10-21-14-5-31-43: A Short Story

Posted by Abdel Kadz on Monday, April 14, 2008 with 2 comments

He didn’t waste a single time. He rushed out of his house, and he ran like a madman. “Hoy Ruben! High ka siguro ano?” Shouted his neighbor Pepang seeing him run like that. He didn’t mind her bickering at all for he was trying to catch the lottery outlet near where he worked before it closed. “Ruben, saan ka pupunta? ‘Wag na ‘wag mong tatakbuhan ang up a ng bahay mo,” bursted Aling China, her landlord, when she saw him passed by her house. “If you want I’ll even buy that piece of dump!” he caught himself retorting back. He never heard what she said in return for his mind was beginning to float somewhere. “I’ll buy me a limo, a mansion, new clothes, Guccis, Armanis, be a globetrotter. I can afford all that now. I’m rich, filthy rich.” He was sheepishly smiling when he ran through the dirty streets of the kind of world he grew up in amid the conundrum that filled the air. When he reached the junction, he stopped and turned his back, facing the gloominess of the squatter’s area compared to the Urban Jungle on the other side. “I’ll be leaving this slum for good,” he told himself with tears streaming down his face. “I’ll no longer be a part of this world.” He turned left and ran.

“Wait! Please don’t close yet,” he said to the lady who was pulling down the blinds of the glass window where she transacted business with. He was panting, taking on a mouthful of air and sweating all over. “What may I do you for?” she asked meekly, but clandestinely she was reaching for the bat she hid seeing how Ruben looked to her. He handed her the daily through the hole at the center of the window. She looked at it with an eyebrow raised, tightening her grip on the piece of wood. He was still panting when he pointed to the section where the winning combination was printed. “I’m the lucky winner, Miss!” he forcefully said under empty lungs. “I’m a millionaire! I won it all, the whole thirty-three million pesos!”

Realizing that she was wrong about him, she released her grasp of the bat and took the tabloid that was directly pointed at her. Ruben slid the ticket for the lady to see. Her face suddenly beamed when she examined the piece of paper. He saw her eyed flickered at the sight of the magical six numbers, but with what her eyes saw afterward, her face lost the radiance it once showed.

“What’s the matter, miss?” Ruben said, confused with what was happening. She did not reply; instead, she returned the ticket through the slot and began unfolding the curtains as if Ruben was never there. “Did you hear me? I said what’s the problem?” He was irate, now panicky. “Do you really want to know?” He retorted, “Yes, for God’s sake!” She asked for the ticket back. “Indeed you guessed the winning numbers right, but look here…” She was almost in tears when she pointed to the other numbers below it: 8-16-02. “This ticket was for last week’s draw.”

Sidenote: Originally appeared on The Synapse, circa 2002.