| The Paper Gamble
Without any intention, he suddenly drifted into an unfocused haze. When this happen, he began feeling questions that he feared more and more with each passing day.
“Where am I?” he thought, “What is happening?”
He quietly began running through a checklist that he had recently prepared and diligently memorized. “Was he awake? Yes. Was he breathing? Yes. Were his pants on? Yes. Was his shirt on? Yes, Were his shoes on? Yes. “
“Well, so far - so good,” he thought. “Was he at home? No.”
This was a definite bewildering ‘No’. This was not his home. He was certain it was not his home. Everything was too big and too bright. Everything was too white and too crowded. Most of all, everything was filled with far too much noise. There was a loud threatening gumbo of words, shouts, metallic clangs, rattles, and whistles surrounding him. At present, he had no idea how or why he would be in such a place.
For a moment, the ivory haze about him receded a bit and he naturally focused downward to check his shoes. The shoes were well worn, but clean and shined. They sprouted from beneath a pair of wrinkled, but clean, dark gray pants and his feet were firmly planted on a whitish tile floor.
“Good,” he thought. “I’m safely indoors, unless this is possibly a hospital.” Then he paused, “No, this is not a hospital. This building does not have the hopeless smell of a hospital. But, this is a large costly building and I must be alert.”
As the old man lifted his gaze from the floor he tried focusing on the flat surface beside him. There was a sack and a dozen silver metal objects scattered across the top. A uniformed young man stood behind the countertop. The young man was looking down while quickly sliding and stacking the silver disks about on the counter surface. Through some distant reflex, the old man suddenly shouted, “Hit me!” and awaited his next playing card from the deck.
Immediately, it was quieter and he sensed that he had said something wrong.
There was the same word and voice again. At least it was now quiet enough for a man to think a little. He noticed there was money in his hand and he turned to his left where the voice had come from.
A very pretty young girl gave him a bright, but puzzled smile. Appropriately, he gratefully tipped her with all the money he was holding. She looked down and tended to a machine for a few moments. When she was finished, she looked up at him again, now with a very bright smile.
“Paper is fine and here are your winnings,” she said, while handing him his change and a receipt. The uniformed man quickly placed the stacks of dog food cans on the bottom of a paper bag and the loaf of bread on the top.
The old man carried his groceries through the sliding door. He was glad that he had won and was pretty sure his home was near by.