Mark James Wooding
Street smarts

Jasmine and Crystal waited below the street light. They wore short skirts, revealing tops, and a generous helping of cosmetics.

“God it's slow tonight,” Jasmine said. “I'm can't believe I'm missing Downton Abbey for this.”

“I couldn’t watch it after season two,” said Crystal. “When I heard that Anna was going to get raped in season three, I didn’t want to see the rest of it. I’ve seen enough of that in real life.”

“That was rough,” Crystal agreed. “But it’s a good show.”

A car approached. The women looked hopeful, but the car didn’t stop.

“Do you ever wonder whether the money is worth it?” asked Crystal.

“Sometimes. But I’m not going to be doing this forever. I’ve got a plan.”

“Oh yeah, Jasmine? What’s your plan?”

“I’ve been investing my money. I’ve got my money making money for me. Once my money is making me enough money, then I’ll retire.”

“Well that’s just common sense,” said Crystal. “But unless you get in on an internet startup, or biotech, it takes a whole lot of time for your money to make that much money.”

“Maybe, but --”

Another car drove by. The girls looked meaningfully at the driver, and the car pulled up to the curb.

“My turn!” said Crystal. She walked up to the passenger window and looked in. “Hey sweetie! You want a date?...No, I'm not a policewoman. Are you a policeman?...Great. So what is it you want?...Twenty-five dollars? You're not getting anything here for twenty-five dollars.”

Crystal turned to look at Jasmine. “Hey, Jasmine! This guy wants to know what he can get for twenty-five dollars!”

Jasmine smiled. “I’ll hold his hand for five minutes for twenty-five dollars.”

Crystal turned and looked at the driver. “You hear that, sweetie? You’re in the wrong neighborhood. You want the crackheads. Go down three lights, take a left and drive about a mile. That’s what you’re looking for.”

The car drove off.

Jasmine spit her gum out onto the street. “If all I could get was twenty-five dollars,” she said, “I’d go back to work at Walmart.”

“You were telling me about your plan,” Crystal reminded Jasmine.

“Oh, yeah. Well, I’ve finally made enough money that I could buy into a hedge fund. They’ve got a great track record.”

“What are they charging you?”

“Two percent management fee, and twenty percent incentive fee.”

“Whoa, that’s steep.”

“If you could see their track record, Crystal, you’d understand.”

“I think I’ll stick with index funds,” Crystal replied. “They have lower fees, and a lot of studies have shown that they do better over time than active management.”

“Bullshit,” said Jasmine.

“I didn’t do the studies, I just read about them.”

“If I were investing in an average fund, maybe that would matter. But this fund is great. You should see their track record. I got turned on just looking at it.”

“They say past performance is no indication of future results,” Crystal warned her friend.

Jasmine was tired of people telling her that. “Well what the hell else are you going to look at if you don't look at past performance?” she replied testily. “How can you say index funds do better than active management if you don't look at past performance?”

She took a pack of gum from her purse. She offered it to Crystal, but Crystal declined. Jasmine put a fresh piece of gum in her mouth and put the pack back in her purse.

“If my psychic was still alive,” said Jasmine, “I'd ask her, but she got hit by lightning.”

Crystal shook her head. “Shame she didn’t see it coming.”

“She did. She said if it killed her it would only make her stronger.”

“That was stupid.”

“I said she was psychic. I didn't say she was smart.”

“Still,” said Crystal, “I’ll stick with index funds. I feel a lot safer with them.”

“Risk versus reward,” said Jasmine. “That’s what it’s all about. The guys at my hedge fund are, like, geniuses.”

“And so were the guys that brought down the economy in 2008. I don’t put much faith in geniuses.”

“I’ll guess we’ll just have to see whose portfolio does better,” Jasmine said, not wanting to get into an argument about it.

Crystal wasn’t done. “Your portfolio could do better for years, and then one day it could all be gone.”

“Crystal, I'm starting to feel like you're attacking me, and not just my choice of investments.”

“We’re talking about investment strategy. It's not personal.”

“Well it feels like it is,” said Jasmine.

Another car approached.

“Sorry,” said Crystal. “I didn’t mean it that way.”

The car pulled up.

“It’s all right. My turn,” said Jasmine.

The passenger’s side front window was down. Jasmine walked up to it.

“Hey, baby. Do you want a date?...A gas station?…Yeah, keep going two more lights. It’s on the left. Do you want me to go with you?...Whatever.”

Jasmine stepped back from the car. The car drove off.

“So where are all the good guys hiding?” wondered Crystal.

“I don't think the good guys are looking for us,” Jasmine replied.

“Maybe not, but a girl can dream.”

“God my feet hurt,” said Jasmine. She leaned up against the street light and she took off her left pump. She shook the shoe, but nothing fell out of it.

“Let's get out of here,” said Crystal. “Tonight's a bust. You can buy us some take-out, Miss Rich Hedge Fund Lady. Then we can go to my place and watch some Game of Thrones. I’ve got dessert covered. I’ve got rocky road, strawberry, and butter pecan ice cream.”

Jasmine put her shoe back on. “All right,” she said. “But if I’m buying dinner, the first customer tomorrow is mine.”

“Deal,” agreed Crystal.

The two young women crossed the street, got into Crystal’s car, then headed for the nearest Chinese restaurant.

Copyright 2016 Mark James Wooding

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