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Ticket To Happiness or the Self-Indulgent Truth? (standard:humor, 56223 words)
Author: Reid LaurenceAdded: Jun 10 2008Views/Reads: 2102/2326Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Wouldn't it be great if life always turned out the way we'd like it to - or thought it should? The one good thing about writing fiction is - yep, you guessed it - the story always turns out exactly as it should... or the way you'd like it to, anyway.


I was walking through the woods one day not long ago, when a man who
appeared to have something important on his mind came up to me, and out 
of nowhere, struck up a friendly conversation. I say, out of nowhere 
because having come from Chicago, when somebody suddenly approaches you 
like that, you brace yourself and get ready for what could be, a very 
unpleasant situation. But after seeing that he had two big green pods 
in his hands, I dropped my guard a bit, and began to wonder just what 
in the world these things could be. I guessed that they were either 
walnuts or chestnuts but he said no to both, and began talking to me 
about their origin and what they meant to the people in the Ozark 
region... “Nope,” he began. “They ain't chestnuts or walnuts. They're 
buckeyes.” “Can I eat ‘em?” I asked, feeling assured that I'd asked a 
reasonable question because I thought, after all, since they looked so 
much like chestnuts, then surely they must be edible. But he answered 
with a smile on his face and a firm, “No. Can't eat ‘em. Squirrels eat 
‘em but not people.” “Well, what are they for then?” I questioned, 
feeling just a little let down that I hadn't just discovered a new 
culinary delight. “They're for good luck,” he said. “Hillbillies around 
here keep ‘em in their pockets. Imma hillbilly. I keep one in mah 
pocket too. Where ya from?” he asked suddenly. “Chicago,” I answered, 
“but I'm a hillbilly too now. At least, a hillbilly-in-progress.” He 
laughed at my jest and continued... “You keep ‘em. Put one in yer 
pocket an give one ta yer wife,” he said, taking note of my better half 
now seated in our family sedan, waiting for me. “Give this to ‘er,” he 
said, putting both buckeyes in my hands, then taking a step back as our 
conversation came to a close. “You're sure I can't eat ‘em?” I asked 
again, as he started to walk away. Who knows why really, maybe I asked 
him one more time just for good luck. “Ah'm sure. Just keep it in yer 
pocket.” Getting into the car, I started to explain to my wife what had 
just happened and before I could tell her what these big green pods 
were, what do you think she asked me? “Can you eat ‘em?” she said, 
innocently enough. “Nope.” “Then whaddaya do with ‘em?” “Ya peel ‘em,” 
I said, “and keep ‘em in your pocket for good luck. But Mary?” I asked, 
starting the car and turning to meet her eyes with mine. “You think my 
luck will change and actually get better?” “Maybe so,” she answered. 
“Guess we'll just have ta wait an see.” 

Chapter 1 

On my many walks around the downtown area of Springfield Missouri, I
often passed the same gas station. In the late morning and early 
afternoon, only a trickle of customers came wandering through the big, 
electric glass doors and since this day was so far, not any different 
then any other, I found myself walking in, just to beat the heat, at 
about ten a.m. on a hot, sweaty Wednesday. Feeling the rush of cool, 
almost cold air over my skin was in drastic contrast to the nearly one 
hundred degree day outside, and I welcomed the sudden change in 
temperature, which all at once revitalized me and sharpened my senses 
to my surroundings. Walking over to the tall, refrigerated cases of 
juice drinks and beer, I made my selection and was just thinking of 
taking it to the cashier, when a conversation between two men seated 
near the door caught my attention, and momentarily took my mind off 
what I was doing. “Gonna play Powerball this time?” asked one of the 
men, bearded and rough looking around the edges, like a fur trapper out 
of the mid nineteenth century. “Nope,” replied his friend, tugging on 
the shoulder straps of the denim overalls he had on with his thumbs, 
staring out the window at the passing cars and trucks. “Ah'm not 
feel'in up ta Powerball taday. Gonna try my luck at somethin else. 
Lotto ah think. Besides,” continued the scruffy man. “Everyone in the 
Ozarks been at Powerball lately. Damn game's played out if ya ask me, 
an Lotto's just a buck for two plays. Wait here,” he said, rising from 
his seat, walking a direct, determined path between himself and the 
waiting cashier. Coincidentally, I reached down into my front pockets 
looking for the few single dollar bills I thought I carried with me 
when by chance, my left hand came across the buckeye, given to me just 
one day before. Bringing it out into the light, my first reaction was 
to put my thumb over it and rub it, but for what, I thought? At the 
time, I believed it was just a natural reaction of mine to 
subconsciously want to run my thumb over something that had such a 
smooth surface. But in the moments that followed, I began to think 
there might be some other, much deeper reason involved. A reason I 
later came to think of as destiny. And my destiny or fate, whichever 
the word you choose to call it, took an incredible turn that day. But 

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