It was the night before Halloween. Sarah, a sophomore at Columbia University, was up late preparing for her anthropology exam. She had been resisting the urge to raid the refrigerator, but finally, she gave in. Only to find that there was nothing there to satisfy her. The problem was that it was really late now, 1 a.m. She felt like kicking herself for not stopping by the local Morton Williams supermarket earlier when she had the chance. Now she would have to walk from Elliot Hall all the way down to 115th Street and Broadway.
The famished student thought to get someone to join her, but she didn’t want to disturb her dorm mates, because of the ridiculous hour. She was slightly anxious, but she had made runs on her own as late as 11 at night. She convinced herself that she would be alright, and so she ventured out.
Walking down Claremont Avenue the street was deserted and tranquil. As Sarah turned left on to 116th Street, she encountered the full moon Shining brightly in the sky over Broadway. Turning onto Broadway, she came upon a pile of garbage bags that had been left out for collection. There was one orange trash bag that didn’t fit in with the others, which were all black. The other thing was that the orange bag appeared to be moving. Sarah hurried by suspecting a rat was feasting inside the pile of neatly stacked and packaged rubbish.
The supermarket was just ahead at the next corner. The young student breathed a sigh of relief, and thought to herself “That wasn’t so bad.” As the automatic doors slid open allowing her to enter and begin gathering mostly junk food and candy which is what she was craving.
At the cash register, there was a little old lady who rang up her dozen or so items. Sarah thought “Poor thing you should be at home sleeping.” Ironically the old lady was thinking precisely the same thought about Sarah. The two exchanged a smile, and the coed headed for the exit.
As she stepped out into the silent street, the now confident late-night shopper thought to herself “This is not as bad as I feared at all.” Then she came upon the pile of trash bags once again. Only this time the orange one was not just moving, but Sarah could hear a distressed cat’s meow coming from it.
“Here kitty, kitty, here kitty.” Sarah carefully pinpointed the cat’s exact location. Then she used her dorm key to tear open the plastic bag just enough to liberate the cat. The cat poked her little black furry head from the orange bag. Her wide green eyes stared back at Sarah’s smiling face, but for only an instant. The shiny black cat bolted free and raced around the corner like a missile before Sarah could even take two paces.
When Sarah reached the corner to make her way back up to Claremont Avenue, there was no sign of the cat. There were plenty of parked cars, so Sarah assumed that the black cat was spooked and was probably hiding under one of them. Sarah thought “Oh well, at least I did a good deed and saved an innocent creature from being crushed in the back of a garbage truck.”
As Sarah reached Claremont on the home stretch, she noticed a figure on the sidewalk apparently riding a bike toward her at a high rate of speed. At first, she considered crossing the street to avoid the person, but then she thought such an expression of fear might do more harm than good, so she decided to play it cool and stay her course in route back to Elliot Hall, which was now within sight.
Within 10 seconds Sarah found herself face to face with a witch riding sidesaddle on a broom. The witch was hovering about four feet off the ground.
“Hold out your hand young one. “ The green faced old witch dressed in all black and smelling like ashes told Sarah. Sarah was in a state of horror. She wanted to scream, but no sound came out when she opened her mouth. However, she did comply with the witch's request out of fear.
The witch then placed a one-ounce gold Kuggerand coin in the palm of Sarah’s sweating palm. “Thank you for freeing me. Have a Happy Halloween and keep up the good work.” With those words, the witch silently went airborne and took off in an arc up Claremont Avenue and back around 116th street towards Broadway and beyond.
Sarah dropped her groceries and took off running like a track star toward the dorm. She pumped her fist with each stride, tightly clutching the ounce of gold in the palm of her right hand.
Adam was a successful equities trader. A young man of 28 years of age, he was already a multi-millionaire worth over 30 million dollars. His old man helped him out with a million-dollar loan to get the ball rolling, but from that point on it was all Adam’s doing. He had studied finance at the University of Chicago’s School of Business and had returned home to New York City to apply his knowledge.
When Adam was a child, he was very much interested in science. His parents were religious, but somewhere along the line, he had rejected religion for science. To him, religion was nothing more than superstition. Adam existed in a world of numbers, statistical probabilities, and logic. That’s how he made his money speculating in the financial markets.
