Mr. Eight Thousand

By: Michael Fowler

After I hit the Powerball jackpot for eight thousand, the change in my life is swift and profound. I get up in the morning, and it’s not merely me rising. It’s me and the upward buoyancy of eight thousand dollars. Oh, I know it isn’t all that much, eight thousand. Not even enough for a good used car, or to send my kid to college for more than a single semester, if I could afford to get married and have a kid. But it’s eight thousand I didn’t have before, and the difference is so great that I can hardly express it in hundreds, for example. Eight thousand is eighty hundred, a number so vast and cumbersome that no one says it. It is quite simply an enormous sum of money, especially looked at in the light of how many hundred dollar bills add up to it. Eighty of them! My mind boggles when I consider how many ten-spots that is. My wallet wouldn’t hold them all. It could be a number in the Medicare shortfall.

As I walk along the street, I sense that people notice the change in my bearing. There’s a new assurance to my stride, and an openness that admits life’s pleasures, costly as some of them are. Do I feel like breakfast at that corner bistro? I can afford it, even at $6.95 for a stinking couple of eggs and a glass of watery juice. A morning paper? Sure, I’ll treat myself instead of waiting for one to turn up in the men’s room at work. That beggar who I usually begrudge giving fifty cents to in the morning? Here you are my man, have a dollar! Life is good, is it not, and we fat cats like to keep the largess coming.

At work, as I leak the tale of my winnings, I begin to feel like Mr. Darcy or some entitled nobleman out of a Jane Austen book. “Do you hear he has a hundred thousand pounds a year and an estate in Cheshire?” I think I overhear the HR women whisper as I confront one of them about a form to increase my tax withholding. Of course her real words are, if she actually is talking about me, “Do you hear he has eight thousand and an apartment near the bus station?” Not quite so grand, but with eight thou, or eight large as some say, I can move anytime I want. With my kind of money, what can stop me? The answer is, nothing can.

At noon I walk over to City Hall and pay off all nineteen of my parking tickets. I also decide to have that oil leak in my car fixed, since I’m tired of taking the bus. The sum total of all this is fifteen hundred dollars — fifteen hundred! — but I realize that even so great and unwieldy a sum as that hardly dents my vast fortune. So it’s fifteen hundred! I snap my fingers and snort dismissively. That still leaves me thousands, and quite a few of them. I can still go on vacation this summer and drop another fifteen hundred on the beach. And after that, I’ll still have thousands. There is seemingly no end to my fortune.

At the end of the day I am insulted by a high school youth at the bus stop. Normally such a psychopath-in-the-making makes me defensive, and someday I will brain one of these scholars with my briefcase or sock him with my fist wrapped around the nickels and quarters of my bus fare. But now I only smirk. Does he think he can wound me now, the lout? Does he not realize that my thick personal finances shield me from slight? I look away, not even wondering why my clothing and hairstyle so excite his crude comments. What does he mean, I look like SpongeBob SquarePants? I ignore this, comfortable in the knowledge that I can buy and sell this high school kid many times over. What is he worth, lunch money? I try not to laugh in his face, especially since he might pull a knife.

At home I go online at once and ogle my bank balance. Yes, there it is, shrunken but still massive! Oh, I know that riches are fleeting. I know the bills are coming that will finally set me back to poverty level. With a sad smile, I recall how it was last year when, for a change, I was awarded a performance bonus at work, a sum of three hundred dollars. That made a difference in my life for a brief while, a week perhaps. I walked on air then, only to discover later that I had spent it all in such magnificent ways that I couldn’t account for a dime of it. This eight thousand, though a far grander sum, will likewise dissipate too quickly and leave barely a trace.

But why get depressed? Once a lotto winner, always a winner, that’s how it works. Now that the universe has lined up to pay me out, it will stay lined up. The stars are on my side. And my next winning ticket will be for more than eight thousand. Maybe eight million — I can feel it! The store clerk is waiting to sell it to me.

Seven Eleven, here I come.





Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *