For the Bartering
Note and Disclaimer: Well, this is another character I never wrote before, so be kind. Oh, and nothing here is mine.
Some people are a terror when they take from others. Others are helpful and give of themselves. Then, there are some people who take pride that they can be both. There are rewards for bartering for the right things…or so Sergeant Arthur "Sparky" Pryor has always figured.
Sparky was born in Alabama and grew up in a world where the color of your skin and how much money you had meant everything. While poor like most, he did not believe anything should stop him. From childhood onward, Sparky was interested in bartering. He felt that money was great, but having the item someone desired above all was better.
His nickname was not because he was interested in electronics (although he had a knack for it). He always had an idea, a spark, if you must call it, and it always got him out of trouble. It helped him with his bartering too. A man with brains like that always moved up in life. Most certainly, Sparky was unique.
Sparky also did not care who someone was. If they had something to trade with him, he was up for the game. Before long, it was his sole lifestyle and what he lived for. It enriched him. His family managed to escape poverty and this settled him down. He didn't marry yet, but any woman was his for the taking. They always had something to give and take.
Something more powerful than Sparky's ingenuity worked its wheels behind the scenes: the US Army. When Sparky was eighteen, he was one of the lucky saps to be drafted. The wars in Europe and Asia had ended and peace was at hand, but bodies were always needed.
It was not hard work. Sparky easily went through basic training and more. He still came out top dog. He was not just the best as the tasks the Army set forth. He quickly found contraband items that everyone longed for. If someone was desperate enough, they can contact him. Sparky's only requirement was that they had something of equal value. Being in the military was tough without the creature comforts of home. Sparky had the market cornered.
His talents for negotiating and electronics came in handy. He was soon assigned to work the operator lines for the telephone. This was perfect. For Sparky, it meant more bartering. It meant that he had control. More than anything else, anyone will love to call home. He had the power to deny or accept it and at what price. Usually, he was easy on his fellow servicemen. There was only so much one can get in the Army.
It helped that he worked in the center of military activity too. It meant that he could access any paperwork he wished. If someone required more than a telephone call, he was able to wheel and deal. He was never caught. Sparky was intelligent enough to use the Army against itself and hide his folly through piles of paperwork. Nobody wanted to go through the hassle.
But then, he was sent to Korea. Sparky was not just in the middle of the operations. He was right there in the action. He was stationed initially in Pusan. Then, as the move north continued, he moved along with it, eventually resettling in Seoul one too many times. No matter what though, he operated those telephones quickly. Lives could be at stake. Supplies were always needed. And of course, everyone wanted to call their friends and family.
And there he was, still patching them through. Things were pretty desperate in Korea and Sparky moved mountains to make everything right. He was lauded for his work, by his superiors and his colleagues alike. Nobody knew that he was bartering to achieve it all. Besides, it kept his goal in sight: to leave the Army. Nothing else will do. He'd trade anything to be discharged.
Sparky did not like the Army much. He preferred to do his service and leave. It was a career move most people favor to get done and over with. What he preferred to do to forget the fighting was learn about future opportunities. The world was always changing and he had move along with it. Bartering will hold him over. It always did.
After his war, Sparky went home to Alabama. The Army discharged him and awarded with enough medals he did not need. He locked them away and went back to his civilian business. His family was lost without him hustling. His bartering was going to get through the tough times, like they did before. It got him through his childhood and his time in the Army. Nothing can change that.
Sparky soon was king of the electronics industry in Alabama. Because of his Army experience, he was able to corner the markets and build up his empire. Before the decade was out, he was a corporation and hiring as many people as he could. In times of trouble, he did not care who a person was. Just as long as they worked hard, he could barter for their employment.
I am Death though…and there is always a way to me. Sparky was a special case. He used his bartering skills to get through life and his time in Korea. It was an activity well worth the effort. In the end though, he will not find himself a victim of another's hand. Because inactivity, the year of being a corporate boss will wear him down to a stroke. There is no bartering in that.