Today was just another day for Adam. He made money. Lots and lots of it. He wasn’t cocky, but he had become sure of himself. Tonight, he would celebrate with his fiancee by having a steak dinner at the Capital Grille on East 43rd Street at the base of the Chrysler Building. It was one of his favorite restaurants in the city. The staff there knew him as a big tipper, and as such, they bent over backward whenever he showed up.
Three months earlier in August tragedy had been averted thanks to a miracle performed by Chrome Dome, the leader of the Chrysler Cult. The Chryslers were a cult that had recently sprung up in New York. They worshipped by chanting while marching clockwise around the Chrysler building anticipating the arrival of the Messiah.
In August a four-year-old girl named Abigail Richford was hit by a car right in front of the Chrysler Building on Lexington Avenue. The child appeared to have been killed. It was Chrome Dome who restored her back to life with just a touch and a few words of prayer.
When the tires of a yellow taxi had run over Abigail's little body, a crowd gathered around cursing the taxi driver and consoling her grief-stricken mother. Then Chrome Dome and several of the Chryslers, all dressed in white, made their way through the crowd. The cult leader knelt over the child’s lifeless body. He removed his white hood revealing his shiny bald head.
“Fear not only believe.” He gently whispered into Abigail’s little ear. As silence fell over the crowd. With only his words the child’s body was made whole again, and she stood up and ran to her mother. The onlookers were amazed. One woman fainted. A few fled not knowing what to think. The story made the headlines the next day. Chrome Dome began attracting throngs of new converts to his cult from far and near. By October 21st there were 7,000 Chryslers, clad in white robes, following Chrome Dome around the Chrysler building day and night.
So it was when Adam made online reservations at the Capital Grille. He was surprised to receive a call back from Helen, the mai·tre d'.
Hello Mr. Adam, this is Helen at the Capital Grille.
Good afternoon Helen. “Don’t tell me that I can’t get a table this evening. I’ll be pissed.” Adam laughs.
No, no nothing like that Mr. Adam. It is just that we are advising all of our guests that The Chrysler Cult people are parading around the building and that they shouldn’t be alarmed. Everything is okay.
“The Chrysler who?” He replied to Helen. Adam spent most of his time following the business news and rarely paid attention to anything else, not even sports although he was an avid Knicks fan. But then he vaguely recalled seeing some nut job on CNN claiming to be ushering in the age of Aquarius or something.
Okay, Helen thank you kindly for the heads up. I will be there at 7 p.m.
You’re welcome, sir. Party of two, correct?
Correct! Adam then ended the call and returned to his computer monitors.
Chrome Dome had been receiving instructions from God. Today would be a special day. Something truly monumental would happen today. God told Chrome Dome to have Abigail and her mother, who was now a convert, to parade with him this evening. God’s instruction was that Chrome Dome should carry Abigail. The media had given her the name “the Undead Girl”. The puzzling thing is that she was alive although she did look like a corpse. Most people who saw little Abigail were revolted, by her appearance although she smelled like scented primrose.
As 7 p.m. arrived, everyone was where they were destined to be. Adam was seated with his lovely redheaded date. Chrome Dome was parading around the Chrysler building clockwise holding “the Undead Girl”. The local news media were present in anticipation of what Chrome Dome promised them would be a big event.
When Chrome Dome and Abigail reached the window of the Capital Grille, the girl turned her small face to the window and smiled looking directly at Adam, she began to point at him. Adam looking out could see the spooky child smiling and pointing at him. It sent a shiver up his spine.
“There is the non-believer.” She whispered into Chrome Dome’s ear.
Chrome Dome then halted the march. The believers, who now had grown to such a mass that they encircled the entire block, then approached the building and placed their foreheads against the structure. Some faced glass others rested their heads against brick, marble, and concrete. They all chanted the same words. “Fear not only believe.”
Within the blink of an eye, the Chrysler building and 666 Third avenue, the two structures which take up the entire block vanished along with Chrome Dome and all of his followers.
