(Listen to an audio reading of this story on YouTube here!)
The entrance to the bar swung shut as Felix stepped in, dressed in a full suit to match the rest of its occupants. He nodded to the doorman with a tip of the hat and surveyed the crowd. This was a Luck Joint, a place where the ‘Lucky’ gathered to measure the strength of the figurative hands life had dealt them.
Gambling in a Luck Joint was different than a casino. Many of the older establishments that had run based on pure statistics alone had either been shut down or monopolized by the people that Luck always favored.
Instead, the men here placed bets on who would come out on top. It was a sort of tournament process. Most often this meant whose Luck was stronger, but sometimes even somebody with a weaker Luck could use their wits to outmaneuver their opponent, bluffing them out of a winning hand through masterful plays. It was possible to actually draw a better hand than an opponent with stronger Luck, sure, but that chance grew less and less likely the larger the disparity grew.
Felix hated places like this. He always tried to do his best to make sure everybody stood on equal grounds in life, but somehow that was impossible. Whenever he gave food and money to the poor, would that not simply mean that he gave it to the person with the stronger Luck? In a world where Luck was an all but tangible substance, true equality was almost by definition impossible.
So, if helping the lesser didn’t solve the problem, it stood to reason that the opposite end of the spectrum would yield better results.
He walked up to the bar and, after surveying the occupants, sat next to a tall young woman with her brown hair cut uniform at the neck. She seemed to be weighing the worth of human life based on the laughing and drinking men in the room. By the distaste in her features, she didn’t seem to think they were worth so much as the drink she held in her hand. “I knew I’d find you here,” he smiled with a secret knowing that would be impossible for anyone to place.
“Did you?” she replied, not making eye contact, her languid tone giving him the impression that she had already had a drink or two.
“Well, not you, but somebody like you. I know your type,” he continued. “My name’s Felix. So, let me guess. A woman with lesser to moderate amounts of Luck, spending your free time looking for somebody to fill that void, both attracted to and disgusted by the Lucky ones?”
She put her glass down on the counter, sizing him up for the first time. “You should know better than to guess a woman’s heart.” She sighed. “You’re half right, I’ll admit. But I don’t find this rabble attractive. I just hate them.”
Felix nodded sagely. “That’s why you waste your time staring daggers at them.”
“What do you want from me?” she retorted.
“I want somebody to share an adventure with. I hate seeing trash like these guys use their Luck as a means of entitlement. I want the people that have to work for their keep to earn it.”
“What a noble and righteous cause,” she shifted her weight to give way for the sarcasm in her tone.
“Will you help me?”
“Sorry, I just don’t get along well with righteous types.”
“But you could. We all want to save the world. But I’m somebody that’s actually putting an effort in. How often do you see that?”
She paused. It seemed as though she had been about to laugh but his sincere face made her change her posture again. She looked back to the men. “How about,” she paused, thinking. “I want a nickel.”
“A nickel? That’s it?” He started to pull out his wallet.
She put a hand out to stop him. “No. I want a nickel. From 1982.”
This wasn’t really the kind of place that would have a whole lot of change lying around. Nobody in here would pay with cash. That was probably the point.
Felix couldn’t help but chuckle. “Of all the random things you could have asked for,” he said under his breath. He reached into his pockets and drew out a small handful of spare change. He laid it out on the counter in between them, without having inspecting the coins.
The woman furrowed her brow and looked down at the change. Of the seven coins, three of them were nickels, but every single coin in the pile was minted in 1982. “How in the world…?” Felix shrugged as if he had had never seen the pocket change before in his life. “You’re one of them, aren’t you?” she asked. “You’re Lucky.” The expression on his face was a sober one. His eyes were closed, and he was nodding. “Why do you need my help?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. I have an ambitious task ahead of me. I can’t do it alone, regardless of how Lucky I am. I don’t know what you can do, but I know it’ll help my cause. Let’s just say it wasn’t chance that brought us together,” he winked.