The Six Million Dollar Lottery Ticket (Part I)

By James Finn

This is the story of Paul Sylvania. Paul lives alone in a tiny studio apartment in Manhattan, located a few blocks north of Columbia University on the Upper West Side. He spends his days nearby behind a counter at "Justin's Deli & More" making omelets, toasting bagels and pouring coffee for the typical ungrateful throng of New Yorkers that grab-and-go as they dash off to their own versions of a repetitive day.

His mornings never fail to start off the same way. He wakes up at 5:45am, takes a shower, gets dressed in a pair of dark slacks and a white button down shirt, then eats a bowl of Honey Nut Cheerios, all while the morning news is heard in the background being spit out by the local talking heads. After he brushes his teeth, he heads out the door to the establishment he has worked at for the last seven years.

On this Monday morning, he enters the deli and does one last thing for himself as part of his morning ritual; he opens his wallet to take one dollar bill out and places it on the counter near the New York Lottery machine. Justin Koehler, the owner, looks up at Paul and says, "feeling lucky today, Sylvania?" Paul responds with a sigh, "a dollar and a dream, right?" Paul enviously looks up at all the faded lottery tickets exclaiming the previous winners' earnings dangling above the lotto machine. While their intention is to encourage and excite future customers, Paul can only see it as a fat middle finger to him.

After getting his ticket, Paul carefully folds it into fours and places it in his wallet sandwiched between two twenty dollar bills. He then heads off to the grill to put on his apron.

Now, you might expect Mr. Sylvania to proceed through his day full of regret and boredom about his life. I would agree with that assumption, but that's where we would be wrong. Why wouldn't he be, right? He is exhausted by the end of every day and heads home with a consistent frown on his face and the smell of bacon on his shirt. For some reason, as soon as Paul puts that ticket in his wallet, between the two twenties, he comes alive. It's as if someone injected a large amount of caffeine in his system. Paul becomes an entertainer, occasionally bringing smiles to the regulars as he excitedly echoes their breakfast orders through a musical yell, "one scrambled egg white omelet with a side of turkey bacon coming right up" The people that are lined up to order their breakfast of choice begin to wonder how he will announce their order.

How did this happen? What are we missing in this story? Does he think he has a winning lottery ticket in his back pocket? We need to keep watching this man to find out more...

Here we are in his apartment on Tuesday morning, and we see a cereal bowl with a couple of remaining mushy cheerios making it's way around the milky shallow remains of Paul's breakfast. As we look up, we get a glimpse of him apathetically heading toward the door. As we follow Paul, he seems to be the same as he was yesterday morning. He enters the deli, and again takes out a dollar. We see a similar conversation with his boss, and again the folding of the ticket and the procession over to the grill to get his apron on and get to work. As he begins to head over to his work station, we see him skip. Yes, skip! Does he think he won the lottery again? Is this man a bit slow?



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Great bid of vivid imagery in paragraph three. The last line of it (that paragraph) is wonderful.

...And by bid, I meant "bir."

Thank you Alex for that one comment in three replies.


I didn't realize my husband owned a deli. Did you send him this?

The beginning of the last paragraph has some nice imagery, too. I'm enjoying this so far, because, like many, I spend my workdays in a hectic retail environment, a pharmacy, - which happens to be placed right next to the lottery counter in my store. I can relate to buying a powerball ticket some nights on my way home from work, and longing to wake up loaded. I can't wait to "call in rich" someday - I'm looking forward to seeing where this story is headed...

The narration, especially near the end, reminds me of Rod Serling and I really like that. Makes me think that a pretty good twist is on the way.

I was going to write up "The Six Million Dollar Lottery Ticket, The Conclusion" today but thought it would be more fun to have another writer take a stab at it. Any takers?

Thanks, James....

I have yet to post a story on this website...only jackass comments. I keep talking about it...i've been all talk, no action, so if nobody else already has something in the works...I will give this a shot....i just need a little that OK with the group?

Run with it Hot Lunch. If I like it or not, I may still write my version too. Could be fun.

OK...I'm a procrastinator, so if you beat me to it, don't worry - but I will submit a conclusion to this at some point.


Wonderful film I have never seen Especially dialogues

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This page contains a single entry by James Finn published on January 3, 2009 1:59 PM.

The Man in Me was the previous entry in this blog.

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