The only things left standing were Adam, the former atheist, and his fiancee. Beneath their feet, a tiled mosaic plaza now covered the entire city block. It featured a detailed image of everyone who had just vanished set against the backdrop of the now missing art deco skyscraper. Chrome Dome and Abigail's faces were pictured larger than life at the center of the mosaic above the words "Fear not only believe."
A teen romance is as innocent as it gets. It is the first time around the block. It’s a beautiful thing, but it can be hazardous too. There are lots of pitfalls. Teen pregnancy is perhaps the biggest one that comes to mind. The other is the intense emotions which accompany such sincere, romantic passions.
Tabitha Banks was 15 years old when she lost her virginity to Raymond. He and his mother lived above Tabitha and her hardworking dad who was their landlord. Mr. Banks was hardly ever around. He operated a one-man tow truck business and seemed to be on the road 24 hours a day. Being a single parent, this left Tabitha at home alone much of the time.
Raymond was a high school senior, while Tabitha was just a freshman. They didn’t attend the same school. Tabitha was enrolled in an all-girls Catholic school. Raymond was a star basketball player at a local Bayonne, New Jersey public high school. He could not have been more popular, especially now that he had been recruited to play at Rutgers on a full scholarship.
Raymond's mom, Thomasina, was a registered nurse. She like Mr. Banks, her landlord, put in a lot of hours working overtime. Raymond understood his mother’s sacrifices through the years had made his success possible. She did everything she could to nurture his ambitions to someday play in the NBA. No one was prouder of her son than she was. Raymond was becoming a rock star in his community. Everyone knew who he was, and who he might someday become, especially the ladies.
As far as Tabitha was concerned, Raymond was spoken for. She paid for him with her virginity on her 15th birthday. She was deeply in love with him and dreamed of the day when he would ask her to marry him.
On one particular morning in early November, Thomasina was rushing to get to work. She counted out her rent money which was always paid in cash, 15 crisp $100 bills. Thomasina handed it to Raymond and instructed him to give it to Mr. Banks, and to be sure to get a receipt as always. Then she left home like clockwork at 6:30 a.m. on the dot. Raymond didn’t need to head out until 8 o’clock. That gave him plenty of spare time, so he sent Tabitha a text message.
Hey Tabby cat
Hi Ray! She replied immediately.
Is Mr. Banks down there?
Daddy? No. He’s working.
Can you come up? I have something for you.
The rent. Bring your receipt book though Ok?
Tabitha came up, but she didn’t bring the rent receipt book, and they were both very late for class that morning.
They usually hooked up in the early afternoon when both of their parents would be at work. In the little more than a year that they had been screwing around, this was only the second time they did it before school. Raymond offered to wait until after class, but Tabitha had no patience for that suggestion. Mainly because of her father, who had enrolled her in afternoon piano lessons. In other words, a pivot to a.m. hookups was in order.
Things went smoothly with their new schedule for about a week, until Tabitha decided to surprise Raymond. He had no idea she had skipped her piano lesson on this particular Tuesday afternoon. She ordered a pizza with all the toppings from the local pizza shop expecting Raymond to show up at any minute, but her man was late. So she called his phone, and he answered.
Where are you, baby?
I’m home. Raymond answered unenthusiastically.
What? Why are you home?
Coach let us out of practice early.
Tabitha hung up the phone and ran upstairs with the pizza. She knocked on the door, and Ray answered with only a towel wrapped around his waist revealing fit athletic physique. Tabitha tried to enter the upstairs apartment, but Ray blocked her.
You can’t come in Tabby.
Why aren’t you at your piano lesson anyway?
I wanted to surprise you, baby. I got us a pizza. You see?
Raymond opened the box and removed two slices.
He then shut the door in Tabitha’s face.
Tabitha began to bang on the door with all of her might. Just then the door swung open, and a beautiful and mature woman stood before her. She was naked from head to toe.
How can I help you? The woman asked Tabitha.
Tabitha was in shock. She dropped the pizza and turned around and headed back downstairs. She didn’t know what she was feeling. Tabitha was so angry that she was numb. The world had gone silent. The next thing she knew she was knocking at Raymond’s door again, but this time she had her dad’s 9mm pistol in her hand. When Raymond opened the door, she blew a hole through his heart.
The fury of a scorned teenage girl can spawn truly destructive consequences.
