Week #18 – Lucky number

Welcome! Here is this week’s Flash, posted in the order received.
The theme is Lucky Number.
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Groups of three plus one by Llyvonne Barber

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No Negotiating . by Kevin Myrick
They stormed into the bank with masks over their faces and carried what he thought were Uzis. A shorter one told them all to get down on the floor in a line, and he put zip ties and had them cuffed with plastic zip ties. “Count off, you’re one.” He was lucky number 13.

The cops came and surrounded the building after the manager hit the panic button under his desk when they first stormed in. The robbers didn’t care. They wanted an audience for what they were about to do.

“Number 13,” a big one dressed all in black said, and motioned for him to get up with his gun. “Come forward.”

The short one – they called each other “Johnson” – pulled him up by his jacket and shoved him over toward the window. “It’s your lucky day. We’re going to let you go.”

“Why?”

“Because, we want you to tell them there will be no negotiating.”

“That’s it?”

The short one pushed him out of the door then retreated inside. A guy dressed in body armor and with another machine gun pulled him away from the building, then over to the guys in charge. They asked them if they said anything?

“They said was there will be no negotiating.”

As soon as he finished giving the officers the news, the windows blew out and an explosion busted his ear drums. One minute the bank was there, the next minute it was gone.

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Numberplate . by Matt Potter
My mother was never the happiest of people.

She turned to me one day, rubbish and other detritus piled high around her in the garage and said, “I want to give you this.” It was a numberplate from a car. Just one.

I did not recognise the numbers, but took it gracefully and wondered aloud why she wanted me to have it.“

It has great sentimental value to me,” she said, eyes misting. It was clearly painful for her to talk about, so I let it slide.

After she died, clearing out her safe deposit box at the local bank, I found more numberplates. There were ten, all polished and shining, just one each, not both to complete a set, and of different vintages. I had no idea she had ever collected them.

And with them was a brief letter, on which was written, To be opened in the event of my death, Marion Slipkowiecz, in her familiar scrawl.

My life has not been the best, often miserable, she had written on the paper. But whenever I had a nice time, I would take the numberplate off a nearby car, as a memento. Perhaps you could track down the owners and give them back. They are the milestones of my life.

Of course I kept them. They hang above my desk, alphabetised and descending. I have no idea which happy moments they marked in my mother’s life, but despite their minimum cheer, they oddly connect us.

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The Lottery . by Matthew A. Hamilton
Thanks to Congressman Alexander Pirnie, I was the first to win the lottery on December 1, 1969. I was nineteen years old. Other winners escaped to Canada. I did not. I thought about it, though. But I was more afraid of a military prison than being shot by a bunch of Charlies, whom, we were told, couldn’t shoot straight, anyway.

Even so, when I touched down in Vietnam, I assumed I wouldn’t see my twentieth birthday. There were other things that could kill me quicker than a bullet: snakes, tigers, and crocodiles just to name a few. Then there was a pile of diseases I could get.

My tour lasted four months. Oddly enough, the bullet that hit me saved my life. I didn’t realize I was hit until my adrenaline sucked the air out of me. The bullet went in my chest and out my back. I collapsed to my knees and passed out.

I woke up in a med tent. I was drowsy. I couldn’t make out what the voices around me were saying. I asked for a cigarette. One was jammed in my mouth. It hurt to breath in the smoke. I thought I was going to cough up a lung.

I was sent home.

Is it possible for someone to win the lottery twice? I am living proof that it can happen.

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Third Time’s the Charm . by Linda Simoni-Wastila
Spin.

Gimme lucky three.

Click.

Third wife, a trio of kiddos, three-bedroom rancher. Once, in Reno, I rolled threesies, won 30k. Still owe that much on the trawler.

Spin.

Clickety-click. Click.

Now, damn boat’s on blocks — three years ’til the shrimp come clean. No jobs except drinking. Plum outta luck, one bullet left.

Spin.

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Words and Numbers . by Derin Attwood
Saturday’s word was Richter as in Richter scale and the number was 7.1. The Richter scale is an exponential scale, 2 is ten times bigger than 1 and 3 is ten times bigger than 2. 7.1 is a big number, a scary number. Electricity and water have been cut off, no-one can flush their toilets.

