• Published 13th Apr 2012
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Excerpts from a Filthy Diary - SR Foxley



Excerpts from Filthy Rich's diary, shedding light on a side of him you probably didn't know.

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Chapter 1: Interested Ratings

Excerpts from a Filthy Diary

Chapter 1: Interested Ratings

by SR Foxey

(With thanks to the pre-reading / proofreading abilities of Impossible Numbers, Ezn and Letedwend)

=============

Dear Diamond Tiara,

I'm writing you a letter today which I hope you will never have to read. At the time of this writing, I've just finished putting together my last will and testament. While I don't intend to leave this Earth any time soon, I've lost enough close loved ones suddenly and unexpectedly that I felt it was prudent for me to plan for your future, if I should die before my time.

As I was putting together the attached document, I realized that there are many things about my life and our family which I haven't had a chance to share with you yet, simply because you have not yet matured enough to understand them. Since I don't know whether I shall live long enough to teach you these things at the appropriate times in your life, I'm writing you this letter now. It's a poor substitute, but it will have to do.

I have not been the best father I could have been, and for this I am truly sorry. I hope you at least know that I love you more than anything or anypony in this world. At this time, you are going through a phase in your life where you seem to be Tartarus-bent on antagonizing every other foal who doesn't meet your idea of what a friend should be. You're trying hard to find your place in this world, and I know that one day you'll find it. I wish I could magically give you the self-confidence you so desperately need, but I don't think that kind of magic exists—so the best I can do is love you and try to guide you down a wiser path. I hope more than anything you will one day realize just how truly special you are.

Attached to this scroll you will find a copy of my diary (at least, the portions I've written up until today). But there's a bit of a hitch here: You see, I've never been very diligent about keeping a diary, and certainly didn't think much about who might eventually read it. I guess I always figured that I would be the only pony reading it, so its entries are written more to spark my own memories rather than explain much to anypony who doesn't already know me or my life in intimate detail. While my diary succeeds at bringing forth many poignant, joyful, painful, and sorrowful memories for me, I can see that you probably won't understand by just reading the terse entries I quilled over the years. So, in order to help you know who I truly was and why I did some of the things I have done, I've gone back and selected certain entries in my diary and written more of the story, trying to be true as possible to what I remember happening, how I felt and thought, and how everything really was.

I know that you’ve occasionally heard my southern accent. It’s mostly gone now, but does crop up again from time to time. When I was a young colt, it was so thick at times that I was nearly unintelligible. This sometimes affected my ability to communicate with my peers, and therefore my ability to fit in and get along. For the sake of realness, I’ve decided to try to reproduce my accent as it was at the time I was speaking.

Further, in the later entries in my diary... you entered my life. There are a lot of emotions attached to what happened during these times, so again, for the sake of trying to reproduce how things were from my perspective, I’ve decided to write about you as if you were just another character in my story. Please forgive me, I don’t mean to be impersonal, but it’s the only way I’m able to get through some of these sections.

Please bear with me. I'm not very good at sharing who I am with anypony, even my own family members. In what follows, sometimes I or other ponies you know may come across as having had... not the best of intentions. Even when we did have the best of intentions, and even when everything worked out OK in the end, for reasons which should become evident it may still not be a good idea to make some of these facts public. My hope is that you'll understand the nature of these entries and know that some ponies continue to be affected today by some of the decisions I or others have made in the past. Please be discrete with how you share what you'll learn below. In any case, I've tried to be as honest as I know how to be.

As a final word before I begin to tell you my story, I want to say once again that I love you, and I hope to be with you so long that you begin to understand just how much. I love you, my little princess.

Filthy Rich


=============

September 29, 962

Grandpa Stinking is making me write this, he says so I don't forget. It's NOT FAIR! Ever since Pa died and I had to come to Ponyville and live with Grandpa and work in his STUPID store, none of the other colts or fillies will be friends with me. They make fun of my accent and today at school Honeycrisp pushed me into the mud. She ruined all the fancy clothes that Pa bought for me back in Neigh Orleans. She said now I looked like my name! I told her my grandpa was so rich he could buy their stupid farm and cut down every apple tree growing there. Stupid Apple family!

