Posted on September 12, 2014 by Patricia Ann McNair9.12.2104 Journal Prompt Photo by Ingeborg Morath September 12, 2014: It wasn’t about luck. Share this:ShareClick to email a link to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Like this:Like Loading... Related
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My daddy says there ain’t no such thing as luck. He says it’s all just calculatin and if you is clever enough you can calculate even the roll of a dice. He loiters in the arcade some nights, watching the punters pressing their pennies into the slots and sending the wheels spinning. Sometimes they win and sometimes they don’t. My daddy’s there watching, and he watches real close, and he says he’s only calculatin. He sometimes knows when a machine is due for a payout and if the person in front of the machine ups and leaves, he moves in, quick as thought and quiet as shadow, and soon enough the machine’s spitting out pennies in a flood.
Everyone else thinks he’s just lucky. ‘Lucky Jim,’ they call him, but when they say it out loud, he turns to me and he taps one finger against the side of his nose and he winks and laughs he makes the shape of the word ‘calculatin’ with his lips.
I like being with daddy in the arcade. The lights is real pretty, like sunlight and rainbows is kept there. And the sound of the wheels spinning is like cat-purr, and the payouts is like music or bells. There’s a table at the back, and a man there with fingers quick as blinking, and he shuffles cards and flicks ‘em here and there and never misses.
‘Cards is a fool’s game,’ my daddy says. ‘The house always wins, and yet there’s men spend all they has on the lucky or unlucky draw of those cards. Only there ain’t no such thing as luck,’ he says over. ‘Again it’s calculatin, if you is clever enough for it. They don’t like you countin cards, but if you does it in your head, then they can’t know. They’ll think you is just lucky, which is just daft cos they know there ain’t no such thing.’
The movement of the cards is like a whisper against the green cloth and I like that. I also like the man with the quick fingers. His name’s Charlie and there’s a twinkle in his eye and I know he likes me, too. On his break he smokes a cigarette out back. It’s quiet there and dark so that the end of his cigarette glows with a firefly light. And Charlie’s voice comes to me out of the blackness and he says I is pretty as punch, which I never understand, and he says he loves me and he always will.
We made out once, there in the dark, so dark I could only find him by the firefly yellow of his cigarette end. And it was breathless and quick, and I kept saying his name over and over, just to be sure it was him, and he did the same with my name. It was my first time, and straight after I was worried about what we’d done.
Charlie says it’ll be ok, but he keeps his fingers crossed for luck or touches wood as soon as he says it.
‘Ain’t no such thing as luck,’ I say to him. ‘It’s all just calculatin is what my daddy reckons.’
I don’t believe all my daddy tells me. Charlie showed me once how he can shift cards around so that the house winning is not just luck or odds, but manipulatin sometimes. And he said I was on no account to tell no one. And now, after what me and Charlie done, I’m countin days, which is only simple calculatin, and I’m waiting for my bloods to come, just as my daddy waits for payouts.
‘It’s all just calculatin,’ daddy says again, ‘everything,’ and I nod and I smile, and daddy moves in to another machine and he winks and smiles back at me, and I know he’s on a certainty again.