This story is by Diana Washburn and was part of our 2018 Summer Writing Contest. You can find all the writing contest stories here.
Running from Vic
I had been running the whole night. My bookie Vic wanted the money I owed him. Vic caught up with me in Las Vegas as I was walking out of a casino. He used me as a punching bag. I didn’t have his money. He gave me a black eye and, I suspected, a broken wrist. I got one good punch in and knocked him out long enough to catch a cab to the airport for my flight home.
I went to a casino to see if I could win the money I owed Vic but, it didn’t work. I wanted to pay Vic back so I could stop gambling and move on. But my situation continued to get worse. I owed Vic a lot of money and I owed my Uncle Jason more money every day. You see, I worked for my Uncle Jason’s grocery store. He was the only person left that would hire me. Every night I would borrow cash from the stores nightly deposits. I would lose it all gambling. I had borrowed money from my Uncle’s stores so many times I had lost track of the amount I owed.
When I started gambling it was just for fun. After a few months, I thought of nothing else. Then, I dropped out of school. Soon after, my fiancé had had enough and she left me. I drifted from job to job. I lost my friends and my family wouldn’t talk to me. I was on a downward spiral.
While I was in Las Vegas, my Uncle had figured out what I had been doing. He continued calling me when I was in the casino. I sent his calls to voice mail. He got tired of me ignoring his calls so he sent me a text to inform me that I didn’t need to show up for work because I was fired and I needed to look for a new place to live. The apartment was over one of his stores and it came with the job. Also, he included the amount of money I owed him.
I had a bright future and I had just thrown it away. My plane was going to land soon and I wasn’t sure what I was going find when I got there. Was Vic going to be waiting for me? How mad is my Uncle? How am I going to fix this mess I created?
I arrived at my apartment about two in the morning. The key didn’t work in the lock. My stuff was lying in a mud puddle by the curb. I was standing there in the pouring rain looking at what was left of my belongings. My left eye was swollen shut, and my left wrist was the size of a watermelon.
I had been hopeful the previous morning. I was thinking this trip to Las Vegas was going to turn my life around and I would have a new beginning. Unfortunately, my situation didn’t get better; it had gotten worse, much worse. My Uncle Jason had packed up my stuff, put it at the curb, and changed the locks. People had picked through my stuff and taken what they wanted. There was very little left, not that I had that much. Not only did I lose my job, my apartment and most of my stuff; my ex-fiancé, Beth, had married my friend that morning. Now there was no hope of getting her back.
I had no place to go and $2.00 in change in my pocket. I couldn’t go back to my parent’s. They wouldn’t let me in. Besides, Vic would find me there. I couldn’t go to any of my friends, Vic knew them all. We used to have the same friends in high school and we were roommates in college until I dropped out.
I picked up what was left of my stuff and walked to the back alley of the store. There was a bakery beside the store and they had a shed in the back where they kept the trash cans until trash day. It usually was open. At least I could get out of the rain and maybe there would be some leftover pastries at the top of the trash.
The next morning I left the shed behind the bakery and went to the library. It opens early and I could sneak in the back door. I spent the day hiding on the third floor in the research section. I used the bathroom and took a nap. Sleeping in the shed had not been comfortable.
For the next couple of days, I spent the days in the library and the nights in the Bakery shed and I ate leftover pastries from the trash bin. This wasn’t fixing my problem of paying back Vic or Uncle Jason. I was hiding from my problems. One day soon, Vic would find me and I would be on the run again.
By the third day of hiding in the library I was bored out of my mind and my problem wasn’t being solved. I decided to walk around the library. I was standing in front of the bulletin board when I saw a card requesting a Dog Walker. I called the number and they wanted me to come right away. I didn’t know anything about dogs but I was desperate to fix my situation. I couldn’t continue to live in the bakery shed and the library. It was going to be cold soon and the shed wasn’t going to work. Besides, it’s not pleasant to live in a smelly shed.
They had three Chihuahuas, Norma, Allen, and Jeffrey. Norma and Allen sat in the corner and vibrated. Jeffrey liked to walk in circles and didn’t like to listen. Jeffrey was always doing the poop and walk. You know walking squatted down, legs apart, and walking in circles until he finds the perfect spot to poop. But he never pooped. I would take the three dogs in the house and he would poop on the floor every time. He was so proud of himself afterwards. Jeffrey would prance around the house. He kicked his legs high like a prancing pony, feathery tail up and wagging, and his head up and looking like a show dog.
The dog walking money was keeping people off my back and I didn’t have to eat left over pastries out of the trash. I had moved out of the bakery shed and into an old hotel that rented rooms by the week. It wasn’t much better than the bakery shed but it was less smelly. It wasn’t making much of a dent in the amount of money I owed Vic and my Uncle.
While I walked the dogs, I would stop by garage sales. I noticed some of the items looked like they were worth a lot more than what they were asking. I bought a few items and hauled them back to the library to see if I could get information on their value. To my surprise I had acquired antiques. They did have value. That is when I had the idea to try to sell them on eBay. So I started selling.
After six months of garage sale searches and selling on eBay I managed to make a good dent in what I owed Vic and Uncle Jason. I had quit gambling, and I went back to school. Within a year I had finished school, paid back all the money I owed to Vic and Uncle Jason and my parents would talk to me again. Now, Vic and I are friends again and he works for me.
“So, you see son I have been in this same position. Everyone one screws up. It’s what you learn from your mistakes and that you don’t repeat them. That is what is important. Now, pick your stuff up out of the mud puddle and let’s go home”.