American Fiction Drama

“4 23 24 35 54 Power Ball 13,” I tell the overweight cashier behind the smeared plexiglass. My hands begin to shake as I get out the wallet from my purse and spy some mini bottles of Jack Daniels in the neat little basket sitting next to the credit card machine. My mouth begins to water. “And two of these,” I say as I push the bottles towards the cashier before my subconscious can talk me out of it.  The cashier glances up at me, raising an eyebrow.

“I.D.” he says.

I reach into my wallet, pull out my driver’s license, and slide it over the counter towards the cashier. Even though I’m 28, I still get carded all the time since I look like a I could be starring on a Disney Junior show. The cashier tilts the card side to side, reading it intently. “Related to Jeffrey Dahmer?” he asks with a snicker as he slides it back towards me and punches the keys of the cash register to ring me up. Having the same last name as an infamous serial killer has gotten me the center of many jokes in the past. Maybe that’s where my bad luck all started. Maybe I should change my last name to Smith. Or Jones. Stacy Jones has a nice ring to it.

“$8.01,” he says as he reaches back and picks at a wedgie from his stained jeans. I reach into my wallet and pull out some bills. I only find six one-dollar bills. Fuck. The cashier appears to be getting annoyed. I open up the change part of my wallet as an older man carrying two bottles of red wine walks up behind me to get rung up.

“You want to put one of these bottles back?” the cashier asks as he holds up one of the little bottles of Jack Daniels in his chubby hands.

“Hold on a sec,” I say. I start counting out my quarters and dimes. I add up a total of $7.75. Why the hell does this always happen to me? So close yet so far away.

“Listen, “Ma’am,” the cashier says, “You’re gonna hafta put a bottle back if you don’t have enough cash.”

I try to think quickly in my head; but my brain is foggy. I need this lotto ticket. I need to win this money; I need this cash to change my life. I look back and forth from the cashier’s hands holding the lotto ticket to the bottles. A bead of sweat drips down my face.

“Forget about the ticket,” I say. “I’ll just take the two bottles.” My hands begin to shake again as I reach down to get the correct cash for the two bottles. I feel a tap on my shoulder and turn around to see the older gentleman behind me holding out a dollar towards me.

“Here,” he says. “We can always use a little luck; get that ticket.” He gives me a wink and I feel my face fill with blood. I take the dollar from his hand and hand it over to the cashier with my olio of other money.

“Thank you so much, sir! You don’t know how much this means to me!” I say, standing up a little straighter at this change of events.

“Don’t worry about it,” he says. The cashier stuffs my bottles and ticket into a white plastic bag and shoves it at me quickly, probably anticipating my departure. I grab the bag and scurry out of Jimmy’s liquor store. I feel the heat of summer pound down on my head as soon as I exit the store and sweat begins to immediately drip down my back. Five more hours until the big lotto drawing tonight. 4.5 million dollars. This could be huge. This could change my life forever; change my streak of bad luck. I walk over to the side of the building and grab a mini bottle from the bag. I unscrew the cap and gulp it down with one sip and then do the same with the second. I feel a calm rush over me, and my hands begin to steady. I take the lotto ticket out of the bag and fold it into fours. I place it in my wallet to keep it safe as I start walking down Sixth Street. I hear the beep of a horn and see the older gentleman from the liquor store pass by my in a fancy Black Lexus. He gives me a wave and rolls down his window as he drives by me.

“Good luck!” he shouts. I wave to him.

“Thanks!” I yell to him. I feel a skip in my step and turn right to head over to Kim’s house. She lives on Lake Ave with ten other people: all squatters.

“Knock, knock!” I yell as I open up the already halfway open door of Kim’s 1900’s bungalow.  There are mattresses on the floor and people lounging around everywhere. “Where’s Kim?” I ask a guy who goes by the name of Ocean and doesn’t ever wear a shirt.  He is sitting on a mattress with a big bong between his legs.

“Out back,” he says as he places his mouth on the bong and sucks in hard. I nod and walk through the house to the back yard. Kim has a great set up out back. She has an above ground pool, a chained fence to keep in people’s dogs and kids, and a covered patio area where we can chill.

“Kimmy Morton, it is my lucky day!” I yell as I step outside looking for her. Kim is sitting by herself submerged in a baby pool completely filled with ice. I begin to laugh hysterically when I see it. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Trying to cool the hell down is what I’m doing girl!” she says as she takes a sip of clear liquid from a glass in her hand, probably vodka. “Wanna drink?”

“You know I do,” I say as I begin to scratch at my arm. “But you got anything stronger than a drink?”

