The Shadow Grotto
I tap my fingers on my desk, as I wait for the website to load with last night’s winning lottery numbers. It’s like walking to check the mailbox when you aren’t expecting anything, but you go anyway just in case there’s something important waiting. I bought three tickets, but I didn’t watch last night’s news. I heard talk in the breakroom that someone won, so I thought I would pass some time by checking my numbers against the life-changing ones on the screen.
I hear a ding from my speakers as a pop-up tells me that my work computer has blocked access to the site. Of course it has, I groan. I stuff the tickets back in my wallet and vow never to play the lottery again. I promised myself the same thing after I lost the last big jackpot, but every time the amount rises to 50 or 100 million the lure of walking out of the bank and never looking back becomes too strong.
I daydream of all the things I would do with 750 million dollars, as I help the next customer withdraw 250 dollars from their nearly empty account.
“Hi, Tina. Did you try one of the cookies my wife made?” my co-worker, Greg, asks another one of the tellers.
“No, Greg. You know I don’t eat carbs,” Tina responds.
“You couldn’t just try one cookie? It wouldn’t hurt,” Greg pushes with a plastered on smile.
Tina puts her hands on her hips and stares Greg down with a withering look that is answer enough. Greg mumbles something and walks over to me with the plate of cookies in his hands.
“Hi, Patrick. Did you get one of the cookies my wife made?” he says with his wide smile.
It’s not worth the trouble to protest, so I take one of the cookies off the tray and swallow a bite. “Mmmm…” I mumble as I give Greg a thumbs up. Once he’s out of sight, I drop the rest of the cookie in the trash. I think Greg just tries to pawn off his wife’s cookies on us, so he doesn’t have to eat them.
“Can you believe him?” Tina says as she sits down at the window next to mine. She unfolds the paper on her desk, and I spot a headline about the lottery.
“Can I borrow that real quick?” I ask.
“Sure thing, as long as you tell Greg off if you win.” We both have a good laugh at that.
I compare my tickets one-by-one and set the first two aside. When I get to the third, the first numbers start matching up. I get to the fourth number when I hear someone clear their throat.
“Excuse me, can I deposit this check sometime today?” a balding man asks us.
Tina and I had been too entranced by the numbers to notice him.
“Of course, Sir. So sorry about that,” Tina replies as she flashes the man a charming smile.
She goes through the transaction while I finish checking the numbers. And recheck them, twice. I push back my chair, carefully place the last ticket in my wallet, and stand up. I point to the balding man.
“You, Sir, are an asshole.”
Tina gasps and turns to me.
“Keep doing you, Tina,” I tell her with a huge grin on my face. I wave her on to follow me. “You’re gonna want to see this.
“No way,” she says, but I hear her heels clack along behind me.
I find Greg in the breakroom. I march up to him and put my hand on his shoulder.
“If you stopped trying so hard, people might actually like you.”
A puff of air escapes his throat and his eyes widen. Before he can respond I have moved on. Tina is doubled over chortling. I walk into my boss’s office.
“I quit,” I tell him, as I flip him the bird.
He just stares at me, mouth hanging open. On my way out of the bank, I high-five a couple of bewildered customers. I get in my car and put on my seatbelt before I realize I don’t know where I’m supposed to go. I pull out my phone and look up “where to go to claim a winning lottery ticket”. I plug the address of the lottery headquarters into my phone’s GPS and start my road trip. I roll the windows down and blast the radio, thinking about what kind of new car I will get after I collect my winnings.
“Wooooo Hooooooo!” I scream into the wind blowing through the window. Then I begin to laugh almost hysterically. How the hell did I just win the Powerball jackpot?!
After deciding to take the lump sum up front, I walk out of the lottery office with over $350 million dollars. They advised me to speak with an attorney right away, because I will likely owe more taxes than what they withheld. However, I think I’ll make a couple of purchases first. I’m too excited to contain the urge to spend money.
My initial idea was to get a new car, but that seems so…predictable. I’ll definitely get a new car soon, but when people ask about my first purchase, I want to have a good story. I think through some other things I could buy: a mansion takes awhile to close on, I don’t have anywhere to wear a fancy suit, a yacht isn’t really my thing. Then, inspiration hits.
I’ve always wanted a pet, but I wasn’t sure I had the time to take care of one. I don’t want an ordinary housepet though, not if I’ve got millions. Maybe I could get a tiger…no, too dangerous. Definitely not a python or anything scaly. I want a cute animal that I can keep in my house, but that’s more rare. I wonder if I can find a Koala in Florida?
I pull out my phone and look for the nearest pet store. 20 minutes later I pull into a strip mall where a sign reads “Puppies and More”. The door jingles as I walk in and the smell of animals hits me.
“Welcome. How can I help you?” a man asks from behind the counter.
“Hi, what’s the most unique animal you have?” I ask.
“Uh, we’ve got some big snakes,” the man responds.
“Do you have anything…with fur?”
“What about a rare dog breed?” he asks. Before I can answer, he calls out again. “Fredrick, show him the dogs.”
Another younger man pops his head out from the back. He leads me over to a section of glass enclosed cages full of puppies.
“I’m actually not really looking for a dog. I was hoping to find something more unique, or exotic even,” I tell Fredrick.
I start to turn from the wall of dogs, but something in his gaze stops me. He looks to be sizing me up, but for what, I’m not sure.
“You can afford something exotic?” he asks.
I snort, but then compose myself. “Yeah, I can afford it.”
“Come back at 9pm,” he says before disappearing in the back again.
What do you think so far? What kind of pet to you think Patrick will get? Let me know in the comments! You can read part 2 of the story here!
Thanks so much for reading!
-Clever & WTF