Sep 19

Good Luck

Copper Penny

Penny for Good Luck

Jimmy found a weathered penny lying on the ground, face up.

“See a penny,

Pick it up,

All that day

You’ll have good luck.”

He was a superstitious kind of guy, so he stooped, took the penny in his hand, and slipped it in his pocket.

It had been a long time since Jimmy had had good luck. Summer of 1996, the birth of his youngest daughter, to be exact. Right before he had been laid off from his job; right before he’d started using all his unemployment money on alcohol.

Debbie left him a year after that. He didn’t blame her, really. He had checked out long before she did. She married some guy, a stock broker, he thought, a good guy. Jimmy hated him, hated him even more because he was a good guy. They could have gotten along, maybe gone out for a beer together if the guy had been an asshole.

So Jimmy wasn’t expecting much from the penny, but he picked it up and pocketed it anyway. Maybe someone would drive by, see his “Will work for food” sign, and buy him a Big Mac. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had a solid meal, and his stomach growled with the thought. That was about as much good luck as he could hope for, he supposed.

Jimmy was cutting through the parking lot of the liquor store when a man came out the front door with a fist full of scratchers. He looked up as Jimmy started to pass. His nose wrinkled in distaste before he caught himself, and then a guilty look replaced his disgust. Blushing, the man peeled three scratchers from the stack and thrust them in Jimmy’s direction.

“Here, man. Good luck.”

Jimmy blinked once before he understood that the man wanted him to take the lottery tickets. He reached out and the man shoved them into his hand.

“Yeah, thanks,” Jimmy said, but the man was already striding towards his car, already opening the door and sliding inside without glancing back at Jimmy.

Jimmy took the penny out of his pocket and scratched the little silver circles on the cards. Nothing on the first. Nothing on the second. Fifty bucks on the third.

Hot damn, it was his lucky day. He took the ticket into the liquor store and collected his winnings, then spent ten bucks on a bottle of cheap vodka. The folded bills felt heavy and the change jingled in his pocket as he sauntered out of the store.

Maybe he’d buy his own damn Big Mac, he thought. He made his way to the empty lot a few blocks away. He found a patch of weeds that made a nice, comfortable seat, and he leaned up against the chain link fence. He opened his bottle and took a deep swig. Warmth flooded his stomach, drowning out the rumbling of only a few moments ago. He lifted the bottle to toast no one, because no one else was there.

“Here’s to good luck,” he said.

He took another drink.

I didn’t really work off a prompt today. I was feeling melancholy and wanted to write something, and the image of a penny came to mind. I used that as my starting point.


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  1. Eydie Stumpf

    And he always will be – alone.

    1. Shelli Proffitt Howells

      Yes, poor guy.

  2. dpaulangel

    Amazing how life changes the perspective of what entails a “lucky day!” From the borth of his child being lucky, to being able to buy his own Big Mac and paint thinner hooch. I’m glad you didn’t go the route of the penny turning his whole life around, and that the addition of money really just made the weeds that much more comfortable.

    1. Shelli Proffitt Howells

      Paul, yes, exactly!

  3. Jon Jefferson

    Sometimes it doesn’t really take much to make you feel better about your day.

    I always recite that rhyme when I see a penny on the ground.

    1. Shelli Proffitt Howells

      Jon, I do too. And I wish on falling stars and dandelions. 🙂

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