The Old Man in the Park

My name is Sun-Sun Han. I once knew an Old Man. He was a six-foot-tall lean man with a clean-shaven wrinkled face. He had patches of grey hair on the sides of his otherwise bald head.

Whenever I visited the Children's Park I would see him sitting on the wooden bench reading the newspaper. When I walked past him I would say,"Hello Sir!" and he would answer "Hello little girl" and give me a toothy wide smile which revealed his mouth with half missing teeth.

I loved the Old Man. He was always so cheerful and engrossed in his own way. I wished I could be like him when I grew old. I was always so disturbed. Even the smallest things used to upset me very much. The Old Man, on the other hand, was so peaceful.

Sometimes when I was feeling very bad I would sit on the wooden bench in the corner of the Park and bury my face in my hands and just cry. The Old Man would walk up to me and pat my head. "Come, my child, what's the matter with you dear? Are you alright?" he would say and try to console me.

I lied to him at first and said that everything was alright and just run back to home. But, when I went over to the Park the next day he just looked up at me and smiled. I just couldn't control myself and I started crying again. I told him my problem.

"You see Sir, I want to study in the School like the other children. But, my mother is very poor and my dad is dead. So, I had to leave my education to help my mother to run our small Grocery store."

The Old Man listened to me patiently and told me,"Do not worry my child. Everything will be alright. Your wish shall definitely come true very soon. Now go home and sleep in peace."

I wondered what was about to change. I thought that the Old Man was just trying to console me. Yet some part of me wanted his prediction to come true. That day before sleeping I prayed to God to make my wish come true.

The next morning I woke up and got ready. I was feeling very excited and was feeling surrounded by a sense of positive energy. I had not felt this type of radiance in me before.

I walked to the Grocery store with my Mom. We worked almost until noon. Nothing out of ordinary had happened yet. I was beginning to feel that maybe I was a fool to believe in the Old Man. Yet some part of me still wanted to hold on to my wish.

We were about to close the store for lunch when a shining big car stopped in front of our store. Two men in business suits walked up to my Mom and said,"Mrs Han we have a business proposal for you."

My mom called them inside the store and asked me to bring two chairs for them. She then asked me to wait outside the store.

My mom and the men talked for around fifteen minutes after which they left. After they had left I ran to my Mom and asked her about those people. My mom was crying. I was surprised as I had never seen my Mom cry in front of me before. She always tried to be brave in front of me and acted like the man of the house. I had seen her cry alone sometimes. But, she never cried in front of me.

So, I felt sad and asked her,"Mom, are you alright? Who were those men? What did they want?"

She replied sobbing,"Sweetie, those men want to buy our grocery store. They want to raze it down and open a big shopping complex in its place. They are ready to pay a very good amount as compensation. Now I will not have to worry about your future anymore."

We hugged each other and cried. I remembered the Old Man and ran to the Park to tell him the good news. But, I could not find him anywhere. I searched for him all over the Park but he was nowhere to be found.

After that day, I did not find him in the Park. After we sold the Grocery store we moved to another city where I could study in a bigger school and my mother took up a job in a grocery store.

Many years later, I happened to visit my old city. It so happened that I took my little daughter Natalie to the same Children's Park to play.

I was walking in the Park when suddenly my eyes fell on a bust located in the middle of the Park. It was the bust of an Old Man. The Man had a patch of grey hair and a wrinkled face. The bust stood on a shining black marble stone and it read
 Mr Raymond Hayes
 1710 - 1798
The Man who contributed everything to Children's education

I took Natalie and rushed to our old Grocery store. In its place now stood a children's library named Hayes Children's library.

I went inside the library and inquired the Librarian about Mr Hayes. He answered,"Mr Hayes sold his house and contributed all his pension money to fund this Library. It is also said that he did all of this to help a little girl who worked in a Grocery store which stood in this same place."

The End

The Bridge

John stood on the Bridge gazing down at the gushing Amazon river below him. He raised his head to see bolts of lightning crackling in the distance through heavy dark clouds. It rained heavily and everyone rushed around carrying Umbrellas. The damp evening resembled John’s somber mood.
John looked back for a moment. No one seemed to pay any attention to him. He just smiled melancholily and turned to face the river again. He was insignificant.

