A Winning Lottery Ticket · 18 October 2014
I have a winning lottery ticket. It and the worn out number selection card are framed and hanging above my desk. The ticket is faded. The card is crumpled and well used. It ought to be. It sat in my glove box for years so I could access it for my weekly trip to the convenience store.
When visitors see the number selection card and ticket, they simply state my method, “You picked the same numbers all the time.”
I nod. “Yep.”
Then, they see the two framed articles right next to the lottery ticket and selection card. When they read them, they inevitably ask, “That was you?” even though the answer is right in front of them.
I always sigh and reply, “Yes. That was me.”
Notoriety is such a burden. Still, I tell the story.
It is funny. I actually found out that I won the lottery when I was using that worn out card. I faithfully bought tickets for over a decade and then stopped. Then years later, I was rooting around in the glove box for something and found that old rumpled card. For some reason, even after marriage, kids, and a couple decades of disuse, I had moved it to my new car. And finding it, I decided to give those numbers one more try.
The clerk straightened the card out as best he could and fed it through the machine. When he gave me the card and ticket back, he said, “You know you won’t win with those numbers.”
I must have had a quizzical look on my face so he continued, “They have already won before.”
I was incredulous. “Do you remember all the winning number combinations?”
“No. Just that one. It was in the paper today.”
I mock panicked. “What! Oh no. I didn’t buy one last week.”
He just smiled. “Wouldn’t have mattered. These numbers won twenty years ago. The article in The Times said that today is the last day for the winner to claim his or her prize.”
I grabbed a copy of the paper and saw a small article on the front page. The clerk stated, “Fifty cents please.”
I gave him the money even though I had the paper sitting on the counter at home. I looked at the clock when I finished reading the article. I only had two hours to find that ticket. It was a good thing I was only five minutes from home.
On that five-minute drive, I remembered my old life.
Like many lottery players, I picked my numbers from family members’ birthdays and such. Then, I used the same numbers over and over and over again. I knew the chances of winning the jackpot were astronomical, but I still spent the dollar a week trying. I would faithfully check the next day to see if I had won. And I was always disappointed. Especially, the times when I only got one or two numbers. I would rip the tickets in two and throw the pieces away in disgust. Then, for some reason, I stopped checking. I still bought the tickets, but I just stuck them in an old curio box. I realized the futility of buying lottery tickets, but my habit was so ingrained, I kept buying them every week. For years. Eventually, I stopped buying them.
I came out of my reverie when I pulled into the driveway and screeched to a halt after my three-minute drive.
I raced to the den and started searching for that old curio box. My wife came home to a house in disarray. I had been tearing things apart for about an hour. She saw the mess and shouted at me, “What in the world are you looking for?”
I was exasperated. “My old curio box.”
“The one with the old lottery tickets?”
I was excited. “Yes! The one with the lottery tickets.”
“It is on your dresser.” (I thought I had already looked in the obvious places.) “I found it this morning on the floor and wondered what it was. I opened it and saw the old lottery tickets.”
I got excited. “What did you do with them?”
“I looked at the dates and threw them in the recycle bin.”
“What! You threw them away?”
“Sure. Why keep the losing tickets?” She was confident with her decision until she saw the wild look in my eyes. I could tell she was wondering if she had done something wrong.
“One of them was a winner!”
It was her turn. “What!”
I looked at the clock. Not quite an hour left. “I don’t have time to explain now, but I read about it in the paper. We need to find that ticket. NOW!”
We went out to the bin. The tickets were sitting in a nice little pile on top of the rest of the recycle. I grabbed them and started to look at the dates. I checked each one. I heard the clock ticking in my head. Tick tock. Tick tock. I checked the whole pile, but none of them was the right one. “It’s not here.”
“It ought to be here. I just threw them out this morning.” She saw the panic in my eyes. “But I will go check the curio box.” She pointed to the big green recycle container. “You check the rest of the recycle.”
At first I started to remove things one at a time. I figured that a missing ticket would have just fallen a little from the rest. When I could not find it near the top, I dumped everything out. I could not pick out the ticket from the pile of mixed recyclables. So I put things back into the large container one at a time furiously looking for the missing ticket.
My wife returned. “No luck. The box is empty.”
I was wide-eyed. She joined in the search.
