What a lucky man he was

Published 8:58 am Wednesday, June 13, 2012

He stared in disbelief.

“Could you say those numbers again?” “6-13-23-28-32-23,” said Amber, who worked the counter on weekdays. “Wish I’da wun it,” she said with her southern accent. “Twenty million dollars ain’t ‘to sneeze at.”

Eddie looked at the numbers once again and repeated them under his breath. His thumb and forefinger were shaking as the single white ticket lay clinched between them. He sat down at the table and gathered himself.

He held, in his own hand, the winning ticket. “Twenty million dollars,” he murmured to himself.

He looked around. Everyone was acting normal, going about their routines, while here sat a new multi-millionaire. There was Moody, getting his morning coffee, talking about the shipyard again. Delbert had just ambled in and taken his usual place. Clay took a sip of his green tea.

No one knew. At that moment, no one knew but Eddie.

But then he started thinking.

He envisioned how everything would now change. He would be looked at differently. By everyone. Expectations would change overnight as word got around what had happened.

Now he was just a guy, married to Edna, trying to get by. Now he was just like everyone else and accepted by others as a result. But after this, all would change.

Friends — or so-called friends — would come out of the woodwork. Relatives, even those he didn’t like, would show up. Salesmen for everything from mothballs to mutual funds would come smooth-talking around trying to get their piece of the pie.

And what about Edna? Okay, so she had put on a few pounds and lost some of that sparkle in her eyes. But she loved him. Not for his money or prestige or position, but simply because of who he was.

Eddie sure didn’t want that to change. He stroked his chin and glanced out the window. There was his 1999 Ford with 200,000 miles and still rolling along. Why that truck was just getting comfortable.

Then he thought about himself. How would it change him? He’d seen money do funny things to people. Twisted them around. Made them so it was all they thought about and talked about, and they looked differently at those with less.

At that, Eddie knew what he’d do.

“So long boys,” he said, ambling toward the door. “Amber, you behave yourself today.” “Yessir, Mr. Eddie, you do the same,” she said as he slipped out the door and dropped a white ticket into the trash.

REX ALPHIN of Walters is a farmer, businessman, author, county supervisor and contributing columnist for The Tidewater News. His email address is rexalphin@aol.com.