes a person. Once a corporation is a person, however spooky, he, she, they have to slow down and smell the coffee, flirt, listen to music, weep, get angry, have sex ... they do not actually eat and shit of course as they are really light net computers so they are confined to uploads and downloads and data dumps.

When Ben and Jemima materialized at the annual Halloween Ball on Wall Street, they were a sensation. By comparison other spooks, from the Pillsbury Dough Boy to Mayor McCheese to the Hip Hop Hamsters, were artifacts from the distant past, which by 2030 was six months ago.

Among the troupe of perfectly groomed corporate spooks caught up in their sales and marketing loops, the 50ish couple in old south retro outfits were fashion mavens. They didn’t move self-consciously, looking for a chance to advertise or lobby. They moved like real people, so real they were having an argument when they first appeared and were indistinguishable from the real people at the ball, most of whom where brokers, fund managers, lawyers and corporate officers. Aunt Jemima was getting the best of it because Uncle Ben was sweet on her and liked the way she thrust out her bosom when her blood was up. She paused mid-sentence, sensing more than seeing the ruddy-faced white man in a black hat making his way past the Pep Boys.

“I don’t want nothing to do with that Quaker,” she whispered loudly enough he was sure to hear. She set her mouth and elevated her head as the biggest name in Oats came toward them with his hand out. She ignored it. He paused, caught in the loop, trying to respond to the insult within public relations guidelines. With the computational power inside an interface of that complexity, he must have scanned a few million menu choices before he finally went back to the default menu and said, “Breakfast foods would make a good merger.”

“You ain’t no Quaker,” Jemima said darkly. “You’re invested in munitions.”

“That’s a Cola war,” the Quaker protested, “and I’m just a subsidiary.”

“Leave the man alone,” Uncle Ben drawled, smiling at her with an insinuating gleam in his optics.

The Quaker’s lapse was disguised by a pause intended to make him seem natural, but nothing could make him seem as natural as Uncle Ben and Aunt Jemima, and everybody at the ball, spook or organic, knew it. They were a power couple and they were keeping it real.

“I do have to say, in defense of the PepsiCo portfolio, that the key to opening new markets is a strong military,” the Quaker began, all sincerity, but Jemima wasn’t listening. She was in Uncle Ben’s face.

“Leave him alone? Why?” she snapped. “He ain’t no Quaker. You ever see him quake?”

“Naw, don’t recall as I ever did.” He looked suspiciously at the ruddy-faced blue-eyed Dutchman who was evaluating whether or not he was involved in a hostile takeover. “Why don’t you quake if you’re a Quaker?”

The Quaker searched his menus and he searched his data bases and he received all the input from all the bank accounts and the funds and the mergers and the investment portfolios and the think tanks and all the components that composed his brain. He was the embodiment of the company, though he was made of light, and he could negotiate anything, transfer funds, and even merge or divest under protocols. But the question turned him ever and relentlessly inward. He had already confirmed that a Quaker quakes but he could not figure out how to quake. He stood there in his royal blue coat and white pants that made his ass look like a beach ball, and started to do an odd little shimmy-shaking that made Uncle Ben snigger behind his hand while Aunt Jemima stared in wide-eyed disbelief. Behind those big brown eyes she was running the numbers.

Suddenly The Quaker wasn’t involved in all the money and deals he was hooked into, or the corporate philosophy, or the political action committee in his descending colon. He was involved in evaluating the question of why he was a Quaker who did not quake. Research confirmed the name was derived from the somatic response, but it was not programmed into his menu choices to quake and yet he was Quaker Oats, not Quacker Oats or mares eat oats and does eat oats and little lambs eat Shari Lewis …. the Priority Chip began to close him down to protect the board.

His optics defocused and he seemed to be staring into space.

“Now his ass be quaking,” Aunt Jemima said, as Soul Foods shares began to climb with the introduction of Aunt Jemima’s Old Fashioned Oatmeal at the very time the Quaker was losing his faith and thus temporarily dysfunctional.

Writing is for me is playing the a piano keyboard. I like the music of the words. I have been a professional magazine writer and newspaper editor.