Four by Miles Klee


THE NIKKEI & THE DOW

Recently an economist, long considered a future Nobel laureate, proposed a curious codependency between two major stock market indices—the Nikkei 225, based in Tokyo, and the Dow 30 in New York. It appeared the Dow, closing at 4 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, unduly or “irrationally” influenced the open of the Nikkei three hours later, at 9 a.m Japan Standard Time.

The Dow the next morning was likewise affected by the Nikkei’s last fluctuation seven hours and thirty minutes before. The economist made vague assertions that the affinity went deeper—that in reality all any stock index could do was “emotionally react” to external data that in turn only mirrored previous data, bringing a Zeno-like paradox to light: empirical evidence would never overtake the world it meant to keep up with. This breezy claim aroused many colleagues, who were characteristically nonplussed when its author, instead of shaping her nascent theory, retired.


THE NEWSPAPER

The newspaper slapped her porch every morning. It was a slap she heard from bed, not long after dawn, while she lay awake and her husband rustled in his sleep. A slap at the front porch, and the deliveryman’s car accelerating smoothly down the road. When she heard this, she got up in gray light and tied a blue bathrobe and drifted past her son’s room to the front door. Out on the porch, barefoot, she would check: yes, it was the same newspaper. They had changed the dates, and some of the pictures, but the people and places were all the same. It featured the same smug advice column and crossword puzzle. It was set in the same fonts, with all the same page numbers and bylines. In the back were the same obituaries, tallying the same dead. Overall, the same number of newsworthy things had happened. She would look up then at the spider plants that swayed between the white columns of her porch. She had tried to phone the newspaper’s offices, to cancel her subscription, but the line had been disconnected. She thought she’d wait out the terms of service—five years later, at no additional cost, the newspaper kept coming. She no longer burdened their recycling bin with all this newspaper, which piled up too quickly. Instead she folded each one and put it in her purse, as if to read it in a cafĂ©, but in fact to shred it at work, using the company’s new paper shredder, which made a terrific noise. Most of all she couldn’t have it in her home, with her family.


GENERALLY SPEAKING

Germans prefer to rent, not buy, apartments.


FOUNDLING FATHERS

When Ben Franklin's favorite whore had a son, he paved its path to the College of William and Mary. The boy was so adaptable he found a flock of eager friends, won glory on the cricket pitch and could write in some dead languages before another autumn blazed. “Fine, very fine, they will vastly accelerate your studies,” impressed old Ben would say of the last to his suddenly shying benefactee, “—but can you lie in them as well?”


Miles Klee's work has appeared or is forthcoming in Vanity Fair, Unstuck, Lapham's Quarterly, McSweeney's, The Collagist, Contrary, The New York Observer and elsewhere. His first novel, Ivyland, which The Wall Street Journal described as "J.G. Ballard zapped with a thousand volts of electricity," was published by OR Books in March 2012. He lives in Manhattan with the screenwriter C.F. Lederer, his wife, as well as two ill-mannered dogs.
Photograph by Benjamin Stelly.