The telephone has revolutionized the art of the big con. Once upon a time, a con man had to travel from place to place, then spend time to establish their identity and gain the confidence of some key figures in a community. All as the precursor to even beginning to think about starting a long con. It meant that a true long con really did take a long time to execute.
The telephone changed all that.
Suddenly it was possible to visit people in their homes or offices, almost without their even knowing they had invited you in.
Since a large part of the early effort is spent just to establish the trust needed to be invited in, the long con got significantly easier to play.
Of course, you still need to have a mark, a tale, and a payoff. And you probably can’t play it all solo.
But if you can master the art of sounding sincere on the phone, you can play the game without leaving your home.
You can even play more than one mark at a time, taking turns to advance each tale.
How could it ever get easier?
Then I got the letter.
“Dear most noble sir,” it began, “Greetings from the rightful heirs of the minister for imaginary trade outside of my country, who died unexpectedly in a most tragic and horrific fashion, with a sum of not less than ten million US dollars on deposit in an imaginary bank in your country. Which I know I can count on your help to return to its rightful owners. Accepting a generous fee for your services, naturally….”
I wonder what strange and wonderful technology will come next that advance the art of the con?
The babelfish evolved to eat thoughts. That as a side effect it was able to serve as a translator was a happy coincidence. History is silent on who was foolish enough to allow the first babelfish to crawl inside their ear. But the fish certainly was not silent.
Imagine the commotion.
The fish takes hold, and we can know it has a good grip because it will announce when it is happy. Once attached, little will dislodge it.
Bring it near an interesting language, and it will nudge the user’s brain towards comprehension.
The remaining question is its accuracy. No one has caught a babelfish in a lie. But that is hardly evidence that it is true. After all, it works by reading thoughts. It could, in principle, tell if it is being tested and be more truthful. A blind test would need to guard against the fish getting any hint at all.
That road was only the first of many, but I had to begin somewhere. It wasn’t even that much of a road, more like a less muddy path in the bleak landscape that was my birthplace.
But it was a start.
I was clumsy at first, of course. After a time, it got easier to walk up to the edge, and imagine that I had the strength of will to step across. Fortunately, imagination was not something I lacked. Rather the opposite, I suppose.
So I embraced my fate and became a road-crosser. A wanderer. And in time, I even began to follow the roads.
Today, I accept my role in this life.
I had a vision of the world changing, and it pushed me onto this quest.
I no longer need the vision to push me on my way. My own curiosity is more than enough to do that.
I see now that my vision of a falling sky was really a metaphor. The actual sky was never falling. But my belief in its limits was already shaky, and the vision gave me the strength to act. I am stronger for that.
The sky fell.
I crossed the road.
I am called to my quest and have answered my call.
I am no longer Little the coward.
I am the Long Road, Wanderer, Inquisitor, and Fowl most Curious.