tagNovels and NovellasWith Help from Michael O'Leary Pt. 07

With Help from Michael O'Leary Pt. 07


Chapter 31 Michael the Millionaire

Michael lived a simple life, but winning that much money would make anyone want to go shopping and buy things that he did not need and could do without and he was no different. Now, that he learned how much the jackpot amount that he had won and, now, that he decided to keep the lottery ticket and cash it in, he, suddenly, felt like a lottery winner before he even received the check from the lottery.

He bought himself a navy blue, cardigan sweater with a high fold-over collar, deep side pockets, and brown leather buttons. Widow Fagen made them as a side business from out of the materials shop that she opened with the life insurance money that her husband had put a little away each month to pay for and that he left her. It was not a huge sum of money but it was enough for her to open a little shop and not worry about paying her bills.

Every time Michael passed by her shop on his way home from the bank after closing, he could see her feet resting on a footstool from the light of the small black and white television in the back of her shop. Her tea perched on a table beside her while she busily knitted Irish wool sweaters for the old money people who lived on Beacon Hill and in Back Bay or for the nouveau rich who lived in the South End or in the surrounding more affluent communities of Winchester, Wellesley, Newton, and Dover.

Michael had always wanted a custom made Irish wool knit sweater but even at the reduced prices that Widow Fagen charged, it was a luxury and not a necessity that he could ill afford. Still, because of his boyish proportions, it was difficult to buy men's sweaters that fit him. Normally, he would have to buy boys sweaters and children's clothes, normally, did not have the quality or the fashion that he needed. Now, he could afford to buy dozens of Irish wool knit sweaters in all colors of the rainbow but as careful as he was with money in the years that he had none, he only bought one. He used his charge card to pay for the sweater. He would have the lottery money long before he received his charge card bill.

Next on his list of things to do and things to buy was a visit to Galway Motors where he ordered a brand new Mini Cooper S. Although, he had lusted over a brand new Mustang GT, now that he had won the lottery, he could afford to buy any car and American cars were last on his list of new cars to buy. He always had a deep affection for the Mini, maybe because his proportions were mini in size or maybe because the car was made in England, but whatever the reason, he just loved the quirky cuteness of the car. Besides, since BMW had bought out Mini, the quality, as well as the price, increased dramatically.

He had fun ordering the car because everything is custom and everything is an option. He ordered the best leather seats that they had and selected the exterior color, of course, British racing green with white bonnet stripes, white wheels, and a white roof. He was as excited about buying his Mini Cooper as he was when he found out how much the jackpot was on his winning lottery ticket. The salesman promised him the car in six to eight weeks.

Next, he treated Casey to a new bed, one with his name engraved on the cushion, as well as a new personalized leash, personalized collar, personalized water and food bowls, and a yellow vinyl raincoat with hood for when it rained. Casey proudly proclaimed his status as Michael's pampered pet to everyone who entered his apartment or see him walking his dog on the sidewalk. He charged all of the above on his credit card with without worry. Already, he was living the imagined, sweet lifestyle of a millionaire.

Even though he did not play golf, had never played golf, did not belong to a country club, and did not even know where the nearest golf course was to South Boston, he charged a deposit to have custom golf clubs made to fit his diminutive proportions. Mr. McNabe, South Boston's resident golf pro direct from Scotland, influenced his decision to have the clubs made after Michael spent countless hours listening to customers at the bank talking to Mr. McNabe about golf and about the custom-made golf clubs that he made from out of his business, Scotty's Golf Pro Shop, in East Cambridge.

"Most people miss 90% of their shots because they are either using the wrong club or they have a club with a shaft that is too short or too long," Michael remembered Mr. McNabe telling an audience of amateur golfers at in impromptu meeting at the bank. "When you have a shaft that is too short, you lose power in your stroke. When your shaft is too long, you have a greater chance of hitting slices in hooks rather than hitting it straight." He passed out his business card to everyone who would take them and they all took them but few took his advice and bought custom-made golf clubs because of their expense. Although, every golfer lusted over custom-made golf clubs, most bought discounted and discontinued golf clubs at the discount stores.

