Written for The Writer's Cramp contest. :)
|Lady Luck is such a strange mistress, more fickle than most, and entering into her service isn’t for the faint of heart.
And to steal from her? That takes a certain kind of mad fool.
One like me.
Thing is, she hoards. Every lucky item ever heard of, if it had any real power at all, she’d send me out to collect it.
Most sacred objects are just hoaxes. One rabbit foot among millions was actually lucky. The luck didn’t depend on the part of the rabbit it came from, it depended on the rabbit himself.
For example, a snake’s tooth has no power. A snake’s tooth from one of the serpents that lived on Medusa’s head was a different thing altogether.
The ones that were the real deal, she kept in caverns beneath the earth, filled up with all the luck in the world. She paid me well, but money is only money. Easy for me to say, since I’d always had it, but still, a wrongness began to creep into my mind. I could see all of the pain in the world. I paid attention on my travels. Whole groups of people living with no hope. The force of their dreams struck me, like a tidal wave. Luck can’t fix everything, but it can’t hurt either.
So, why should she keep it all away from them? Why did she get to decide who won and who lost? It’s too much power for anyone to have.
So I began to hatch a plan.
This was mildly complicated by the fact that I hadn’t seen her in years. She sent me directions and item descriptions by courier. I had no way to communicate with her.
So, I crept into one of her caverns and stole those snake teeth. All that was left of Medusa’s head, a necklace strung end to end with fangs.
I stopped at a payphone and made a call.
I hopped a plane to Vegas and on the way, my seat in coach was double booked, so I was bumped up to first class, free of charge. When I arrived a taxi stopped in front of me before I even had chance to whistle. Sometimes it’s the little things that can make or break a day.
I had them take me to my favorite casino and I went straight to the blackjack tables. It had been years since I’d tried my hand at this.
It was how she had found me in the first place, all those years ago. I don’t know if it was my profoundly bad losing streak that caught her attention, or my particular brand of pleading, but she came to me. She sat next to me in a red dress that distracted everyone around her. I won all night and afterwards she offered me a job. Recompense, she said.
Looking back now, it’s likely that she was only looking to replace her last employee. Why else would she have come out of hiding?
And here I am again, in the same Vegas casino, in the same seat, at the same table as the first day I met her. And tonight I was winning again. Hitting 21 with every other hand. Improbable but not impossible.
She came to me again, as I knew she would, this time in a dress of midnight blue. And this time, as soon as she arrived I started to lose. Spectacularly. The more I lost the more I laughed and the more she didn’t understand.
After I’d lost nearly all the money I had I strolled up to the lobby and booked a room with the last of my cash. She followed me upstairs, silent.
As soon as the door clicked shut behind us she asked, “Why?”
“Funny,” I said, “That’s just what I was going to say.”
She tilted her head quizzically.
“Why steal from me?” she asked, “Why come here?”
I shrugged, “Why not?”
Then I sighed and gave in, “I had to get your attention somehow.”
“Well, I had to tell you, the jig is up. Before I came here, I sent word out about where one of your super secret hidden locations are. It’s getting raided as we speak.”
Her face was so still, like this meant nothing to her at all. It probably was no matter. She could just hire someone else to get everything back, but maybe, in the time between, someone’s life could change for the better.
“Do you know why I started hiding them?” she asked. “Perhaps I should have told you. These things have a way of ending up in the wrong hands. Eventually, it’s the people with the money that end up with the power. Not those that need it. I’ve watched whole empires topple because the wrong person rose to a throne thanks to luck. I’ve seen so much pain and suffering and I didn’t want to be the cause of it anymore.”
I digested that and then asked, “But you still are. Keeping it from everyone is hurting whole empires as well. Why not hire people to steal them from the rich and give them to the poor? Create some balance between two worlds that are growing farther and farther apart.”
A flicker of a feeling graced her face. Looking at her now, I realized that she, herself, was one of those without hope. She’d been drifting for who knows how long. She asked, “How do I decide? When has a person had an object long enough?”
I shrugged again, “Give your recon guy an item. Not likely to make a mistake then is he? He’d be too lucky to get it wrong.”
She looked at my necklace. “Something like these snake teeth, perhaps?” She smiled. I’d never seen that before.
“If that’s you offering me the job . . . I guess I’ll take it. I did just lose all of my money here tonight.”
Then something truly unexpected happened. She laughed.