It's not true, neither. My grandpa is so stupid! Just because the Apple family helped him get settled here in Ponyville, now he thinks it's the duty of anypony with "Rich" in his name to help out anypony else who comes asking for a few bits. The other stores in town always sell things for less because he's always having to charge more to make up for the ponies who can never pay him back. He's not Stinking Rich, he's Stinking Stupid!

Anyway Grandpa found out what I said and now I have to go over there and say I'm sorry to the whole Apple family. And then I have to sweep the floor every night when the store closes for the next three weeks. It's just not fair!

Grandpa told me my Pa named me Filthy to remind me that even though we might be the Rich family, we're no better than otherponies who work in the dirt all day to make a living. I hate my pa. I hate the stupid name he gave me!

I miss my friends in Neigh Orleans.

---

I don’t remember much of my father or mother. Ma died of the trotts when I was still a baby, and Pa died when I was still pretty little, in that space between warm blurry impressions of happy scents and happy faces and one’s first real memorable disappointment. I was the age where I had already been going to school for a couple years and had just learned to read and do arithmetic.

About the only thing I do know about my pa, Dusty Garnet, was that he was always trying to move up in the world. I don’t know why he left Ponyville and Grandpa Stinking to go seeking his own fortune in Neigh Orleans. Grandpa never talked about it, and I would have been too young to remember if Pa ever told me. Pa was ambitious and proud. He was determined to go far, and make it there through his own strength and cunning.

The most concrete memory I have of him was of the warm summer night I got to attend a company social event with my pa. I remember him being really excited. He’d recently been promoted to dockyard forepony, and somepony really important was going to be in attendance at the party. Pa went out of his way to make sure I was spruced up for the occasion. I recall he bought me a set of very shiny black hoof-boots, a fancy collar and tie, and even a small, colt-sized top hat (all a little over-sized so that I wouldn’t grow out of them too quickly).

“Filthy, my colt,” he said as we were preparing to go, “Mr. Big Shot is going to be there tonight! He’s the boss—the pony who owns the whole shipyard. If you behave yourself and keep quiet, you might be able to stay close to him. Watch him and listen to him, Filthy. He’s made it—and if you act like he does and do what he does, one day you’ll make it too!”

So that’s exactly what I did at the party. Finding Mr. Big Shot was easy enough. He was the center of activity among the mingling ponies. He stood a head taller than all the ponies around him—a huge earth pony sporting a black tuxedo vest, a large, glittering diamond in the center of his cravat and a top hat that was about three times as large as my own. His cutie mark was three stacks of gold coins.

I ended up following right behind him the whole night, trying to understand the complicated words he was using as he talked about the magic of economics and big deals. At one point I got a little too close and he nearly tripped over me. Turning, he spotted me and smiled, obviously amused.

Lifting my chin with a hoof, he said in his thick southern drawl, “Naw, what have we here? Miss Punctual, have we hiyad any new assistant managahs lately?”

“Ah’m Filthy Rich,” I beamed, doing my best imitation of his accent in my coltish soprano, “Ah’m Dusty Garnet’s colt, and one day Ah’m gonna make it—just like you, Mista Big Shot!”

“Ha!” he guffawed, pushing my top hat down over my ears and eyes. “That’s what Ah like to hear! If you keep that up, someday you’ll be a great businesspony!”

I was elated, and never left his side for the rest of the evening.

I remember this clearly, as it was the very next day that my pa was killed in an accident while unloading one of the air cargo ships from Canterlot.

As Grandpa Stinking and I rode the train from Neigh Orleans to Ponyville two weeks later, I decided that it was better to be like Mr. Big Shot than my pa. With so many ponies busily working around him, Mr. Big Shot didn’t look like he had to work that hard. He got to make the important decisions and have important conversations with important ponies. He had so much money he could buy whatever he wanted and wear fancy clothes all the time—clothes that were tailor-made to fit that you didn’t have to grow into. Mr. Big Shot was always smiling and happy. Life was good and easy for him.

Most importantly, no pony like Mr. Big Shot was ever going to get crushed by a falling gantry crane on the shipyard docks.

I decided that I wanted to be wealthy, so that my foals wouldn’t have to go through the same things I did. That’s when my cutie mark appeared: Three large sacks of money.