Leonard was a loan officer at one of the largest banks in the country. He had worked in that capacity for eight years, but he was feeling discontent. Leonard did not know why. One day as he was shaving, preparing to go to work, he looked in the mirror and imagined himself as a clown.
Impulsively he dried his face and applied white powder to it. He then continued to prepare for work as usual. One thing about Leonard was that he always dressed the part of a banker. He was a real clothes horse. In his closet hung over 30 designer suits and more than 100 neckties. Not to mention a pair of meticulously polished shoes for each day of the week, including Saturday and Sunday when he was off.
But today was different. No one said anything to Leonard at the bank, although he did look paler than usual. They all figured that he was sick or something. On the subsequent days, it became apparent that Leonard was intentionally wearing clown makeup. The branch manager called him into his office.
Lenny, how are you feeling?
Jeff, I’ve never been better.
You know why you’re in my office don’t you?
Yeah, you wanted to talk to me about something. What’s it about?
It’s about your appearance Lenny. Have you lost your mind?
My appearance? What’s the matter with my appearance?
You put on clown makeup to come to work, and you are asking me what’s wrong?
Leonard paused and stared calmly at Jeff, his boss, and said: “This is who I am Jeff.”
The clown face banker then stood up and returned to his desk where he greeted his clients who were waiting for their nine o’clock appointment. From that day forward Leonard began wearing full clown face, although his dress remained vintage Brooks Brothers as usual. Nonetheless, soon after that, the bank sacked him.
Leonard's response was to sue the bank, and he won his case in court. After four years the bank was forced to pay him $15 million in damages and to restore him to his position. The judge agreed that Leonard was a clown and that his employer could not fire him just because of that reason.
Furthermore, the judge added to his decision, “We live in interesting times.”
The aliens had arrived on Valentine’s Day. It was the most spectacular event in recorded history. There were media from all corners of the globe converging on the epicenter.
Originally they had materialized 5,000 feet above the Great Lawn in Central Park. They then drifted slowly southeastward before coming to rest above the United Nations headquarters. The frisbee shaped metallic spacecraft spanned from the Hudson all the way to the East River.
In the wake of their arrival, people were fleeing Manhattan in droves as the military took up positions surrounding the worn looking alien craft. After days of absolute silence, the aliens began broadcasting a message in an unintelligible language. Scientist of every discipline started at once recording and trying to decipher its meaning.
On the third day, the broadcast stopped, and the aliens vanished into thin air just as effortlessly as they had arrived. The lead investigator into the meaning of the message was NASA's Dr. Daniel Gregory. He and his team made swift progress into sorting out the signal, which the aliens made as elementary as possible. Within a week, using America’s fastest supercomputer, Dr. Gregory and his team had sorted out its meaning.
It read as follows:
Your planet is doomed. We wish that we could help you, but the limit of our aid comes in the form of plans to guide you in building a spaceship similar to ours. You haven’t got much time. There is an extremely advanced hostile civilization at the center of our galaxy which craves water. They have been heading for Earth from the time you began transmitting radio signals. Once they arrive, they will strip your planet of every ounce of hydration. Thus, life on Earth will come to an end.
We know this because the same was done to our world hundreds of years ago. Your only hope is to build an escape ship and join up with us. We are a 2,000 ship fleet made up of civilizations from across the Milky Way. We are all survivors. Each of our spaceships is home to 70,000 beings.
We believe that Earth has enough of a rare critical element known as blue steleridum to produce only one ship. We urge you not to delay. The "thirsty empire" is sending a vacuum bubble which will engulf your planet and extract all of its water. Every living thing will become dust in the process.
At that moment Dr. Gregory began thinking of who the 70,000 Earthlings should be.
Many people are frustrated at the game of love. Some so much so that they merely surrender and stop looking. They figure what’s meant to be will be. The drama and mind games are too much for them. The healthy thing to do is to let true love find you if it can. Dennis had been in and out of four or five relationships since college. He had taken a break from dating for all of these reasons and more.
The break allowed him to focus on his job and career. Dennis is a hard worker regardless, but now he was absorbed by the routine of his work. Although he is conscientious about his job, like most Long Islanders, he knows how to relax when he's off the clock. During the cold months, relaxation means Islanders hockey and beer, and when it's burning up during the summer, it's the beach and fishing.