Sunday’s number was 0. No-one was killed and blessings were counted, but the ground still shook. The word for Sunday was ‘liquefaction’. Liquefaction is when solid land is shaken to mush, but the net result is roads and gardens covered with fine thick sand, many feet deep. That’s a lot of digging to be done, and the sand is heavy. Spade bendingly heavy.

Monday’s word was hero. Not the superman type, but the people of Christchurch who, still scared, just got on with it. Shops opened and people helped their neighbours and strangers. Buildings were assessed, some were demolished. Others were passed as safe, but then there’d be an aftershock and they’d have to be reassessed.

Aftershock became a big word on Tuesday. They kept happening. On Wednesday the number was 289. That was the number of aftershocks Christchurch had had. 289 was soon overshadowed by 5.1. the next biggest since 7.1. In some ways 5.1 was a relief. It was different, a biggy during the day. They’d been told to expect a shock nearly as big as the first. Maybe this was it.

Thursday’s 4billion was dollars to clean up. Tomorrow’s word is hope.

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The Disciples . by Marcus Speh
My telling the bible story of the concubine cut in twelve equal pieces for the glory of god disrupted the party worse than if I’d dropped a firecracker in the midst of the assortment of businessmen and their spouses who had only just sat down to the first course.

“That was some sick shit”, said a large man with the hands of an undertaker sticking out of his tuxedo like signs of a violent end to an evening that had begun like any other gathering in this old Berkeley house with its ancient vines and meticulously crafted front yard overlooking the campus.

The woman next to him, a little thing in a yellow dress that provided too little contrast to her yellow hair and who almost looked as if she’d been born in her garment and acquired the mane later, made a hissing noise which seemed to strike the right chord with the crowd so that now others were emitting similar sounds from their chests over which expensive linen napkins were draped like blankets for the dead.

“Really, Becky”, mother said, looking at father with that look which had always been reserved for moments of public embarrassment too deep for words, “I think you had better take supper in your room.”

I nodded and left and that was that. As I turned, I quickly counted the guests – there were thirteen of them – and I suddenly was afraid that terrible things would happen to the girl with the yellow hair.

Again, I would not eat tonight.

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Don’t Forget Zitana . by Christian Bell
Zitana, my psychic advisor, was old school. Crystal ball, gypsy clothing, stiff Tolkienesque speech. She looked ancient but was mentally keen. I wasn’t sold on psychics. So, why see her? Well, because of Mom, of course.

Last week, Zitana gave me six losing numbers. For the MegaMillions, she said, untold riches await you! I followed her advice. Not one number came up.

Occasionally, she was right. She said once, you will soon meet someone special. Four months later, I met Lara. For five months, we were ferocious. Then she ditched me for her financial advisor.

Dad disliked Zitana. He said, you’re wasting money. They would argue. When a stroke killed Dad, Mom said, Zitana predicted this! Mom, though, never relayed this dire forecast.

So I returned to Zitana, bogus numbers on newspaper, said, not even close. She was at her desk, Maury on rabbit-eared television, half-eaten cheeseburger Happy Meal before her. Her usual garb had been replaced by jeans and Disneyland sweatshirt.

Unconcerned about her character breach, she studied the paper. Well, I didn’t mean this week. Keep playing.

On Maury, a woman had nine children by eight fathers. When will I win, I asked. The crystal ball doesn’t reveal that, she laughed, biting her cheeseburger. Otherwise, I’d be in Tahiti.

Mom died ten years ago. Pharyngeal cancer. I never knew if Zitana had predicted it. Near the end, unable to speak, Mom handwrote on paper, don’t forget Zitana. So, I haven’t. Maybe one day, those numbers will hit.

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Telephone . by Kim Hutchinson
“Hello?” he inquired politely.

A dial tone was the only response. It had been so long since the telephone had rung, he’d forgotten the sound. Undaunted, he picked it up every few minutes and asked: “Hello?”

One of these days or nights, someone would be there.

