POWERBALL • by Eric McKinley

March 27

They wanted me to join them, as usual. Don’t ask me why. These people, with whom I shared nothing but cubicle proximity, were eager. They were frauds. I didn’t like them. They didn’t like me. This was obvious. But they kept asking me to do stuff. “Wanna grab lunch?” “Hey, D-wayne, we’re hitting happy hour, you comin’ with?”

I did not understand this manner of speech. No, I was not “comin’ with”. They wanted me around to make fun of me. My glasses. My books. I knew it. Whenever I accepted, it was to get them to leave me alone. That was my intention when they asked me to go in on lottery tickets. I gave them my five dollars and hoped.

March 28

“Tonight’s the drawing, D-wayne? Powerball to quit Powerball, baby! We’ll all retire from the limp dick business for good.”

I don’t know why they separated my name, pronouncing it Dee-wain. Don’t know why they called me ‘baby.’ We worked in telesales, taking orders for a male enhancement pill: Powerball. The lottery we played had the same name. They thought this was hilarious. “So, ironic,” they said. I have a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy. With honors. They wouldn’t know irony if it hock spit in their cereal.

April 1

We won. Twenty million split four ways. Five million for me. That was the breakdown. My co-workers threw a party. Champagne. Big crowd. Hookers with fat asses. I didn’t go. I like my hookers petite.

April 15

The State called today. At its discretion, I had to agree to a press conference. If not, the win would be forfeited. Everyone had to stand together on television, answer questions, hold a six-foot cardboard check.

“Keep it,” I told the State.

“I beg your pardon.”

“Keep it. Forget it. I’m not standing with them.”

“Your friends?”

“They are not my friends.”

“It’s five million dollars. You bought the ticket with the other winners.”

“I was indulging them. And winners is a major overstatement.”

Under its breath, the State called me crazy. It told me to suit myself. It hung up.

April 16

Today, no one asked me to join them on a coffee run.

Eric McKinley is a Philadelphian. He is soon to finish an MFA in Fiction at Rosemont College. He writes a story every now and again. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in various print and online journals. Samplings can be found at www.ericmckinleyfiction.com.

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