John Lindsey

Professor Tabor

ENGL 4510

Category: Funny Short Stories; Fiction

30 October 2006

A Change of Luck

            “Jason, I believe I’m cursed…” said Earl as he and his best friend walked down the sidewalk to class.

            “What makes you say that?” said Jason as he rolled a penny down the sidewalk, “Do flowers and puppies wither up and die as you pass them?”

           “No, but it wouldn’t surprise any…” Earl opened his mouth as if to go on, but then shut it and remained silent instead.

            Earl was relatively handsome man who had just recently turned twenty-one.  He was a bit taller than most of his peers, but not nearly as lanky as he had been in high school.  Normally, he walked with an almost smile on his face, but on this day he wore a melancholy expression that was heightened by his dark almost shoulder length hair.

            “Aww, come on Earl, you can tell me what’s eating you; unless it’s a parasite or some sort of grotesque fungus.  You have got to keep that info to yourself,” said Jason as he threw a penny out into the street.   

            Jason was about a foot shorter than Earl, and was what he liked to call “pleasantly plump.”  He had a jovial pink face that was crowned by a mop of naturally curly red hair.  He was the type of guy that most every person would take an immediate liking to.

            Jason casually dropped yet another penny and then said, “Well Earl…  I was in a weird mood this morning.  As soon as I awoke, I thought, ‘Today is a day full of promise and… passion!’ and I knew I must seize the day like a child seizes candy from a stranger in a van.  Ever feel like that in the morning?”

            “No…” replied Earl, “I’d have to drink about a gallon of caffeine before I felt like that.  I usually seem to finally fall asleep only to be awaken five seconds later by the sun’s light as it burns my retinas.  It is horrible.”

            “You should really invest in some window blinds…” said Jason.

            “But anyway, how does your ‘seize the day’ attitude correlate to you throwing pennies?”

            “Well,” replied Jason, “I really wanted to make people happy today, and so I started thinking of all of the things that typically make people feel all warm and fuzzy inside: kittens, babies, $100 bills…  But then out of the corner of my eye I saw my piggy bank and knew what I must do.”

            “You… have a piggy bank?” interrupted Earl.

            “Yes, and its name is Giggles Piggles, but that’s not the point.  What I’m trying to say is that one of the simplest joys in life is to find a penny on the ground, to feel that the day is going to be a little better or luckier because of it.”

            “And… so you’re throwing pennies on the ground to bring no doubt boundless joy to all who pick them up…”

            “Precisely.”

            “Pshh, who really picks up pennies these days?” asked Earl, “A dime, sure, a quarter, definitely, but a penny?  I usually just see how hard and far I can kick them.”

            “I usually do the same thing when I see a spider, but you’re missing my point.  People want to believe a picked up penny is going to make their day better, and if they believe it hard enough, they really will feel like the day is better.  By throwing pennies on the ground I feel I am having at least some small positive effect on peoples’ lives.”

            “Uh huh,” replied Earl, “And more likely, a child is going to go running off into the street to pick up one of your pennies and end up getting creamed by a truck.”

            “That’s not funny Earl…” said Jason.

            “Sorry…” said Earl, “You’re doing an admirable thing, and I’m here being a jerk about it…”

            “I know you didn’t mean anything by it, but I still couldn’t help but wonder what it would be like if that actually did happen and how I’d feel to know that by doing something I thought was good, something very bad came from it instead.”

            The two boys walked on in silence for a moment before Earl said, “So yeah, about my curse…  I am destined to be miserable and alone forever.”

            “Nah, you’ve always got me,” replied Jason.

            “Yeah, I know… but I meant in the whole ‘relationship game.’”

            “Relationships are overrated: you have to spend all of your money, remember birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day… you have to turn your head away from every beautiful girl so that your girl won’t smack you…  It’s really a painful thing,” said Jason.

            “Yeah, but I’d like, for once, to experience love before I die horribly,” replied Earl.

            “It’ll happen man, just wait it out…”

            “No,” replied Earl, “It won’t.  It is my curse you see…  Every time I get a prospective date or anything, it inexplicably goes nowhere.”

            “You’re crazy Earl; you’re not cursed, except maybe with a face that is far inferior to my gorgeous mug.”