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Add it up . by Bernard Heise
He was born in Berlin in 1933 – an unlucky year. Yet one of his earliest memories was of his mother telling him that he had a lucky number. He asked her a few times what it was, but she always told him that he needed to find out for himself. So he stopped asking and started wondering instead. Was it twelve? For that was the address of their building in the working class neighborhood of Wedding which for some reason remained unmolested by both allied bombs and Soviet soldiers. Or perhaps 53, the year they immigrated to Canada, where he worked off his debt to the government in Alberta’s sugar beet fields and later bought a modest farm in the rough country north of Edmonton. When gazing upon his wife, he’d wonder if it was the number one, for their love, which ignited young, had matured but never waned. Perhaps it was two, the sum of his daughters, both beautiful and well-adjusted; while unimportant in the eyes of the world, they were his inestimable treasure. Then one spring, while fixing a wire fence, his 73-year old heart collapsed and he fell back into the snow. Gazing up at the blue sky for what he knew was the last time, he observed his own death: painless, easy, and quick. Which made him consider the number three. And so he died, never actually knowing what his lucky number was but having lived a life in which he’d always counted his blessings.
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Unlucky Number 911 . by Susan Gibb
He laughs and runs just like the other boys even though he doesn’t have a father now just his mom. Wild-eyed big-grinned crazy-legged games of tag with hands held open at the ready. On a schoolyard in Missouri grassy brown and littered with the colors of September he is happy, unaware of any threat except for maybe Brandon who’s a bully and likes to pick on younger kids. Something needles through the moment and he slows and for a moment stops and listens. Eyes dart at the subtle hum that only he can hear off in the distance. Shoulders pull together at an imagined rush of wind that brings the scent of smoke so strong he holds his nose. Brown-black curly head dipped down, he cringes as a plane glides overhead. Sometimes his friends will tease him but most times they somehow know and don’t, remembering what Miss McCallum told them about that picture in their history book. About that day. He’s just a little boy and he was only two all those years ago in New York City.
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Choice 9 . by Dorothee Lang
The day starts like any other of her days. She gets up at 6.30, gets dressed, has a cup of coffee, and leaves the apartment at 7.05.

It’s a crisp, clear morning, and she actually enjoys the walk to the bus station. As always, she is two minutes early. She likes it that way.

Yet that day, her daily rhythm is disturbed by a Chinese dragon who walks down the street. It’s not a real dragon, of course. Just a promotion dragon. It stops in front of her.

“A free fortune cookie for you,” the dragon says, and hands it to her with his green paw.

“Thanks,” she replies.

Her bus approaches, the dragon waves goodbye. In the bus, she opens the cookie, pulls out the folded piece of paper, and reads:

This month, emotions are emphasized in circles. The real focus is thepurpose of your life. A heart wide open can require major transitions.

Lucky number: 9.

She reads the lines again, tries to make sense of them. Maybe their real meaning got lost in translations, she concludes. The only thing that speaks to her is the number: 9.

From that day on, for a surprisingly long time, she waits for a situation that could be about luck, about a choice that includes some kind of nine. But the days move on in their usual, dragonfree rhythm, none of them holding a door 9, or a room 9, or any kind of choice 9.

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Tens . by David Ackley
The troop ship taking us across the Pacific was a WWII relic. In the morning the NCOs, furious at having to share our three weeks of misery, harried us out on deck, so the reeking hold where we slept—six high on canvas cots—could be swabbed, the GI cans of vomit carried to the stern for the flock of seagulls constantly circling over the ship’s wake. For rec we stood at the rail, smoking, watching the sea replay its tired repertoire. Otherwise there was dealer’s choice in the hold, the dollar limit game hosted by a sergeant to fleece new privates. My luck had to change. With my last ten, I sat in. I drew three jacks against a straight and went bust on the first hand. On deck I breathed deep, thinking if I could not get seasick it somehow meant I might survive the next two years.

Months later on payday at Schofield Barracks, I took my winnings from the EM game and sat in with the NCO’s, who played dollar limit. I went up and down for a while then hit a bad stretch. With aces up I lost to the three jacks of a fat Spec-5 who smirked at the inevitable downfall of a private to his superiors. I left, borrowed ten bucks from a friend, and came back. In an hour I busted the fat Spec-5 with three tens, cleaned him of his money and his smirking pride, all but his yellow stripes.

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Lucky Number’s father . by Al McDermid
When he became old enough to know that names were given by parents, in his case, by his mother, and realizing that she could have named him anything, he was not happy knowing that she chose to name him ‘Lucky’. His sister, Fortuna, couldn’t understand why he was so upset. “You don’t have a dog’s name,” he had told her.

