Getting you to kneel before me makes me hot!
"I don't know what to say, Father. It's like a bad movie. I spend my savings on my Mom's operation, my car breaks down, got no money to fix it, then lose my job 'cause no car then lose my car 'cause no job. What did I do so wrong? Why is God punishing me?"
"God is not punishing you, Denny. You must keep the faith."
"Keep the faith? How? I'm starting to believe there is no God."
"It's true there's only as much God in this world as we let in. Be a portal for light in the world. It's all anyone can do."
"How much does that pay? What good is that if I'm starving to death? I'm sorry, if you can't give me more than words I'll have to find another way."
"Love is the only way."
"Remember that when I'm dead, Father."
Outside the church loomed a shadowy figure in a black fedora hat looking for dissatisfied customers.
"Hey, bud, dem guys didn't give ya nothin', did they?"
"I don't want to talk about it."
"You know how many billions they got in that church? They got priceless relics just sittin' on shelves gatherin' dust. They hold on to their stuff while everyone else loses theirs. That don't seem right."
"Whatever. I gotta go."
"Hey wait. Maybe's I can help ya."
"I doubt that. Father Sims was my last hope."
"Nah. Don't believe in them guys. Dem bastards burned people alive for centuries. How can you trust scum like that? Could you ever burn someone's alive like dat and then say after God wanted ya to do it? They got a lot of gall in that!"
"I need money, not advice or history lectures."
"Money's what I got."
"Oh? How's that?"
"I can guarantee you millions, sure as the sun shines."
"What's the catch."
"Easy. Just sign this paper givin' me your soul."
"Are you saying you're the Devil?"
"Nah, I just collect souls for him on the weekends. Rest of the time I'm CEO of Goldman Sachs."
"A bankster. You really do know about getting money. So how does this work?"
"Easy. Sign this and I guarantee you that the next lottery ticket you buys wins it all."
"Mom told me never to trust anyone with a Jersey accent."
"Mine is Manhattan. And besides, all it costs is one dollar to find out if I'm full of it or not. You don't win, dis piece of paper mean nothin'. Can't get a better deal than that. Besides, what does it profit a man to gain his soul and lose the world?"
"Sounds like a big waste of time. I got real problems."
"You got that right, kid. You's a step away from bein' homeless. I seen them guys. They age real quick on the streets, dying slow and hard, livin' like animals. And forget about the dames. That dick of yours ain't gonna feel another soft leg rest of your life smellin' like yesterday's trash. You's think about that."
"OK, I'll sign. But I think you're full of shit."
"This really works, kid. Sold my useless soul decades ago. Now remember. Dis is only for the next one you buy so wait till it gets good and plenty before you's cashes in. Got it?"
"Will do. In for a penny..."
Denny's friends were waiting for him at his apartment to hear the outcome of his meeting with Father Sims. Denny couldn't bring himself to speak of his bargain for his soul.
"Maybe I could win the lottery and solve all my problems," he mused.
"Don't be a fucking moron. That's a sucker's bet, even for a buck."
"That's same as giving up, Denny. We need to think of something more realistic."
"Like what? Getting a loan with no collateral? You know what asshole banker said. I got a better chance with the lotto than those assassins."
"The lotto is just a con game anyway. When the mob used to run numbers the cops put 'em in jail for it. Now the government does it it's suddenly OK."
"That's right, Denny. You want honest money."
"Honest money? Fuck that! Money is money. Nobody gives a shit how you get it. Nobody gives a shit I worked my ass off at two jobs. And God sure as hell doesn't give a shit if I have money or not. We're just fucked on this planet, trapped like rats."
"You can't say that."
"Sure I can. God has a live-and-let-die attitude. That asshole lives and we die."
"You'll go to hell saying stuff like that."
"Saying it? Shit, man, I'm living it!"
But Denny was plagued by guilt hearing how his lottery scheme was immoral money even if legal. But how was he to get "honest" money? What choice did he have at this point? He'd done his part paying his bills and holding down a job. That got him nowhere! Only slave-holders and losers go around squawking that hard work is the answer. That's the real fool's game!
But try as he might, Denny could not escape his moral crisis. Millions for him while others starved? And what did he do to deserve it? Then again, what did he do to deserve a wretched death in the streets just because he helped his mother? Be smart. Take the money.
A 230 million dollar jackpot was more than Denny could stand. Time to cash in! Time to be on the winning side. If all the honest men die what matters life then anyway? Denny had never be so nervous or self-conscious as when he walked into a convenience store on the far side of town (to hide his doubt and shame however it worked out).
"No, sorry, sir. We do not sell lottery here," kindly explained the Indian clerk. Denny rushed outside his heart beating in wild confusion.
It's a sign from God! Walk away before it's too late. You've been given a second chance. You were never going to win anyway.
That afternoon was the loneliest of Denny's life. He walked through foreign neighborhoods seeing poor families living life as if the world would go on forever. The sun seemed to trail his every step, questioning his next move. But finally a rationale hit him: If I'm not going to win anyway, no harm done. Might as well play and put this behind me. God's got me marked as a loser - right?
This time Denny made sure to check the signs before entering. To provide cover he bought a candy bar and bottled water; a hungry soul who just happened to also buy a lotto ticket. But Denny could not overcome his swirling mind at the time of execution. A million mad messages bombarded him both for and against. Is this how an honest man feels? Do all the smart people feel this conflicted? Jesus, get me outta here!
Denny fled out the store in a panic. He jogged for three blocks then turned into an alley to make sure he wasn't being followed. Calm down. Once you've had the money for a while it'll become normal and you can take care of everyone else so they won't have to sell their soul. "Call me Godfather," giggled Denny. Yes, he could handle success. It wasn't until this moment he realized how much he'd feared it. He felt sickly strong stepping into this new world but here at last was a chance to breathe.
"Oh, no! Dear God Jesus, no! I can't believe you! You're the biggest loser of all time! Do you hear me? There is no bigger idiot than you! God, I hate you!"
Denny had reached into his pocket to once more look at the magnificent figure he was slated to win - and found nothing. In fact, he had no lottery ticket at all, leaving it behind in a confused state of self-sabotage. Since he'd feared he was doing wrong his subconscious deluded Denny into a false sense of morality.
The run back was terrifying, exposing his desperation to the world. But he had to take that chance. Why is this taking so long? Breathless and sweating. the clerk had expected Denny's return.
"Sir, you forgot your ticket."
"I know! Please, may I have it."
"No problem." The clerk walked to the machine and spit out a new ticket.
"No! What happened to the one I bought before?"
"A woman and her children came in to buy so I gave them that one. I could not be sure you were coming back."
"What was her name? Where do they live?"
"I do not know. I cannot give out that information regardless. It would be illegal."
"Just fucking tell me!"
Three long days later the winning family made the news. Denny tried to locate them to plead his case but to no avail. For the next six months he walked around in a stupor.
How strange the shadowy figure could be trusted in this world when all else failed him. Why had he done what he'd done? How could he go on knowing he'd self-betray himself of every opportunity? If he thought there was no point to living before, he'd surely proven it now. We stand abandoned by God.
Having moved into his mother's house, Denny did get one piece of news from a friend.
"Hey, Denny, my sister wants to date you."
"Wow, you've really lost your soul."