“Good luck!” snickered the quick stop attendant before bagging my package of mini powdered doughnuts and ibuprofen. I grab my styrofoam cup of black coffee and head out the door into the cold December air taking in the smell of the alfalfa fields and the cow manure; the scent of daybreak in the central valley. If only it was that easy, I thought, to buy good fortune at the quick stop. Change the whole game with a $5.00 quick pick. A $5.00 dream. I dry mouth two ibuprofen with a grimace and hope the coffee and pain reliever will work some magic on the brutal effects of last night’s happy hour. The kind of happy hour that stretches far beyond an hour and only leads to regrets, splitting headaches, and if my timing is off then maybe even another mouth to feed. My timing is always off. That’s why I think the quick pick is a good idea. I’m due for some good luck for a change. Over due in fact.
I wash down the last sugary bite of donut with an acrid gulp of coffee, straighten my embroidered golden arches visor that smells like a billion meals served daily and notice my bloodshot eyes staring back at me in the rear view.
I remember that day vividly and wish I could go back in time. I would have ripped up that stupid ticket. The one time I get a glimpse of lady luck she’s driving by in a beat up sedan aiming a pistol in my direction. Figures. Some people are just born to lose. Even when they’re winning they’re losing. That’s me.
I may have inherited the jackpot but I never knew there were so many strings attached. Like the countless people familiar and strange that fall from the trees, some pleading most demanding a handout. Then there’s the blitz of media attention revealing to every desperate soul my full name and address; too tempting for some to resist robbing me blind when I’m away. Drinking has become my only escape. I drink for free and feel anonymous at the casino where I have become a regular. Gambling consumes me, my better judgment blurred in countless cocktail glasses. No more need for ibuprofen, I find that if I’m continually drunk there’s never a hang over to stave off. I lost my job, my home, and worst of all my teenage son to a drug overdose.
I won the lottery. My life will never be the same.