GRAYSON, Ga. -- I hear Kelley yell out in the yard and immediately I know something bad has happened.
I got tied up helping her mom move a very light shelf that her mom totally could have handled on her own. Always the Boy Scout.
I run upstairs and out the screen door and find Kelley in the yard, next to the U-Haul that we've used to move everything out of her parents' storage locker.
"Is it broken? I can't look at it," she says, looking away from her foot.
So I look at it and immediately think of the movie Syriana. The entire toenail on her right foot has been removed from her toe -- she was pulling out the ramp from the truck and it fell on it, displacing the toenail. I am still totally amazed at how little blood there was on the grass.
Enter me, a total ruckbox who has survived total car vs. off-road concrete accidents with no seatbelts at highway speeds without a scratch, and Kelley, perhaps the unluckiest girl in the world.
Of course, I'm not so rucky as to be able to avoid unloading most of the truck's boxes by myself while the paramedics, her mom and her neighbors all crowd around and look at her toe. It's like some embarrassing scene from There's Something About Mary.
It's 97 degrees and while the day is without Atlanta's characteristic humidity, it's hot. The sweat has soaked up my baggy khaki shorts and pull them down. I'm sure they sag more at the waist because of all that water in my body fleeing away.
I could be burning more blackjack bonuses in my four day weekend that I've been given. Already what little time I've been playing has been a bonanza. Great love from the gambling gods at Play Vegas from Home casino. Also tripled up on 32Red's monthly using gatoplay.
But I like to think of myself (mislead myself?) as the Boy Scout who does everything right, who takes outrageous bullshit from people who were raised by toasters and does not tilt since "good things always happen" to people who play life the right way.
Kelley needs help. Her mom needs help. Oh bonus lords and toasters, I'll have to deal with you another day.
We get in the truck, now unloaded, Kelley with a nice gauze bandage over her foot and maybe make it four blocks before it breaks down halfway up a hill on a suburban road. We're maybe a mile away from where we have to drop it off.
The scene doesn't seem too different from Third World countries where you see these kinds of breakdowns with vehicles of very iffy mechanical natures. There's a long line of cars behind us. There's a big line of cars forming in front of us, since people have to go into the other lane to pass. It's a burning sun and I'm out there yelling and waving my arms as I call "roadside assistance."
The difference, amazingly, is I hear no horns honk. The suburbanites politely wait as the policewoman directs traffic. It takes them a while longer to get to their Outback steakhouse, their Lowe's Hardware or their Olive Garden. But the motorists accept it and go on.
"I better not gamble today," Kelley, laughing, says to me, her neighbor and the policewoman.
"You don't know that -- you might have already burned all the bad stuff up," I say, thinking about the grand I've squirreled away the last two days from blackjack and playing NL and PL against toasters at sucky room. I feel like saying the line some yokel said during Star Wars: Episode II at a movie theater in Little Rock when Padme asked Anakin whether he could live a lie by sharing a romance in secret.
"I could give it a shot," the yokel crooned, cracking the audience up.
But I do reflect on that fundamental question: Girl, why are you so unlucky? Are there people who have the market share of wild ruckbox powers while everyone else is made to just make do?
Your car was totaled in October, at the bottom of the very hill I cruise by several times a week on a very unarmored bicycle. You injure your toe in a most painful way when you're helping your folks with a move. And on your way to dropping off the rental truck and getting to the ER to make sure your toe hasn't been shattered in some horrible way by the truck ramp, the rental breaks down.
But then I think, as the neighbor brings me and Kel back to get my car, maybe it's just variance. There's no telling how deep these tar pits are. You could lose every single time you pick up cards, on a BB bleeding spree that goes on to infinity.
Or you could meet that guy who thinks a lot like you, who's been burned in all the worst ways by the social toasters of the world but works anyway to make things a little better than he found it.
I could say your luck has changed. But of course, then that wouldn't be luck, but skill, to know a good gamble when you see it, to make a bet in the dark with all kinds of shit going on all around you but still knowing you have an edge.
And to know when your boyfriend's brain has been melted by having to stay out too long in the sun, when he's totally full of it. LOL