"If Louisiana's having such a brain drain, what are we that's still here?"
"You answered your own question. We're the mildew near the drain."
Somebody had a bunch of those folding chairs that you slide inside of a sheath and carry on your back like a bedroll. So we brought them out on the neutral ground, opened them up and began talking high finance and how we might best participate in it.
"I had two numbers in the Pick Six last night," Ike said calmly.
"Are you braggin' or complainin'?" Bobby wanted to know. "That's like saying you got to bat against Randy Johnson and managed to get a weak foul ball. With that kinda negative attitude, being willin' to settle for any little thing, you ain't ever gonna win nuttin'."
"I ain't ever gonna win nuttin' anyways," Ike answered without contradiction, or even the fear of it.
Someone had bought a thermos of coffee and some styrofoam cups, and L.J. had brought a bag of Hubig pies. The thing was turning into a regular Sunday-morning-breakfast-with-the-arts thing.
"Hey, I got banana," Sam noted. "Since when Hubig's got banana?"
"It tastes just like coconut," L.J. promised. "Eat it. It's good for ya."
"How's about that guy who won part of that big Powerball last month -- the one from Kentucky with the long hair?" said Ike. "It turns out this guy just got outta jail."
"Why that's just God evening things up," said Bobby. "Like ya life's been in the toilet, but now it's through the roof."
"Yeah, well, I been at the same lousy job for eight years. You think God coulda noticed that."
"What's wrong with your job?"
"It's too regular."
Sam now had some pie goo on the end of his chin. "What about the square from Delaware who wins the Powerball, the first-grade teacher and her brother? She says she's gonna keep teaching."
"Anyone who says they gonna keep their $300-dollar-a-week job should hafta give the money back," Bobby declared. "They don't deserve that kinda luck."
"Yeah, she said she was gonna buy a new car," said Sam. "It's like nobody really gets how much money they now got. 'Oh, I think I'll get a new Toyota!' Yeah, and whatcha gonna do with the other $73.6 million?"
Bobby whistled. "I saw where she said she was gonna share with her school kids. 'Certainly better snacks,' she said. You think a dingbat like that would be susceptible to the charms of someone like me? Surely, my wife wouldn't stand in the way of my chance of a lifetime."
"I know where my chance is gonna come from," L.J. said. "You know that hoodoo lady that lives across from my mama? I'm gonna follow her the next time she goes to get a lottery ticket and step right up and tell the clerk I want the same numbers as her. She's powerful."
"Is that the one looks like Marie Laveau on a bad hair day?" asked Bobby. "With eyes like side-by-side elevators -- one always going' up, the other goin' down? She'll put a hex on you. Turn you into a dog."
"So maybe I'll be a Rhodesian Ridgeback. Hunter of lions."
"No chance. A Yorkie, probably. Hunter of neuroses."
Sam smiled and waved at some kids on a passing bus.
"You know when they was pushing to get the lottery here, they promised us our streets would be paved with gold. Ten years later, we can't get our streets paved."
"You know what flushes my brain?" said Ike. "You'll recall in '99, there was somebody had all the numbers except for the Powerball. Worth $100,000. And nobody came forward to claim it. Nobody!"
"That ain't nuttin'. A few years before that, in the Lotto game, there was a $2 million winner and they never showed either," chipped in L.J.
"And do you gentlemen know what those two tickets have in common?" sweetly reminded Bobby. "They both were sold in Baton Rouge -- the home of state legislators and LSU football players. A place where ignorance thrives."
"Say, you know another one of those winners in that $300 million Powerball -- I think it was the couple from Maine," said Sam. "Well, they bought two batches of tickets they said. The first batch was for them and some coworkers they was in a cow with. The second batch was for them alone. Guess which batch had the winner."
Bobby pretended to thoughtfully scratch his scalp. "Say, that must be a trick question. That reminds me when I sent Chico to get us longnecks from the 7-11. And I give him a buck to get hisself one. Well, he comes back sucking on one and he's one short. 'Oh, I'm sorry,' he sez. 'I dropped yours.'"
"There's nuttin' like a lottery to bring out civic virtue," opined Ike.
"Blessed is he who expects nothing, 'cuz he'll never be disappointed," said Sam.
"Whoa! Here comes the hoodoo lady, on her way to the convenience store!" yelped L.J. "Excuse me, ladies, while I follow my destiny."
"Stay put," advised Bobby. "You can't fun with the hare and hunt with the hounds."
L.J. stood up and brushed the Hubig crumbs from his four-pocketed Cuban shirt. "A Rhodesian Ridgeback is what I'm gonna be," he said, baring his teeth. "Grrrrr!" -->