The story of a man who knows his luck is going to change.
|C'mon, c'mon" he said, through clenched teeth while shifting from one foot to the other. "What are they DOING?" The lady in front of him turned slightlyand gave him a hesitant smile before facing forward again. This scrawny, pathetic-looking man was obviously anxious about something. |
"I know it's my night. I can feel it. This is IT" he thought. "Have a nice day, sir" called the clerk towards the retreating back of the customer who was leaving. He flexed the fingers of both hands rhythmically as he rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet. The lady glanced back again, with a slight frown on her face. He saw her troubled look and gave a shaky laugh. "I'm jes'a lil' nervous tonight," he explained. "I'm feelin' lucky. I'm bout to win BIG! I know it." Look," he said pulling out a handful of what she thought were receipts. They were in fact scratch-off lottery tickets. "I won $16.00 this week. I ain't neva won that much at one time." “Do you play often?" she asked. "Oh yes. I play every day. At least ten dollars. I'm Scratch, by the way. That's what they call me. Scratch is my name, lotto's my game. Jes gimme a beer and my lucky coin, and I'm in heaven." Another customer completed her transaction and the line moved forward.
"This here's my lucky scratcher," he said showing her a coin on a chain around his neck. "Me and this coin, we go way back," he said lovingly as he held it in his right hand, stroking it softly with the fingers of his left hand. We been togetha through thick and thin, for betta and for worse. That's more'n I can say for my wife." he said with a short bark of laughter.
Others in line turned and glanced at them. The woman thought he might be a little strange, deranged if you considered his appearance. He looked like he hadn't seen the sun in years and like he hadn't eaten in weeks. He wore faded blue work pants with several spots of what appeared to be dried food. His matching blue work shirt was unbuttoned on the top half and the shirt beneath it appeared to have been white at one time. Stringy black and gray hair stuck out from beneath the dirty gray cap he had sitting on the top of his head. It didn't appear to have been washed or combed lately.
"What do you mean by that, Scratch?" she asked. "Oh, she left me high and dry. Jes' up and left. She tole me I love scratchin' more'n I love her. I jes couldn't git her to understan that I'm workin' on our future. She wanted to put our money in da bank. Can you imagine? Les' say I have a hunnerd dollars in tickets and I win on ALL of them. Look how much money dat is! If I only win one dolla, I didn't lose nuthin and I can jes buy anotha ticket. If I put my money in da bank, I ain't gonna git but maybe two or three dollars in a month. When I win da big one, we can put dat in da bank so won't nobody steal it."
"It's simple enough, but my wife didn't git it. She tole me I was crazy and left. I tried to git my daughter to explain it to her, but she don't understan neither. She brings me a plate of food every night, but she don't really talk to me but to ask if I need anything. I tell her the same thing every time: I got my scratcher and my tickets, I don't need nuthin else. She jes’ shake her head and leave. But jes' you wait," he continued as the line moved forward again. "They'll come runnin' when I hit it big. She'll come home." She looked at him, momentarily speechless. "Move up," he said. "It's your turn." She turned to the counter, her mind blank for a moment, having forgotten the items in her hands. As the clerk rang her purchases, she dug through her purse for her money. She could hear Scratch behind her, shuffling his feet excitedly. She could feel him peering over her shoulder, so that he could see the ticket display. She silently handed the clerk her money and received her change.
As she turned to leave, she looked back. "Good luck, Scratch." she said. He simply grinned at her as he moved to the counter, thrusting his tickets at the clerk to redeem them. She paused for a moment before going out the door and looked back. She saw Scratch twirling his coin between his fingers as he examined the display rack. One would have thought he was in a jewelry store examining fine diamonds.
She sat in her car for a moment looking at the door to the store. A few moments later, Scratch came hurrying out. He went to an old, faded blue truck with various dents and dings that she had noticed parked a few spaces from hers. It must have been wrecked at one time because one fender was a faded and rusted tan color. It looked as if someone replaced it and never painted it to match. The windshield was cracked in several places and there was only one hubcap. The front bumper hung slightly askew. The windows were down and when she walked past it, she saw how filthy the inside was. The upholstery was faded and she was unable to tell what color it should have been. There were discarded scratch-off tickets all over the seats and floors. She thought she saw a couple of beer cans poking from under the seat.
As she pulled from her space and started to drive off, she saw him in the car with his head down. As she drove past, he looked up and saw her. He waived excitedly. "I scratched four and already won two dollars!" She gave him a small smile, waived, and continued on shaking her head. She drove slowly down the road, thinking how sad it was for him to be all alone and squandering his money.
A few days later, she brought the newspaper in from the porch and took it to the kitchen. As she waited for her coffee to cool, she opened the paper to the local news section. She stared open-mouthed at the headline on the first page. It read "Local Man Wins Largest Payoff in Scratch-Off History." Under the headline was a photo of Scratch with a large grin and a check for $50,000.