Today is one of those dog days of summer in late August where the thermometer is mercilessly hovering above 92 degrees, and the humidity is threatening suffocation. Dennis is lucky to work indoors. He has spent the last eight hours in the air conditioned comfort of the Hempstead Water Plant's testing laboratory, where he is employed as a chemical technician.
It’s Friday night, and Dennis is heading to Robert Moses Beach on Fire Island to do some night fishing. Tonight, he has a little more than beer to help him relax. Dennis has never smoked weed before. However, he’s always been curious about it. Too afraid to purchase it illegally, he bought some marijuana plant seeds online and grew his own in some flower pots in his apartment. He harvested his stash weeks ago, but he had to give the plants time to dry out. Now the herb was ready to smoke. Dennis had rolled two joints, although he only planned on burning one of them tonight.
As soon as quitting time arrived Dennis made a bee-line for the parking lot and jumped into his silver-colored Honda and headed for the beach. When he reached the parking lot at Robert Moses State Park, it was already emptying out. Even on such a hot day like today, there are only a handful of people who hang around as dusk approaches. Dennis and the other regular anglers on the beach come prepared with lanterns or at least flashlights. Many stay out all night catching fish under the stars as the foamy waves crash against the shore. The solitude is what Dennis loves most about night fishing.
It was 7:30 p.m. before Dennis felt confident that he could spark up one of the two joints he had in his breast pocket without being noticed. He had already downed two Budweisers and even caught a fish, a sea bass.
The smell of the ocean was heavy in the air amid the evening's humidity, when Dennis placed the spliff between his lips and lit it with an orange colored Bic lighter which he had purchased especially for this occasion. When he inhaled, he did so with vigor and held it for a good two or three seconds before exhaling.
The active ingredient in the weed, THC, went straight to his brain almost immediately. Dennis had the weirdest sensation. It was as though a part of him was trying to float up out of his body. He looked west to his right and toward the setting sun. He thought out loud “That is so fucking awesome.” Then he took another hit and stared straight ahead into the Atlantic Ocean as it stretched before him all the way to the horizon.
At that moment he spotted what appeared to be someone, a swimmer, floundering in the surf a good thirty yards offshore. It was still light out, but it would be dark in a few minutes. Dennis knew he had to act fast to save the swimmer.
He charged into the waves removing his clothes and then lunging ahead like an Olympic champion. The peculiar thing is that, although Dennis knew how to swim, he was not a good swimmer.
As he approached the frantic victim, he could hear her screaming for help.
Help, Help me, please! Help me, Dennis!
Dennis could hear the drowning woman calling his name, and he thought “Hey, that sounds like Carla, my Ex.” He began swimming faster to try and reach her before it was too late.
“Hold on Carla; I hear you, honey.”
“Dennis I need you, help me, Dennis.”
The woman’s voice was becoming louder. Dennis knew that he was near.
Carla, Carla sweetie, I’m here for you. Dennis yelled as he gasps for air between strokes.
Then he reached her, and they embraced. The two of them vanished below the waves before Dennis realized that this woman was not Carla. She was much bigger than petite little Carla whose heart he had shattered a year ago. It was a sea monster of some form. It had him completely in its grasp and was refusing to let go. Dennis held his breath as he struggled to free himself.
The sea creature had the form of a woman, but the scaly body of a fish from the waist down. It was a mermaid. She began communicating with Dennis telepathically.
I want you to meet my family, Dennis.
Let me go. Please, I don’t want to drown.
Sorry, I can’t let you go, Dennis. You belong to me now.
I am not a Merman. You need one of your own kind. I will die here.
What is love, Dennis?
Love is letting go when you know that it won’t work.
Okay, Dennis then I guess I should release you because I love you so much.
Please do, I beg you.
With those words the mermaid released Dennis and he was barely able to swim back to safety. He swam ashore like a beached whale exhausted, gasping for air, and swearing never to smoke weed ever again.
The average healthy person is happy to give to others. Charity makes us feel good. Thus, we have the old saying “That it is better to give than to receive.” Unfortunately, we are not all wired the same way.
