Following up on yesterday’s post about my new novel, Lucky, being free until Sunday, June 25, I wanted to post an excerpt from the novel. Here’s the start of chapter 1:
Hugo Freeman stared in disbelief at the lottery ticket in his hand, then at the television screen. But the string of numbers had vanished from the screen, replaced by the guy with poofed-up hair and cheese-ball grin and shiny suit.
“There you have it, folks,” the TV guy said in his ain’t everything great voice. “Congratulations to the lucky winners! If you’re not one of those, be sure to try again next week. Who knows when your luck will turn on the Cloud Nine Lottery? Good night folks!”
Cut to a commercial for some kind of drug to alleviate some kind of painful symptoms.
Hugo’s attention was more on the ticket than the screen. Did he win? The numbers that were on TV had seemed to match those on his ticket. Maybe some of the numbers were close. Was there a 39 in the winning numbers, or had it been 29?
Impossible that he matched every winning number. The chances of matching were astronomically against him — and everyone else who played Cloud Nine every week with the hope of picking the five regular numbers and the Lightning Strike number. Thousands of people across the many states where Cloud Nine was offered. All those people handing over a dollar for each ticket, buying several tickets every time.
Hugo had seen it happen regularly. He played regularly, too. Five tickets each week, never the same number. Some people played the same numbers with meanings: birthdays, anniversaries, and such. Hugo didn’t understand the idea behind that strategy. As if luck was somehow bound to catch up with numbers meaningful to a certain person.
It was like driving the same car on the same road and thinking the road would end up in a paradise of sexy beachgoers who handed you a tropical drink and invited you to join the party. But, in reality, the road led to the same Goddamn places it had always did. Same bullshit houses, same bullshit stores.
He would find out the winning numbers tomorrow, at work. He’d wait until Darnell was in his office doing paperwork, then Hugo would pull out the ticket and compare his numbers against the official ones. The numbers had looked close on TV, but that didn’t win anything. No prize for close. Only right on the money got you the money.
Hold on. The Internet didn’t provide answers to everything, but it gave a lot of answers. Would Cloud Nine’s website have the numbers so soon after the little plastic numbered balls were lifted out of the glass box, where they swirled in a mini tornado? It was worth checking out.
Hugo turned on his old laptop and retrieved a Budweiser from the fridge while the computer woke up. Taking a drink of beer, he knew he didn’t win. He never did. He was used to the slowness of his laptop, but it irritated him as he sat on the couch and watched the computer on the coffee table. He wanted to be done with this chore. See that his numbers were close losers, then he could wrap up Friday night.