The summer months passed that year with me learning to help Grandpa in his little shop. I was too unsure of myself, and too devastated from my father’s sudden passing to even leave the shop to try to make friends with the foals my age. I couldn’t avoid the others forever, though, and soon enough I found myself sitting in a classroom full of other foals at the start of the school year. My pa always said that it was very important to make a good first impression, so I went to school wearing the same shiny black hoof-boots, the fancy collar and tie, and the top hat I’d worn when I met Mr. Big Shot. I had grown a little, but all of these were still a little too big for me.

“Welcome back to school, students!” the dappled-gray pegasus in front of the class said. “I see that we have some new faces this year, so why don’t we go around and introduce ourselves and say a little something about who we are and what makes us special?” She scanned the class and stopped when she saw me, or rather, my top hat sticking up in the third row.

“Oh! I see we have a dapper young gentlecolt from the big city joining our little Ponyville herd. Why don’t you come up front and tell us who you are and where you’re from?”

As I shuffled to the front of the class, she saw my flank and said, “And you already have your cutie mark? You’re the first in our class! Why don’t you tell us about it, too?”

I stood before the class, scanning over the faces of the foals I’d otherwise been avoiding all summer. Most looked bored, a few were curiously amused at my overly formal attire. There was one filly in the front row who seemed to be genuinely smiling at me. She had a brilliantly red coat and creamy-yellow mane and braided tail, both of which were tied back with some string. And freckles. I liked freckles.

“Mah name is Filthy Rich,” I began.

“Filthy!” exclaimed a lavender and white unicorn filly in the second row. “Is that really your name?”

“Prissy Pants,” said our teacher, “we don’t speak out of turn, and we don’t make fun of other ponies’ names, now do we?”

“No, Miss Cirrus,” replied Prissy.

“Very good. Now Filthy, please continue.”

I could feel my cheeks burning, as I looked down at my shiny black hoofboots. “Er... ah... Mah name’s Filthy Rich,” I said, with significantly less bravado, “Ah’m from N’awlins, and...”

“N’awlins!” blurted Prissy.

“Prissy!” said Miss Cirrus.

“Sorry,” said Prissy.

Awkward silence. Concentrating a little harder on my pronunciation, I cleared my throat and said, “Er... that is, Ah’m from Neigh Orleans, and Ah just moved here to live with my grandpa... er... Stinking Rich...” I paused, waiting to see if somepony was going to say anything about my grandfather’s aromatic name.

When I was only greeted with more awkward silence, I continued, “Um... My cutie mark is three sacks all heaped full of bits... er... because...”

How would they all react to what it meant? And, more importantly, what would Mr. Big Shot do in my hooves here? He’d tell them, as bold as Celestia’s noon-day sun, exactly what it meant, I thought.

I screwed up my courage. “Because someday Ah’m gonna be the richest pony in Ponyville, and maybe even Equestria. And y’all will have to come to my shop whenever y’all want to buy some money.”

A long silence followed. Somepony coughed. Then Miss Cirrus said, “Um, Filthy? Do you mean that everypony will have to come to your shop whenever they want to buy things with money?

I furrowed my brow, trying to remember what Mr. Big Shot had said. Something about the high price of capital (I had been very proud to figure out that capital was businesspony-speak for money before the end of that party), and this had something to do with mounds of paperwork and something called an “interest rate” which was apparently too high right now.

“No,” I said trying to sound sure of myself. “See, it has to do with surveys. When y’all want money ‘cause you don’t have enough, then you’ll come to my shop and fill out a survey. And if... um... you rate your interest really high in getting some money, then Ah’ll charge you more for it. It’s all about that interested rating.”

More silence, then somepony said, “That doesn’t make any sense! How can anypony buy money if they don’t have enough money in the first place?”

“Maybe he means he’s going to lend everypony money and they’ll have to pay him back?” somepony else suggested.

“Or maybe he means we’ll buy money by selling him things he can sell in his shop? But I don’t know how the interested rating thing works,” came a third suggestion.

“Filthy?” asked Miss Cirrus. “Do you mean you’re going to be a banker?”

The expression on the face of the red-colored filly in the front row went from amusement, to shock, to anger and then disgust over the course of about two seconds.