At the early age of 13, Michael found that it was thrilling to take from others, and what always fascinated him was how willing most of his victims were to hand over their possessions at the mere threat of violence.
It began in middle school. Big Mike, his moniker, would take food from the other kids at lunchtime. He had his favorite victims. He was the classic example of a bully. The easy prey encouraged his delinquent behavior. Mike became bolder and bolder as he grew up.
By high school, he was mugging people on the streets of Brooklyn, and for no other reason than that he enjoyed doing so. It was a sport to him. The same way some people hunt and others fish he enjoyed mugging people and being crafty enough to evade the law. He never committed his acts of juvenile delinquency out in the open; his modus operandi was to catch his prey alone and never near his neighboorhood. There were times when he would travel clear across town to look for his victims.
The peculiar thing about Mike was that his stepfather was a police officer, an NYPD detective. His mother worked at a butcher shop owned by one of her uncles in the neighborhood where they lived in Bensonhurst. Mike always had what he needed, and he was well behaved and very respectful at home.
His stepdad managed to get him to straighten up and fly right long enough to attend Brooklyn College and get a degree in finance, before taking a respectable, yet very stressful job on Wall Street as an analyst. To cope with the stress Mike now all of 23-years-old reverted to his old ways.
One night Mike had stayed late at the office trying to complete a report which would be due the following day, he realized it was past 1 a.m., so he decided to call it quits. He considered calling an Uber, but the subway entrance was so nearby his office that he decided to get home the cheap way.
As soon as he got down to the empty N train platform, his radar went off. There was his victim. A short, middle-aged guy wearing eyeglasses, and probably as old as Mike’s stepdad. The man seemed to be tipsy but in control of himself. Mike noticed the man’s watch. It looked expensive. It had to be worth at least $500. Mike thought “I’ll get $100 for it at a pawn shop .”
So, he followed the man on the N train all the way to 4th Avenue and 9th Street, where they both transferred to the G train. Mike thought this is perfect. The G line is one of the most isolated lines in the New York City subway system. The two of them were the only ones in the car when Mike approached the man for the first time.
Excuse me can you tell me the time? Mike asked the startled man.
Yeah! Sure, it’s almost two in the morning.
Hey! That’s a nice watch. Do you mind if I look at it?
The man was not the least bit leery of Mike. He looked like every other young guy working on Wall Street.
No, I don’t mind.
The man slipped the watch from his wrist and handed it to Mike.
Mike grinned as he took possession of his new property.
Hey, this is a Patek Phillip! How much did it set you back?
It was a gift from a client. It’s a $12,000 watch.
What are you a lawyer or something? Mike asked the man.
You are correct. Replied the man, partially slurring his words.
As the G train pulled into Smith Street, Mike stood up still admiring the $12,000 watch.
Thanks for the watch you drunk bastard!
As the doors opened, Mike stepped off of the train, and the half-drunk attorney pursued him.
Mike was careful not to stir up a commotion with the man until the train exited the station just in case the motorman was paying attention.
The man grabbed at Mike's arm to hold him.
Give me back my watch you fucking criminal.
Mike held out his hands and said “ I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have a watch.”
Mike had already shoved the watch down into his briefs and was determined to distance himself from the man who was completely agitated by now.
I’m warning you fucker. Give me my watch back or else.
Mike halted abruptly, turned around and faced the man. He then gave him a taunting grin.
Or else what? Mike growled at the older man.
The man then drew a pistol from his waistband and aimed it directly at Mikes' face.
Mike panicked and reached to grab the gun. But it discharged with a loud bang echoing off of the subway walls. Big Mike’s brains splattered in every direction when the 9 mm shell struck him in the face at point-blank range.
Even in the jungle, predators sometimes are consumed by their prey.
To read Part I click here.
Brandon stood in a frozen state of amazement. Could this be happening? Is it a joke? He needed to lie down and sort out his thoughts. He began to rethink the other day when he purchased the winning ticket. It was just like every other time before. Two years back he had managed to win a fourth prize payout of $18. But this was the whole enchilada, $275 million.