Tick tock. Tick tock. The imaginary clock in my head kept ticking. Tick tock. Tick tock.
Almost everything was back in the bin when my wife held up a ticket. “I found one.”
It was the wrong date. We went back to our frantic but methodical searching. And then I found it. The one with the winning numbers AND the right date. I held it up in victory. I looked at my watch.
Five minutes until the deadline.
I jumped in the car and raced back to the convenience store. Tick tock.
I got there with two minutes to spare and handed the clerk my ticket. “Could you check this please?” Tick tock.
“Sure.” He slid the ticket into the machine. He gave me a wan smile. “Sorry. Not a winner.”
I grabbed another copy of the newspaper (fully expecting him to tell me it would be another fifty cents). I pointed to the article. “This is the ticket that won all those years ago. The one from the article.”
He was sympathetic, but he pointed to a specific line. “Unfortunately, you had to go to the capital to claim this one. It is not in the electronic system anymore.”
I looked at the clock. Time was up. I screamed, “Aargh!” Everybody in the store turned to look at me. I crumpled the ticket and held it in my clenched fist as I walked toward the door. I remembered my manners with the door half open. I looked back at the clerk. “Thanks.” He nodded acknowledgement and sympathy before he started scanning the items of the next person in line.
I drove back home in a daze.
When I got out of the car, my wife greeted me with smiles and sympathy. She took the crumpled ticket from my hand and gave me a kiss on the cheek. She had obviously read the article and knew I did not have time to make it to the capital by the deadline. “It’s okay. It is not like you actually had the money and lost it.”
I nodded agreement, but could not say a word. She was right though. It was not like I lost our life savings in a Ponzi scheme. We were no better and no worse than before I found out I won the lottery all those years ago. I smiled back at her.
It is funny how things happen. I was a millionaire for a couple hours. Even if it was only on paper and in my mind. And in the following days, I was a notorious fool. The convenience store clerk called The Times and they did an article on me. What started out as a footnote article, ended up as almost a full page spread with a picture of me and my ticket. Which of course, ultimately ended up as somebody’s bird cage liner.
But I am not bitter. I look back on the whole lottery ticket experience as a learning opportunity and a funny story to tell my kids. Part of that lesson is that I do not buy lottery tickets very often anymore. The other part is that I always check the numbers. Who knows when I might have another winning lottery ticket.
#TwitterFiction (on Twitter from 09/16/2014 – 09/24/2014)
© 2014 Michael T. Miyoshi
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A Boy and His Truck · 11 October 2014
I hope you like my first try at #TwitterFiction. If you want to see it in its Twitter form, follow me on Twitter (@MichaelTMiyoshi).
A Boy and His Truck
There once was a boy with a truck; it was red
Nothing could get between them ‘twas said
It was not that he loved that old truck, no sirree
It just seemed that it was part of his family.
The boy was alone with his little old truck
He had sworn off all women, ‘cause in love he’d no luck
Then he went off to high school to teach a math class
That’s when he met a bonnie teacher lass.
A Boy and a Lass
The two had just started new teaching careers
They spent day after day with some of their peers
Just doing the stuff new recruits need to do
Before they set off as the new teaching crew.
On the last day before classes, there was one final thing
All the staff was together at one large gathering
They were there to hear speakers ere the school year did start
A class to remind them to all do their part.
The boy offered a hand to the bonnie teacher lass
But she did just shun him as they sat down for class
They got inspiration for the brand new school year
The boy heard not a thing because the lass was so near.
The year got underway it was teach, teach, teach, teach
The boy knew the heart of the lass out of reach
The bonnie teacher lass had no interest at all
Thought the boy every day, as he walked down the hall.
Still each day he would see her and hope they could talk
More than the banter they shared on each short hallway walk
He thought a first date should be what he asked her
But then he remembered that first day disaster.
The boy thought of the lass rejecting his hand
And the outright rejection was all he could stand
But the boy did not know there was something more to it
So it was the bonnie teacher lass who had to pursue it.
The lass had a mind of her own don’t you see
She knew that the two of them were meant to be
But she did not trust to the boy or to luck
She decided to ask him if she could just borrow his truck.
The boy would not let the lass borrow his pride
Instead he insisted that she could just ride
So off they went to do errands and such
Errands requiring the use of the boy’s truck.
