This is the eighth part of a fiction serial, in 735 words.
We ate the KFC out of the box as we walked to the pub. Joel and Mark were both happy to be out, and were acting like going for chicken and a few pints was a big deal. Neither of them had a girlfriend of course, and none of us had any real mates except each other. Mark had never been out with a girl. He just couldn’t handle the chat, and froze up completely around women. Joel had a girlfriend once, but she got fed up with football being more important, and dumped him after six months.
Compared to those two, I was mister lover man. Two girls when I was still in my teens, though neither lasted long. Then I met Danielle. She was out on a hen night for one of her friends, and they had surrounded me and Joel, insisting we kiss the bride to be. After that, Danielle hung around chatting, and eventually asked me to be her date at the wedding the following Saturday. She was one of six bridesmaids, not an unusual number at weddings around Basildon.
I was flattered by her asking me, so made a good job of being her date. After that, we became a couple. Though we seemed to spend most of our weekends at her friend’s weddings, as almost everyone she knew got married in those first two years we were together. By year three, we had started getting serious, and her dad gave me a talking to about never upsetting his lovely daughter, and needing somewhere better for us to live than my one-bed flat.
Then she went to a hen weekend in Ibiza and met Gregory, a fitness instructor from Stanford-Le-Hope. She broke up with me over the phone soon after she landed back at Stanstead, and I always had a sneaky feeling he was standing next to her when she did that. Since Danielle, I had more or less stopped bothering with women. But that didn’t stop me wishing that Kelly at work was older than eighteen.
In The White Horse, I got straight to the matter over our first pint. I didn’t want to wait until those two were sozzled, and talking nonsense. I told them all about the 317 stuff, from the first dream-like experience, down to the change from Sammi in the shop, and the seller saying he would take three one seven for his house. Mark was wide-eyed. He spent a lot of time reading crap online, and was well known to believe anything. At one time, he had seriously tried to convince us the world was flat. Joel was shaking his head. “It’s bollocks, Dazz. Just coincidence, that sorta fing”. He gestured to our glasses. “Same again, boys?”
Joel didn’t have much education, and even less class. He adopted the harsh manner of talking that he got from his dad, who was originally from East Ham. Mark was deep in thought. When Joel got back with three more pints, Mark slipped a pen out of his coat pocket, and walked over to grab a paper napkin from the bar. Joel was grinning like a loon. “That bouncy ball fing, Dazz. Don’t reckon it’s anyfing to do wiv me, and my footy career, do ya?” I ignored that rubbish, and looked over at Mark. He was busy scribbling down some numbers. He had done a lot of computer courses for his job, and was great at things like Code, and other stuff I didn’t understand.
When he had finished, he slid the napkin over to me, and tapped it with his pen. “Lottery numbers mate. You should get a ticket for Saturday. There’s a rollover jackpot this week”. I looked at the paper. You had to choose six numbers for entering the lottery, and he had made them up from 317.
1, 3, 4, 7, 11, 31. Keen to explain, he talked me through it. “The one, three and seven are self explanatory, mate. Then add the one and three to get the four, add them all together to make eleven, and use the thirty-one as your biggest number. Joel’s eyes were wide at that point. “Bugger me, Dazz, I reckon fat boy’s cracked it”. Mark winced at the nickname. But he only had himself to blame for stuffing his face for the last twenty years, and never going out except to drink or eat.
But the lottery though. Why the hell not?