            “Nope, I’m definitely cursed…  Girl after girl after girl lets me down.  First there was Caitlin, who I took to dinner one time and who told me she’d love to go out again, only to never speak or look at me again.  Then there was Joyce, whose cell phone mysteriously went out on her when I tried to call for our date.  She acted like I hung up on her, and has treated my coldly ever since.  Then my engine locked up on me when I went to pick up Mary, she shouted at me for ‘standing her up,’ and now gives me the ‘evil eye’ every time we cross paths…”

            “Lame man, funny but lame…” said Jason.

            “I even stooped so far as to try one of those online dating things…” said Earl.

            “Your story gets lamer and lamer with every word you speak Earl.”

            “I know…” replied Earl, “And of course, the online thing didn’t work out either.  I think the site was either fake, or filled with internet prima donnas, because not one girl I messaged ever replied to me.  But all of this pales to my latest sob story.”

            “Ooo! Please tell me you tried to pay a prostitute, but she just took all of your money, kicked you in the shin, and then ran off.”

            “No no, this was slightly less physically traumatizing.  You see, there was this phenomenally gorgeous girl working at Gutterside Records—“

            “How were her bezongas?” interrupted Jason.

            “I didn’t look at the time, you see, I had just made eye contact at her and felt one of those ‘love at first sight’ feelings you always hear about.”

            “But when you asked for her number, she laughed derisively, spit on your shoe, and then elbow dropped you, right?”

            “Kind of…  But what really happened is I was too much of a wuss to talk to her, but months later I was getting ready for the first class of this semester when I got a phone call… It was my aunt telling me that my favorite uncle, the uncle I was named after, had just died.”

            “Yeah… I remember you telling me about that.  It sucks man,” said Jason.
            “I cried for a while, but still went to my English class anyway…  I needed something to take my mind off of what had just happened.  I got to class, set my books down on the table, and then I heard a girl’s voice, the timbre of which reminded me of a cello’s, ask if she could sit next to me.”

            “It was the record store chick wasn’t it?”

            “Yes it was, her name was Lindsey, and we hit it off quick.  I can’t quite explain it, but there was this sort of immediate relaxed comfort we had around each other, and we were able to talk about anything and everything.  For weeks we talked like this, before and after class, and to me it felt as if fate or God had brought us together, that all of my relationships had failed before because they were not meant to be.  Sadly, it seems that Lindsey and I were not meant to be either.”

            “Ouch… what happened?” inquired the empathic Jason.

            “Jason it’s been exactly one month since my Uncle Earl died, and this morning I received another phone call from my same aunt…  She told me another of my uncles has just died.”

            “Oh jeez Earl… you should skip this next class, go be with your family.”

            “You know, after I got the news, I just really needed something to bring a little cheer into my life.  I decided I was going to ask Lindsey to lunch, as I was just sure that she would go with me.  Instead, when I asked her out after class, she just completely ignored the question and changed the subject.  Having never been rejected in such a way, I asked again saying something like we’ve both got to eat sometime and it’d be more fun to eat together than to eat alone.  She only said ‘I’ve got to go,’ and walked of quickly.”

            “Hmm… Yours is a sad story indeed, perhaps you really are cursed.  I just hope it doesn’t rub off on me,” said Jason while laughing a bit.

            “I just need… a change.  I think I’m going to skip the rest of the week of classes, drive across the state to see my family.  Maybe we can help each other through our grieving.”

            “That sounds like a great idea Earl,” said Jason as he tried rolling his remaining two pennies across the road to the opposite sidewalk.  They hit the road rolling and stopped just shy of the other side.

            “You know Jason,” said Earl as he stopped walking, “Maybe it will be your pennies that bring happiness to someone’s day.”

            “You should pick them up; maybe it’ll be the start of something good for you,” said Jason.

            “Yes, it may very well me,” said Earl as he started across the road towards the pennies.  Just then, a car going entirely too fast, came barreling over the hill and hit Earl head-on.  His body was thrown the rest of the way across the street where he landed right by the pennies.

            Jason screamed and ran towards him, just as the driver of the car got out and ran to Earl’s side.

            Earl looked up at the driver and with his last word ever said, “…Lindsey?”

            There was a passive look on Lindsey’s face as she kneeled down and picked up the two pennies.  She smiled a bit and said “This will make sure he can pay the ferryman.” She then closed Earl’s eyes and placed the pennies into them.

             Jason looked at Lindsey and said, “Well… he did say he wanted change.”
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