His mother, Prima, had said it was because his father, Wrong, had been, well, just wrong. “When I was dating your father,” mother said, “my mama had said ‘that man is wrong for you’. I thought she was making a bad joke, but turned out she was right and he was wrong.”

The Number family lived in Manhattan, near the corner 5th Street and 3rd Avenue, but Wrong was always ending up at the corner of 3rd Street and Thompson (what would have been 5th Avenue had the numbering system stretched into Greenwich Village), wandering around looking for his apartment. Most of the people in that neighborhood came to know him and someone would eventually call Lucky to come and collect him.

Then somehow, while on his way to a cryptology conference in Munich, Wrong managed to get on a plane flying to Manila.

A few weeks later, after no word at all, Lucky received a postcard from his father. The front of the card was of the Banaue rice terraces; the back read:

“I’m living in a small village with no addresses. I think I’ll stay awhile.”

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Willie Mays’ Lucky Number . by Michael Webb
She was pretty, with brown hair pulled back severely and tired eyes. The bright pink of her scrubs injected a note of cheerfulness into the room that I was confident none of us felt. She carried a stack of papers which were probably parts of my chart. They were in the midst of converting to electronic records, so each interaction with a professional in this building usually involved them looking at papers, then at a screen, then back at papers.

It was inappropriate, at the very least, to think of her as pretty. She was a professional, with years of specialized training, and she was here to do her job. The fact of her appearance should matter as little as the day of the week, or the number of the room they brought me to. She was smart, and capable, but I saw pretty before I saw either of those- her face made bad news easier to take.

She was already talking as I mused to myself, and I tried to tune in quickly. There was a bit of little girl still in her voice. There was one number I needed to know-if it was less than 50, I might be around long enough to open Christmas presents. She said the number, but I didn’t quite catch it. I asked her to say it again.

“24.”

Willie Mays’ number, I thought.

“My lucky number,” I said quietly to her. She smiled.

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Three . by Elizabeth Kate Switaj
Ann was the third child. Her father died when she was three. Her brothers called it lucky that she couldn’t remember him, so when she moved out, she rented a third-floor flat. When she bought shoes, she’d buy two pairs and throw away one of the left ones; she’d carry the extra right in her backpack, along with three copies of one book and three notebooks.

At Cafe Allegra, she’d have three drinks while scribbling down haiku and triolets. Whenever a couple came in, she’d think how lovely it would be to date them. Ann would have liked to marry and have a child, but she couldn’t stand the thought of being two before becoming three.

One day, while Ann was reading The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, a man she had seen in the cafe a few times before came in with a labrador puppy. He bought two drinks and sat down across from her.

—Here. It’s a triple latte. I hope you don’t think it’s creepy that I’ve been watching you. I’m Joe.

No, she didn’t think it was creepy, and his dog was adorable. They made a date for Saturday.

—Bring your dog.

—Of course. By the way, I love David Mitchell. Do you think I could borrow your book when you’re done?

She pulled a copy out of her bag and offered it to him.

—You sure that’s OK?

—It is now.

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Genesis . by Roberta Lawson
I read that hyenas come out of the womb already fighting. In that sentiment I recognised you.

Inside me you kicked and cartwheeled– me bent double with nausea but still a strange smile on my face- convinced that after three boys, I had a female martial artist growing in my abdomen. The doctors muttered nervously about Caesarans. Your father took to pubs at night-time, late business meetings, more and more time stood outside smoking, and stopped quite meeting my eye. I wrapped my arms around the swollen drum of my belly and still I couldn’t stop smiling. Your brothers were grown already. From then, it’d be you and I.

November — you sprang from me, red-white and slippery, arched a finger at the world, drew a breath, exhaled– roared. And I thought yes – yes, this is what I’ve been waiting for.

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Martini . by Stephen Hastings-King
She drinks a chocolate martini. I fold myself up and slide into her pocket. There I join the others. We seven in her pocket talk animatedly about space, travel and the topologies of her breasts. She pays us no mind. We organize an expedition to the opening in her shirt. We want to slide around her skin. We climb carefully in a column. When she brushes us off her hand comes like a storm. Airborne I open myself to her length. My hand hovers just over her stomach. I disappear into details. She drinks a chocolate martini. She does not know my name.
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The Lucky Guy . by Darryl Price
My lucky number is mushroom.
My lucky number is bat.
My lucky number is pear.
My lucky number is Milky Way.