While Michael was there ordering his golf clubs, he bought golf balls, golf shoes, and furry, colorful animal heads, a lion, a tiger, and elephant, a zebra, and a giraffe to cover the woods that graced a custom-made green, leather golf bag engraved with his name in bold gold italics, Michael. The golf bag, made much shorter than that of a normal golf bag appeared wider than taller and with the heads of animals capping the shortened clubs sticking out from its top. The display more resembled Noah's Arc than it did a golf bag. Michael wasn't worried about paying for everything, so long as he could charge in on his credit card. He would have the check from the lottery soon, well before he received his charge card statement.

He went to the neighborhood jewelry store, a business that Mr. Brennan and his family had established more than fifty years ago and now was owned and operated by his four daughters, Grace, Aileen, Irene, and Laura. He bought two Irish Claddagh rings in 14k gold, one for him and one for Ralphie and charged them on his credit card. While there, he charged a deposit for a flawless 2 karat, round, Tiffany cut, diamond ring in platinum and 18-karat gold. A ring he knew would bedazzle Gabriella's eyes and would be a small visual token of how much he loved her. Unfortunately, he knew that the Brennan women would herald the news of his purchase of a diamond ring throughout the neighborhood, along with the speculation of whom it was for, faster than he could return home.

Sure enough, he returned home to six messages on his answering machine, five from neighborhood women asking him out, hoping and assuring themselves, no doubt, that he had purchased the ring for them, even though Michael had never dated them. The last call was from his credit card company, they wanted to ascertain that Michael O'Leary had authorized the sudden large amount of activity that appeared on his credit card. He called the credit card company and assured them, no problem, just send him the bill at the end of the month and he will pay the entire balance in full. Then, he called each of the women to thank them for their invitation and to let them know that he was involved with another, someone they did not know and who was not from the neighborhood.

Finally, he removed the lottery ticket from its hiding place in his sock drawer beneath a dozen neatly folded socks, he had to; the expiration date loomed over him as if it were an executioner's sword. He carried the lottery ticket in his pocket every day, to and from work, with the intent of leaving work early one day, to drive to lottery headquarters in Woburn, but he never did. Every day, he procrastinated cashing the ticket. Every day, he said to himself that today was the day that he was making the drive to Woburn to cash in the ticket. Every day, he said, tomorrow, I will make the drive to cash in the ticket.

Now, with only three months left to cash it in, risking arrest or allowing it to expire and forfeiting the two million, three hundred fifty-thousand dollars that he would receive yearly for twenty-five years, he had to make his decision. Tomorrow, he thought, again, he will drive to Woburn and cash it in and pick up his first yearly check. Tomorrow, he is a millionaire, but tonight he will celebrate his last day working at Earth Bank in the North End of Boston, a freedom that only money, lots of money, can buy.

Chapter 32 Too Late, Too Little

He had always wanted to buy a round on the house at O'Malley's but, afraid that one round would instigate a second and two rounds would provoke a third and a fourth, he never volunteered to buy a round on the house, even though he had been a recipient of many rounds on the house over the years. He remembered Brian Conroy spending his entire paycheck buying rounds and not having the money to give to his wife for rent or for food for his three daughters. The regulars took up a collection and delivered the money to his Misses the next day, but the collection was not nearly as much as the paycheck his spent in his drunkenness. The collection could not pay the expenses of a family for a week or remove the suffering from Mrs. Conroy's face and the hunger from her three daughters. The collection did not afford them the security when, inevitably, he broke his promise to never to it, again.

Michael remembered Mrs. Conroy and her daughters appearing at the bank the next day trying to get a loan and the bank turning them away. He remembered that there were so many like them asking the bank to help and the bank turning them away unable to help, but that did not stop him from wishing that he could.

Suddenly, he understood the obvious, as to what to do with the lottery winnings. Suddenly, it made sense and he understood why those who had so much were unable to help those who had so little; there were just too many people in need and not enough people who had the money to give. He understood that his inability to change the world, to free it from hunger, from poverty, and from injustice, was just as hopeless with his measly two million, three hundred fifty thousand dollars, as if was if he had become a poor and idealistic priest.