He stepped closer to the Parapet wall. He raised his right hand and stared at it in anger. His grip would have been firm if only he had not been drunk that day. Tears rolled down his wet cheeks. He buried his sad face in his hands. What had he done to suffer such misery?

A multitude of thoughts rushed through John’s mind. A thought asked him to end his suffering. His hands tightened their grip on the bridge’s steel railing. Should I leap? Who would care? Who would mourn for me? What about Sheela? Does she still love me? Can she ever forgive me? Can I forgive myself?

John’s mind swirled with endless thoughts. Every thought was a question. Every thought increased his misery. If only his mother was still alive. He would lay down his head in her lap and close his eyes. How much relieving that would have been? And, yet it was impossible.

John remembered the fateful day. How much he despised himself? His little daughter Sunny asked him to buy her a balloon. Little did he know that it would be the cause of his child’s death.

John bought his daughter a beautiful red balloon. The child held the balloon in one hand and was walking on the bridge with her Papa when a sudden gust of wind blew the balloon out of her hand. Before John realized it, Sunny broke free from her dad’s hand and rushed after the balloon. Sunny jumped to grab the balloon which had now flown onto the road. John rushed after her. But, it was too late. The child was hit by a speeding car.

The little child was flung up in the air for several feet in front of her shocked father. Everything happened in just a matter of few seconds. John’s life had ended in those few seconds. He rushed Sunny to the Children’s Hospital and took her to the Emergency Ward. Alas, it was too late. She was declared brought dead.

John was inconsolable. Gathering all his strength he called his wife Sheela. Sheela was in a meeting when her husband broke this earth-shattering news to her. She rushed to the Children’s hospital. Teary-eyed and with trembling hands she entered the Emergency Ward to see her baby lying on the bed motionless.

John sat sobbing holding his baby’s hands. “My baby, my love, get up!” he heard his wife scream in horror and grief. John got up to comfort his wife. But, she was overcome with too much grief and pain. She pushed him and yelled at him. She held John responsible for Sunny’s death. John stood with a bowed head unable to meet eyes with his wife. Somewhere, deep within himself, he knew that she was right. He was responsible.

After the funeral, Sheela moved out of the house and left John alone to sink in his grief. She was sure that her drunkard and good-for-nothing husband had been responsible for their child’s death.
It was exactly a week since that fateful day. John stood on the Bridge on the verge of ending his miserable life. Could she forgive me? He took a deep breath and tightened his grip on the steel railing. He slowly climbed on the railing and looked at the gushing Amazon below. It was all going to get over very soon. The pathetic ruse which he called a life was soon about to end.

He closed his eyes and said a small Prayer and begged the Lord to forgive his Sins. Before any weak thought could pull him back John jumped into the river. He did not know how to swim. He fell with a loud splash and sunk into the deep river. His lungs filled with water and choked him. After a brief struggle, his eyes closed.

“Papa, wake up” a soft voice called out to him. John opened his eyes slowly to see his beautiful daughter standing in front of him. “My Child, My Beautiful Angel, Am I Dead?” he asked his daughter. Sunny stood puzzled. “What is a sinner like me doing in Heaven?” he questioned her again. The child just laughed.

“Dad you drank too much Whisky last night, now please get up, I am getting late for my school” the little girl begged her father.

Slowly, reality sunk into him. He got up and kissed his daughter’s forehead. Tears of joy filled him with gratitude and he thanked the Lord for his mercy. He took all his liquor bottles and threw them in the garbage. He vowed to never drink again.

The End


They say that your eyes are the reflection of your Soul. If you need to read someone's mind then just take a look at their eyes. This power of reading eyes is bestowed by the Almighty on all of us. This power is what makes us Human.

One sunny afternoon, I had just completed buying groceries at the local supermarket and was heading back to my car when I heard someone call my name. "John, please wait," the voice of a woman called out my name.

I turned around to see a smart young woman dressed in an executive suit calling my name. I turned back to make sure she was calling me and not some other person with my name. There was no one behind me.

The young lady hurried to me and gave me a wide smile. She held my hand and said smiling, "John, it's me, Lisa." She removed her black shades and I took a look at her eyes.

I took a moment to look at her beautiful round black eyes and remembered her. "Lisa, wow, it's wonderful to see you again," saying I hugged the woman.

Lisa hugged me tightly, and when I saw her face again her eyes were moist.

