Luck Has a Lady
A story of a lottery ticket reveals one man’s deepest and most dreadful secrets.
Lights up on MAN (late 40s to early 50s). He is sitting in a folding chair in a fully furnished living room. The folding chair seems both fitting and out of place at the same time. He is wearing a well-worn white t-shirt, light washed jeans, and althetic socks (but no shoes). While he may have not showered in a day or two, his hair is sharply combed.
That closet right there? Full of lottery tickets. Filled. Every square inch. If you tried to open it, they’d burry you. You think I’m joking? I’m not joking. There’d be a paper avalanche. You’d have to swim your way out.
Ten years ago, my wife and I bought a lottery ticket. I bought the ticket, it was my money, and she held on to it. And the next day, I was at work. I worked at this shitty little mill in the back office doing shit data entry work. Treated like shit, too. And I was looking in the newspaper for the winning numbers. I didn’t have the ticket on me, but I knew my numbers. Still know them. 3 5 14 25 43 and 35 on the money ball. And when I looked in the paper, the winning numbers were 3 5 14 25 43 and fucking 35 on the Goddamn money ball. The jackpot was 235 million dollars. Paper said that there was only one winner. Best day of my fucking life.
My boss was at lunch, so I went into that cocksucker’s office, dropped my pants, and I took a big steaming shit on his desk. I wiped myself with his degree, which I had to break out of it’s gaudy fucking gold frame. Then I wrote him a note on a yellow sticky. Said, “I quit. Sincerely, Fuck you.”
I left and I went down to the bank and withdrew every dollar I had. I took that money to the OTB and put everything on a horse called Luck Has a Lady. There were 300:1 odds against that horse being in the top three. I bet on that fucker to win because I was lucky and I had a lady. I was feelin’ even more lucky when my horse was in the lead. Led the field from the JUMP. But that bitch fell hard, broke a leg. You could see the bone stickin’ out, even over that shitty little TV they got there. Someone on the broadcast said that they were going to let him live. You would think they would shoot him after a break that bad. But they don’t do that anymore, some fucking PETA thing. Damn horse was gonna end up being some rich fuck’s pet. Not mine, though. I’d kill myself if I were that horse. But I didn’t give a shit. I felt like a million bucks. 235 million bucks.
On the way home, I called up everyone I hated, including my father. And I told them they could all burn in hell. And then, maybe because I was worried they’d wanna come after my money, I called everyone I loved and told them everything I hated about them, too. Don’t look at me strange. I bet you hate a little something about everyone you love. Yeah… I bet you fuckin’ do. And right before I got home, I swung over to the jewelry store in the mall. I maxed out my credit card on necklaces and bracelets and rings for my girl. Because me and my girl were going to celebrate. I was a Goddamn king and she was my queen.
When I walked into the house, there she was, making a grilled cheese sandwich in the kitchen. And I snuck up behind her, grabbed her by the titties, and I said “who wants to be a millionaire.” And that’s when I told her that we were fucking millionaires. I told her that I quit my job, leaving out the part where I took a dump, and about the OTB. And then I stripped her down, covered her body in diamonds and gold and jewels, and then I fucked her so hard, she came three times.
After we were done, I asked her to get the ticket because I wanted to look at it. I wanted to see my future. I knew I was going to have to hand over that little shit, but I wanted to memorize everything about it. Take a mental picture. And so Lacy, that’s my girl, she went to go find it in her purse. It wasn’t there, so she looked through all of her drawers, because sometimes she tossed stuff there. Wasn’t there either. And so now I’m getting worried, so we both start lookin’ and we couldn’t find it anywhere. I was lookin’ through the trash, under the bed, anywhere. Literally anywhere. I even looked in the Goddamn dog food bowl, because what the fuck, it might have fallen in there when she was feeding the dog, you know? And after we tore the house apart, we realized that it was gone. Just … gone.
And you would think that there’s a way you can prove that you had a lottery ticket. Right? I mean there should be. And there is, I found out later, but you have to have paid using a credit card. But it was a one dollar ticket. I paid two for that fucker and a Snickers bar in cash. So it was really gone.
I’m not one for excuses. What I did after that, I did.
I took Lacy. I told her to get in the fucking car. She was naked, so I forced some clothes on her and I dragged her to the Dodge. And we drove for three hours. I didn’t know where the fuck we were going. I didn’t care. All I wanted to do was to kill her and get rid of her body. And when we came some stone quarry, I parked by the edge. I dragged her out of the car. And I threw her down in the dirt. I dragged her over to the edge. We must have been two or three hundred feet up from the bottom. It was so dark, you couldn’t really tell. But I knew the drop would kill her. I forced her to look down. She was crying and covered in dirt and mud, but I didn’t give a fuck. I started kicking her in the side and I said “You better stop fucking crying or I’ll kill you!” And she tried to stop, but she couldn’t. So I held her mouth shut with my hand.
