by Derek Smith
(Broadview, Illinois)

Coy clutched the Little Lotto ticket tight in his right hand as he said a silent prayer to the God up in the heavens. Coy had reached almost total despair. It was 20 months to the day since he was laid off from Catholic Charities. He was employed there for almost 22 years as a midlevel supervisor of the lawn maintenance department. In a bad economy, almost no job is recession proof.

Coy often thought back on his poor southern upbringing which consisted of hand-me-down clothes, shoes, and toys. Though the circumstances were tough, Coy never remembers having a feeling of hopelessness. Coy has 3 sisters and 5 brothers. They all went to church every Sunday and sang their favorite hymns. They were a happy family.

Coy's parents Vern and Martha never went to school and could not read and write. They had to tend to the fields of the white master in the Dirty South. Vern and Martha always made sure their kids had the absolute necessities. Coy grew up poor but he derived happiness knowing that his fate was inextricably linked to his positive outlook on life.

December eighteenth the pink slip arrived in Coy's mailbox via the United States Postal Service. Coy's gorgeous wife Kim brought him the pink slip in the bedroom with a look of pure disbelief on her face. Coy instantly started sobbing after seeing the pink slip. "Kim, I put 22 years into this company for them to suck the life right out of me."

Kim responded, "Baby it will be ok, we just have to pray and this too shall pass." Kim continued, "Success is not permanent and failure is not fatal."

Coy had been privately consulting with his minister Reverend Russell over the past few months. His financial quagmire went from bad to worst. Rent was in arrears by one month. Capital One Bank was suing him because he defaulted on a credit card. Com Ed mailed a disconnection notice. Peoples Gas turned off the cooking gas as well as the heat for the upcoming winter.

Coy drew unemployment benefits but it was not sufficient to cover the many bills. To add insult to injury, Coy had only two months of benefits remaining. The Republicans in Congress absolutely refused to extend unemployment benefits again to the millions of struggling Americans. Coy found himself between a rock and a hard place. "What are we going to do, Kim?"

Kim recited a Biblical quote: "All are possible to him that believeth."

Coy received weekly job training via computer at the West Side Career Center. The job market in a bad economy was particularly brutal for a 57 year old African-American man with no formal education or marketable job skills. Coy did not let the fact that he had no marketable job skills deter him from his pursuit of a job.

Coy logged on to the computer and checked his email inbox. In the inbox was Coy's birthday numbers disguised as a hidden code inside of a piece of junk mail. The birthday numbers were 06161954.

Coy always played numbers in the Illinois State Lottery when he got even the slightest omen. This day he played 06161954 in the Illinois Little Lotto daily game. Coy missed the jackpot by one number. Matching four numbers normally pays only $100. However, the Illinois State Lottery recently came out with a new Little Lotto promotion that paid $25,000, gave free gas for life, and free groceries for five years to anyone who matched only four numbers. Coy had just been blessed.

Coy reveled in his win and decided to take Kim on a much needed vacation to the Cayman Islands.

Fate sure showed its beautiful face when Coy needed to see it the most.

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