By Jack Adler
“What I was thinking was a spin-off on reverse mortgages,” Morris said as he sat having coffee with his friend Sam. Both in their late fifties, they often brainstormed, throwing out their ideas.
“How would that work?” Sam asked.
“Well, it’s a little morbid, but what with the pandemic, people are more used to these things.”
“It’s very simple,” Morris said, bending over the table as if that slight movement added impetus to his idea. “Instead of their house, people at a certain age would get a monthly stipend until they die, after which their bodies would belong to us to do with as we wish. Sell body parts. Food. Agriculture composts. Whatever.”
“Would that be legal?” Sam’s dark eyes looked downcast.
“Why not? People would get their money. And many would welcome the money.”
“I don’t know. People might accept body parts but food? We’re not cannibals. Not yet.”
Morris shook his head decisively, pushing a gray hair away from his eyes. “I didn’t say food for humans. It could be for pets. But it still could be humans in selective markets.”
“And compost, by which you mean manure?”
“A legitimate use.”
“But an unpleasant one.”
“They won’t care if they’re dead.”
Sam shook his head. “So how would it actually work? At what age, and how much would they get?”
“We’d have to do more research on the actuarial tables. Get an insurance expert involved. There are a couple of factors involved. We live longer. More older people. Better medical care.”
“Don’t try to pin me down,” Morris complained. “We’re at the concept stage.”
“I’m not a faucet, Sam. I just look like one.”
Sam laughed. “Okay.”
“I figure 80 as the age at which this starts, and the money can be on a graduated level. The longer you live, the more you get. That would be a good motto.”
“A sure winner.”
“Thanks for the sarcasm.” Morris gave his friend an irate glance and then went on. “We’d start low and up the ante a bit as people age.”
“How would this scheme be bankrolled? Not by us.”
“No, of course not. We’d have to get backers. But I think we would. I think the idea would catch on.”
“Even if morbid and of questionable ethics.”
“Neither will bother you if the plan works. We’re not exactly neophytes.”
“I suppose I could make my peace with it,” Sam admitted. “I assume there’s a good market for body parts.”
“Excellent, and we’d be doing a public service.”
“So to speak,” Sam scoffed. “We’d need a lot of dough to carry this off. How would we claim bodies? How would we store them? We’d need a giant refrigerator.”
“And who would dissect bodies? A doctor? A butcher? A lot of labor costs.”
“Come on, Sam, these are all details to be worked out.”
Suddenly, a burly guard came up to their table. “Okay, you two scam-artists. Bedtime.”
Reluctantly, Sam and Morris stood, stretching their legs as if they had fallen asleep.
“You ever notice,” Morris whispered, “that guards can be sarcastic even at a minimum-security prison?”
“And just because we were a little imaginative in our financial deals.”
“And just because we’re due to get released soon,” Morris complained as they trooped to their barracks.
“You’d think they don’t trust us,” Sam said, shaking his head with the glimmer of a sad smile.
“Damn right!” Morris agreed, with an ironic grin. “Go figure.”