A Boy and a Lass and Their Truck
The truck was like Cupid for the boy and the lass
Wedding bells rang after a year teaching class
But the story’s not over for the boy, lass, and truck
They were all in for a short run of bad luck.
The truck became theirs when the preacher said, “Kiss.”
And the bad luck held off for years of wedded bliss
But when the kids came, the truck suffered withdrawal
You see it was too small to handle them all.
So the boy left the truck to do deeds like dirt hauling
And the truck was neglected with nary a calling
The truck was still faithful always doing its job
But if trucks have deep feelings, that red truck did sob.
Then one day after years of neglect and abuse
The boy started giving that truck much more use
He drove it and drove it and drove it some more
The truck was so happy to get out of the door.
That’s when the string of bad luck came about
There was a time or two when the gas just ran out
There was pushing weight limits in terms of each haul
And then came the biggest mistake of them all.
It was hot out that day and there was no water
And as the little red truck ran, it got hotter and hotter
But the boy thought, “This truck has been so good to me”
He figured it would make it; it was just meant to be.
But the abuse and neglect had taken their toll
And the little red truck’s tires seemed to roll their last roll
Yes, the boy ran that little red truck oh too far
He broke it and so he had to get a new car.
But the boy and the lass still loved that red truck
And they thought that there must still be some kind of luck
So the boy tried to fix all that little truck’s ills.
(Unfortunately there were no little truck pills.)
The boy set to the task of rebuilding the engine
There was no timetable set for the task to be endin’
With lots of TLC and a great deal of learning
The boy hoped he could get those old truck tires turning.
Armed with wits and his tools, the boy set to his task
And all of his friends answered all the questions he’d ask
Intrepid was he and he got right down to it
He hoped that the truck would just make it through it.
In the end all his knuckles were banged up and bruised
The boy thought that he was the one being abused
But he figured it penance for all the pain he had caused
And as he finished the job he took a moment and paused.
He thought about all the times that he and his truck
Had been through for ages through good and bad luck
He smile when he thought of his truck playing Cupid
When the boy with the lass was acting quite stupid.
He thought about years of driving and hauling
He thought about tears caused by missing the calling
Of a little red truck who was tired and broken
But now was fixed up ready to be awoken.
Then after the test drive that said the job’s done
He gave the truck keys to his eldest son
“Take care of her son, and she’ll give you good luck”
And the story continues, about a boy and his truck.
© 2014 Michael T. Miyoshi
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Why Twitter Fiction? · 4 October 2014
I decided that I need to be different. Okay. I never decided that. I just am. My usual mode of operation is to find out enough to be dangerous (usually to myself) and then just do it. This time, I am just going to write a piece of fiction serially. One-hundred and forty characters at a time. Actually, a little less than 140. (I need to include the hashtag MTM_TF01.)
Yes. I am going to write #TwitterFiction.
I decided to jump into this venture because of what I see on Twitter. I see established authors writing about the writing process. (Thanks @Kelsye, @thecreativepenn, and @KevHeritage.) I read tweets from experts on cover design and social media and other parts of the publishing process. (Thanks @JFbookman and @roncallari.) And I read stuff from folks who are trying to establish their author platforms and maximize their social media exposure. They all seem to be doing the same things. With varying degrees of success.
What these folks seem to be doing is pointing Twitterers to themselves and to other authors, who are trying to do what they are doing. This is great from a networking perspective. After all, you want to be around people you want to be like. Even digitally. However, there comes a time when you need to come down from the mountaintop. You need to meet the people who you were sent to. You need to talk to the readers.
So that is why I am going to write some #TwitterFiction.
My plan is simple. I am going to spend a little time each day writing a short story. Or a long story. It all depends on what my characters decide to do. And if I get stuck, I might even ask readers to help me out. All I am going to do is grab a prop, a line, and a character and go. Just like when I wrote a bunch of scripts as an exercise with one of my writing friends (thanks @kphotomedia).
So instead of spending lots of time fixing up my book covers or pointing to my writing (MediocreMan.com), I am going to write serial fiction in addition to my other myriad projects. I may never be as good as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, or Louis L’Amour (who all wrote serially). But they never had to write just 140 characters (minus the hashtag) at a time.
This project will certainly different. Just like me.
© 2014 Michael T. Miyoshi
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