he car rocked back and forth with steamed-up windows until finally Shaun managed to zip-up his trousers. Every morning he unfolded his body from the squashed position he’d slept in; he used his jumper as a pillow and his coat as a duvet.
“Ridiculous! A 40yr old man reduced to sleeping rough in his own car,” he would say to himself.
It was 6am, and like every day for the last 2 months, he started up his old Citroen Dolly and drove to Princes’ Quay shopping centre to use the public toilets, which of recent time had become his bathroom. Most days, after he washed, he’d walk around town searching for work. However, today he was going to see his children; it seemed so long since he’d had a family life, a job, and a home.
When Lisa and Shaun divorced, Shaun’s money problems had started. Maintenance payments left him skint. He didn’t have the qualifications or the skills for a better job, and found work where he could, sometimes distributing leaflets though peoples letter boxes or cleaning or gardening for the “well-to-do”, such as the Moore family at Bilton House. Things really started going downhill for Shaun after Christmas. He had spent far too much buying lots of presents for his two children. “I’ll soon pay it off,” he had thought, but he had been made redundant from his latest job, and odd jobs had dried up.
The only luxury that Shaun allowed himself was the odd lottery ticket. He stressed about bills he owed; £4000 he borrowed off Mr. Witty the “tally man”, over £2000 off his mother-in-law, phone bills, taxes and rent, the list seemed endless. Shaun parked his car outside Lisa’s house and spent all day with the children. “Please stay daddy”, Jessica had begged when it was time for him to go, but how could he tell his daughter that he had to leave because he couldn’t miss the car park toilets shutting at 8pm?
Shaun’s eyes felt heavy whilst driving back to the lay-by where he slept. Suddenly he heard a screech of tyres and the sound of metal hitting metal. The car had hit a central reservation. He struggled to bring the car under control. Eventually it screeched to a halt, he wasn’t hurt but the car was a mess. What would he do now?
The police came and subsequently his insurance company arranged for a tow-truck to take him, and the wreck, to a nearby B&B. He had no idea of how he would afford to pay the bill. The next day he checked the Hull Daily Mail for jobs. There was a big heading on the front page. Someone had won £500,000 on the lottery and hadn’t claimed it and there weres only had two more days until the ticket expired!
The ticket had been bought in Sutton Village the newspaper explained and showed a picture of the proud newsagent Mr Dennis Drinkall. Shaun smiled as he had been using the newsagents for years, and the village was where he used to live with his wife Lisa. Shaun always played the lottery and kept his ticket in the glove-box compartment in the car. He made a quick note of the numbers just in case, then turned to the jobs section of the newspaper.
When he got back to the B&B, instead of going straight in he rummaged in his wrecked car in the glove box. He found the crumpled Lottery ticket and checked the numbers “2, got it, 14 yes, 25 there it was 42, 23!” He started to sweat and shake, he got a second opinion from the landlady before he fainted. He ran round to his ex-wife’s house, Shaun was in no state to contact Camelot, so Lisa made the call.
“Yes the ticket’s here.” He heard her say.
Tears ran down Shaun’s face as he realised that the ticket had been bought almost six months earlier, just as his life had really hit the skids. If he’d claimed it straight away he would never have had to sleep in his car. He’d been sleeping just inches away from ½ million pounds! Now I can pay off all these debts and have a roof over my head.
A little over a week later, he received the cheque and he knew exactly what he was going to do with it. He bought a new house for Lisa and the children, and then he bought a little place of his own, just down the road, a cottage he later called “Shaun’s Retreat”. Shaun bought himself a present, a car, nothing flashy, just a Toyota Corolla, but he didn’t get rid of his old Citroen Dolly. It was a poor old wreck but he couldn’t bear to part with it. If he hadn’t crashed he probably would have never discovered he’d won the lottery.
His old car would remain on the front drive, his Lucky Charm.
Shaun’s Lucky Charm by Paul Main.
Paul Main can be contacted at: email@example.com
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