“Eighteen…. Three and eleven….”
Lucas sat forward on his plastic-protected sofa, eagerly awaiting the next numbers on the lottery draw to be called. His dark brown eyes stared, mesmerised at the TV which cast out a dim white light into his living room. Hands sweating, Lucas clutched the thin paper ticket; three of the numbers had already appeared, it only needed another three to define his future and release him from the life he’s grown to loathe.
Just two days before, Lucas had been woken by the mundane sound of his alarm before folding down the covers, hauling himself out of bed and switching on the light which he would then proceed to turn off and on again another nine times. He opened his curtains one at a time, ensuring each of the hoops on the rail was not twisted or facing the wrong direction. Lucas took take eight steps into the bathroom and brushed his teeth in the same, systematic way that he had completed the task everyday previously. He could not walk away from the sink without giving it a quick once-over with bleach and a sponge to clear the remnants of toothpaste from the bowl. This consequently meant that Lucas’ hands were red raw with the damage of cleaning products, his nails cut so short that the bleach stung his sensitised skin. But it was a pain Lucas had come to enjoy; it was part of his ritual, part of his life.
The excessive cleaning and secluded lifestyle meant the young man had developed a stoop, so that he stared at the ground when he walked. His strides were swift on his walk to work, Lucas was known for his punctuality and he liked to keep his travelling time as short as possible so he did not look up too often to see the half lit blocks of flats, or the sea of pebble dashed semi-detached houses nor the tired looking, paint peeling bungalows at the latter stage of his walk.
Entering the Industrial Estate where he worked satisfied Lucas greatly; there was something about the huge, metal-clad fames, so sturdy and symmetrical, that offered release and serenity for the young man. Lucas slowed his pace to enjoy the wide roads and perfectly proportioned buildings, taking pleasure from the absence of people, the quiet and the abundance of clean pavement before reaching his place of work; ‘R.D Stationary Storage and Dispatch Centre’. Lucas swiped his key card through and hung his possessions in their usual place, three hooks from the door, and walked into the main storage space.
‘A place for everything and everything in its place.’ Mused Lucas, breathing deeply to drink in the smell of parcel tape, freshly made paper, ink cartridges, sticky tack and plastic wrap. To his dismay, Richard had made it into work before him, and was already removing a pallet of boxes off the top shelf with the fork lift.
“Morning Lucas” Richard, who was balding and over-caffeinated glanced at Lucas who stood limply in the isle, agitated and awaiting todays list of tasks.
“Morning” Lucas smiled with all the energy he could muster, but feared it looked more like a pained grimace. “Grim day eh” he continued, shifting his weight to the other foot, conscious that his work boots made him look unequally proportioned and awkward.
“You can say that again” his colleague replied “my son’s got a football match this afternoon so I hope it doesn’t bloody rain. Still, my wife’ll insist we go even if the weather is awful, that woman’s got nothing better to do with her time.”
“I’m sure your son will appreciate it though” Lucas was clutching at straws- he’d never been any good at relaxed conversation.
“Well! You’d think so but…arghh! Christ Almighty this blasted thing is stuck again. Get me a ladder will you” The pallet had got wedged up against the shelf bracket and wouldn’t come down.
Lucas winced a little at Richards’s blasphemy, and not wanting to watch him yank the fork lift into reverse, he obeyed the order and fetched a ladder. Richard slid the ladder up to where the desired goods were stored and began to ascend, demanding Lucas secure the apparatus.
On reaching the top, the middle-aged man sighed deeply before tugging the heavy load towards the edge in an attempt to free it from between the brackets. What Richard hadn’t realised was that the piece of timber he was pulling at was broken and loose. Before either man had time to react, Richard plunged backwards, the broken timber gripped pathetically in his hand, plummeting arc-like towards the concrete floor. His decent was intercepted by the sharp edge of the fork lift prong which collided with his cranium and severed his skull.
He was dead, Lucas was later told, before even hitting the ground.
In the short time before Lucas sprinted to the office and informed them of the incident, he stared, dumbfounded at his colleague who lay lifelessly on the ground, face up with his eyelids half open to the world. The man’s green polo shirt had ridden up over his front, revealing his hairy abdomen now spattered with blood from his head. A piece of paper peeled out from his trouser pocket; the only item on his person untouched by the sticky red fluid which was now creating a pool on the floor.
Something told Lucas to take the piece of paper. He shouldn’t take it. He knew this. But Lucas was already committed and standing over the body, trying not to step in the blood, he plucked the paper from Richards pocket, folded it, and slid it into his own.
“The fourth number on tonight’s lottery draw” chimed the presenter’s voice, which pervaded Lucas’ flat “is forty-one!”
Lucas couldn’t believe it; he had all the numbers so far, just two more and that was it. His heart was pounding so hard he that could almost hear it, prickles swarmed over his back and he began to sweat more heavily. Teeth clenched, nostrils flared, Lucas awaited the two numbers which could be the most important of his life.
“The next numbers are… thirty-two and.. oh, here it is… nine!”
Lucas threw himself back onto his sofa, the plastic covered cushions squeaking against each other. He shut his eyes tightly. I can get out of here. With this money I can do anything, I no longer have to live this life! Then the pang of guilt crept in. This isn’t my ticket, this isn’t my money, it belongs to Richards family.
Lucas exhaled and let his muscles unclench. He didn’t know what to do. He pictured himself growing old and dying in his grey flat, versus the freedom this money could bring him.
What they don’t know won’t hurt them.
On the way to the door and outside his flat he pictured all the things he could now do with his life. It would finally be the success he had longed for, this money will open so many doors. He walked out into the street, taking the mandatory twelve steps to reach the zebra crossing. It was a cool, calm evening in October and with his mind awash with money, Lucas stepped unhurriedly into the road failing to notice the alloy-wheeled Corsa travelling at sixty miles per hour in his direction.
Written: February 2013