He who is brave in daring will be killed. He who is brave in not daring will live. Of these two, one is advantageous and one is harmful. Who knows why Heaven dislikes what it dislikes? Even the sage considers it a difficult question...
- Lao-Tzu, Chinese Philosopher, Founder of Taoism (fl. B.C. 600)
Chapter 3: Six Numbers
“TIME STAMPS! MOTHERFUCKING TIME STAMPS!”
“Keep your voice down,” Susan hissed.
Johnny regained his composure just a bit and said, “They’ve got a fucking time stamp on this thing and they’ve got a time stamp on the surveillance video, too. We’re screwed. We’re totally screwed. Here I was worried that they could look at the video from the entire day today and see we never even came in, doesn’t even matter, they can look right at video from the minutes that the winning ticket was bought!”
Darren’s head actually bounced back and forth just a bit like a bobblehead as a dumb look of recognition set in.
Susan just closed her eyes and shook her head in a way that said simply, “Of course.” The website loaded on her iPhone.
It was silent for a while and then Johnny finally said, “Wouldn’t that just be the end-all, be-all of all the motherfucking jokes ever played on three people, to have the winning numbers right here in our hands and no way to cash them in.”
“Hand me the ticket,” Susan said. iPhone in one hand, ticket in other she compared the numbers silently: 2, 6, 12, 31, 48 with a mega of 25.
Partly astounded, partly dejected she said, “Yep, he wasn’t lying.”
“Motherfucker. We’ve got a $137 million dollar ticket and it’s not worth a dime to us. I think I’m just gonna go kill myself now,” Johnny said.
“Fuck it, man. I’m bringing it in, I don’t care what you guys say, I’ll sue the bastards if they don’t pay me.” Darren said.
“You forgot the little issue with the guy who’s on tape, buying a ticket at the same time the winning ticket was issued and who just so happens to be lying dead in his apartment now and you’re going to try to go in and cash his ticket?” Susan asked. She wasn’t sure whether she wanted to laugh or cry.
Darren went back into his stunned silence.
“You know . . . there is one possible solution to this,” Johnny said.
Both Susan and Darren looked at him wild eyed, both of them almost afraid to even hope . . .
He began to smile, slyly. “You know how they say every man has his price?” And then something clicked and he said frantically, “Holy shit, we gotta go in there right now, before the winning store becomes national news and we gotta buy ourselves a 7/11 employee who will destroy that fucking tape, take their share of the money and keep their mouths shut.”
Now Susan and Darren were really wild eyed. “Oh my God,” Susan said.
Darren punched Johnny in the arm, hard, but it must have been out of affection because he did it saying, “That’s exactly what we’ve got to do!”
“Did you guys see a 7/11 on the way over here?”
Darren said, “No.”
“Don’t worry, it’s got the address of the store right here.” Susan clicked on the listed address which was conveniently linked to a Google map.
Thoughts and doubts began flooding through Johnny, “What if you’ve got that Find My iPhone thing on your phone and they keep records of your GPS and the cops can pull it up and see that we were here?”
“No way, I never set that feature on, I don’t check in with Foursquare, except for Google Maps, I don’t use anything that’s location aware.”
“Who’s your carrier?”
“What if the cops can make AT&T pull up GPS records?”
“Then we’re screwed.”
“Let’s quit wasting time and get to that tape before someone else does,” Darren said.