I looked at her quizzically as I contemplated what had just been suggested. I was starting to get confused about all this myself. It had all sounded really brilliant when Mr. Big Shot had been talking about it. Was he a banker? I didn’t think so. He owned a shipyard, not a bank. And he didn’t really sell things either. But Grandpa Stinking did, I knew—he certainly didn’t make all the things he sold in his shop himself, so he must have gotten them from somepony else. So that third suggestion might have some merit. Then again, Mr. Big Shot didn’t really have anything to do with buying or selling actual things, yet he was obviously very rich indeed, and from his boasting at the party, getting even richer despite the high interest rates. And there was something else he said, too, wasn’t there? Something about being in a vest and being bonded and the stocks, or something? Mr. Big Shot had been wearing some really fancy clothes. But I’d only ever seen one pony in the stocks in Neigh Orleans, and he didn’t seem like a very nice stallion, unlike Mr. Big Shot. Plus, I wasn’t even sure whether Ponyville had stocks.

“No,” I began. “No, it’s not exactly like being a banker, but Ah think it is pretty close.” I decided to hedge my bet. “It’s partially about buying things to sell in my shop, and partially about lending money. See, if your interested rating is high when Ah buy things from you, then Ah’ll give you more money. And if your interested rating is high when Ah lend you money, then you’ll have to pay back more when you do pay it back.”

The whole class was just staring at me like I had just sprouted a second head. Somepony muttered, “Well, then whenever I have to borrow money, I’m not going to say I’m very interested.”

I knew the answer to this one already. “Oh! But y’all won’t have a choice! See, if you don’t say you’re very interested, then AH’ll sell my money to somepony who is more interested and y'all won’t get any.”

Prissy Pants’ hoof shot into the air and she waved it around frantically.

“Er... yes?” I said.

“But doesn’t that mean you’ll also have to pay more to ponies selling you things if they say they’re really interested?” Prissy beamed.

I felt my cheeks reddening as I felt myself getting caught in some kind of trap, although I wasn’t entirely sure what the trap was.

“Look,” I said, “this is all really complicated, and Ah wouldn’t expect country ponies like yourselves to understand how it all works. But trust me: It does work. Why, Ah know of at least two or three businessponies in N’awlins who’ve gotten really rich this way.”

I could sense the level of skepticism rising. But before I could say anything, Miss Cirrus spoke up.

“Er... Thank you, Filthy, for one of the more... er... sensible discussions of modern economic theory I’ve heard in a while. Why don’t you take a seat now?”

“But Ah haven’t even said anything about demanding supplies, or bondage vests, or the stocks...” I protested.

“Filthy!” Miss Cirrus snapped.

“Yes’m?”

“Sit. Now.”

“Yes’m,” I said, and shuffled back to my desk.

A couple hours later, Miss Cirrus shooed me out onto the school playground after all the other foals had eagerly departed for recess. I wanted to stay inside—after my introduction, I was getting nothing but dirty looks from the rest of the class all morning—but Miss Cirrus would have none of it.

So there I stood on my four hooves, dressed up as formally as a colt my age could get dressed up, watching the other foals playing in the grass, swinging on the swingset, and jumping rope. As is usual for ponyfolk, most weren't even wearing clothes. I spotted Prissy Pants playing with Honeycrisp Apple near a large puddle which hadn't yet dried up after the big storm the pegasus ponies had created two days ago. (Honeycrisp was the name of the red-coated, freckled filly in the front of the class—I had learned her name when she introduced herself along with the rest of the students at the beginning of school.) On a whim, I decided to walk over and see what they were doing.

"Hi Filthy," said Prissy as I approached. Honeycrisp turned away from me, scowling. Prissy was moving mud around into little circular shapes with her hooves. It made a soft splutting sound.

"Mornin' Prissy, Honeycrisp." I tipped my top hat to them.

Prissy looked up at me and smiled, then went back to working on the mud. I could see several other little mud circles in front of Honeycrisp, but she seemed to be ignoring me.

Splut, splut, went Prissy's hooves.

A fly buzzed and landed on Honeycrisp's flank. She flicked it away with a twitch of her tail. I looked down at my oversized shiny black hoofboots and twisted my hooves slightly so the sun caught their glint. I could hear the sounds of other foals playing at their games. The mud smelled slightly fetid, like sandy clay mixed with just a little bit of rotting leaves. Several ponies cheered in the distance as some playground record had just been broken. I felt an itch on my forelock and scratched it with a hind hoof.

