“Cathy, what are these cut up magazines, newspapers and scraps of paper doing strewn all over our living room floor?” her husband, Brad, yelled across the room?

Still wearing khaki work clothes, Brad arrived home after working the whole day operating a crane at a construction site. Tired, he looked forward to his usual nap on the couch before dinner.

“Geez Cathy, I can’t even find a path to walk to the couch,” he added as he did his best to maneuver between the piles of paper.

In the middle of the mess of papers on the dark hardwood floor, sat Cathy. She stopped cutting and put her scissors on the floor.

Her plain face devoid of makeup and her long stringy black hair hanging over her face, she looked up at Brad, brushed back the hair from her eyes, and exclaimed, “Hi honey. You’ll never guess what I decided today. I’m going to enter as many contests as I can. It’s my new project. I’ve been searching through magazines, newspapers and the internet for contest entry forms.”

Barefoot wearing an oversized white tee shirt that read ‘Save the whales’, she continued, “When I find a contest I want to enter, I cut out the entry form, fill it in, and mail it. If I find one on the internet, I print it and do the same thing.”

Brad completed the obstacle course to the couch maneuvering around the piles as best he could. He turned and plopped his 245 pound body on the couch and leaned against the back. Bowed in the middle with a time formed indention the shape of Brad’s body, the sagging threadbare red velour couch had seen better days.

With his arms folded across his chest, he looked over at Cathy still sitting on the floor and expelled a sigh. With his head cocked to one side, he glared at her. “Cathy, you’re starting another crazy project again, aren’t you? Do you have any idea what the odds are of you winning one of those contests?”

She looked over at him and childlike, responded. “Yes, I’ve read all about the odds, but I’ve got to give this a try, Brad. I’m sure I’ll win the prize I’ve dreamed about all my life. I bought a box of envelopes and stamps to mail in my entries. The man at the newspaper stand agreed to sell me his old magazines and newspapers for a nickel each.”

Brad sighed again. “What if all you win is junk you don’t need and will never use? In addition, has it occurred to you that if you’re buying outdated magazines and newspapers, most of the contests will have expired?”

He continued, “Do you remember the time you got it in your head to sell old CD’s and DVD’s as coasters. You bought several hundred out-of-date CD’s from Staples. Then you painted multi-colored psychedelic glowing paint swirls on them and tried to sell them on the internet and to your friends as coasters. No one wanted them. You lost money and we still have three boxes of the things sitting in the attic. Should I go on about the other hair brain schemes you’ve come up with? This has got to stop, Cathy. Why don’t you get a job even if it’s volunteering for a charity? That would keep you busy.”

“Don’t be so negative, Brad. I’ve planned for those contingencies. I can sell the items on the internet and have a garage sale. There are many internet sites where I can list things for sale and advertise my garage sale. It doesn’t cost much for the envelopes or the stamps. You’ll see.” With an air of confidence, she grinned as she picked up the scissors and resumed cutting out contest entry forms.

“I give up.” Brad brought his legs up so his six foot two body would fit on the couch and turned to face the back of the couch; his arms still crossed over his chest.

More exasperated than ever, he muttered, “I can see you’re dead set on doing this. I’m beat. It’s been a long hard day. I need to take a nap. Try to be as quiet as possible when you’re going through the magazines and newspapers or better yet, how about fixing dinner?”

Not long after, the only sound in the room were Brad’s snores and Cathy’s scissors snipping away at an entry form in a magazine.


Several months later, Brad came home from work and opened the front door. Boxes containing unknown items piled one on top of another greeted him. Once he opened the door far enough to to step inside, he gradually made his way through another obstacle course to get to the couch. Each day for the past four weeks, more boxes arrived, but Cathy had not opened or disposed of even one.

“Cathy.” He yelled aloud.

Cathy rushed from the kitchen all atwitter. “Brad, honey, I’m so glad you’re home. Isn’t this exciting?” She exclaimed in her high-pitched voice. Giddy with excitement, her thin five foot two body shook.

As Brad looked around, he saw nothing but boxes that contained who knows what. Exasperated not knowing what she was excited about, with a sarcastic tone, he asked her, “Isn’t what exciting? What are you talking about, Cathy? What are all these boxes doing in the living room? I thought you said you would sell these on the internet or have a garage sale. When is that going to happen?”

She swept her right arm around the room, her right hand palm up as if she were showing off a piece of art leaving Brad more confused than ever.