Many years back, when I was walking back home after my evening walk in the Park, a beggar approached me. My first reaction was to say, "Sorry, no change," and I walked away. But, in that moment I happened to look at her eyes.

There was so much pain in those eyes. I stopped for a moment and looked back. The girl lowered her head to the floor and sat on the footpath. She looked very weak and it seemed like she did not have proper food for several days. It was winter. But, she was wearing a torn jacket and her slippers were in very bad shape.

I walked back to her and told her, "I don't have any change. But, I am heading for dinner. Would you like to join me?".

She looked at me surprised. But, she agreed to come with me.

I went to Subway and bought her a sandwich. We finished our meal and I told her, "I am going to the supermarket and would like to buy you some warm clothes and shoes."

She was completely stunned. She thanked me and accompanied me to the supermarket.

I bought her some warm clothes and shoes. After that we came out of the supermarket and I told her, "Goodbye."

She started crying and hugged me. "Thank you Mister, you have been so kind to me. No one has been so kind to me before."

I asked her name. She replied, "Lisa".

Lisa told me that she had once belonged to a wealthy family. Her dad was a businessman and he was duped and killed by his partners. She had run away from her house to save her life.

Life had been very tough on her and she was forced to do many bad things in order to survive. She had been badly abused by several people.

I felt Lisa's pain as though she was my own sister. I took her to a shelter home and gave her some money. I also got admitted her to a college.

After this incident, I took up a job in another city and forgot all about Lisa. I just returned to my home after my retirement and I ran into Lisa.

Lisa was now working as a real estate agent and had married. She was now a proud mother of two beautiful children. She took me to her home and introduced me to her husband and children.

We all prayed together that night and thanked God for his blessings. I looked at Lisa. She smiled and her eyes said, "Thank you." I replied with my eyes, "God bless you my child."

The End

Mystery Land - Chapter 8 - A Rendezvous with Death

This is the eighth chapter of the Fantasy series "Mystery Land". You can read the previous chapters below.
Celina the wizard of the wooden realm had just crossed the path of the mighty Elves. She had escorted the Dark Wizard Sam safely out of the Dark Woods. In doing so, she had to stop the Elves who were pursuing Sam. They were after the Book of Enchantments which gave Sam his powers. The book belonged to the ancient Elves. But, during the great battle between the Demigods and Elves, the book was stolen from them. The loss of the book caused the Elves to perish in the battle. They were driven from their homeland by the demigods at the peril of their lives. They had assumed that the book was hidden deep in the demigod territory. So they remained in exile for many thousand years. But, whispers of the lost book reached their ears once again. The Elvish spies found a young wizard called Sam chanting spells to raise the dead using the enchantments from the lost book.
Sam had come to the Dark Woods to seek Celina's help. He knew that she despised King Riley. The King was a ruthless ruler who was hell-bent on becoming a world conqueror. Sam wanted to avenge his sister's death at the hands of the King's men. Celina had promised to help Sam on one condition. She wanted him to bring her lover Abar safely back to her. Abar was a trusted lieutenant and spy in the King's army. Abar was devoted to his King but he was a kind and noble person. He had been sent by the King to spy in the Mystery Land.

The Elf prince Yala decided to eliminate Celina. He knew it would not be easy to hunt her down in her own forest. So, he decided to call her for a truce meeting and kill her treacherously. As was the practice in those days, two Elves took out rhino horns and began to blow them. A shrill echo filled the forest. It was the call for a truce. Celina heard the horn and turned her horse in the direction of the sound. She was curious to know why the Elves were after Sam. How did they know that he had the magic book? There was only one way to find out. Celina rode towards the Elves.

Celina saw the Elvish camps and got down from her horse. She walked for about four hundred yards in the direction of the camps. She was stopped by two tall Elvish guards. One of them went inside a very large white tent with an Elvish flag perched on top. He came back and told her that the Prince Yala would be happy to meet her. He checked her for any weapons. She didn't carry any weapons. 

Celina got inside the tent. The Prince sat on a table sipping wine. He smiled at Celina as she walked in. He bowed to her and greeted her,"I am humbled by your presence, Lady Wizard. Please take a seat."

Celina sat down. The Prince poured her a glass of wine and she accepted it. She took a sip of the wine. It was the finest wine she had tasted. It seemed thousands of years old. 

"So why are you after the boy?" she asked him. "I guess you know why? He has our book," the prince replied.

