the short story project


Alon Shmilovich

Luck Leaks


“…For one to be addicted, the addiction is not enough. It’s only the itchy and irritating outcome. Sometimes penetrating. But yet it’s impossible to stop hearing a ‘click’. When your head is clouded, stinking of gin or nicotine, or anything that comes from Ukraine. Everything is Kosher for a burning desire. All you need is one look like aspirin. To feel calm for no reason. It’s better than any drug or sleep. Or sleeping drugs…”

I finished the sentence and slammed the notebook. I forgot I’m late. I wore white t-shirt that I found on the floor (I had no intention to iron it) and put the pen in my pocket. When I came down in the elevator, the old lady from 12 #D tried to catch a glance at me. I didn’t want to know the reason why…
When I stepped out of the building the pen exploded in my pocket, all over the not-so-great-looking-anyway shirt. “Fucking hell” I barked at the fake Chinese orange tree. I tried to clean the blue blood stains with some plastic leaves. It didn’t work out. While I was trying to fix the mess, Erlich (A very troubled old neighbor) pointed at me with his cane and yelled:
“What’s the matter? You took a bite and discovered it’s fake?” I didn’t had a chance to reply, he laughed all the way to the end of the neighborhood.

Beep beep, the thing that’s controlling my life cried like a baby from the other pocket. My eyes rolled by themselves just from hearing the ringtone.
“Hello?” I answered.
“Hello, is it Mr.Shmilovitch?”
“Yes” I barley replied.
“Hi I’m Karen from the factory’s manpower. I’m sorry to tell you that your interview is canceled due the lockdown. I’m sure you understand the situation under the pandemic. We are hoping you’ll find another job, and again deeply sorr-“
I hung up. I looked at the plastic orange tree for answers. There weren’t any.
I coughed, and wasn’t surprised anymore. The blue stains on my shirt winked me, they knew I wasn’t supposed to work there anyway.
So I went to the liquor shop.

Erlich was there, he chatted with the shopkeeper and watched the small T.V that hanged from the ceiling. He always does that, he says it’s free if he buys a beer. The keeper can’t argue with that. “You want me to launder it for you?” Erlich looked at my pen stains and raised his prosthesis arms in a cynical way.
“Can you also launder my fucking mind?” I asked. He laughed at me again and coughed. “Quite certainly lad, I did it to myself after the War. You want me to give you the guy’s number? Although I don’t think he can hook you up with the same stuff he had back in the post-war days. You see, it was a goldmine for him! And wonderland for us who came back.”
“Till this day I see…” I told him and looked at the brandy shelf.
“So I’ll talk to you when the next war breaks, maybe your guy will come back for the high demand. He strikes me as a smart businessman.” I went back to the counter and saw Erlich coughing too much from laughing. The shopkeeper didn’t laugh. Never. He didn’t like me. I’m always stalling next to high priced bottles, and eventually picking the cheapest shit he has. Pretending I have money for high-class booze. He must be excited every second I look at those shelves. He’s hot for me and my green papers every time, but I catch him by the balls and castrate him with some cheap gin. Between us, I’ll never get enough of the feeling. But I think he knows it too. That’s why he never laugh.
“I’ll only take that one today” I told him, and pointed at the sale-price Gordon’s gin. Erlich couldn’t hide his smile.
The quiet shopkeeper acted like he didn’t care, once more. I swear if he was a dog now, his ears would fall down without control. He took my card and put the bottle in the smallest black bag he could find.
He didn’t look me in the eye and gave me back the receipt. He finally said: “A drunken man is a cheap BDSM whore, always wanting more.” He said it to Erlich’s face (– who laughed even harder) but he wanted to say it to me.
So I winked to him like a woman and walked on imaginary high hills to the exit door, with the bag across my back.
I felt a bit good.

When I came back home, I saw my team getting crushed 7-2 at Villa Park. “Oh well…” I moaned to myself and filled another cup like it didn’t matter to me. Like this loss didn’t turn my stomach upside-down. But I remember how it feels to lose. We didn’t were a good team always, of course. I’m still licking the wounds from the times we lost every Sunday. Even if you’re good, you’ll get nowhere without a little bit of luck. I think of all of those who worship money injected teams, and silver spoon trophies. That kind of fame is burnt faster than gasoline.
The air is thick, and the lights are low at my apartment. On the T.V the camera is focusing on the gaffer’s face. Like he could have done something…
Somedays are shit, and nothing more. Without any hidden or caressing meaning. Somedays you can do nothing than watch it pass.

I didn’t change my shirt since my exploding hope\interview\pen, and I didn’t notice it until now. It’s midnight. I opened the fridge a few times and then gave it up. I tried to put some sense to the sentence I wrote before the interview, but I couldn’t. It didn’t want to be written I guess. So maybe I won’t be a big writer.
Maybe I’ll just live like I am. Eat when I’m hungry, light a match instead of buying a lighter, eat beans from a marble bowl, and drink on the highway…
Maybe then the luck won’t leak.

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