My lucky number is cricket. is
cloud. is seahorse. Is learning a
lucky number? I think it is.
My lucky number is waterfall.

My lucky number is dragon–
which is timeless but also
untameable so really it
just might be zeroed out. My next

lucky number is daughter. Then
there’s poem–in which we are all
allowed to say I love you right
out loud and mean it. You get it.

P.S. My lucky number is
mercy. My lucky number is
Beatle. My lucky ones come with
their own regiment of angels.

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Game Night . by Shelagh Power-Chopra
I play poker with these guys on Tuesdays. Most of them are parents; smoking, drinking, holding kids under arms, talking politics. Some are lucky, others just dumb, not wise to the seasons, not wise to signals, not wise to love. I think Sam is having an affair with Nan, he leans over the table and taps his ash in her ashtray, tap, tap, I’m not looking at your hand, no, no, he winks heavily as if a lead sinker was thrown on his eyelid. She’s motionless, her husband at the next table, grim, studying faces and dirty chips. I fucked the dealer in his car last game, he gives good face, his eyes always going nowhere fast. I hear crying in a bathroom and someone kicks a chair clean across the room. There’s a dirty bowl of peanuts next to a boy sleeping on the couch. I drink too much, stain the rug, a wide, red splash of wine thrown down like a poor hand. He’s got a flush!, someone yells in the next room–the first in weeks, doughy knuckles grab the pot, happy grumblings.
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Three Inches From Heaven . by Frank Rasky
It’s a shame you’re so tall, he said. Too bad you’re so short, she said. She was a gorgeous 6-foot-tall blonde, and he was a love-smitten 5-foot-9. He was three inches from heaven.

He launched his campaign. He sent her photos of Tom Cruise draped under the arm of Katie Holmes. He bought her Manolo Blahnik heel-less shoes. He encouraged her to slouch, and taught himself how to walk on his toes.

He was a relentless dynamo of confidence, creativity, generosity, and humour.

She surrendered; they married, and she gave birth to his son. As it turned out, three was his heavenly, and lucky, number.

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Friday the Thirteenth
by Catherine Russell
On Friday the thirteenth, everything went wrong.

The day started out hectic. Dave went in to work at the Army base, although he’d need to leave before the day was through, and Judy’s family arrived at the apartment early to help prepare for the big day. She adjusted the puffy white dress and veil and waited anxiously for her husband-to-be to return.

When he finally arrived, out of breath and anxious, he explained how his sergeant had screwed up. While Dave had barely escaped, his class A uniform hadn’t. After a hurried trip to the mall for a tie to go with the mismatched clothes he’d borrowed, the wedding party arrived at the Courthouse with minutes to spare.

The groom actually said I do four times because the Judge paused for long periods while reciting the ceremony. When she did reach the point that required his response, silence stretched for a full minute before his final answer. The bride waited until the Judge finished speaking.

Everyone rode back to the apartment for cake and conversation. When confections and family were gone, Dave took Judy in his arms and they both thanked fate they were lucky enough to find each other.

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7 + 2 = 9, and We All Know What That Means in German
by Martin Brick
His dad said two was the ideal number, for martinis and breasts. One, something’s missing. Three, gluttonous. Good rule, so developed the progressive martini. Keep refreshing while you drink. Glass never goes dry – only counts as one.

But he’s thinking about sevens on his seventh wedding anniversary. Seven-year itch. He thinks that has something to do with divorce. Seven’s the hump. Make it over, you’re okay.

Divorce sounded inviting that morning, with Sweetie nagging about the gutters. But by mid-afternoon he’s shiny from the first martini and gutters sound reasonable.

The ladder rises. He swigs, then climbs.

Seven-Year Itch is also a Marilyn Monroe film. The gin facilitates a blending of Sweetie and Monroe.

Gutter clear. Back down. Swig. Move the ladder. Swig. Up.

Back to thinking about twos because next door a bikini top does yard work . She sees him, waves. Makes him wonder… if given the chance? That morning he would have said “cheat.” Now, into martini one, no.

Down. Swig. Move. Swig.

He passes the bathroom window. Sweetie’s showering. Taps the glass. Eventually she answers.

“Wanna elope?”

“What are you doing?”

“Gutters! Happy Anniversary.”

