Jay sits there, sweating, smiling, mouth full. He has a good smile. He drops more sour cabbage into his son’s bowl. His son grins at me, he can’t be more than four or five. I wink down at him. Seems like a good kid.
“So, about the money,” Jay says, swallowing.
I shrug. He’d texted me a few weeks ago asking to wire him some cash in the Philippines. I said no. He called me an alcoholic and a devil. I didn’t disagree. I didn’t say anything. Today he asked me to lunch.
“I wanted to tell you a story.”
“I was down there. I was in a bad place. I saw this woman. Here,” Jay fishes in his pocket. He pulls out his phone. He flicks around on it a moment. He turns it and shows me a picture of a dead woman. I put my fork down.
“I see her. Just lying there. No one is helping her. Fucking animals. You know, that is the only country they’d leave a dead woman on the road.”
I don’t agree. I don’t disagree. I smile, politely.
“So, you see, I called the ambulance for her. I stood there, over her. I prayed for her. I knew she was dead but I still prayed, to God, you know.”
Jay stuffs a bit of pork in his mouth. He puts a few slices in my bowl, then his sons.
“Eat,” he tells us. I do.
“So,” he continues, “after they took her away, I knew. It was time to come home. I took a taxi straight to the airport. I booked the first flight home. But, it wasn’t for a few hours. So, I went to the casino next door. Not with a lot of money. Not like before you know, just a little bit. A few hundred.”
I nod. I smile, politely. I take a bite of pork.
“So, I put ten American dollars in the slots. I sit down and I pull the lever. You know how slot machines have bonuses?”
“Like, big prizes.”
“Well, I pull the lever again. You see, this machine had five prizes. I pull the lever three times. The first prize was very big. One hundred thousand dollars, maybe. So, I pull the lever again. And then after six pulls, I won!”
“Yeah! Well, not the big prize. The second one. Ten thousand dollars!”
Jay ruffles his son’s hair and laugh. His son eats a bit of rice.
“So you see, I know. I prayed over that woman and so God rewarded me. If I hadn’t prayed I wouldn’t have won. He knows I am a good man.”
He pulls a wad of cash from his pocket.
“You’re a good man,” he says, laying out bills for the meal. “Not like that, that, fucker.” He jerks his thumb at the 711 where he used to work. Where we’d met. I assume he is referring to another employee. I don’t ask.
“But, you,” he wags his finger at me, “you are a good man.”
He ruffles his son’s hair again. His son giggles, gagging on a bit of sour cabbage.
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