You don’t need $25,000. All you need is a few bucks, some “inside dope” and you’re in on the ground floor. Of course, you may end up in the basement
THE TWITCH has pretty well disappeared from my telephone hand and the tic in my left eye improves every day. I realize, of course, that I haven’t been cured; my case has merely been arrested. When the conversation turns to the stock market, I smile bleakly and turn away, aware that I will never be able to buy just one stock and let it go at that but must go on and on, buying and selling, selling, buying, trading, plunging ...
It happened a few weeks back when the financial pages were full of reports of how the Little Man as they describe anyone with less than $25,000 was turning the Toronto Stock Exchange upside down with his weird and sometimes wonderful speculations. I can say now that not all those Little Men retired to live for the rest of their lives off their uranium shares. I can further offer the opinion that some Little Men ought to be content to just stay Little Men—this Little Man in particular.
It was all an accident anyway. A friend owed me a hundred dollars, and owed it to me for so long that I had abandoned all hope of ever collecting. One day he astonished me.
“I haven’t got your money,” he said, as he always began his conversations. “But I do have some
stock, a good uranium stock. I’ll put some of it in your name. If it goes up, then you’ll have a lot more than a measly hundred bucks.”
“And if it goes down?”
“Well,” he said lightly, “it was only a measly hundred.”
Two weeks later he phoned. “Guess what?” he asked.
“Give up,” I said.
“I’ve got two hundred and twenty-five dollars here for you.”
“You sure you have the right party?” I asked.
“The stock,” he burbled. “Your stock went up. I sold it for two twenty-five. I’m sending the money up to you.”
I was on my way to joining the Little Men. That same night at a cocktail party the conversation somehow got around to stocks. I admitted I liked to take the occasional flyer—I don’t know where
I picked up the term—and, in fact, had just mai something of a killing on a uranium.
“What uranium?” someone asked.
“Well—” I began, suddenly realizing I didn know what uranium. “Uh—it’s not doing ve! well now. The mine went dry. They thought it w uranium at first, then it turned out to be raffenspa just plain old raffenspan.”
“Yes, raffenswot. Looks like uranium, know —until you get down close enough for a go( look, then it turns out to be plain old raffensong.” “What are you in now?” asked a young man. “Now?” I paused uncomfortably. “Oh,O mean now. Well, there’s that new mine up nort What is that name?”
“Consolidated Amalgam—yes, of course.”
“But it’s been going down.”
“Haw,” I said with a knowing smile that much as admitted that I personally had arrang* for it to go down.
“What if it turns out to be raffenswong?” “Can’t be. They took some tests. The raffensf isotope tests. No reaction at all.”
A few moments later I Continued on page ¡
How I Made My Killing
CONTINUED FROM PAGE 30
was approached by a middle-aged man whose bearing exuded knowingness. A very large cigar was jammed in the corner of his mouth and he had a Martini in each hand and I immediately began wondering how he managed to shake off the cigar ashes without having them land in either Martini.
"Hear you’re in pretty deep,” he said. "Oh,” I said blushing, "you heard about that girl. Well, I can easily explain the whole thing . . .”
"I mean the market,” he said, his teeth clenching the cigar. "Lissen, I’ll give you a tip. Put everything ya got into New Mackensack Mines.”
The next morning I phoned a friend in a brokerage office.
"I’d like to buy some New Mackensack,” I told him.
"Well,” he said reluctantly, "there
ís such a thing, that I have to admit.”3
"The whole thing? Or just a shaft or two?”
"Some shares. Just some shares.”
"Well,” I said, "make it an even hundred.”
"Sure. Would you like them giftwrapped?”
"No, no—they’re all for me.”
The next few days I spent in a state of mild delirium. I haunted brokerage boardrooms. I spent my lunch hours in the spectators’ gallery at the Stock Exchange, staring fixedly at the tickertape projection, a fantastic parade of numbers that streamed past about twenty-five feet beyond the distance at which I could read without squinting. Every evening I bought the late editions; I would always ask the paper boy to be sure my paper had the "final markets” and I noted with satisfaction that he now seemed to eye me with new respect.
I had decided to sell my New Mackensack at the end of the week when it had doubled. Only it didn’t double. I called my broker.
"Sell,” I said grimly. "Sell it all.”
"All hundred shares?”
"Every last one.”
The man with the cigar had misled me but I plunged in again with fanatic energy. Every day I bought or sold something. My stock selections were founded on three lines of reasoning: If a stock had been going up for several days, it would probably continue to rise; if a stock had been standing still for a time, it was due to make a spurt; if a stock had been going down, then this was a good time to buy in cheaply before it went up again. And I would have long conferences with my broker. He would unroll maps to point out the suspected locations of ore bodies, lecture me on capitalizations and stock underwritings and quote me excerpts from The Financial Post and the Northern Miner.
"But do you think it will go up?” I would ask.
He would look at me helplessly, then reply, "Me? How do I know?”
I lived in a world of stop-losses, buy orders, day-sell orders and open-buy orders. My appetite went and I found myself suffering a form of mental disorder. For instance, 1 was walking through a large chain-store grocery one day when I spotted some canned spaghetti being featured at two cents off the regular price. The thought flashed —I could buy the whole lot of spaghetti, sit tight for a while until the price went up, then sell at a profit. That sort of thing.
One day in May I totaled my assets and decided to sell. I dumped, but there was scarcely a ripple on the market. And I had come out ahead —by $2.75.
Today I read about the Little Man’s activities on the stock market. I see a man walking down Bay Street, his eyes glazed and a muscle in his cheek working furiously. I recognize him immediately—a Little Man investing in the future of his country . . .
Me, I put my money in the bank. There’s not much profit but there’s not much raffenspat, either. ★
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