“You gotta get off that stuff, girl,” she says as she shakes her head. “You know I’m just drinking now. Tryin’ to get clean.”

“I know, me too,” I say, trying to convince myself as well.

“Here,” she says as she reaches underneath her butt and pulls an ice-cold beer from the baby pool. I laugh again.

“You crazy,” I say. I open up the can and take a sip of the cold, refreshing beer.

“So, what’s up?” she asks.

“Nothin,” I say as I look around fidgeting my hands on my lap. “Just trying to get a place to stay.”

“Your mom kick you out again?” she asks as she takes a sip from her drink.

“Yea,” I say as I grab my purse and pull out my pack of Newport Menthols. “She said one more time she caught me using, I was out. So, I’m out now. She’s such a bitch.” I say as I put a cigarette between my lips and light it.”

“So, stop using girl,” she says matter-of factly.

“I know I am, for real. But now she won’t believe me,” I say. “And she wants me to get a job, but no one will hire me because I don’t have my GED.”

“Stacy, you are so smart, just get your GED,” Kim says as she picks up an ice cube from her belly button and pops it into her mouth.

“I know I’ve been planning on it,” I say as I blow out smoke, “But I just need to fill out the paperwork. I just need to get to it.”

“Girl, you have been just getting to doing that for ten years,” Kim says as she laughs and takes another sip of her drink. I roll my eyes and take another sip of beer.

“Well, this time is for real,” I say. “I’m going to win the lotto and get my GED and get my own place and get my own fancy Lexus and a husband and a family. I’m going to have it all. My luck is changing today.” I flick a big ash from my cigarette and watch as it floats through the thick air and lands on the cement nearby.

“Have me over for a bouche dinner party then,” Kim says and gives me a wink.

“Is it ok if I crash here til I find a place to stay?” I ask, hoping Kim won’t mind.

“If you find an empty mattress, you can sleep on it,” she says. “I deadbolt my bedroom door and my food drawer. I just ask squatters to chip in for booze and rent if they can.”

“Of course,” I say, knowing there is no way I can chip in for anything. “I’m gonna run to the bathroom.” I grab my purse and go inside past various people passed out on mattresses. I walk up the rickety old stairs to the bathroom. I knock on the door twice and don’t hear anything so step inside. It smells like shit, mildew, and marijuana. I sit down to pee and look around the bathroom, trying to hold my breath at the nauseating smell. The tub is stained black and has several shampoo and conditioner bottles all over it. There are dark curly hairs all over the drain. How does Kim live like this? Maybe I should try to convince my mom for one more chance. I look away from the tub to the floor, grossed out by the dirtiness and spy a little baggie hidden behind the trashcan. I lean over and reach for the bag, peeking first towards the door to make sure I shut it all the way. I open up the baggie and see a needle, a spoon, a sachet of vitamin C powder and some clear patches. Must be Fentanyl. This really must be my lucky day. I haven’t done this before, but have done everything else, so I can figure it out. I hear it feels like heaven.

 I flush the toilet and lean over to close the door. I try to lock it but realize that the lock button is broken. Damnit. I wipe a bead of sweat from my forehead and grab a patch from the bag and remove the liner. I place the patch onto the spoon with some of the vitamin C powder, so the patch doesn’t stick. I use my lighter to heat up the bottom of the spoon and watch as the chemicals start boiling. My mouth waters. I grab the syringe from the baggie and pull gently pull back on the syringe, filling the needle. I look around the room frantically realizing I don’t have a tourniquet. I see a dirty towel with holes in it hanging on the hook by the door and grab it. I begin to rip at it frantically until I get a long strip and quickly tie it on the top of my arm. I sit back down on the toilet and tap at the vein on my arm, watching as the blue pops up, asking to be fed. I place the syringe on my vein and push the euphoria into my blood. A rush comes to my head as I fall onto the floor, shattering my skull and jaw.

 Local News: “It has been a week now since the winning lotto ticket has been picked and the owner has finally come to claim it. The ticket was purchased at Jimmy’s Liquor Store on Sixth Street. The numbers were 4 23 24 35 54 Power Ball 13. The winner of the ticket, a 28-year-old female named Kimberly Morton, stated, ‘What can I say, it was my lucky day!’” 

June 14, 2021 00:07

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Crown Star
09:29 Jul 15, 2022

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Wilma Segeren
17:43 Mar 13, 2022

I enjoyed your story. Kept me interested interested.


Kathleen Fine
23:08 May 22, 2022

Thanks Wilma!


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Susannah Meghans
17:03 Feb 26, 2022

Such irony…


Kathleen Fine
23:08 May 22, 2022



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