This story was inspired by various cases in the British media of people winning the lottery–and then being denied their claim. Some were legitimate, some less so.
Here the focus is on a couple who live in my home town of Warrington, mid-way between Manchester and Liverpool. He plays the lottery, she doesn’t. They hit the big time. What happens to their relationship?
Money taints, and big money taints big. The question is two-fold in the story. Do they get the money, and what does it do to them? It’s not all bad, though, since the struggle to successfully claim can bring people closer together…but for how long? Can they repair their differences, and redeem their relationship?
“Betting the Kitchen Sink” is an amalgam of real-life news. The media loves lottery stories, of course, since they revolve around huge wins and huge losses, putting everything into question, including identity, social values, pride, guilt, friendship and love. Together they often lead to that most valued of human feelings: schadenfreude, the pleasure we get from other people’s misfortunes.
Here’s a taster of recent ones ripped from the headlines. These two stories from the UK: Man Denied Lottery Winning Because Winning Ticket Was Printed Just Seven Seconds Too Late and We Did Win 254m Lottery Jackpot, and this story from the US: Man Misses Out on 14m Jackpot.
Good luck if you win!
This story was inspired by a family visit to upstate New York and the enormous Adirondack State Park. The statistics on the park size are astonishing: it covers more land area than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Park combined. I guess New York state is kinda big.
On such a vast backdrop, I wanted to write a small story. An old man, Walter, goes swimming every morning, but one day is disturbed by some kids. It turns out bad weather puts their lives at risk, and the old fella is there to act as their savior. But not before they are forced to spend a night on an island in the middle of the lake…not far from shore, but too far to risk using the boat to get back. Has he really saved them?
The effect is a kind of cross between Arthur Ransome’s Swallows and Amazons or C. S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and a story of brooding horror. If Jonathan Swift got hold of it, Walter as the traveling anti-hero would be the Brobdingnagian giant to the kids’ Lilliputians. You just can’t trust big people.
The story might be seen as sinister and creepy and I’m fine with that. 🙂 Ultimately, I wanted it to be a story about irresponsibility (the absentee parents and absentee babysitters) and accusation (of the old man). An old man left alone with some kids must be up to no good, and yet events might prove otherwise. To accompany the story, there is also Video 4, Have You Ever Left Your Kids With Babysitters and Worried?
“A Slice of the Adirondacks” is Story 4 in my writing sequence, and will appear in Trio 2, A Slice of the Adirondacks and Other Capers.