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Rated: E · Short Story · Contest Entry · #2155596
A man discovers his fortune in a chinese restaurant.
Fortune

“Good evening, Mr. Banks. Same table?” the owner greeted, his accent heavy.

“Yes, Lei Wei, same as always,” he replied.

“Menu?”

“No, thanks. I’m pretty familiar, by this point.”

“Very well. This way, sir.” Escorted to the back of the restaurant, they passed the kitchen doors, arriving at a familiar corner table. Lei Wei pulled out the chair for him. “You must really like Chinese food, Mr. Banks. You’re here nearly every night.”

“Well, you are the best,” he remarked, though knew it wasn’t true.

“I’ll have the Szechuan Pork tonight, please, and a tall glass of water.

“Of course,” and he was quickly away.

*********

“He’s back again, isn’t he,” Zhi Rou remarked in Mandarin, his wife peering through the window in the kitchen door. “Every night it’s the same thing. That man comes in and sits at the same table, pulls his wallet and stares into the little strips of paper he collects from our fortune cookies. What’s he up to?” she wondered suspiciously.

“As long as he likes our food and pays the bill, I don’t care,” Lei Wei answered, then joked, “I’m thinking of renting him a room upstairs.”

She tossed a plastic spoon at him, though he paid little attention, pouring a cup of soup and setting it next to a full glass of water with lemon. “Something’s not right,” she said.

“Again, I don’t care,” he picked up the tray and pushed through the paired doors.

**********

“Hot and sour soup, just as you like it, Mr. Banks. Can I get you anything else?”

“No, thank you, that will do for now,” the man answered, then corrected, “Wait. Let me ask you something.”

“Of course, sir.”

“I’ve been coming here for a long time, right? Tell me, where do you get your fortune cookies?”

“San Francisco Fortune Cookie Company, same as always. Same as every other Chinese restaurant in town, I think.”

“So, there’s nothing special about yours? Nothing unique?”

He returned a blank stare.

“Never mind, I guess I’m just being silly,” he admitted and the owner nodded before strolling away. Sipping his soup, the man shuffled though the tiny strips of paper, thumbing the first one he’d received over a year ago. Faded and thinned, it still held the same message – ‘Dan it’s me, your fortune is about to get a lot brighter.’

It had been the start of so many questions. Why was his name on the inside of a random fortune cookie? What did it mean? Was it just a coincidence? It had to be, and it was months before the man returned, though fate answered in the second cookie he received. It simply read – ‘It’s not a coincidence.’

Shuffling through some of the others, Mr. Banks studied his collection. He kept the most life-changing fortunes with him. Of course, he’d been skeptical at first, missing the oil investment in Brazil, which would have made him beyond wealthy. He also regretted passing on the World Series odds last year. Who would’ve predicted the Astros, anyways? Finally, it occurred to him, however unlikely, he was receiving messages from his future self, but by that point, he’d already missed two great opportunities. He wouldn’t miss a third. So, taking the cookie’s advice, Banks invested everything into a start-up electric car company, striking it rich. They even shot one into space. Then, he bought some real estate, wagered on the last championship football game, and even invested in a highly productive Brazilian gold mine, donating half the profits to charity.

“Your Szechuan Pork, Mr. Banks.” Lei Wei set the plate down next to a rice-bowl, a fresh set of chop-sticks, and a wrapped fortune cookie.

Banks didn’t even hesitate and tore into the package. His fortune read – ‘Hello again Dan. We’re just getting started. See you tomorrow.’

**********

“Again with the fortune cookie!” Zhi Rou marveled from the kitchen. “He always starts with that.”

Jonathan, their eldest son peered over his mother’s shoulder.

“Ah, I see he started with the cookie again,” he chuckled.

“And why would that concern you?”

“Looks like I’ve created a loyal customer.”

“Meaning?”

“Oh, I’ve been slipping Mr. Banks random fortunes for months…steaming the packages and replacing the slips, just makin’ ‘em up every night, as I go. Poor guy must have fallen for it hard.”

**********

Suddenly, there was shouting from the kitchen, a mandarin tie-raid if there was every such a thing. Barely distracted, Daniel Banks dug into his meal with a satisfied grin.
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