In all actuality, he was powerless to change the American socio-economic pyramid of classes. He needed power to influence change. Power could force the change more than could money. He had money or would have money, as soon as he cashed in his winning lottery ticket, but how could he get power, enough power to make a difference. Along with wealth, the power that came with political office or with a highly regarded position within business and within the community was what he needed to influence enough of a change. What he had came too late to understand, was that he had too little to make a difference. He was only a bank teller, after all, albeit, a bank teller who had stolen a lottery ticket worth fifty-eight million, seven hundred fifty thousand dollars over twenty-five years, an enormous amount of money for anyone to possess was not nearly enough for one man to make a difference to influence a change to the lifestyle of the masses.

Confronted with the same frustration that he experienced in the seminary, a believer who did not have enough faith to become a priest and to make a meaningful contribution to the church and to society, he experienced the same frustration from the guilt of having too much money for himself, but not enough money to share with everyone else. Still needing so much more to affect a change to the cock-eyed distribution of wealth, influence, and power that pervades the United States, in the same way that it pervades third world countries, Michael's elation quickly soured to deep depression. Just as he no longer wanted to become a priest, he no longer wanted the ill gotten gain received from a stolen winning lottery ticket. Still, while he will have the proceeds of the money tomorrow, tonight, he will go ahead with is celebration.

Chapter 33 "The Drinks Are On The House."

Michael entered O'Malley's wearing his new Irish wool sweater and showing off his Claddagh ring, he felt like a millionaire. Accept for the acknowledgements that he received from the regulars, he entered the bar unnoticed. He made his way through the crowed at the bar and handed Tommy, the owner and bartender, five, crisp one-hundred dollar bills, enough to cover the three round maximum expectations of the patrons that he afforded himself for the occasion.

"Drinks are on the house," he said to Tommy, "that is, until that goes," he laughed.

"What's the occasion, Michael," Asked Tommy loud enough for Michael to hear over the roar of a barroom full of rowdy and thirsty men having a good time and having dozens of different conversations simultaneously.

"I quit my job, today, at Earth Bank and I'm thinking about returning to school to get my degree."

"Well, good luck to you," Tommy smiled, shook Michael's hand, poured him a pint and handed it to him.

"Drinks are on the house," said Michael pushing the money toward Tommy.

"Drinks are on the house," said Tommy snatching up the money and raising it over head. He cried out over the din. "Per Mr. Michael Patrick O'Leary, the drinks are on the house!"

A cheer vibrated throughout the small establishment testing the strength of the window panes, as a crowd of men made their way to the bar to give Tommy their drink orders and encircled Michael to thank him for his obvious good luck that prompted his generosity and this celebration. Throughout the evening, the regulars thanked him for his free drinks, filling his nose with their stench of beer and weighing his thoughts with more hopelessness that, personally, he could affect little change for the good of mankind.

"Thank you for the drinks," slurred Rory Callahan shaking Michael's hand as if it was a water pump and patting him on the shoulder, as if they were best friends.

"Congratulations on your good fortune," said Sean Murphy with a grin as wide as his face was red. His life was so out of control with alcohol that Michael wanted to apologize to him for helping him to continue his drunken state by telling Tommy that the drinks were on the house. Yet, had Michael not bought him a drink, he would have bought himself a drink, so it really did not matter.

"Let me call you a cab, Sean. You can't drive home in your condition," said Michael hoping that Sean had left his car home.

"Tommy called one for me, Michael," he said slurring the sentence into one long word. "Besides, I haven't driven since I lost my license for DWI last month." He staggered away disappearing into the crowd.

"Thank Mikey," said Kerry O'Sullivan with a wave as he stumbled out the door and into the street while singing his favorite Irish ditty.

As the hour grew late, those who remained sang in Michael's honor, "For he's a jolly good fellow, for he's a jolly good fellow, for he's a jolly good fellow, and that nobody can deny." Happy for the free drinks, they were happy that Michael, one of them from the neighborhood, had the luck of good fortune that made for this festive occasion of "The drinks are on the house."

