Written for the Daily Flash Fiction contest, 300 words max. (W)
|Back in the day, I ran a little gambling set up in town. One draughty old joint, with a couple of dozen slot machines, nothing to be proud of. I saw my share of addicts. Then came along Frank. The regulars and I referred to him as ‘the walking contradiction’. He’d turn up in a sports tracksuit, as lazy as can be. He used only short words and yet spoke longer than anybody. And he’d always talk about landing a big break but ended leaving the same way, hopelessly broke.
“I’m never coming back here.”, Frank would shout, every Friday night. That typically occurred after striking the machines, moping around, and eventually trying to scrounge off people. I’d turf him out and he would come back sulking the next week.
That all changed when Frank started pickpocketing. I caught him red-handed and gave him the harshest rant of his miserable life. I called him a waste of potential, destined for the gutter in front of everybody. He shot out the place and never looked back.
The following week, Frank never showed. A missing person report not long after. We were all deeply concerned.
Three years passed and I’m closing up for the night, spot something shiny at the bottom of a slot machine. A car key of all things. Out the corner of my eye, I see a shadow, it was Frank. Standing there dressed to the nines, he reached down and presented the key to me.
“You made me expect better of myself and I owe you my life”, he said.
We hugged and to be quite honest, I cried.
“And I know you’re worth more than this place”, he continued.
From that moment we became business partners, the kind that saved each other from a pit of sin.