Crime Sad Drama

    Lucky crossed the street in a set of long, quick strides, glancing back and forth the whole way as if a car would come hurtling out of thin air. He’d heard stories of worse things happening to better people, and his name was all title—not at all a descriptor. He reached the other side, as if by miracle, and disappeared straight into the trees. Lucky had been doing a lot of disappearing for a long time.

    He wanted to say he couldn’t believe he had tossed everything away for a man named Barney, like the dinosaur, but he’d believed it back then, and he believed it now, as he braided together the last hanging strands of his life. He hadn’t been in love with him, no, it wasn’t like that. Half the time, he didn’t really believe that himself, but with Barns gone from the picture, he could be sure. It had not been like that.

    Lucky slipped through the trees, not bothering to look around. This town was not a very well-populated one, and the few people who did live there were always doing strange enough things that no one stuck out much. The trees thinned unevenly and gave way to what could loosely be called a residential area, and Lucky began to walk as if he might live there. It was a senseless idea; anyone who might have seen him would know right away that he didn’t live there, and no one would give even half a sideways fuck either way. Lucky didn’t like to take chances. He walked like a local.

    The house that stood about halfway between the start of this residential area and its end was a house that no one had resided in for quite some time. Lucky heard that the last family to live there had gone nuts and fed their kids to their neighbors. He didn’t find this particularly difficult to believe, but he didn’t agree with what most people seemed to think; most thought that the madness had come from the house. Lucky had seen a lot, and he believed that the madness had come from the street.

    Lucky stepped away from that street and toward the house. The front door was locked and chained, and the back door appeared the same, but the deadbolt had no wood around it to hold it into the wall. The door opened easily, looking like the wall folding in on itself, and Lucky stepped through.

    There was a static, tangible instant where Lucky looked to the couch and wondered where Barney was, but the moment passed so quickly that it hardly counted as grief. Lucky didn’t think it counted, anyway. Maybe he’d start grieving Barney one day.

    It had started small, with bits of junk cars that no one would miss. Lucky thought it was harmless and had no reason to believe it would escalate, so when Barney escalated it, Lucky convinced himself it wouldn’t escalate any further than that. Lucky walked past Barney’s old spot on the couch and turned his pockets inside-out onto the table.

    Tangles of jewelry, chains and bracelets and watches and rings, spilled onto the wood. It started with him and Barney looting junkyards, and it ended up with Lucky squatting in a house, lifting jewelry off oldies who couldn’t remember what color shirt they had on, let alone what necklace they were wearing. When it wasn’t the geriatric convention, it was comatose hospital patients, and Lucky was beginning to think it was no longer about who wouldn’t miss what he was taking. It was about who wouldn’t notice.

    It had been Barney’s idea, all of it was from the start, but he wasn’t sure how long he could keep deflecting that blame. Barney was gone, and Lucky could stop. If he really wanted to, he could. He sorted through the pile of jewelry mindlessly, and some of it looked worthless. He wasn’t surprised that he had taken it anyway.

    “Slim pickin’, Barns,” he muttered, more out of habit than anything. The way he saw it, talking to a ghost wasn’t a problem. It only meant something if Barney started talking back, and he hadn’t. Lucky wasn’t that loony. He counted off rings that looked like they would pawn for something and put them in a velvet pouch. Everything else, the bracelets and necklaces, looked like they’d get him laughed out of the store. He’d take them over to the nicer neighborhood on the other side of town and sell them to the ladies there.

    Those were nice ladies. The ladies in the home were nice, too, but that was a different thing. It was like having a dog compared to having chickens. Both were cute, but a guy had to eat. That was the whole thing, wasn’t it? Like Barney always said?

    The home was hiring. He was there a lot, and they liked him, and he got along well with the people, whether he was taking from them or not. He’d get the job easy, and they house their staff there. He could go and get that job right then, even bring back all the ladies’ stuff. He could get out of that old, grown-over house and go back to being something, the way he had been before he met Barney and his dirt-caked, grease-covered, pilfering hands.

    Lucky gathered the jewelry up in his hands and stuffed it all back into his pockets, leaving the rings in their little velvet pouch. He thought, not for the first time, of making everything right before the street took him the way it had taken Barney. It was never enough for Barney near the end, and he couldn’t have known he was taking it too far until he had gone and done it. Lucky thought he might turn out the same, cranking up the dial until the gas finally caught for the last time.

    Lucky fell onto the couch, right next to Barney’s spot.

    “I ought to take this stuff back, Barns.”

    Barney didn’t talk back. Lucky wished he would, wished he’d urge Lucky to keep the flame burning while he could. He wished Barney would tell him to sell the shit so he wouldn’t have to tell himself.

    Lucky pulled a jacket on, put the hood up, and headed to the pawn shop. He kicked the corner of the couch on his way out. 

March 09, 2024 16:28

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LeeAnn Hively
02:35 Mar 22, 2024

I hope Lucky makes a full 180 before his luck runs out.


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Helen A Smith
09:22 Mar 17, 2024

Strong character driven piece. Let’s hope he finds a way to do the right thing. Doesn’t look too likely.


D'Spencer Luyao
18:11 Mar 17, 2024

Thanks! Who knows, maybe he'll turn it around.


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Mary Bendickson
15:51 Mar 10, 2024

Straighten up, Lucky, before you strike out.


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Alexis Araneta
15:41 Mar 10, 2024

Such a succinct story with a lot of punch. Great job.


D'Spencer Luyao
00:45 Mar 15, 2024

Thanks so much!


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