How Much Did I Win?

“I’m here,” screams LC.

I already know he’s here. I heard the door slam against the wall. I heard a lamp fall over from the vibration.

I hear LC say, “Dare’s somethin wrong wits use door. One of the knobs is stuck in the wall. I felt my BP go into a steep rise. I’m already wondering if I should brick in the wall behind the door. Maybe a solid stainless steel sheet. A wall made of bulletproof vests. I have all kinds of options.

Then LC hollers as if he is at the top of Pike’s Peak and wants to see how far his voice will carry, “Use won. Use won beautiful, tough, edgy who knows how to play the numbers.”

What’s LC talking about, the numbers? No way, La Flor is gambling with Big Carmen and his associates. I loosely call them associates because that’s what Big Carmen calls them. I don’t want to make the mistake of saying made men, killers, knee busters, and fill in the blank.

La Flor runs in off the deck, slamming the door agains the wall, a vase falls over, water over the floor. Flowers desperately trying to sip the last bit of water into their system. Good thing, it was a plastic vase. Slamming the door is contagious. I wonder if I’m vulnerable.

Bikini, sun tan lotion and all, La Flor throws her five foot two inches, size zero four feet into LC’s waiting arms and kisses him. “You bring me glad tidings, LC?”

What is she doing, trying out for Shakespeare in the Park?

LC answers, “I bringith thee a high tide of tidings. My beautiful, tough, and edgy lady.”

“Are you two practicing for Shakespeare in the Park?”

She pulls back, wraps her legs around LC’s waist and says, “Yes, now be quiet, Ray. LC, how much did I win?”

“Big Carmen says use won nine hundred, seventy one dollars. All of its tax free. So don’t report none of it because he will deny he ever paid it. If use knows what I means.”

La flor let go of LC’s neck, slid down his body until her feet landed on the tile. She stepped back and stuck out her hand.

“Hold on.¬†LC are you a bookie? What’s going on? Why didn’t hear about it?”

“What chu talkin bout, Ray-mo. I don’t got no books. What makes use think I’m a bookie? Do I looks like I belongs in library?” said LC.

“Don’t play coy, LC. You know what I mean. Do you take bets for Big Carmen?” I said.

“I likes to play craps, maybe poker, but I never plays coy. Is it a card game?” said LC earnestly. Use got to excuse me, I got business to attend to. LC reaches into his pocket and begins counting off one-hundred dollar bills, “One hundred, two hundred.” You get the drift.

Before La Flor can run away, I said, “You’re involved in illegal gambling. It’s not right. What did you gamble on?”

La Flor said, “What’s the temperature in San Antonio?”

I checked, “91 degrees.”

“What’s the temperature in Chicago?” she asked.

I checked, “68 degrees.”

“What’s the temperature in Phoenix?” asked La Flor.

I checked, “It’s 99 degrees.”

“The way one of the games works, Ray. You choose six numbers based on the temperature at 4 p.m. in three U.S. cities, one from the south, one from the north, and one from the west. I hit all six numbers and I only played a dollar. I have my eye on a new pair of shoes.”

“It’s illegal,” I said.

“May I remind you, your grandmother ran numbers.”

“But she was a single mom with eleven children. Cut her some slack.”

“She was doing a community service and so is Big Carmen.”

LC interrupted. “If I may. I get use drift. Use think I am collecting bets for Big Carmen. That is the furtherest thing from the furtherest thing. Big Carmen never, no how, no way does anything illegal or legal. It works like magic. Like La Flor wrote some numbers on a piece of paper with her name. She rolled it up and accidentally pressed it into Big Carmen’s hand when they hugged. Now I asks use, is that betting? I say not.”

What did LC just say? I got lost after he said, ‘If I may.’

La Flor ignored me. She said, “Big Carmen’s running a different game next week. It will be the final number of points the Cowboys, Bears, Seahawks, and Giants score in the weekend games. If you get all the numbers it’s 10,000; five, it’s a thousand; and, if you get four it’s 100. You want in? Or, are you too cheap?”

“I am not cheap.”

“Then bet a dollar.”




“Cheap, cheap, cheap.”

It went on like this for four blog pages, but I deleted them so you’d have time to figure out your numbers and contact Big Carmen.



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