Splut, splut.

"So, er..." I tried.

Splut, splut.

"So, what're y'all—"

Honeycrisp interrupted me. "Are ya really goin' to be the richest pony in all of Ponyville, Filthy?" She stared at me sidelong.

"Oh! Er... yes!" I said, suddenly pleased that not only had Honeycrisp remembered my name, but she had remembered what I had said to the class. "Ah'm gonna be so rich that they'll have to invent new numbers just to count all my bits."

"And when ya get rich, what're ya gonna do with all that money?" Honeycrisp asked.

I had put some thought into this. "Ah'm gonna buy a really big house, and wear expensive clothes all the time, and make sure none of my kin has to work one day in a field or in a warehouse or on a shipyard or anywhere else dirty and dangerous. Why, we're also gonna have fancy waitin' staff to cook our meals and clean our clothes," I said.

Honeycrisp considered this, then said, "Have ya thought about maybe sharing some of that money with ponyfolk who need some help, y'know, payin' for stuff?"

I frowned. "Well," I said slowly, "Ah don't know. Ah don't rightly see how Ah can get to be the richest pony in all of Ponyville if Ah'm givin' away my money all the time. Er... unless y'all want to pay it back. With those interested rates, y'know?"

Prissy paused in her splutting. "But Filthy," she said, "doesn't your grandpa already give money away?"

I felt my cheeks start burning. "Er, yes. But it's only because he's so rich he has more money than he knows what to do with," I lied.

Honeycrisp huffed, then got up to go back to the schoolhouse. I watched her start to trot off and turned back to Prissy.

Splut, splut.

"Er... what is it y'all are doing here anyway?" I asked.

"We're making mud pies," Prissy said. "Apple ones, just like Granny Smith bakes up when the apple harvest starts to come in. Want to try a slice?"

I looked at the smelly, dripping, roundish cylinders in the mud in front of Prissy. I turned my nose toward the sky as I'd seen several of the important ponies at Mr. Big Shot's party do when presented with hors d'oeuvres they didn't particularly care for.

"No," I said. "Ah don't think any 'Rich' ought to even pretend to eat something so dirty—"

That's when something barreled into me full-force from behind. Before I knew what was happening, I was first flying through the air, then skidding head-first into the puddle. I blinked my eyes, ejected mud from my mouth and nostrils, and gasped for breath.

"There!" I heard Honeycrisp shouting angrily from somewhere behind me. "Now at least ya look like yer name, Filthy Rich!"

I got to my hooves, both Honeycrisp and Prissy laughing at me. Some of the other foals had heard the commotion and were trotting over to see what was happening. I sullenly wiped some of the mud off my ruined hoofboots, trying to save some shred of dignity. Spotting my top hat lying in the mud nearby, I gripped it between my teeth and tossed it into the air. It landed on my head with a soft splut, covering my face with its dirty, watery contents and stinging my eyes. This brought a fresh peal of laughter from the other foals.

"Oh yeah?" I shouted through the tears, forgetting in my anger to imitate Mr. Big Shot's accent. "Oh YEAH? Well, my Grandpa Stinking Rich is so rich he could buy Sweet Apple Acres and cut down every apple tree growing there, Honeycrisp Apple!"

She turned and galloped away, crying. About that time, I felt something clamp down hard on my ear.

"That'sh enough out of you," Miss Cirrus hissed through her clenched teeth, hovering over me on her dappled-gray wings. "C'mon," she lisped. "Let'sh go talk to your grandpa!"

She practically dragged me through town by my ear, with me dripping mud and repeating "Ow! Ow! Ow!" the whole way.

What I didn't know at the time, and what just about every pony in Ponyville knew except for me, was that the apple crop from Sweet Apple Acres had been devastated by parasprites for the last three years. Things had gotten so bad for the Apples that Honeycrisp's father Big Green Apple had been forced, for the first time in the Apple family's history, to take out a mortgage on the farm in order to pay the bills. They were having a very hard time making ends meet. Big Green had also decided to cut down a third of their beloved apple trees in order to diversify into growing carrots, alfalfa, colorful flowers and other staples, just in case the parasprites came back for the apple harvest again that year. It is no small thing for an Apple to cut down his own trees.