Ask anybody in Las Vegas about the luckiest man in the world, and you’re apt to get different answers. But tell them you want to know about the luckiest man in the world, the one with the four-leaf clover, and their eyes will light up and they’ll say, Yeah, yeah, I know all about him.
They’ll say his name was Larry, or Barry, or Kerry, or something similar to that. They’ll say he came out of nowhere. Some will argue he came from out east, others out west, but regardless, he came to town one summer day on a private jet and stayed in the most expensive suite the Bellagio had to offer — or it was the Mandalay Bay, according to some, while others are positive it was the Mirage.
They’ll tell you that from the moment he arrived he started up quite a stir. Every casino he went to he won big — huge really, because he never lost, not once.
Luck, they’ll tell you, it was pure and simple dumb luck.
And the women, they absolutely adored him, which was strange of course, because this man — this Larry or Barry or Kerry — he was a short, pudgy fellow, balding, with some scars on his neck from a childhood injury.
He was taciturn too, always keeping to himself, but to the few people he did speak to — mostly those women who would never leave his side, who stayed with him not because of his money but because they liked him so much — he said he had once worked as part of a highway maintenance crew. Those long grassy lanes between major highways, he was in charge of keeping them cut and clean. And one day, while he was mowing a patch of clovers, he happened to notice one, a very special one, out of all the rest.
This clover had four leaves.
From that day forward — from the moment he got off the large John Deere tractor and plucked the clover from its place among its brothers and sisters — his luck changed. Everything that could go right for him did: he was promoted later that afternoon, he caught all the green lights on his way home, and later that evening an old high school crush called him up out of nowhere and invited him to dinner.
A coincidence, surely it had to be coincidence, and he decided to put his luck to the test. He played the lottery. Just once, he said, just one time and that would be it. But still he won. Not a lot, mind you — he didn’t go for the Powerball — but enough to give him the extra money to take off work for two weeks and charter a private jet out to Vegas to really try his luck.
And these denizens of Las Vegas — those who live and work there, who breathe in the desert and who constantly battle the sun — they’ll tell you he cleaned up. They’ll claim that the casinos were beginning to panic because of all the losses, and that a few places even barred him from stepping foot through their front doors.
He didn’t care. He just went to the next casino, and the next, and the next, winning big at every table or slot machine he happened to pick.
Okay, you tell them, but where he is now? What’s happened to him?
And here that look will change in their eyes, and despite what name they think this man had or where he came from, the answer will always be the same: Well — and they’ll hesitate, look down, take a deep breath — he was murdered. Found beaten to death near Fremont Street.
And the clover?
Yes, they’ll say, it was still on his person. In fact, he had it clutched in his grasp. It took two policemen to open his hand.
And what did they find?
Well, they’ll say, almost smiling now, I’m sure you know.
And you do know. Of course you do.
The lucky clover, the one that changed this man’s life, the one he never showed to anyone no matter how much they begged — when the police opened his hand they found it there squashed up, broken, the clover not having four leaves, but three.
Robert Swartwood lives and writes in Pennsylvania. He still until this day has never seen a four-leaf clover.