Sunday, October 7, 2012

Master Plans

“I can’t believe you actually play the lottery.”

“Because you have a better chance of being attacked by terrorists while being struck by lightning than winning the lottery.”

“You think the lottery is a fake?”

“No, it’s just that your chances of — ”

“What about the people who win?  Those aren’t real people who are suddenly rich beyond their wildest dreams?”

“Well, yes, of course they’re real, but the chances of you being one of them are astronomical.”

“Why?  What’s wrong with me?  What makes me so unlikely to win?”

“It’s not you.  This isn’t personal, it’s got nothing to do with you.  With all the people who are playing, the chances of you winning are extremely remote.”

“So what?  What do you care if I play?  The money goes to our schools, anyway, remember.”

“Oh, yeah.  That’s right.  The money goes to our schools.  I’d almost forgotten how much education has improved in California since 1985.”

“Yeah!  I’m benefiting education by — wait, are you being sarcastic?”

“You think?  Look, if the lottery money had gone toward education the way we were promised it would, by now people would be too smart to play the lottery.”

“Now you’re calling me stupid.”

“No!  I just don’t think you grasp the numbers.  I think if you really knew how minuscule your chances of winning are, you’d spend your money on something else.”

“Well, I deserve to win.”

“Oh?  Have you notified the lottery board about that?”


“I’m serious!  How can the fact that you deserve to win the lottery make any difference if the lottery board doesn’t know?”

“Are you done?”

“What makes you think you deserve to win the lottery?”

“Well, why the hell not?  I’m a good person.  I pay my taxes, I obey the laws.  I’ve never gotten so much as a speeding ticket.  Or even a parking ticket.”

“That means you may be a serial killer.”

“Very funny.”

“Seriously, if you haven’t gotten a speeding ticket by middle age, you should probably be looked at by experts.  Everybody gets a speeding ticket.”

“Not everybody.  I’ve never gotten one.  I donate to charities, I work at the soup kitchen every holiday season, I’ve rescued animals, and I — ”

“Hey, whoa, whoa!  Do you think the California Lottery is Santa Claus?  Or maybe Jesus?”

“No, smartass, I’m just saying — "

“Do you think the California Lottery has a list of people who’ve been naughty and nice?”

“ — that I’m a pretty decent person, and I think my karma is in good working order.  I think — ”

“Oh, my god.  Karma, too?”

“Yeah, why the hell not?”

“Let me make sure I understand this.  Your master plan in life is a combination of good karma and playing the lottery.”

“Okay, Mr. Rickles, what’s your fucking master plan?”

“I don’t think that way.”

“The hell does that mean?”

“Master plans, that sort of thing.”

“You’re winging it?”

“Oh, no, I’m not winging it, I’ve got plans, I just don’t like to — ”

“Okay, then, what are your plans?”

“Well ... I, um ... I really don’t know if I should go into — ”

“Don’t give me that.  Come on, it’s your turn.”

“I ... well, I just ... no.  I’m sorry.  I can’t.”

“Oh, for fuck’s — okay.  Okay.  Tell me this.  Is this plan something you’re working on currently?”

“Currently?  I guess I’ve been working on it my whole life.”

“Okay.  So this plan has already been put into effect.”

“Well ... no.  Not yet.”

“Oh.  When do you plan to put the plan into effect?”

“Believe it or not, this weekend.”

This weekend?  Really?”

“Yeah.  At the convention center.”

“What’s going on at the convention center?  If you tell me you’re going to see some goddamned motivational speaker, I will punch you.”

“Haven’t you heard?  It’s everywhere.”

“Oh, yeah, that’s right, American Idol is holding auditions at the — wait.”

“I’m auditioning.”

“Go fuck yourself.”


“I said, go fuck yourself.”


“Because I don’t want to hear this.”

“What?  I don’t understand.  You’ve never heard me sing.”

“Yeah, that’s right, I haven’t.  I’ve known you my entire life and I’ve never heard you sing.  When the hell do you ever sing?”

“Obviously, when you’re not around.”

“No, I’m serious, when?  Where?  Do you sing in a club in town, or something?”

“Oh, no, no.  Nothing like that.”

“So you don’t sing professionally?”


“Then do you sing ... in church?”

“I don’t go to church, you know that.”

“I didn’t know you sing!  So how do I know you’re not going to church when nobody’s looking?  What I don’t understand is when you sing and where you sing.”

“Why does that matter?”

“‘Why does that matter?’  You want to sing on national television, but you can ask ‘why does that matter?’  Have you put any thought into this at all?”

“Yep.  My whole life.  And now I’m ready.”

“Ready for what?”

“To audition.  To make it happen.”

“To make what happen?”

“I’m going to be the next American Idol.”

“I think you’ve had a stroke.”

“That’s only because you’ve never heard me sing.”

“Far as I know, nobody’s heard you sing."

“Then what makes you think I can’t get on the show?”

“I didn’t say that.  I have no doubt that you can get on the show.  You’ll be one of those free-range mental patients who gets hauled out of the building by security.  People will be ridiculing you on Twitter for a week.”

“And you say that only because you haven’t heard me sing.”

“Then sing something.”

“Right now?”

“Yes.  Right now.  Sing for me.  I want to hear you sing.”

“I’m not going to sing now.”

“But you’re going to sing on American Idol.”


"So you’re going to audition and, bang, you’re gonna be a big singing sensation, huh?  That’s your plan?”

“That’s my plan.”

“Wait till Rick Costa finds out.  He’ll start following you around and taunting you like he did in school.”

“What’s Costa up to these days?”

“Oh, you know him.  He’s nuts.  He’s going back to school.”

“School?  Now?  To learn what?”

“Something about medical billing.  He wants a new career.”

“He’s always been as dumb as a bag of hair.”

“And batshit crazy.  No wonder we never got along.”

© Ray Garton 2012


  1. A marvelous exposition of subjectivity at work. Everybody can be objective on someone else, just try it on yourself!

  2. It rather astounds me that someone would think that winning the lottery is what happens if you have good karma.

  3. Not unlike karma, this piece was a work of fiction.