As she danced around the stacks of boxes, she said, “Looksee. These are all things I’ve won so far with the contests I entered. Isn’t it great?”

“You won all this junk?” Brad asked looking aghast not believing what he heard.

Still wide-eyed with excitement, Cathy replied looking sheepish, “Well I didn’t exactly win all of it. I had to buy some stuff to get the entry form off the boxes like cereal and other stuff, but we’ll use it. It won’t be a total loss. You’ll see.”

Brad looked up at the ceiling and rolled his eyes; his hands clasped in a prayer position. He whispered to himself, “Oh Lord. What have I done to deserve this?”

Cathy continued, “There are more in the garage. Now don’t be mad, honey, right now there is no room in the garage for your truck. That’s why I had to put the latest deliveries in the living room. But, this is only temporary. It’s just until I sell everything online or in the garage sale.”

He turned to Cathy, “Are you telling me I can’t even park my truck in the garage? It isn’t bad enough that I can’t even get to the couch anymore. Thank god I can at least get to my bed.” He started walking toward the bedroom for his late afternoon nap.

Cathy’s face turned whiter than usual. She looked down, “Uh well, I meant to mention that too. You can get to the bed, but you can’t get in the closet. Don’t worry, honey, I laid all our clothes on the couch. It’s only temporary, just until…”

“Yeah. Yeah. I know,” he said as he interrupted her.

Mimicking her, he continued, “Just until you sell them online or in the garage sale.” He turned and walked into the bedroom.

Cathy called after him, “Honey, you know I’ve always wanted to win a contest and the prize of my dreams.”

He stopped and turned to face her. “Well now that you’ve won, why do you keep entering?”

“Because silly, I haven’t won the prize of my dreams yet.”

Out of curiosity, Brad asked, “I didn’t realize you had a specific prize in mind. What is it?”

Giggling, she responded as she continued whirling around the boxes, “You’ll see when I win it. I don’t want to spoil the surprise.”

Too tired to argue anymore, he continued into the bedroom, shoved aside several of the boxes, laid down and fell sound asleep.

Cathy danced into the kitchen to finish making dinner.


At work the next day, Brad’s friend Jack looked at Brad as he plodded into the office for his assignment.

“Man Brad, you look like something the cat dragged in and couldn’t bother dragging out again. What happened to you? Your old lady still driving you crazy with her new project?”

“Yeah. Every day for the last few weeks, boxes of crap she won in those contests arrive. I can’t even park my truck in the garage or get into my closet or nap on the couch anymore. She has filled the inside of the house with these boxes of junk. She swears she can sell it all on the internet or in a garage sale, but so far, she hasn’t sold one thing. I tell you Jack, I don’t think I can take much more. I love her, but she is such a dingbat. I can’t get through to her. I can’t make her understand the financial and other consequences of her foolishness like the boxes squeezing us out of our house and garage. She has some fantasy about winning a contest and the prize of her dreams.”

Jack stood for a minute, his left arm across his waist, his right elbow resting on his left arm, his hand on his mouth. As he looked up at nothing, he tapped his mouth with his forefinger. Suddenly he lowered his hands to his hips and looked at Brad.

“Hey, Brad. I have an idea. You remember that casino across town?”

“Uh, yeah. What about it?”

“They have slot machines. Take Cathy to the casino, give her say oh fifty bucks and enter her in one of the slot machine tournaments. Tell her she has to play in a tournament and if she wins, she could go on with her schemes and projects; if she loses, she has to stop. The odds of her winning in a slot machine tournament are slim to none if you only give her fifty dollars. What do you say?”

Brad stood staring at Jack as though Jack had suggested he allow Cathy to gamble away his last penny. After a few minutes during which he stood riveted to the floor with his hands on his hips thinking, he turned his head and looked at Jack. “You know, Jack. That might work. At first, I thought you were crazy, but yeah, that idea might work at that. However, I have one question, is a slot machine tournament considered a contest? That’s important because she set her mind on winning a contest.

“Yes. It is a contest because you’re competing against other people.

“How do tournaments work, Jack? I mean how complicated is a tournament? Is there a high buy-in dollar amount?

“All I know is what my neighbor told me. He plays in tournaments. He said that depending upon the tournament, there could be a small entry fee. Why don’t you look it up on the internet? I’m sure all the information you’ll need is there including where they hold local tournaments and a schedule.”

