His Lucky Day
Author:Bobby Mathews

    Eddie Whittaker sat atthe army surplus desk in his cramped office and tapped one pudgyindex finger against the smooth, white lottery ticket. He wasgrinning so broadly that the cavities in his rear molars werevisible. It was his lucky day, no doubt about it.

    Nineteen milliondollars. That’s how much he was worth now. Eddie couldn’t believeit. The jackpot was thirty-eight million,and there were onlytwo winning tickets. Eddie had one. It really didn’t matter who hadthe other. All he had to know was that half of it was his. He stillcouldn’t believe it. It was enough for a new office. Maybesomething with some nice plants, and a secretary to water them.

    He pushed the lotteryticket around on his desk a little. It was his key to freedom, and,in truth, he was a little frightened by the thought. Nearlyparalyzed, in fact. Eddie wasn't sure his legs would work, and hishead felt like a balloon about to explode from too much helium. Hegiggled. Three stories below, he could hear the rumble of middaytraffic, like rolling thunder from the ground.

    Maybe he wouldn’twork at all. Get a little place on the beach and watch as the worldwent by. No more divorce cases. No standing outside a motel roomwindow, pointing a camera with a low-light lens, clicking away andhating himself for it. He could get his teeth fixed, stop usingmatchsticks to pick between them after meals. Maybe buy a hairpiece,or get plugs. He could stop worrying about rent. He could buy a newcar. A world of possibility opened before him. Maybe money couldn’tbuy happiness. But it could buy an awful lot.

    Allen wasn’t the onlybig winner in the family anymore. Allen was the one with the bigdowntown CPA firm. He was the one who had it all – the big house,the Mercedes, the pretty wife. He had it all, and that was justanother assurance to Eddie that nice guys really did finish last.Little brother Eddie had always taken a backseat. Until now. Now,there was nothing holding Eddie back. He didn’t have the money yet.But he would. He looked at the grimy office, with its warped filingcabinet and dusty baseboards. He deserved better.

    Good news travelsslowly. Eddie sat in his office and called everyone he knew. Therewas a seemingly endless procession of busy signals and phones thatjust went on ringing. He tried his parents. He tried Allen. He triedex-girlfriends. There was no one to listen. He tapped a matchstickagainst his front teeth and thought about it for a little while.There was always Rita.

    Eddie took his overcoatdown from the hanger on the back of his office door and slipped intoit. He picked up the lottery ticket and put it into his wallet. Whenhe put the wallet back into his pants pocket, it didn’t feel right.He pulled it out and put it into a side pocket of the overcoat, whereit was easy to his hand. He locked the door to his office and wentoutside.

    He couldn’t wait forthe elevator. His feet tapped and his legs shook. Finally, he tookthe stairs two at a time down to street level. By the time he was onthe sidewalk, his pulse was pounding in his temples, and the bloodrush had caused a dull roar in his ears. A fine sheen of sweatappeared on Eddie’s brow, and he wiped it away with an ancient,yellowed handkerchief. He tried to get himself under control, but itwas no use. His heart galloped on, like a horse without a rider. Hewalked two blocks to Hannigan’s, a little bar he frequented, andwent inside.

    It was quiet in thelush darkness of the bar. Above the bar, glasses hung suspended froma ceiling rack, their globes catching the ambient light like analcoholic’s chandelier. The bar itself was an oversized horseshoescarred with old cigarette burns. The rush didn’t start until afterfive-thirty, when the yuppies came in to down a few before going onto their quiet lives in the suburbs. A few hardcore drinkers sat atthe bar, nursing their drinks. Eddie avoided them. There was reallyonly one person he cared to see at Hannigan’s. Eddie seated himselfat a small table near the door and waited for Rita.

    He didn’t wait long.She swept over as soon as she saw him, her strong teeth chomping downon a wad of Juicy Fruit gum. Her hair was red and teased, and therewere laugh lines at the corners of both her eyes. Her tight whitetee-shirt glowed in the murky darkness of the bar.

    “You don’t give up,do you?” She said. Her voice dropped. “It’s not going to happenagain, I told you. It shouldn’t have happened in the first place.”

    “I’m not here forthat,” Eddie said. “I just wanted to drop in. See you.”

    “So you see me. I’mworking. Now, you want a drink or not?”

    “Sure,” Eddie said,and ordered a beer. Rita brought it and left. Eddie watched the otherpatrons and drank most of the bottle. When he was almost finished,Rita came by and picked up the bottle.

    “You’ve hadenough,” she said. “Just go, all right?”

Most Read
Top Books