"Your book, what do you mean? That book belongs to his ancestors" she said. 

"You are wrong Celina. That book belongs to the Elves. It was given to our ancestors by the Creator himself. It was stolen from us a long time ago. I have come to reclaim what is ours. You are making a mistake by shielding that boy," the Prince replied to her.

"I don't believe you, Prince. Even if that book did belong to your ancestors you have no right to it now. The book rightfully belongs to King Riley. Is he aware of this book?" she questioned Yala.

One look at Yala's face and she knew that the Elves had kept Riley out of this secret. 

"Looks like the King isn't aware of this book yet? So you are hiding this secret from him," she questioned Yala again.

Yala got upset and replied," Yes. The book belongs to the Elves and no one else. I command you to stand out of our way or face dire consequences."

Celina looked at him and shouted,"How dare you to talk to me like that? No one commands me but the King. Get out of my woods you filthy scum."

Yala got up in a fit of rage. His blue eyes turned red with rage and with lightning speed, he took out a dagger from his back and slit Celina's throat with one swift move. "You prick, die," he said with a smirk.

Celina held her throat with both her hands and looked at him with an expression of disbelief. She lowered her head. A moment later, she raised her head and smiled. Then she began to laugh loudly and vanished. 

Yala was shocked. Just then, he heard cries from outside. He rushed outside. All his guards lay dead with their throats slit open. He saw Celina at a distance slicing the neck of one of his guards. He drew out his sword and rushed to attack her.

As he ran to attack her he saw another Celina standing to his right. He turned left and another Celina stood on his left. He saw ten more Celina's standing in front of him and laughing at him. Several Celina's surrounded him. He stopped unable to make out which one was the real her.

Suddenly Yala felt a cold knife slicing his throat from behind him. A warm gush of blood rushed out of his neck. He held both his hands to his neck stop the bleeding. He turned back to see one more Celina, the real one.

She took her dagger and pierced his heart. The Prince lay dead. Blood of the Prince dripped from her dagger. 

She knew she would have to pay a heavy price for killing the Elf prince. The Elves would hunt her like wild wolves. She mounted her horse and rushed to Titania to meet King Riley.

To be continued

Mystery Land - Chapter 7 - The Royal Army of Crechia

This is the seventh chapter of the Fantasy series "Mystery Land". You can read the previous chapters below.

Abar disappeared in the city using the cover of darkness. He had managed to infiltrate into the Mystery Land by killing the sentries and the Giant posted on the gates. He had disguised himself using a dead guard's dress. The dress was a little tight and was a bit short for his tall frame. But, he knew very well that the people always ignored the minor details and his disguise would protect him.

He planned to spy in the city for a few days and gather more information. He wanted to have a fair idea of the enemy's strengths and weaknesses before returning to Titania and launching a full-fledged attack. He knew very well that Riley's million men strong army could annihilate any enemy force. But, he wanted to avoid too much bloodshed and save men on both sides from dying needlessly. Once this city was captured, Riley would become the supreme commander of the known world. Riley would then stop waging wars and he had promised to relieve Abar from his services after this final conquest. Abar then planned to return to his small village of Hibiscus and take up farming on his ancestral lands.

Abar walked along steadily on the narrow alleys of the mysterious city looking for any Inn where he could take some rest. He had travelled a long distance and had not slept for three days. He was weary and extremely tired. The muscles in his legs and hands were beginning to cramp. Sunlight had just come out and Abar could now see a few people out in the streets. Some of the merchants were opening their stalls of fruits and vegetables. Some others were dusting their shops. A few boys were running carrying milk cans. The boys looked on in awe as he passed them. They were no doubt impressed by the tall guard.

Abar finally spotted an Inn. He went inside and addressed the inn-keeper,"Good Morning Inn-Keeper, I want a room to take some rest." The inn-keeper was an old man. He was bald and had very few tooth intact. He squinted at the tall guard and said smiling,"Welcome to my humble inn, Royal Guard. We will feel honoured by your presence."

Abar had found a bag of gold coins in the dead guard's dress. He pulled out two gold coins from the bag and handing them to the inn-keeper said,"I am tired and will need some privacy. Make sure no one disturbs me while I take rest. "

The innkeeper's eyes shined brightly on seeing the gold coins. He smiled again and replied,"As you wish Royal Guard. Your wish is my command. My boy will show you the room."