“The sitter will be here in an hour.” Her tone is sharp, like the morning. He was hoping for playful. And a peek. But she wears a towel.

Down. Swig. Move. Big swig. Up faster.

The next thing he remembers is the paramedic. “How many fingers?”

“Two?”

“Good.” Sweetie emerges over the paramedic’s shoulder. “You feel alright?”

“Yes,” he answers. “Yes.”

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44 . by Stacy Allen
I should have seen it coming when she put the dish soap in my coffee. Or on my 38th birthday. She fixed a cake loaded with coconut. (Disgusting! I shiver when I think about it.) I’m not allergic or anything; not saying she was trying to kill me. She’d known me 38 years but she didn’t remember about the coconut. Mom doesn’t remember much anymore.

So how did it come to this? To me hiding every night in the bathroom for a few minutes privacy? My mother huddled, waiting, right outside the door.

My wife is gone. She brings the kids to visit, and we all pretend that everything’s okay. Ha! Not even sure what it would take to make me okay again. Maybe I can’t take care of Mom much longer, but I can sure as hell try. Imagine – what if time alone was all I ever had?

Maybe it will all turn around. I’ll get a little money, move to a nice place on the north side of town. A place with a balcony off the bedroom and a clear view of the moon. And Karen will come back, get out of her mom’s place and come back home. She’ll like it there – she always loved the moon.

Tomorrow is my birthday again. I’ll buy a lottery ticket in the morning. Never had a lucky number in my life. But goddamn. Let it be 44. Let this year be my year. Please let it be 44.

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Sweet Spot . by Doug Bond
Bob Stuckey’s rosacea was lit up like a Christmas tree. It went in cycles, these flares. One of the girls poured from the pitcher, slid the glass to him. Empty packs of Marlboro Red Box lay soaked in small pools of beer slopped onto the table. It was hour three going on four. Bob was in the Zone.

Earlier, around a quarter to five, Bob had left Barenhurst Hall, and as he always did on Fridays, came in the side door. A couple fraternity kids passed him coming out, said, “Stuckey Chuckey!”

Stage Two of the Zone was the Pose. Glasses pulled down his nose. Right leg over left. Suit jacked folded behind on his seat, a Pall Mall filterless wedged between his two outstretched fingers.

Bob offered the girl beside him a light. “Seriously, the applicant pool is way down this year for Law.”

She was right in his sweet spot, probably from one of the little towns upstate. He’d asked about her plans, her dreams, pulled the glasses down when he saw she was one of the ones that takes a breath before answering.

“Oh, Bob, I’ve barely got a 3 point. I was thinking B-School.”

“Dreams, Sweetheart! I’m telling you it’s a numbers game. You never know, you might get lucky.”

Bob clinked his glass against hers and took a long drink. A bit of beer foam clung to his chin and dripped onto his lap. A smile broke across his face watching her eyes light up

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Take my identity . . . please! . by Guy Yasko
— Let me tell you about e. Now, all the other numbers say e is lucky; they admire her natural-yet-transcendental qualities. But she herself will tell you that having been raised by i and π, she can be a negative one. She thinks “hey, when i was in a relationship with some one with a multiplicative identity, it all ended in a big zero.”

— It’s like a Niagara attraction. You take a koan, something that should be approached circumspectly, meditated upon and turn it into a dumb joke. Euler’s identity is a thing of beauty. Why should those numbers relate, and relate so elegantly? And yet they do: e + 1 = 0.

— That is the dominant aesthetic, yes. Numbers are the servants of the state apparatus, the lackeys of engineers and of capital. And what is not bourgeois banality is sublime genius, utterly apart from the workaday world, the product of an intellectual asceticism. It’s a kind of piety. I want laughs. I want drama, mud-wrestling, eating contests…

— If i can’t enjoy Euler’s identity, i don’t want a part in your mathematics.

— Who’s not enjoying it? I am. Just in a different way.

