Random Scribbles · Speakeasy · writing

The Lottery Ticket


There was a slow drizzle and it was still dark when Luanne got on her bike and headed south. She rode away from Andy Palmgren. She rode away from the house at #13 Avenida Abaddon. She rode away from San Ceviche with no intention of returning.

Her small grip was strapped on the book rack. It held a couple changes of clothes, and what would turn out to be a winning lottery ticket. Most importantly though, tucked into the top was her copy of the book. The Stone, by Alicia Margolies. The book she had bought at the small shop downtown. It was the only copy in the store and Luanne had been drawn by the cover art. Specifically by the palette that the artist had used when creating the cover art but it was what was inside, written on the pages, that really woke her up.

Pedaling quickly, she knew it was important to get as much distance between herself and Andy as possible. Once he realized what she had done he would send his ‘boys’ to look for her and bring her back. You didn’t leave Andy Palmgren – Andy Palmgren left you. Andy was not going to be happy. Luanne’s choice of conveyance was unexpected however, and she didn’t think it would occur to the searchers to look for a bicyclist. She had dyed her hair and cropped it close to her head as an extra layer of insurance.

She considered what she was doing and how she had gotten to this point. Margolies’ book had not caused the need to flee. The fissure, the separation, had existed long before that; but the book certainly contributed to the widening of the gap. What she had read on those pages opened her eyes and gave her a new perspective on life and how she had been living hers. It helped steel her resolve to change things.

The buildings and houses grew further apart as the sun rose. She knew she would have to get off the coast highway soon. On the back roads she would be less conspicuous. She turned inland on 43 and soon found a remote convenience store that would offer something to eat. She pulled in, leaned her bike against a wall, and went inside. From the cooler she chose a bacon and egg sandwich wrapped in cellophane and heated it in the microwave as she filled a large cup with coffee.

Tiny and Ed were standing next to her bike when she left the building. Their long black SUV parked behind. Trying not to show surprise at seeing them, she waved, “Hi Tiny, hey Ed. What’re you guys doing out here?”

“We’re looking for you Luanne. Andy was worried when he woke up and you were gone.”

“I’m just on a bike ride, guys.”

“You never mentioned you were going on a bike ride. We’ll give you a lift back home,” Ed told her. “Tiny, can you put her bike in the back of the SUV?” He reached up to push his hair behind his ear and Luanne saw the blue steel of the pistol he carried in his shoulder holster.

Ed seldom carried a piece, and the fact that he had one now worried Luanne. It meant he had another agenda. She threw her coffee and sandwich at him and turned to run. She didn’t hear the silenced shot. She didn’t feel anything. She only wished that she had gotten further.

The 65 million dollar ticket was never claimed.


Modified to correct spelling and punctuation errors – Thanks RG your input is valued!

Speakeasy · writing

How To Save Money at Christmas

political-clip-art


“We’ve got to talk.” Susan said after dinner that night.

“Sure, what’s up?

“I noticed a couple of days ago that I’ve lost a lot of friends on Facebook, a lot of people who have been our friends for years. I don’t mean just Facebook friends either but real friends too. People we’ve known like, forever.”

“What’s your point?” I asked.

“I’m not sure when it started. I’m not sure why they’re leaving. It seems to be people who have been our friends. It seems to be friends of us both, not just my friends from work or church. Do you know anything about it?”

“Yeah, I do.” I said, “It started in mid-September. I’ve been watching it too. A lot of them are my friends from the gym.”

“Holy shit, Bobby, what do you think is going on? What have we done to make them unfriend us en mass like this?”

“Susan, I’m doing it. I’m chasing ‘em away.”

“What? Why on earth would you do that?”

“Sit down, Susan.”

She did. Then she crossed her arms and gave me that look. That ‘this better be good look.’

“You remember we were talking about how tight our budget was going to be this Christmas? How you didn’t know what we were going to do if we couldn’t get gifts, or even make gifts, for all our friends?”

“Yeah, but what does one have to do with the other?”

“I ran the data on all our friends and analyzed their political affiliations and leanings. I found it was a pretty even split between Democrats and Republicans.”

“Yeahhhh?” Susan said thoughtfully. I could see the gears churning. I knew she was catching on.