The inn-keeper called out to a boy called Peter and asked him to guide Abar to his room. Peter came running at once to lead Abar to his room. He was a young boy of around ten years old. He looked pale and lean. His face looked more mature than his age and he looked to be very intelligent. Abar was good at reading faces and making out personalities.

He guided Abar,"This way Sir, please follow me." The boy had a kind face and Abar sensed that the inn-keeper gave too much work to the little boy. The boy looked shy and spoke with lowered eyes. Abar took an instant liking for the boy.

Peter guided Abar across the staircase and led him to a room on the second level of the building. Abar was amused to see the design of the building. He had only known Keeps and Towers to have multiple floors. But, he had never seen an inn or other residential building which had multiple levels. All the houses in his kingdom Titania had just one floor. Only the King's Palace had ten levels.

Peter took out a key from his pocket and opened the room's door. The room was big and spacious. The interiors were made of teakwood and the room smelled of roses perfume.

Peter addressed Abar and said,"Royal Guard if you need anything, please ring the doorbell and I'll be back at your service."

Peter bowed to Abar and took his leave. Abar smiled at him and closed the door. Abar was weary and he took out his weapons and placed them on the teak wood table. He undressed and lay down on the soft feather bed and covered himself with the woollen blanket. He went to sleep instantly.

Abar had slept for around three hours when he was woken up by a loud rap on the door,"What on Earth? Didn't I just instruct you to not disturb me? Abar shouted angrily getting up and walking to the door. He opened the door angrily to see the inn-keeper standing outside. The inn-keeper was looking tense and he apologized to Abar,"I am most sorry Royal Guard. But, it is an emergency. All Royal Guards have been ordered to assemble at the Free Square immediately."

The old man paused to take a deep breath and continued,"Our city has been attacked. The sentries and the fearsome Kala Giant posted on the city entrance were found killed today morning. The killers are at large and all guards have been put on high alert. I am afraid you may have to leave immediately to report for your duties."

Abar nodded in agreement and thanked him for alerting him. He quickly dressed up and rearmed himself. He then came out of the inn and wondered which direction to take for the Free Square. He saw a horse cart and stopped it. He asked the horse driver to take him to the Free Square and sat down in the coach. The horse driver whipped his horses and told him,"You are the third guard I am taking to the Free Square today. It is shocking to know that our city was attacked yesterday. All the guards are being assembled to hunt down the murderers."

The horse driver sped through the narrow alleys. After a while, the narrow alleys suddenly opened up into a much wider avenue. The buildings around the avenue were all tall multi-level buildings. Abar had roamed the entire world but he had not seen such marvellous architecture before in life. The wood and glass buildings were painted with blue and red hues. He could see white flags with turtle doves and a sword fluttering on top of every building. He was confused to see the message of peace and war in the same place.

Abar could see several soldiers heading towards the Free square on foot, on horses and other coaches. He was heading right into the enemy's den. The roads were filled with thousands of royal guards dressed in bright red and blue informs and carrying their country's flag. He had never imagined that killing a few sentries on a border outpost could trigger such a massive reaction. These things were so common in Titania. Every few days few sentries or border guards were attacked by rebels. A few soldiers were then sent to kill the rebels. But, never an entire army. It seemed to him that perhaps this land had never known any form of violence. So, they were gathering in large numbers to avenge their fallen.

The coach halted at a large square. Abar saw a tall statue of an Angel with spread wings handing over the blaster weapon to a man with spread arms. So, it seems that the weapon was given to these men by gods themselves. No doubt these people were never attacked or defeated by any enemies. They had divine weapons to defend themselves. No enemy would have been able to stand up to such weapons.

The royal guards gathered around the free square which was really a very large open ground with a massive platform in the centre of the ground. A tall man in a white dress stood on the platform and addressed the massive gathering of soldiers.

"My brave Crechian Soldiers, our city is under attack. Yesterday night, four of our Royal Guards were killed while guarding our Northern outpost. The brave Kala giant was also killed in the attack. He was the only surviving giant in our city and had served us loyally for the last three hundred years. He had swum to Crechia from the Land of Giants across the four seas and was loved by all the Crechians."

He took a pause and Abar felt the tension rising in the soldiers around him. The man continued,"Never has an enemy attacked us in a thousand years. I vow to annihilate this enemy from the face of this Earth. Who is with me?".

