Gasping for breath, holding my chest I listened to the numbers for the 5th time! OH SHIT!! IT’S HAPPENED!! I looked around the room wildly no one heard me though the sound of the house fan was overwhelming. I won, I friggin play the lottery every day but this time I won. I sat in my office marinating. What to do next. I wanted to call my wife, she has been such a bitch lately. I wanted to rub it in her face with that smirk of hers. I bet her attitude will change now. Why am I sitting here in 90 degree temperatures with no air conditioning, when I just won 114 million dollars. I think I will get a room in Buckhead. I have a lot of decisions to make. I know what I want to do first though.
I have lived quite the life. There have been a lot of women. Four wives; three exes, one “barking up that same tree”. My current one tells me I don’t like women Seven children and what could I say about them. Two I could say with absolution were NOT mine due to the fact their respective mothers had them before they met me. Out of the other five, based on how I felt about their respective mothers during our relationships, three would get a fairly certain “yes those are mine” without DNA testing. The other two now I want documented proof, bring on the swabs.
I tried to play by the rules, being a family man. Including family in business ventures only to have THEM screw things up. Now I only have two siblings left, good thing. I will give them some money, enough so they won’t have to worry about anything the rest of their lives. I have to take care of the nieces and nephews as well. I will have a meeting with them all. fly them to a central location. Spell out the rules of getting this money then I am off.
Janie, my wife, walks in the room looking for something; she glances over at the lotto ticket, rolls her eyes up in her head and says, ” Win anything today?” I reply,” 114 million”. “Ooh good we can get the air-conditioning fixed”, and she walks out of the room shaking her head. What am I gonna do with her? She has changed so much lately, I don’t even know her. She was an attractive, sexy, young woman when she walked onto the dealership floor 30 years ago and we had some good times. Now she sleeps with her back to me. I still think she is attractive and sexy, but she doesn’t try to be either one anymore.
We rarely have conversations, she always has something smug to say or she argues with me. I tell her “I love her” and if she says “I love you” it is obligatory. I feel her lying to me, I feel her contempt, I feel her disappointment and disdain, but she never says a word. I ask her why she stays and she doesn’t answer. I wonder if she knows. I wonder if I had anything to do with that.
I get up from the desk and tell her, ” I am going to the store”. I hesitate, “Do you want me to bring you anything back?” She replies ,” No thanks”.
The store is around the corner, I sit in the parking lot wondering what to do, what is my life going to be like now that money will no longer be an issue? I am 75, I have had a lot of things in my life, but what is life all about. Dear God you wait until I am too old to really enjoy this money to give it too me. What am I thinking I am in good health, I have a family that I think, no I am sure they love me. I am going to give them some happiness. I can see Janie’s face. When I get home I will tell her to get dressed, we are going out somewhere special. I will tell her I won a nice amount of money and I want to celebrate with her. I want to make her happy, if I can, I think.
Imagining how I would feel did not scratch the surface. I walked into the store and saw one of our familiar clerks, Laurie. I was alone at the counter and I said softly to her, ” I am pretty sure I won quite a bit, please don’t tell anyone.” She asked,” Over 600.00?” She said very calmly, “Oh great.” She had no idea. Okay you have to fill out a claim form at the GLC office and she gave me a slip of paper that had all the info on it. I thanked her and she said softly “Congratulations”. As I walked away I thought of doing something terribly cliche’ like retiring one of my favorite store clerks for selling me the winning ticket.
I came up the stairs and Janie was cleaning out the cat’s liter box. She never looked up as she said, “Did you collect our 114 million so I can have the new maid do this.” I waited until she was where she could see my ticket and the slip that had the winning numbers on it. “What’s this”, she asked. Then she picked up both and read the numbers off one by one. She dropped them both and said, “OH SHIT!! IT HAPPENED!!
She grabbed me around the neck and squealed with excitement, she planted kiss after kiss on my face and neck, I couldn’t breath at one point, I had to calm her down. Now what really happened: She looked at me with a question on her face and I just smiled. I didn’t know what to expect, but I knew I didn’t expect that reaction. I took her hands and looked into her eyes; then I saw a twinkle of happiness, but the question peaked quietly around the happy.
“What do you want to do first”, I said. She replied, “Wow, I don’t know I am still trying to digest this. What do you want to do?” We had gone through some rocky times, but I really loved Janie. She was very different now. I could see the stress was taking it’s toll on her. Now I can get her back to what she used to be. I can see a smile on her face again. I thought about all the things I wanted to buy her, all the things I wanted to give her, then I realized I had no idea what she wanted. I began to understand the question on her face, I didn’t know this woman. How could I make her happy.
I watched her walk across the room and sit down.This was certainly no way for two new multi-millionaires to be acting. I sat next to her and she faked a smile. She then said, ” Well you got what you wanted. You finally won. I am happy for you.” Now the question had moved to my face because it was definitely in my heart. I looked at her and asked her, “What are you saying, you’re happy for me? Aren’t you happy for us?” She shook her head and then replied,” Howard I am not for sale, I never have been. I feel the word FOOL sounding off in my head, but I have to be honest. We have gone through a lot and I have stuck with you. Now you don’t need me and you will be set for life. You can go, do, be everything you have always talked about and there is no one and virtually nothing to stand in your way. Me, I ‘m a simple being. I just want some happy, I just want some peace of mind.”
I asked her, What are you saying? You don’t want to be with me? My voice was getting loud. The anger was building.” All women are the same”, I thought. She responded, ” Howard you don’t want to be with me, and that’s okay. I will not live wondering where you are, what you are doing, and who you are doing it with. I have already lived that without the money. I will not go to bed every night and wonder if I will wake up to divorce papers every morning. If I walk away or better yet if you walk away now I will never know what I missed, but I will have my sense of self. The surprised look on your face tells me, I am not wrong about what I am saying.” She stood up and gave me a half smile. “I used to love you, you made me stop, money won’t bring that back”, she said and then she went down the stairs to toss the cat liter away.
This was crazy. A few years ago.. then I stopped. Is Janie right about me? She knows me better than I know myself. Funny now I really want to be married and I don’t think she does. Al this money I can find someone who will make me think she wants to be with me, but the truth is I will never know. Janie is who I want; I can show her now, I can do all the things I couldn’t do before for her. She’ll change her tune when she sees what is available to her.
On the way to fill out the paperwork to collect the money Janie was quiet. She, although a very different being of late, could not stop talking under normal circumstances. We walked into the office and went to a window to get information. I handed the form to Janie to fill out, sometimes she would protest or have an annoyed look on her face, today she was solemn. The woman taking care of us recited her lines flawlessly ending the dissertation with, “Your money will be available to you in 5 to 7 business days.”
Then the madness began. The big check was brought out by the staff, the photographers were out in full force along with the press. We were directed to an area so the photo could be taken. Janie was reluctant. How could she act this way, was she really trying to rain on my parade like this? I looked into her face and saw the question again, this time I could read it, it said, ” Do you really want ME here, NOW”. I grabbed her, I kissed her like I used to many years ago, she could feel my emotion and my love for her, I felt it come back. The cameras flashed. I said to her, ” We’re going to Disneyland!” Then she smiled at me.