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Fortune Laughs (standard:horror, 2241 words)
Author: OtzchiimAdded: Sep 21 2000Views/Reads: 2770/7670Story vote: 0.00 (0 votes)
Maybe it was too much of a good thing.


I don't like things like that.  Today it's having the only parking place
in the lot open up just as I get there.  Yesterday it was having 
somebody cancel their dental appointment just when I needed to go.  
(Well, that's mixed luck.)  Monday it was having the book I was looking 
for sent to the bookstore by mistake. 

I don't like things like that.  I keep expecting the other shoe to drop
and have some bad luck come along to balance it out. Yes, I know it 
sounds superstitious.  I am, about things like that. 

It may sound silly, but...  Look, I'll tell you a story.  Maybe you can
see why I feel that way. 

I met Howard Waggoner back when we were in high school.  He didn't study
much, but he remembered the details that they put on tests.  You might 
say that that is just good judgement about what's important, or at 
least what the teachers thought was important. Well, maybe. 

But he also had a knack for meeting someone he wanted to talk to just as
they were leaving.  I don't mean phoning them as they are heading for 
the door; that's often a nuisance.  I mean being there as they walk 
out.  He did it to me a couple of times. 

And the first summer job he got came from walking in two minutes after
the previous person gave notice. 

When Howard got into business, he worked in real estate.  He managed
there to have somebody walk in to buy a house within a day of the time 
it came on the market, and he did it regularly.  They say that knowing 
people and knowing how to put things is a lot of that, but that won't 
entirely explain it.  Howard just seemed to know how things were going 
to break and was there when they did. 

And it kind of built on itself.  He got a word-of-mouth reputation for a
fast turnover of property, especially after he set up his own agency.  
He was twenty-three when he did that, and maybe he knew that he was 
very young to be in business for himself, because he took in took in 
Walter Stern as partner.  Stern was ten years older, not as good at 
selling, but fairly good.  He had more of an instinct for finding good 
properties, where Howard had just had people walk in with them.  Stern 
also brought in the office staff, all people he had known for years. 

Howard was also twenty-three when he met Joan Scott.  He met her when he
was going to see a client of his in the hospital.  The man he was going 
to see was a retired widower who was trying to unload the house he had 
lived in for many years, which he had now left for a little apartment.  
Howard went to tell him in the cardiac ward that a buyer had been 

Joan was also in the cardiac ward, though she was twenty-two. She had
been in an auto accident, and she barely lived through it. One piece of 
metal had entered her chest and grazed her heart.  The injury mostly 
healed fast, but the heart muscle itself had been damaged and she would 
have to go easy for a year or so. 

Howard spoke to her there, and while he nominally came back a couple of
times to see his customer, he spent much more time with Joan Scott.  
When she was discharged, they began dating, and her affairs of the 
heart quickly became more metaphorical than medical. 

For reasons that I could not understand, Joan's mother disliked Howard
intensely.  It may be because Joan was an only child, and with her 
father some years dead, Joan was now the only living close relative 
that her mother had.  She may have felt threatened by a man who could 
take Joan away. 

Joan and Howard were married only six months later.  I remember that at
the reception Howard Waggoner made the comment that Joan was the 
luckiest thing that had ever happened to him. Joan's mother refused to 
come to the wedding. 

Howard had never travelled, never taken a real vacation at any time in
his life.  Joan had never been on a long trip either, but she was 

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