The entire army thundered in cohesion,"I am."

The man thundered,"Follow me, your King Reather and we shall destroy this enemy."

The army split up into several small platoons of five hundred men each and proceeded in different directions of the city to search and kill their enemies. The Crechian king thought that several men had infiltrated his kingdom. Little did he know that Abar had single-handedly killed the giant and all the sentries.

Abar joined a platoon of royal guards and proceeded to search the enemy. He bent his head and smiled. He was about to get a royal tour of the entire city.

To be continued.

Mystery Land - Chapter 6 - All roads lead to Mystery Land

This is the 6th chapter of the Fantasy series "Mystery Land". You can read the previous chapters below.
#The Escape

Sam and Celina rush through the dark woods on their horses. The evil Elves led by Prince Yala pursue them to reclaim the lost Book of Enchantments. The Elves are great riders and they soon narrow the gap between them and their prey.

With Sam in his sight and barely a fifty yards away, Yala takes out an arrow and takes a careful aim. He releases the arrow. The threatening arrow zips wildly through the air and is about to strike Sam when an astonishing thing happens.

A dark shadow comes in between the arrow and Sam. The arrow falls down on the ground as though it had struck a rock. Yala can no longer see beyond the dark shadow. Sam turns back to see Hawa, the Spirit shielding him.

Two Elves get very close to Celina and are about to catch hold of her. Celina is the Wizard of the dark woods. She has absolute control over the wooden realms. She closes her eyes and chants a spell. The old trees sense that their Queen is in danger. They quickly move out of her way creating a clear passage for her and Sam. Sam is awestruck to see the trees moving away and making space for them. Celina smiles and bows to her old friends. As Celina and Sam pass the trees they quickly block the passage again so that the Elves can longer pursue them. The Elves are struck by the branches of the tree and fall down from their horses in surprise.

Prince Yala senses that Sam is being helped by the Lady of the Woods. He orders the Elves to stop the pursuit. He decides to set camp in the woods for the night and resume the pursuit in the morning. He sends a message to his father the Elvish King Runal that the Lady of the Woods is blocking their path and would need to be eliminated.

Celina and Sam soon reach the edge of the dark forest. The thundering river separates the dark woods from the Mystery lands beyond it. Celina hands him the magic book and tells him to cross the river to get to the Mystery Land. She tells him about Abar and says that she would help him to defeat King Riley if he brought Abar safely back to her. But, she warns Sam to not reveal his true identity to Abar and also to not mention that he was planning to kill King Riley. Sam promises her that he would bring Abar back to her safely.

"This is where we depart Dark Wizard," she says to Sam. "I am in your debt, my Lady. Thanks for saving my life," Sam says to her with gratitude. Celina turns her horse and returns back to the dark woods.

Sam opens the magic book and chants a spell. The river creates a passage for him. He crosses the river on his horse. Sam smiles and is happy to see that his plan is working.

#The Final Conquest

King Riley is ecstatic upon learning from his father that he is a descendant of a demigod. His father tells him that he can also transform into a demigod by drinking nectar from the God's well. The God's well is located in the Mystery Land. This is the only place that he has been unable to conquer yet. His father has warned him that the Mystery Land is guarded by fearsome creatures and demigods. He pleads his son to drop any ambition of conquering this land. But, Riley only mocks his father and calls him a weak person.

He sends a message to all his Vassals and Generals to gather their armies. He is sure that his army of a million men can annihilate any other army even if it contains demigods.

He wonders if Abar is alive yet. He vows that he would kill all the demigods if they had harmed his friend in any manner.

He holds his magic scepter and mounts his eight horsed chariot. He thinks,"Nothing can stop me from becoming an Immortal. I shall rule this world forever."

To be continued

The Lottery Ticket

Mary Edwards was a poor Spinster. She worked as a waitress in a cheap hotel called Anthony’s Bistro. She was over-worked and underpaid. She was lean, pale and tired.

The owner of the Bistro was Anthony Hawkins. He was a scrooge. He never took care of his waiters. He complained about everything. He hired people from the surrounding poor localities. He knew that jobs were hard to come by for the poor and uneducated. And, he exploited their weakness.

There was a Lottery Shop called Jack's Jackpot right opposite the Anthony's Bistro. Many people staked their fortunes in this shop. Very few people ever won anything of consequence. Most of them lost their hard earned money.