“I’ll check it out and suggest we go tonight or tomorrow night if I can find a local tournament. Thanks, Jack.”

As Brad turned and began to walk toward the door, he stopped and turned around, “Oh no. Wait a minute, Jack. What if she wins even a dollar or less and loses all the fifty dollars; I’m still stuck with these stupid projects.”

Jack stared at Brad while he paused in thought. “Good point. Give her a limit. I mean tell her that at the end of the evening, she has to come home with fifty dollars plus what she’s won even if it’s only a quarter over the fifty.”

“Yeah. I like that. To stop the projects that cost me money and drive me nuts, it would be worth losing fifty dollars. Thanks. I’ll present this to Cathy after I check it out. I’ll let you know Monday how it turned out.”

Brad left for home. During the drive home, he dreaded what he knew would confront him when he opened the front door. Nevertheless, he felt excited at the possibility that Jack’s idea might work and rid him of Cathy’s hair brained projects and schemes forever.


When Brad arrived home that evening, he made his way through the maze of boxes to the bedroom where his laptop computer sat on a small desk in the corner. He spent the next hour, learning everything he could about slot machine tournaments. When he finished, he walked into the kitchen where Cathy sat cutting out contest forms.

She looked up when she saw him. “Oh hi, honey.” She looked at the clock.

“Oh my gosh. I didn’t realize how late it was. I need to start dinner.”

After dinner, Brad looked across the table at Cathy.

“Honey, I have a great idea. We’ve sat cooped up in this house with these boxes for weeks. We need to get out. Would you like to go to the casino tomorrow night and try your hand at a slot machine tournament?”

Her face a total blank, she asked, “What’s a casino and what’s a slot machine tournament?”

Brad sighed then explained in the simplest terms about casinos, slot machines and slot machine tournaments. He finished by explaining his rules that if she lost everything she had to stop her current project and cannot start any new ones.

The idea excited Cathy, her large brown eyes opened wide. She clapped her hands. “Can we go tonight?”

Brad smiled, happy with himself for having pulled this off… so far. “Sure honey.”

Several hours later, they were on the road to the casino. Cathy wasn’t the only one excited. The possibility of putting an end to Cathy’s projects excited Brad.


As they entered the casino, music blared through the speakers and melodic noises sounded as the tumblers in the slot machines turned and dropped. The ding, ding, ding whenever someone won a round followed by the clinking sound of coins dropping into the tray below echoed throughout the casino followed by the loud excited yelling of those who won.

“Boy it sure is noisy in here,” Cathy exclaimed as they headed toward the banks of slot machines. “Is it always like this?”

“Yep. Slot machines make a lot of noise, particularly when you win. It adds to the excitement,” Brad responded as he walked over to the change window and using his credit card, charged sixty dollars in five-dollar bills.

He left the window and steered Cathy toward the row of slot machines where a tournament was about to start. Cathy chose a stool, sat down, and waited while Brad paid the $10 entry fee and explained everything about the tournament again.

Excited, Cathy looked up at Brad. “Okay. What do I do now?”

Brad told her that after he put the money in the slot, she should press the SPIN button. He explained what would happen when she pressed it and what it took to win.

He put a five-dollar bill into the slot.

Cathy pressed the SPIN button.

The tumblers began to spin.

Clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk.

A lemon, a cherry, a cherry, a lemon and an orange popped up one-by-one.

“Did I win?,” Cathy asked, her eyes wide.

Secretly happy, Brad responded, “No honey, I’m sorry; maybe next time.”

This procedure continued until one five-dollar bill was all Cathy had left. Brad put the five-dollar bill in the slot.

Cathy pressed the SPIN button.

The tumblers began to spin.

Clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk.

A cherry, a cherry, a cherry, a cherry and another cherry popped up.

Bells and sirens sounded and lights flashed. People came running.

Brad couldn’t believe what he saw. The lights in the center of the machine kept blinking $50,000.

When realization hit Cathy, she gulped and gasped for air. “Oh my God. Brad, I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.”

“Breathe, Cathy, Breathe.” Brad bellowed.

“Brad, look. At last, I’ve won a contest and the prize of my dreams. Now I can begin a new project.”

Cathy looked to her left down the aisle then to her right. “Brad? Brad? Where did you go?” she called out.

A man standing near Cathy leaned over and said, “Excuse me lady, isn’t that your husband passed out on the floor?”


August 23, 2019 23:41

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