From the author: Gravity works.
Vingy was dead: first of all. He caught on fire -- well, somebody lit him on fire. Plus, he fell 300 feet from a revolving restaurant, onto a public fountain featuring a bronze statue of the Little Mermaid. That usually does it.
The fountain's flowing water put out the fire and rinsed a lot of blood down the drains, but Vingy's intestines and spine remained draped over the statue. The scene was cheerful in its color scheme (at first, until the blood darkened as it clotted) but, frankly, depressing in every other way.
Three blocks south from where much of Vingy was spread out so publicly, three dozen people had distributed themselves amongst a hundred chairs in a ballroom, mostly in the middle rows. They flipped through their seminar materials and waited for the main speaker, Reggie Vingy, to come out and explain how they'd get rich by badgering their acquaintances into distributing kits that would, at some point down the slope of an imaginary pyramid, allow somebody to sell somebody else a product, all using a principle that Vingy called Dynamic Value Exchange (DVE).
(If Vingy had jumped from the top of an actual pyramid, he might've just rolled comically to the bottom and still been able to defraud people. Modern buildings have enabled suicides our distant ancestors could only dream of.)
Vingy never showed; he was the late Reggie Vingy in every sense. Two senses, anyway. This became a family joke, repeated every Christmas when Vingy wasn't there to trim the tree. His children hung a Little Mermaid ornament and lit a candle. His widow inherited the mantle of DVE royalty and strove to honor Vingy's legacy. And indeed, she ripped off many, many people, so perhaps somewhere Vingy was smiling. But definitely dead.
This story originally appeared in Linguistic Erosion.