It occurred to Brandon that he had gone to work yesterday as a multi-millionaire when he should have been out celebrating. He had worked with Angela, who is the head chef, and his immediate boss. He and Angela have an excellent work relationship. She is the one who taught him most of what he knows about cooking. But, it was Scott, the restaurant manager who he would need to talk to now.
After double, triple and quadruple checking that his ticket was 100% authentic. He then called Scott using the speed dial button on his phone.
No, this is Angela
Hi, Angela, it’s Brandon.
Oh! Hey Brandon. How’s it going?
Excellent, excellent. I just need to speak with Scotty for a minute.
Angela didn’t like the tone of the call. It had the cadence of someone about to call out. But then she thought to herself “No way! Brandon? He never calls out.”
Okay Brandon, let me get Scotty for you.
Angela placed Brandon on Hold, and some light music began playing interspersed with a repeating advertising plug for the restaurant. It took Scott two whole minutes to pick up the phone. Scott is an abrupt sort of boss. Brandon has always considered Scott an asshole, but everyone knew that Scott was the reason the show ran so smoothly.
Hello Scott. It’s Brandon.
Wow! Let me stop you before you even start Brandon. You said you would work some OT today, so I put you on the schedule. See you in a few hours Brandon. Bye-bye!
Well, Scott, something came up and I’m sorry, but I won’t be in today.
Something came up like what? Make it Good, because you have got me turning red as a beet over here buddy boy.
At that moment Brandon held up his signed New Jersey Powerball ticket and realized that his days of taking crap had ended. He reacted with silence.
Hello Brandon? I’m waiting for you to tell me that you're coming in son, and don’t try and tell me that your mother died cause I know you don’t have a mother or a father. Even if you did and they both croaked, I’d expect you in here and on time.
Scotty, do you know what?
No, Brandon please tell me what.
Thanks for granting me permission to tell you Scott. You are proof that somewhere in the world today someone is running around without an asshole, because you are nothing but a wild asshole and I quit! Bye-bye.
Luck is like an oven in the kitchen of one of the hundreds of fancy restaurants around New York City. It runs hot and cold. If your fortune has been running good, be concerned. If it has been awful, be patient. The script is about to change in your favor. We each get our fair portion of good and bad luck in this life. Everything in the known universe must balance including good fortune and bad.
So it was that Brandon woke up this cool spring morning. It was a special day on his calendar. It was April 2nd. Still feeling worn out from his work the night before he is slow to rise this morning. The young man works as a line cook in the kitchen of one of the busiest restaurants in Manhattan. In a couple of months, he will celebrate his fifth year there.
His place of employment is the kind of establishment where the bill plus bar tab for four generally covers the 27-year-old cook's weekly salary of $1,000 or so. However, for the time being, Brandon doesn’t complain. It is his hope to one day be much better off, but that will be in the future. In the meantime, he grinds forward through life working hard.
For Brandon, things are much better today than they were when he left the foster care system at the age of 18. He aged out, as they say, with nowhere to go. As a baby, he was abandoned on April 2nd. That's what makes today's date significant. Someone just left him at the doorway to a firehouse in Maspeth, Queens. It was not the worst thing that could have happened, but it was not what anyone would call a good start either.
Brandon rises from his bed and slowly makes his way to the bathroom of his small studio apartment. He lives across the river in Jersey City. From his doorway the Freedom Tower is visible. Five and often six days a week he rides his bike down Grand Street to the PATH station at Grove Street. From there he locks his bike and stops at Starbucks for his morning coffee and sometimes buys a lottery ticket at the corner store, but only when the jackpots are huge. From there it's into the tube and on to work in the city.
On this morning, as he had just finished shaving, while listening to Good Day New York playing on his flat screen television in the other room, the young cook heard mention of a winning $275 million Powerball ticket having been sold in Jersey City. It caught his attention, but he didn’t get excited. Brandon thought out loud “ What are the odds?”
Brandon next grabbed his worn LG android phone, and Googled the winning Powerball numbers. Then, he reached for his wallet, which is where he always keeps his lottery tickets before discarding them. For some reason, before he even looked at the numbers, he got a weird sensation that he was the one, and so he was.
To be continued.
To read part 2 click here.
Hi, I'm Lester Patterson,