this black market was very black indeed. we didn’t understand how it worked. the idea was simple enough. someone who did not want to live could trade their remaining time with someone who was dying but wanted to live. the tricky part was knowing how much time they had remaining. death brokers ran a shady business, much like pawnbrokers I guess. people would come in and offer up the rest of their lives for a price to be paid their beneficiaries. you can picture the guy behind the counter sizing them up. he was said to have special powers but you knew that was nonsense. Nobody has special powers. so he had a license. a license only costs money. so he said he was a gypsy? anyone could be a gypsy. they said it was all based on supply and demand. plenty of people were dying who didn’t want to die. not so many of the other way around. the prices were high but everyone was getting ripped off, except the people running the death trade, and the matchmakers. the matchmakers had it best. the dying came to them, lining up outside their office doors, all desperate and everything. they’d take any amount of time, anything they could get. matchmakers could charge whatever they liked. what were their customers going to do? the only alternative was the brokers, who generally lived in seedier neighborhoods. matchmakers sought to attract the young and valuable. a suicidal teenager could fetch a fortune, and usually they didn’t want anyone else to get their money. fuck everybody, they said. matchmakers loved despondent youth. the time remaining to one troubled kid could be split up over several middle agers with cancer. it was a black market indeed and thanks to the new mythology there was no government regulation to worry about. you’d read about it but you thought they were making it all up, like some kind of heartless fiction. how could this be happening? who would even believe in it? how would you even know you actually got the time you supposedly paid for? There were stories, rumors, testimonials but nothing you could measure, no scientist test. Then you reflect for a moment on the history of human faith, from ouija boards to tea leaves, star signs to lucky numbers and you realize there’s not just a sucker being born every minute. there’s one dying every minute too.