Up there I walked around. My phone rang and it was dad. He saw the news about the fire and wanted to know I was all right. I was more than a little angry when I said, “why would you care now.” I disconnected then I blocked his number. No matter what I was not going back to their house. At 18 I could do somethings I couldn’t before. One was go into a casino. I went in and was carded. The guy at the door was the first person to say to me Happy Birthday. I converted $20 dollars into chips and was off into the casino. The place has this vibe that is hard to describe. I felt like an outsider and a welcome member of an elite club called adulthood. Unlike most of the country the legal age to gamble here in Ohio is 18.
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I sat down at the only game I really knew. Roulette. I would play it online when I was younger. I put $10 on 18 and lost. Why the hell would I think 18 was lucky? Then with my last chip I placed it on 00. That is when the winning streak started. I quickly turned that $10 into $170. A few rolls later and I was at the limit at the table. It was about that time they stopped the play and checked my ID again. I think they wanted to try and break my streak. I went to a different table. Another roulette table with a $5,000 limit. I was up $52,000. I said earlier what happened. I was nearly at one million when a reporter for the Plain Dealer showed up. She wanted to talk to the youngest person to win a million in a Cleveland Casino. I stopped playing. Then Fox 8 showed up and just like that I was on television.
I got a hotel room downtown. A nice one with a view of lake Erie and the Rock Hall. The perspective from the top was eye opening. Then my old reality came a calling. My phone rang. In the six years, I had a phone my mom has never called. Not once. They watch Fox 8 news so they must know about the money. She told me I was wrong in blocking dad and how I should be more appreciative of them. I had to think about that. A second later I said, “let me guess dad went to the bank and tried to take the money only to find $3 in the bank.” She didn’t say anything. I waited for a few seconds then said, “I opened a new account in my name and made sure you two had no access to it.” She said, “how dare you call us thieves.” I said, “you stole the last two years of my life then all my money. I am your son not a renter or a cash cow. You and he can go to hell.” I hung up.
I had enough credits to graduate so I decided to arrange to finish without going back. about 6am the front desk called. An irate man was down in the lobby wanting access to my room. They were on the verge of calling the police. I asked if they could put him on the phone. It was dad and he felt he should have the right to come up because I was his son. I said I would come down there and he should go to the restaurant in the hotel. I also said they should keep the phone ready. I got dressed. The hotel had my clothes cleaned and pressed. Very nice.
I walked into the restaurant and from his first sight of me it was war. He stood up and yelled, “get over here now!” I looked to the concierge who followed me with the house phone. I gave the “not yet” signal. I said, “keep your voice down or they are going to call the cops.” His angry look became a righteous indignation look. He said, “you don’t hang-up on me or your mother. Just who do you think you are? As long as you.” He stopped short of saying under his roof. I finished it for him. I said, “live under your roof?” I just looked around then I continued, “I paid nearly $20,000 to live there. I paid $850 a month for a tiny room with no bathroom. I had to pay to use the bathroom. You and she spent the last two years treating me like crap and now that I have some money you want to be dad again. Well fuck that and fuck you!” He grabbed me by the shirt and said, “no boy, you don’t talk to me like that.” What he didn’t know was that him grabbing me was the final straw. The hotel called the cops and they were waiting nearby. He was arrested for trespassing and simple assault. The pressed the trespassing just in case I dropped the other.
I went back to my room after a very big tip to the concierge. I tried to sleep but all I could do was think about the money and them. The day before they stole nearly $4,600 from me. I spent the last two years working myself to death to pay them for something most get for free. I imagined that they first started this tuff love crap thinking they were doing me some good. I was never in trouble. I was let go from a job when the changed the structure of the company wanting older men with cars rather than boys on bikes. I did nothing to warrant this treatment. Eventually they grew to like the money. An extra $380+ a week would change a person’s outlook. I think the eviction was a ploy for more money. They had a cot already for when I came begging for more time.
I wanted to do something with the money. The tax man will want his share. I called JR to see if he wanted to start our business. I could easily buy all the equipment we need. He said his father made him a partner when he left school. So, he has all he needs. Then he hung up. After taxes and other expenses, I will pocket around $720,000. I could go to college? But then what would I take. My SAT scores were just ok. I had options but only for a short time. I would need a plan or the money would go fast. I had to either go back to Akron or move on. I caught the first bus back to Akron.
I went and found a hotel for the night while I decided whether to stay in Ohio or move away. Everyone I know is in the state. But thinking about it just maybe moving would give me a fresh start. I looked around downtown. Even since the moved the main bus traffic to a new terminal the city has been cleaning it’s self-up. From the Orangery Mall to Canal Park Akron, had worked hard to rebrand the city. I miss being able to go to Akron Aero’s baseball games. Before all the problems at home I would go every chance, I got. What? When did they change their name to the Rubber Ducks? Then there is the University of Akron. As a child, I wanted to go there. Yes, winter in Ohio sucks. Opportunities are limited and ever declining. If I stay I would need to make something for myself.
All my life I have been a loser. I let people own me thinking it was what I deserved. I couldn’t do any better. I think it was what led my family to use me for money. My girlfriend used me for stuff. I would buy her things and she would promise that one day we would do “stuff”, but that day never came. I’m not sure if I even liked her. My boss liked me because I would work hard with little recognition. A quiet drone is an ideal worker. To my friends I was a means to their ends. Like with JR I was a strong back for making extra cash. I knew what I had to do.
I called my father. I asked him why he used me like that and was there any way we would be family again. He said, “when it started we were going to set aside the money we got from you for your future. Over time the money became something we needed. Not to get my but to do more. You became an ATM and not our son. For that I am sorry, but I think it would be better if we just didn’t speak again.” He hung up and that was that. I knew that if I stay I would be forever trying to get back with them in some form. I would have to go. I am a loser. But for one day I was a lucky loser. Maybe that luck could change a loser to a winner. Maybe not.
These are short stories I wrote. Some are connected to the larger books I am working on others are just for the fun of story telling.
Chapters 1 - 12 PDF
PDFs are on new Story PDF page
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