TITLE: The Jackpot
GENRE: Adult Commercial Fiction
When he stopped by his cousin Leroy's in time for the late news, Julius Wheeler was worth one hundred and ninety-eight dollars. His assets included eight compact discs, a plastic picnic table, a broken iPod, and a mattress of questionable repute. He paid two hundred dollars a month for a one-bedroom apartment in Carrolton Oaks, a crumbling housing project just inside the eastern border of Richmond, Virginia. Twenty hours a week, he cleaned the twenty-ninth floor of a downtown law firm as a member of a CleanSweep work crew. He made eight dollars an hour.
"Hey, Julius, you buy a lotto?" Leroy asked.
"Yeah," Julius said, cracking open a beer and taking a seat in the center of the threadbare couch in Leroy's apartment. It sagged in the middle and was peppered with cigarette burns.
"Ain't gonna win s*** buying one," Leroy said, fanning out his tickets for Julius to see. "I got eight. Gonna make me rich. What numbers you play?"
"Just had the machine pick 'em. Like it make a difference. Nobody ever win these things."
"Bulls***," Leroy said. "You think like that, you be stuck in that s***** apartment the rest of your life, and I be living on the beach. You come visit anytime."
"We shouldn't even be playing," Julius said, thinking about his s***** apartment and how much he preferred it to his eight-by-eight cinderblock cell at Red Onion State Prison, where he spent three long years.