We just sat there for an hour. Maybe two. And then I says to her, “You are going to buy me a fucking lottery ticket for every day that I am alive. And one of those tickets is going to win me 235 million bucks. But if you lose one of those tickets, even if it’s a fucking loser, I am going to drag you back here and I am going to kill you. I am going to murder you. And then I am going to kill your dog. And when I’m done with the dog, I am going to kill everyone you know and love, and your family, even the folks you hate. But I’m not going to stop there. I’m going to take the house you grew up in and I am going to burn it to the ground with all those people inside, and the dog, too. Then I’m going to take those ashes, scoop them into trash bags, and leave it all in the landfill. To rot. For the rest of eternity.”
We drove back that night. Took us another three hours. She was real quiet, didn’t even cry. And we got back, went back inside, went to the bed, I said I was sorry for kicking her and we went to sleep.
And you know what? She’s bought me a lottery ticket every day since. Every day, I’d come home, and every day, she showed me the ticket. We’d check the paper, see if it’s a winner, and then she’d put it in that closet. She actually started, at first, storing them in her drawer, but when she ran out of room, she started storing them in that closet. That lock is on there so that they won’t get lost. She’s asked if she could cash in a few because they won. Just a few bucks here and there. I think maybe I’ve won $16. But I told her they didn’t count and I made her put them in the closet.
It actually got to be fun for me and her. I mean, we both knew why we did it. And we both remembered certain things that happened. But we both wanted to win. And it’s the one thing we could count on doing together, given that we both worked so hard. And we don’t have kids. Lacy had some kind of infection and they had to remove her ovaries. We tried to adopt, because we both really wanted kids. But we didn’t qualify on account of my job history, and even when we tried to get one of those Chinese kids, even the fucking Chinese didn’t like us. And they kill kids if you have too many. I mean, doesn’t everyone on the fucking planet qualify for a fucking Chinese kid? They should hand those out at the grocery store. Buy one, get a half billion free. And then the dog died. Got hit by a truck right outside our place. Some kid joy riding in his dad’s F150. He was real sorry. I let him go because I knew his dad would kick the shit out of him for me. So, yeah, it was like a country song. Even the dog died.
But, the difference was, we had those tickets. And we’d sit there, every night and look at the paper. We got to holding hands at first. And then we kinda made it into our daily date night. She even started to learn how to cook real food. You know, more than grilled cheese. She made this chicken parm that I just loved. I’d bring home some nice wine some nights. She’d light these candles that smelled nice. We’d even put on a CD and listen to sexy music, something with a good beat, turn down the lights, make love on the table or the floor or wherever the fuck we wanted. We didn’t have much. But we had those tickets.
We had those tickets.
It was a Tuesday. Real beautiful, sunny Spring day. May 16th. I came home with some wine. I even bought her a nice set of earrings with some money I had saved — back from when we thought we could adopt. We called it our sunny day fund, seeing as most our days weren’t so good. I was going to surprise her. And I asked to see the ticket. It was weird because she got real quiet. She had got one, she told me. She promised me it was a loser. Said she must have dropped it in the parking lot. Told me she went back, looked over every inch of that parking lot, but it wasn’t there. Said she checked everywhere, her purse, the car, the driveway, everywhere. She wasn’t crying — she said that she couldn’t buy a second one because she had, at the time, only one dollar on her — and she said that she was sorry. She said she always loved me, no matter what, and she was real sorry she’d lost that ticket. Not the one she’d just lost that day, but the big winner. And then she went into the bathroom, filled the bathtub, got my razor, and she killed herself. I didn’t know she was dead until a few hours later when I went to go take a piss. I wasn’t being mean. I just thought she needed some time alone. You know, women just need some space and then they’re okay.
I was taken into the police station on account of the police suspecting foul play or some shit like that. Though one guy said it was standard procedure and not to worry. They did some tests to see if I had blood on me, which I did, but it was all after she died. Somehow they can tell if you got blood on you from a dead person, from after they died. My neighbors and her dad tried to claim that I caused her mental distress. And that maybe I was at fault because I drove her to it. I ended up in court, Grand Jury, even spent a little time in jail. Maybe six or seven months. I was waiting for my real trial, and honestly, the food was better in there, so I didn’t mind that it took so long.
The judge, right before they acquitted me, asked me if I felt guilty. I couldn’t answer. I didn’t know. And I’ve thought about that for a long time. I think about it every day. Do I fell guilty? Do I … feel guilty. You know what? I don’t. I don’t feel guilty.
You want to know what I feel like? I feel like that fucking race horse. I was so close. So close. Then I just fucking fell for no Goddamn reason at all. But, I’m being kept alive. They should just fucking shoot me. I ain’t no good for no one.
I’ve been buying tickets ever since I got back from jail. Every day. I leave work, I stop by the Shell station on 28, and I buy one ticket. Except I don’t check the numbers no more. I tell them to just pick the numbers for me, and I don’t even look. I just come home, put them in the closet and lock them up. I lock them up. And for some reason, that makes me feel a little safer. And one day, if I’m lucky, I’ll open that closet and die in a paper avalanche. Or bleed to death from a million paper cuts. You know? That’d be somethin’ else. That’d be a fitting way to go. It would.
That … that would be lucky.
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