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Spider . by Kelly Grotke
This is where I will build my web, near the light from an open window, and wait for my meal to come. Amor fati. A mere spider, not very widely read but I did read once that we are born to catch flies as humans are to be consumed by sorrows, even though it troubles me sometimes that I can see no horizon beyond this truth, the magnitude of it all makes me quiver when it overtakes me, I lose my step and you can imagine the result. But then I remember that I am nowhere else but here and now, and I continue with my work, leaving the rest up to chance and luck, since whether I feast or starve depends on endless backward-bending causes far beyond my awareness, which is, as I have already admitted, very limited, and also incapable of irony. It is said that only humans are aware of the past and capable of divining its mysteries, untangling freedom from necessity and, so they say, from themselves in the process, but I am a mere spider, and all my expressive spinning is a mechanical tendency peculiar to my kind, an interpolation in the corner of someone’s window, and if my mistakes along with labor’s endless contingencies deny my work the perfection of pure geometric abstraction after which I so evidently strive, it is good then to remember that we cannot feed forever on ideals without going hungry.
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It makes no difference . by Walter Bjorkman
“One, two, three, four, five and six. Why not play them?”

“You crazy? That’ll never happen.”

“Last week’s winning numbers were three, thirteen, eighteen, twenty-six, thirty-nine and fifty-two, how about that?”

“Same six numbers twice in a row, what are the odds of that?”

“Same as if you picked one, two, three, four, five and six.”

“See what I mean, never happen!”

“What are your numbers?”

“Four and six for my son’s birthday, fourteen for my favorite baseball player as a kid, twenty-four because as a kid I always thought I’d get married at twenty-four and didn’t until I was thirty-four, saving ten years of grief. So I’ll throw in ten. I once walked into a bar in Elko, placed one ten buck bet on thirty-three, which was my house address as a kid, it hit for the three hundred sixty buck return, so that’s in.”

” Just as likely as any other numbers, like one, two, three, four, five, and six. “

“Now I know you, craaaaazy, man, that’s never gonna happen!”

“Sorry guys, too late, computer won’t take any more bets.”

“Shit! Man, I felt good this week, all this talk of one, two, three, four, five and six made me miss it! You gonna owe me a hunnert million when they hit!”

I’d like to say that one through six hit, or our latecomer’s numbers, in a cruel twist, but no, it was two, three, four, five, six and seven. The lone winner picked her lucky numbers.

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Convenience Store . by John Wentworth Chapin
“I said, what’s your lucky number, babe?” the drunk guy at the counter says, again. I’m casing the place; my boyfriend Jimmy is about to bust in and rob the store. I’m pretending to be looking at puckered hot dogs rolling behind the glass case but am really eyeing the Indian clerk at the counter. Jimmy’s waiting outside for me to raise my hand as a signal. I wander away toward the microwave and condiments so I can get a better look under the counter where the foreign clerk waits to enter the drunk’s last Pick Six number.

“Hey, stuck-up bitch, you know I’m talking to you,” the drunk says.

“Don’t talk to my customers like that,” the clerk warns; he doesn’t have an accent.

“I’m the fucking customer, Achmed,” the guy says. “She ain’t bought shit.”

“Get out of my store,” shouts the clerk.

“Fuck you,” the guy snarls. He starts toward me, fast, eyes narrowed.

“Leave her alone!” In a flash, the clerk whips out a long black revolver and cocks it, aiming at the guy’s face. “Get out!”

The guy’s hands go up in the air. “Don’t shoot! Fuck!”

Time stops: my stomach clenches because I can see what’s coming. The drunk pisses himself.

Jimmy rushes in, gun drawn, “GIMME YOUR FUCKIN’ MONEY!”

The clerk swings, gun pointed at the door.

I hit the floor before the shooting starts. All I smell is piss.

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Escalation . by Michelle Elvy
1: You…
2: …and me.
3: You want to…?
4: Cool night, hot hope.
5: Pour me another, keep talking.
6: 4am. Still here. Electric fingertips touch.
7: Your voice makes music between the sheets.
8: Dawn dapples your shoulder; I kiss the light.
9: I’ll show you yours if you show me mine.
10: Don’t fall to sleep. Tell me another story. 1001? Yes.
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The editors of 52|250 wish to thank Llyvonne Barber for her photograph, Groups of three plus one. This photo was taken at McCraes Bush, The Terrace, Ashhurst Manawatu, in New Zealand and has been digitally altered. We asked Llyvone about her love of daisies, and this is what she said:

We see them almost every day — yet how many of us stop to look at daisies? We are usually so frantically going about our day-to-day business that we forget to stop and take a look at the world around us — especially in nature. I would like to encourage people to look at the world around us as we did when we were children. Sit down and make some daisy chains.

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