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The International Writers Magazine: Dreamscapes Life Stories

Adam Graupe

Darwin stepped out of his Ford Ranger and walked up the steps of Ernie’s Tavern.  He shuffled to the closest table and plopped himself down in a chair.  A waitress with hips about a yard wide strode to Darwin’s tableside. “You left your pickup door open out there,” she said.
“I open and close the door to my work truck all day long.  I’ve long passed the point when I care if it’s left open,” Darwin said  

“You drive your pickup all day long?”
“No.”  Darwin lit a cigarette.   “I drive a van for Xpress.”
“They’re a good company ain’t they?”  The waitress spoke her words as if she were looking for a fight.  “They got them nice trucks.”
Darwin rolled his eyes.  “That company sure didn’t get rich by being nice to their employees.  They are miserable to work for, lady” 
The waitress narrowed her eyes.  “My name isn’t lady.  It’s Zilla.” 
“Oh.”  Darwin said.  “I was supposed to meet my girlfriend Connie here.”  He looked side to side around the bar.  “Damn, there are too many people in here.”
 “Maybe she’s downstairs. What’s your girlfriend look like?”  Zilla asked.
“She looks like a pile of dirty laundry with thick glasses.”  Darwin flicked his cigarette onto the floor.  “I’ll have a pitcher of Miller Light.” 

Zilla turned and walked away and through her white pants Darwin read “Wednesday” printed a foot wide in pink across her panties.  His stomach recoiled: it was a Saturday.

About an hour later, Darwin flinched at the sight of Connie at his side.  She was usually taciturn but it disturbed him that she probably sat there for some time unnoticed.  She stared at the three empty pitchers before Darwin.   
“I thought you said this morning you wouldn’t have another drink.”  Connie said.  
“Connie, I found the solution to our problems.”  Darwin reached into his front pocket and removed a Powerball lottery ticket and placed it on the table next to his lighter. 
“When are you going to go to treatment?  And after what happened last night.”  Connie said. 
“Dream with me, Connie.”  Darwin lit another cigarette and cried out “think of what we could do with this winning ticket!  This is $31 million at stake tonight.”
“Darwin, you need help.  More than I can give you.”
“Dream with me for a moment.  This is the winning Powerball ticket!”  Darwin patted the ticket with a palm.  “This is scientific.  I picked my age, 59, your age, 43, my waist size, 40, your waist size, 58, my birthday, 23, and for the Powerball, your birthday, 10.”
“I was born on the 15th.” 
“Close enough.  I’d buy you new clothes, some contacts for your eyes and a weight loss surgery. Course I’d get a private jet for myself and a mansion with a golf course in the backyard for both of us.  Come on, Connie, dream a little.”

Connie sighed.  “We could pay off Daddy’s farm, and you could afford to get the treatment you need.” 
“Listen, you wouldn’t have to worry about treatment for me when we win tonight as I’d keep my drinking under control because there’d be no stress.  We would go to breweries in Europe every weekend.” 

Connie leaned forward and said “Darwin I think it’s time—“
Darwin interrupted “I gotta use the john.  Listen,” he pointed at the television mounted on a wall and spoke slowly to Connie as if she were a child “they are gonna announce the winning numbers after the next commercial break.  Order me another pitcher if that lady comes by our table.  I’ll be back in a minute.”

 Connie stared at the television, and Darwin disappeared for quite some time.  The winning Powerball numbers appeared on the television screen:  59, 43, 40, 58, 23, 15.  Connie muttered “my God, he picked the first five numbers.”  She turned over the ticket and read that if the first five numbers match the player wins $200,000.  Connie moaned and told herself he would waste the entire two hundred grand on booze.    

Darwin returned to the table and frowned.  “I just ran into that scumbag Jesse from my station.  He made a snide remark about me smelling like vodka at work.”  Darwin raged for a moment but abruptly stopped.  “Well, did I win the Powerball?”
“No,” Connie paused for several seconds.   “You didn’t.”

Darwin placed the ticket in the ashtray and picked up the lighter.  “Let’s get out of here before Jesse decides to come to our table.  I can’t stand people who interfere in my affairs when—say, what were the winning numbers?”
“Darwin, I am leaving you.”
“No!  I’ll change!  This was my last beer and lottery ticket!” 

Darwin lit his lighter and burned the ticket, which turned into a blue flame and vanished.  He took a long swig from his mug and dumped its remains into the ashtray.  “That shows you!  This was my last drink.”  Darwin set his mug down triumphant, and they stood up and put their coats on. 

They walked past me toward the front door, and I noticed both of them had tears welled up in their eyes.  I watched through a window as Connie squeezed herself into the driver’s seat of the pickup.  Darwin sat in the passenger seat and lit a cigarette.  The pickup pulled away, and I imagined the sound of the tires as they cut through the snow.  I wondered aloud “is there a more unique sound than tires driving through wet snow?”  I sat back down at the bar and, taking some liberties with the details of their lives, began to write a short story.

© Adam Gaupe April 2008

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