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A Man of Yet a Few More Words - by Swan Morrison

AnyBank: The Bank You Can Trust

It all happened so quickly.

At one moment I was simply answering my doorbell, in the next I was tied-up in my front room with a gun pointed at my forehead.

‘Who are you?’ I implored. ‘Why are you doing this?’

One of my two balaclava-clad assailants closed the front room curtains. ‘We may as well tell him the truth,’ he said, glancing at his watch. ‘We’ve got half an hour before we’re due to kill Mrs Dobson.’

The second gunman lowered his weapon and looked me in the eyes. ‘You bank with our employer, AnyBank, don’t you?’ he said, almost apologetically.

‘Yes,’ I replied.

‘I wasn’t too good at maths at school,’ the second gunman confessed, ‘but they tell me the statisticians at AnyBank Head Office have developed a new mathematical theorem about bank profits.’

‘What’s that got to do with me?’ I asked in a trembling voice.

‘They’ve calculated,’ he continued, ‘that if they randomly kill one in three customers, that will optimise profits.’ He hesitated as if searching for words. ‘I’m very sorry to say that your account number is exactly divisible by three.’

‘But that can’t be true,’ I countered. ‘The adverts on TV portray AnyBank as the friendly, caring, socially and ecologically aware bank that places the wellbeing of its customers above that of the testicles of its CEO.’

‘That was a great advert,’ enthused the first gunman, moving from the windows and sitting down in an armchair. ‘You wouldn’t believe that it was thought-up by a serial killer at Broadmoor. He won the Advertising Industry Advertisement of the Year Award for it. Unfortunately,’ the assassin sadly added, ‘he couldn’t attend the award ceremony because his psychiatrist said his psychopathy made him too deranged to be released from his solitary, padded cell.’ The first gunman paused. ‘You know, he just sits in his cell all day writing all the most sincere and convincing adverts that appear on TV.’

‘Are you saying that AnyBank is killing its customers to enhance profits,’ I stuttered in terror and amazement, returning to the purpose of their visit.

‘I don’t like it any more than you do,’ admitted the second gunman. ‘Last week I had to shoot my grandmother, but they told all of us counter staff that if we weren’t prepared to “smile at customers by day and kill the mindless, lucrative, cash cow bastards by night” we’d all be unemployed.’ He paused to reflect and then added, ‘I’ve got the rest of my family to think of, you know.’

He looked at his watch. ‘I’m really sorry,’ he said as he raised his gun and aimed at my head.

The mobile phone of the first gunman beeped. He checked a text message. ‘Hold on,’ he said, ‘it’s a message from Head Office. We’ve killed so many customers that the Optimum Profit Formula has led to a new optimum customer extinction rate.’ He pressed a button on his phone to read the remainder of the message. ‘We now only need to kill every alternate customer on our list.’

‘It’s your lucky night,’ said the second gunman, holstering his weapon. He reached into his pocket and withdrew some leaflets. ‘We have to visit Mrs Dobson, now,’ he continued, ‘but you might like to look through these new financial products being offered by AnyBank. Someone from Sales will ring you in a day or two to try to talk you into buying one.’

Both men stood up and walked towards the door.

‘Remember,’ one said, as they departed, ‘AnyBank is the caring, listening bank that is interested only in the needs of its customers . . . or you may be seeing us again.’