Imagine it like a fairy tale; Once upon a time

you stray into a dark Pocket of Poverty,

deep in the ancient depths of the Financial Forest.

A dense thicket of Payday Lenders & Pawnbrokers

surrounds you, their thick black thorns tearing at your clothes and flesh, bleeding from a thousand small scratches as you try to escape and wend your way back into open country.


But all the paths seem to twist and turn and double back, so that you always find yourself back in the same spot where you started from. As you wander the shifting paths, hours become days and eventually you lose track of Time altogether and maybe you’ve always been here.

Sometimes you hear screams at night,

or see some wild-eyed wretch in the distance,

crashing desperately through the under-growth

as though pursued by all the Hounds of Hell,

driven into delirium

by the Demons of Doubt & Debt.

But you never speak to them,

and mostly

you are alone.

The Parable of the Financial Forest is a Tale that should surely be required bed-side reading for all bright, young, middle-class Millennials at night, as they’re tucked into bed

by their doting, 21st Century Parental Units. Sure, it doesn’t make for a restful night’s sleep, but it’s better they learn young and suffer the occasional anxiety attack later in Life, than learn too late the bitter Lessons of the Financial Forest.

For surely there do lurk Quick-Money loan sharks and dodgy financial consultants, popping up from the undergrowth like fairy-tale Goblins, to waylay the incautious Passer-by

with shiny, red apples and dubious financial advice..

Would I like to Consolidate all my Debts? asks a Dwarf

in a pin-stripe suit.


My Laughter echoes amongst the hollow trees.

(Author’s note; If you ask me, the last thing you want to do,

is see all your Debts start to “Consolidate” on you.

Best to keep it all free-flowing and fluid and amorphous,

lest the different elements start to Coalesce and Combine,

coming together to take on a ghastly Life of their own,

like a Golem, some ghastly half-formed creature of clay,

a hollow thing with a Document for a Heart

that will rise like a Nightmare above the city’s financial skyline, howling for your blood & ruin in the rain.

You can’t run, you can’t hide.

It will pursue you forever,

like a bad HECS Debt for a Degree you never finished,

and all your dreams will be dead.)

On the bright side there is always Bankruptcy.

Not quite a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free Card,

but waving the threat of it in your Creditor’s face

can often get them to take a step back and pause while they consider their Options, giving you a much needed breathing space. They will proceed more cautiously here. You jump off that particular cliff and it’s Game Over. They get NADA.

“Is Hope then really so Dead?” they must ask themselves,

“Is there really no way we can milk more Cash

from this particular Cow?”

Earning their Percentage rests on their ability

to extract Wealth from unpromising material,

but really, are they just working a dry hole here?

In the end, most of them will crack, which is to say,

they will demonstrate their fiscal probity

by pursuing the safe, economically conservative option

and sell your Debt onto some other Corporate bottom-feeder.

It’s a bit like having Beelzebub on-sell your soul to Lucifer true, but if you can hold them off and keep stalling

so that no-one collects the contested soul for seven years,

then the Spell magically evaporates and you are Free.

Not everyone has the stamina for this sort of long-term financial strategy however. But fear not! The Financial Forest operates on much the same Ethos

as the average Casino, which is to say;

They Love a Loser. Come back anytime.

It’s a funny thing, but thinking over the predatory practises of today’s multi-million dollar Debt Industry, actually

makes me nostalgic for the humble Pawn Shops of Yester-Year. Now this may seem counter-intuitive.

Pawnshops generally possess the same sort of reputation (to continue the Folk Tale Forest Allegory) you find attached to cursed back-woods cottages like in Hansel & Gretel

or the one where Red Riding Hood’s Grandma

turned out to be a Wolf wearing granny’s warty skin.

But once upon a time their cheery yellow hoardings dotted

the inner-city and working class areas. In my own suburb there used to be at least three or four of them operating

at any one time. Many of them had been there for years

and were part of the Social Landscape. They tended to look after their regular customers, and while some

were notorious

skin-flints, others would demonstrate at times a sort of kindness or compassion that you might not have expected from a pawnbroker. Also they never charged more than 25% interest on a loan, as opposed to today’s Corporate Loan Sharks (with stockholders like Woolworths) whose interest on loans in real terms can range anywhere between 45% to 200% once you add on all their additional fees and imposts.

But alas! Ye olde neighbourhood Pawn-Shop has been bought out by Cash Converters or others of their ilk,

and today the name-tagged, face-less functionaries

of the Big Debt Corporations, are shifted around regularly

to different locations, precisely to prevent them

from forming relationships with customers, and all their decisions are made for them by the computer on the counter.


Pleasant dreams, children.




The Reverend Hellfire is a kindly man,

responsible for no more than a handful of deaths,

who sleeps soundly at night on silken pillows.

His Poems cause strong men to weep

and his Ballads maketh the lion to lie down with the lamb.

His like shall surely not be seen again!



~ by reverendhellfire on October 14, 2018.

2 Responses to “LOST IN THE WOODS”

  1. How right you are, O Great Sage One

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