Friday, September 23, 2011

JACKPOT by Eric Suhem

Henrik lived on the outskirts of Las Vegas. He spent a large part of his conscious life experiencing a vision of a jack-in-the box melting in flames, whether he was at work, or sitting at the breakfast table reading the morning paper with his wife Myrna. The vision of the jack-in-the-box melting in flames dominated Henrik’s life, but he got used to it, shrugging it off as ‘one of those things’.

“Henrik, maybe a hobby will take your mind off these visions,” suggested Myrna. Henrik agreed, and took a painting class at the community center, eventually attaining some modest success at local exhibitions. On his days off, he painted colorful, vivid abstracts, but was recently feeling blocked, most colors not flowing through him, except yellow and orange. Henrik also got repeated phone calls from his brother Ted.

“Hello Henrik, I’ve had a bad run at the slot machines…can you loan me some more money?” Ted was standing next to his favorite slot machine with a bag of lemons. He chewed feverishly on the bitter fruit, trying to visualize three yellow lemons in a slot machine jackpot, but instead he could conjure nothing but bitter, harsh white light.

“All right, Ted” said Henrik, staring at the jack-in-the-box melting in flames. “Myrna and I are going to Lake Mead tomorrow for a picnic, why don’t you join us and we’ll discuss it.”

At the lake, as afternoon passed into evening, Henrik and Ted got into a rowboat. While Henrik rowed, he glanced at his brother’s orange hair and round bulbous nose. Ted was perched at the bow, staring straight ahead at a shimmering white light on the opposite shore. “Now, about that money,” began Ted, standing up to loom over Henrik, as he’d done all his life, but suddenly losing balance, his feet slipping on some lemons in the boat. He hit his head on the oarlock, and passed out.

At that precise moment, Ted’s favorite slot machine in Las Vegas displayed 3 lemons…Jackpot!

Henrik continued to row methodically, blood pouring from Ted’s bobbing orange-haired head into the bottom of the boat. The bright white light filled Ted, while the lemons rolled around in the boat. As Henrik stared at the blood, the jack-in-the-box visions disappeared, and the strange reddish hue freed something within him, soon to be seen as vivid images of maroon in his abstract paintings.

1 comment:

  1. surreal and -
    desperately searching for the appropriate word and failing1 Like it a lot.