Chapter 34 "Michael, Me Boy."

Michael kept rhythm to the song with his foot, occasionally raising his ale to toast a friendly face in the crowd who caught his attention. The jocularity spilled out the door until only a handful of regulars remained. Warmed as much by the beers as by the crowd of well-wishers, he found himself alone with his thoughts.

He thought about the insanity of lottery tickets, remembering Mrs. Riley who scratched herself deeper in poverty, hopelessness, and despair. He believed that the lottery deceived people who had more hope than dollars into believing that they could change their cycles of gloom as big prizewinners. Sure, you must play to win, but if these people saved the money that they would have spent on the lottery, in twenty years, they would have something to show for their money instead of false hope.

The Massachusetts lottery advertised multi-million dollar jackpots making it seem that winners were instant millionaires. When the jackpots, already reduced by the state' budget deficit, and the cities' and towns' allotted allocations, were usually shared with other winners and, after deducting federal and state taxes, never realized the big advertised payoff when paying out with an annuity over twenty-five years.

Massachusetts's law states that anyone who advertises a prize must disclose how their prizes are paid and what the odds of winning that prize are, but not the state. Available at the lottery, the state assumes that their rules of disclosure are public knowledge, an advantageous assumption not given to anyone else doing business in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. In effect, the state uses these questionable advertising practices to make the Massachusetts state lottery the most successful lottery in the country.

How much of the $1.00 ticket that we buy to play the lottery goes towards the actual prize and how much goes to the administration? That is not public information. Sure, they would tell their citizens that it is information that anyone can find out by asking the lottery commission but I have never seen it printed anywhere for public inspection.

Michael believed that the state of Massachusetts and the politicians who legislated the laws for the lottery purposely deceived its constituents by not only establishing the lottery but also by continuing it in its present form. He believed that those legislators responsible for the lottery owed everyone a full refund with interest and penalty for every lottery ticket purchased along with their deepest apologies and immediate resignations. Much like the Massachusetts Port Authority and Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, the Massachusetts Lottery was heavy with administrative costs, big salaries of managers who did very little, and theft of millions of dollars that is swept under the rug and never made public. It is a sham filled with fraud and deception.

Michael considered using his prize money to sue the lottery on behalf of all the people like Mrs. Riley, who uses the little money that she has available to buy scratch tickets with the slim hope of scratching herself a winning ticket. Then, he realized that no lawyer who wanted to continue practicing law in Massachusetts would ever take the case. He was tired of, yet, another state run organization where corrupt politicians are allowed to use their patronage and favoritism by influencing the lottery to employ their friends and relatives. Never do you read about open management positions and jobs at the lottery. It is all word of month, someone's brother-in-law, sister, and/or cousin gets an easy and high paying job for life.

He thought about Gabriella, about the kiss she delivered along with her invitation of an evening filled with intimacy, of dinner, of wine, and of love. He thought about the diamond ring that he could not wait to pay for, pick up, and give her. He thought about a lifetime of happiness with her and her daughter, Angela. He remembered his promise to call her, but tonight he needed time for himself and for his thoughts. He needed time to decompress. He has had a week filled with stressful situations that would make any weaker man run and hide. Tomorrow he would call her. Tomorrow they would plan their lives together.

He thought about Ralphie and how proud he was of him in choosing a life of hard work over a life of crime like the one that his father had chosen. He raised his glass to drink more of his ale, his third one when he never has more than one or two within the course of a Saturday evening. He could feel the alcohol slowly weaving its way throughout his nervous system and numbing his senses to a nice, dull and relaxed mode.

He thought about the bank robbery, glad that he was here to celebrate another day, glad that the robber did not decide to shoot him dead, as he did Shannon. He thought about his transfer from Neighborhood Bank to Earth Bank, feeling trapped, and hating every minute of his time away from his neighborhood and from his neighbors. He was happy that, now, with the lottery winnings, he was able to quit his job at the bank and get on with his life.

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