'I have been to Ceres!'By Ramblin' Gamblin' Willie

Copyright 1985, 1986 by Gregory S. Swann. All Rights Reserved.
Direct inquiries to CIS I.D. 75115,1341.

'I have been to Ceres!'

By Ramblin' Gamblin' Willie

        It's funny how these things can get away from you:
        I was flipping around the dial, quick flickers of the really drippy
cable channels, when there he was: Rev. Willie For Sale, Prelate-in-Charge.
        It wasn't his regular Sunday show from the Crystal Catharsis: I've
learned to avoid that. Now the self-proclaimed shepherd of Willie's 'flock'
was seated on a small sofa in a set made up to look like a library or a den.
        "Friends, I have a problem," Willie For Sale said, the sing-song of
his speech reaching out to every video viewer, stroking gently. "'OH!' you
say. 'But, Brother Willie, don't we all have problems?' Yes, friends, we all
=do= have problems. But Brother Willie's problem is of =special= interest to
        Willie For Sale paused to smile invitingly into the camera. He looked
like the poster child for the National Dress For Success Foundation: the
tight creases of his suit matched those of his weathered face, and the close
crop of luminescent white hair made him look almost saintly. By evidence of
memory: Willie For Sale has been seeing a cosmetician...
        "Yes, friends. My problem is of =very= special interest to =YOU=.
Because my problem is that I can=not= resist helping =YOU= with your
financial problems!"
        He paused again, letting that sink in. I could almost hear the
seconds tick away as he waited for self-pity to tickle avarice.
        "Friends, I have been to CERES! Yes, Praise Willie, I have been to
CERES. So you don't have to worry about my bona fides: your brother in Willie
is a certified graduate of CERES, the College of Evangelical Real Estate
        He paused again, taking off his glasses and staring meaningfully into
the invisible audience.
        "Why did I go to CERES? To help =YOU= with your financial problems!
What did I learn there? I learned how =YOU=, too, can get in on the biggest
Real Estate bonanza this side of Jupiter! ...My Good, Good Friends: you
may have heard about the financial miracles possible in Real Estate. Why,
only last week we introduced you to the author of 'Nine Million Dollars in
Nine Minutes: My Career in Real Estate'. What you may not have known is that
these immense riches are available to =YOU=!
        "Yes, friends: to =YOU=! You may have thought of yourself as just
another humble, pious servant of Willie, just doing your best to get by. Well,
believe it or not, I was once the same way: always one egg short of an egg
sandwich, with no =idea= where the money was going." He smiled indulgently,
a guilt catharsis. "...sound familiar?
        "But then I asked myself: what am I =do=ing with my money? Am I using
it to secure my future, or just squandering it on day to day needs?
Ten years from now will my wife still have to do without things my income
can't provide? My =chil=dren?
        "That's when I began to investigate Real Estate. And
do you know what I found? I found that I did =not= have to forfeit
my future for present needs, that I could have all the riches I could
expend, from the proceeds of my Real Estate Investments!
        "And I found out how to make it work for =YOU=!
        "'How?,' you ask. 'How, Brother Willie, can =WE= reap the riches of
Real Estate Investment?' Let's stop to take a look at some people who have
already =solved= their financial problems using my method. When we come
back, we'll talk about how they did it, and how Brother Willie's techniques
can work for =YOU=!"
        The scene cut away to testimonial films. A beefy man who
bought three thousand acres of mountainside and sold it to a ski
lodge. An endearing little granny who converted a neighbor's pasture to a
trailer park. A nine-year-old girl who bought two vacant lots and sold them
to her town for a fire station.
        "Friends," said Willie For Sale when the camera returned to him. "=I=
have been to Ceres! That's right, Brother Willie has been to Ceres, a
tiny asteroid between Jupiter and Mars! 'Why?,' you inquire. "Why, Brother
Willie, did you go to Ceres?' To bring back a special opportunity for =YOU=!
To make it possible for =YOU= to =solve= your financial problems!
        "Willie For Sale, your humble servant in Willie, has =pur=chased the
asteroid Ceres for =YOU=! That's right, friends: I bought it! The whole ball
of wax, or rock, or whatever it is. And I bought it for =YOU=, so that =YOU=,
too, can reap the riches of Real Estate Investment!
        "That's right, firends, Brother Willie has made it possible for =YOU=
to Invest in Real Estate on Ceres! Here at last is =YOUR= chance to get rich!
Ceres is =two= astronomical units from the sun while Earth is only one. You'd
think that Real Estate Investments on Ceres would be twice as expensive,
=but it's just not so=!! Brother Willie made such a great deal that a Real
Estate Investment on Ceres sells for a price unheard of on Earth!
        "Now =YOU= can own a =big= piece of land for less than you'd pay here
for a burial plot! And as space industry reaches further and further out into
the depths, your Investment is =sure= to appreciate astronomically!"
        He paused. He took off his glasses and cleaned them with a
handkerchief. He suddlenly looked pentinent, almost sullen. "Friends, I
have sinned... Yes, yes, your Brother Willie is a sinner, much as any among
you... In my lust to get as much of Ceres as I could for =YOU=, my brothers
and sisters in Willie, I overextended myself and the Church...
        "...No use dwelling on it, I guess. We all make mistakes... Brother
Willie is not a =far=mer! He cannot go to the congress and get =them= to make
his mortgage payments! He is not the Continental Illinois Bank! He cannot
get =them= to buy his error of zeal!
        "Is that fair?
        "Is that right?
        "Doesn't it make you damn mad?!
        "And your going to =do= something about it, right? You're
going to =Invest= in these plots on Ceres, aren't you?! Just to show =them=
that you won't let them stand in the way of the sol=u=tion to =your= financial
        "Just imagine...," said Brother Willie For Sale in a mystical tone.
"Just imagine the riches we'll share together in our celestial home!
...The door is open... Will =YOU= walk through...?"
        The camera pulled away slowly. Willie For Sale's calm eyes remained
centered on the screen. An announcer started in with the 'send today' stuff
and I switched stations...