WILLIAM ARTHUR HOLMES (contact me here)

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For most people, win­ning $300 mil­lion in the lottery would be enough. They would retire, buy a big house and travel the world. Not Benny. He took the money and ran... for presi­dent. The house he had in mind was the White House. He didn't want to travel the world so much as save it from politicians. Retire? "I'll retire when I'm dead!" he said, not know­ing so many people had that exact retire­ment plan in mind for him.
First few paragraphs...

Benny sat alone by the door in a recently opened Asian restaurant. The laminated menu offered Mongolian, Chinese and Japanese dishes, with each written in its native language. He had to flip it over for the English version on the back.

He was taking his therapist's advice, "throwing caution to the wind" and "letting the chips fall where they may." A sex therapist branching out to grief counseling, she was all about the clichés.

Several months earlier, she suggested he get out more. Try new things. "Socialize! Experiment! eXult!" she quoted the tag line on her business card.

The "exult" line made him laugh, but he had to agree with the "get out more often" part. It had been a year and a half since the accident, and he was becoming a hermit.

Now, he was reconnecting with the world, getting out and going to restaurants with indecipherable menus. When the fortune cookie arrived, he cracked it open. One side of the paper displayed his lucky numbers. The other side said, "You will be a great leader someday."

"Ha!" he said to no one. "Who writes these things, my therapist?" A young woman at a nearby table looked up, realized he was talking to himself, and looked away.

Once home, his cat Flaky curled up at the other end of the couch as Benny sat and watched television. The winning lottery numbers scrolled across the screen, and he remembered his ticket. It was not a regular thing for him, but occasionally the mood struck. He found his wallet, pulled out his latest – probably losing – ticket, and flopped back down into the couch.

"You can't win unless you play!" he quoted their ad campaign tagline to Flaky. "Play responsibly!" The cat briefly opened one eye, then returned to his nap.

Benny's eyes went from the TV to the ticket as he read each number. He could not believe it. His ticket matched every number. Not the usual one or two... or none. All of them matched, including the bonus number.

Not only that, that numbers were somehow familiar. That was odd. How could that be? The machine at the gas station chose his numbers for him. Quick pick. He did glance at the numbers at the time, but would not expect to remember them.

Then he remembered his fortune cookie. Pulling it out of his pocket, he read off the same numbers. "No way!"

Was he dreaming? Was he asleep on the couch right now? A trick his father taught him as a way to keep from peeing in his dreams, wetting the bed in real life, was to do something in the dream that was physically impossible in real life, like maybe jump off a cliff and float in mid-air.

It occurred to him now that sort of advice might get someone killed, but if a person could do that, his father said, they were dreaming and needed to wake up and go use the bathroom.

As a test, he tried to touch his toes. That had been physically impossible since at least high school. As he bent over, the pain told him he was definitely not dreaming.

His breath came in gasps, not just from the stretching, but from the realization that he had won the lottery. Holy crap! Giddy and grinning despite the pain, he lurched toward the computer in the guest bedroom.

This was the room his wife had hoped to turn into a nursery but now served as Benny's office. Settling into the high-back desk chair, he hit a few keys on the keyboard, clicked a few icons on the screen, and checked the lottery website.

Sure enough, Benjamin Franklin Reed had just won the lottery!

"You don't sound sick," his boss droned the next day as Benny called in sick.

"I'm not," Benny was honest. "I think I won the lottery, Jim. I just need to go down to their office and make sure before I say, So long, farewell, auf wiedersehen, goodbye!" he sang the words from The Sound of Music.

On the other end, his boss choked and sputtered but no words came out. With a smile on his face, Benny hung up on him.


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