Jack Welch was the owner of the Lottery Shop. He was a miserable old man and walked with a limp in his right leg. He had been involved in a few robberies during his heydays. He had been shot in the leg by the Police during one of his heists. He had been caught and had served ten years in the state penitentiary.

After serving his time in the Jail, Jack had opened the Lottery Shop. He had some connections with some local gangs who had lent him the money to open the shop.

There is always a strong connection between Poverty and Hope. The poor people bought lotteries from Jack with great hope of winning something big one day. But, alas only a few people made a little money. Most of them just drained their savings. The only person who made a good fortune was Jack.

Jack had lunch in the Bistro every day. He was a good friend of Anthony. He was as miserable as his friend. He rarely tipped any waiter. If ever he did tip any waiter he gave them a lottery ticket instead of cash. The waiters were disgusted with Anthony and Jack. But, they went through their jobs. Their jobs provided two meals for their families every day and they just could not afford to lose them.

Jack had once tipped a lottery ticket to a waiter called Peter Saddle and he had won a ten dollar reward from his lottery ticket. Jack never forgot to mention this to any waiter when he tipped them.

Jack had once just finished his lunch and as usual, walked away without paying any tip. Mary was the waitress who was attending to him. She noticed that Jack had forgotten his gold watch on the dining table.

Mary ran behind Jack who was limping across the street to his Lottery shop. "Mr. Welch, please stop" Mary ran behind him breathlessly. Jack turned around surprised. "What is it, Mary? It better be something important" he told her in his usual annoyed tone.

"Yes, it quite important Mr. Welch. You forgot your gold watch on the dining table" she answered handing him the gold watch. Jack took the watch and looked pleased. Mary smiled and turned back to return to the Bistro.

Now, even a miserable man like Jack sensed that Mary's act deserved some reward. So, he called out to her and said: "Mary, take this lottery ticket." Mary insisted that she had only done her duty. But, Jack insisted that she accepted the reward and handed her the lottery ticket.

Mary folded the lottery ticket and slipped it in her bosom. She returned to the Bistro and went about her job as usual.

A month later the winning lottery numbers were published in the newspaper. “146-789-251” was the lucky number of the Jackpot Lottery ticket winner. The winner would get 10 Million Dollars reward. There were a thousand other numbers with rewards of a dollar to a few hundred dollars.

Mary took out her lottery ticket and started matching the numbers. She started matching the numbers from the bottom of the list hoping that her number would fetch her at least a week's grocery. She had scanned the exhaustive list to the very top and still, she was out of all luck.

Her hope had almost faded when started matching the first number. The first three numbers "146" of her ticket matched. She sat up tightly. The next three numbers "789" matched. Her eyes lit up. The last three numbers "251" matched. She let out a scream and fainted.

She got up a few moments later and then double and triple checked all her numbers. She was dazed and the stroke of sudden fortune had not completely sunk into her.

After about a half an hour she got up and put on her best red colored dress. She kept the lottery ticket in her handbag securely and headed to Jack's shop to claim her reward.

She opened the door of the lottery ticket gently and said softly "Mr. Welch I have come to claim my reward." "So have you won the Jackpot Mary?" Jack asked her mockingly and chuckled.

"As a matter of fact, Mr. Welch I have," Mary answered with pride and showed him her lottery ticket.

Jack pulled out his spectacles from his overcoat pocket and looked at the number. He matched the number with the winning number in the newspaper. He pulled his hair in horror and screamed. He fainted with shock.

Mary took out a glass of water from the shelf and sprinkled some water on his face. Jack got up and without saying another word limped to the telephone booth and called up the lottery company. He told them that he had the Jackpot winner in his shop waiting to claim her reward.

Mary got ten million dollars reward. All the newspapers carried her rags-to-riches story the next day. She opened a new restaurant called Mary’s Bistro in the same locality. She also opened a school and hospital for poor people. All the people in the locality loved Mary. As for Jack, he started tipping cash to all the waiters. Anthony continued to be a scrooge and soon his hotel closed as everyone left him to work for Mary.

The End

The Old Man in the Park

My name is Sun-Sun Han. I once knew an Old Man. He was a six-foot-tall lean man with a clean-shaven wrinkled face. He had patches of grey h...