“Well, since you and I seem to be more left leaning, and our friends know that, I started talking trash about the GOP, and all their candidates, on Facebook. The timing is perfect, with the midterm elections coming up in November and all. I think half of our friends are going to hate us before Thanksgiving. Just think how much money we’re going to save not having to buy Christmas presents for our Republican friends. We can win ‘em back after New Years. We’ll tell ‘em my account was hacked or something.”

Susan was smiling from ear to ear. “But you’re only chasing away the Republicans right?”

“Yeah, right.”

“Good, ‘cause Mom’s a Democrat. I don’t want to lose her, I already bought her present. You’re brilliant Bobby! Brilliant!”


Random Scribbles · Speakeasy · writing

Fiction – Should I Stay or Should I Go?

 


 

“We have to let you go Kenneth. Clear out your desk immediately. You can stop by HR and pick up your final check.”

My jaw dropped. I was not expecting this. “But, Mr. Dithers I, we’re, just getting rolling on the Bumstead project. As project manager I am confident that we can bring this one in, on time and under budget.”

“The Bumstead project has been cancelled Kenneth. Please go down to HR now. I don’t want to have to call security.”

“Can you at least tell me why, Mr. Dithers?”

He picked up his phone and spoke, “Gladys, can you ask Security to come up here right away?”

“That won’t be necessary, sir.” I spun and walked out of his office with as much dignity as I could muster. Gladys was ignoring me, feigning intense concentration and staring at her monitor, when I went past her desk on my way to the elevator.

A security representative fell in step and rode down the two floors with me to the cube farm I had called home for the last year and a half. As I threaded the aisles towards my desk the people who I had considered friends averted their gaze, or picked up their phones and pretended to be having conversations. I was, apparently quite the pariah. How had I not seen this coming? How could I have been so blind?

I packed up my desk, and went to HR with my new friend from Security. I got my check, signed some termination papers and left. In the ground floor lobby my escort peeled off and went to jaw, snicker, and point with the others of his kind. The ones we had always called ‘the gatekeepers’. With my meager box of belongings tucked under my arm I reached to push the door open.

“Kenneth?” I turned and saw Lois hurrying my way. She stopped short and said, “Kenneth, I just heard. I’m so sorry, this is so unfair.”

I wanted to put my arms around Lois and cry on her shoulder but instead I pulled her aside and asked, “Do you know why? No one will tell me why?”

Lois nodded. “You should have stayed on your meds Kenneth. There were complaints, and you were scaring some of the girls on the third floor.”

“Thanks for being honest with me Lois.” I said and angrily stormed out of the building.

It was Friday afternoon so I had the entire weekend to stew and I certainly started out that way. Got good and drunk Friday night but on Saturday morning I got busy. I poured out what little bourbon was left in the bottle and started taking my meds again. I shaved and went out to find a salon. A pear shaped girl gave me extensions, and snapped her gum while she dyed my hair and eyebrows blonde. Downtown I found a sale and scored a whole new business casual wardrobe, khaki trousers and long sleeved dress shirts. Beige, white and light pastels are the new me. I spent Sunday teaching myself to talk like an educated surfer.

Monday morning found me checking my reflection in the bathroom mirror, I nodded and spoke to my reflection, “lookin’ good, dude.” I approved the transformation, my mother wouldn’t recognize me. I went back to work prepared to tackle the Bumstead project, and see it through. I just had to make sure that my cover remained intact. There would be no paychecks for a while but I had enough savings to last. This could work.

I snagged a visitors badge from the gatekeepers: traded up for an employee badge that S. Smith had left on his shirt in the locker room and took the lift to Marketing. An empty cube was easy to find there. Marketing had been short-staffed since ’08. I requested copies of my Bumstead work from filing and while waiting for them to come up, carefully cut S. Smith’s photo from the badge and replaced it with one of mine. I re-laminated and was suddenly in possession of a legitimate looking, albeit forged, employee ID. I needed them to see what I saw. They should have let me stay. They should not have made me go. I needed them to realize their mistake. They would beg me to come back. I reached into my pocket, found a pill and swallowed it without water. I couldn’t afford to be erratic. I had to maintain.


 

Summer Grid #172

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