Darrell stared at the mail in his hand. The Missus would probably give him another yelling if he didn't take it in, tell him how he was once again wasting his life, and hers as well. He glanced at the house for a moment and then back down. No, there was no "probably" about it; he knew she would.
He wanted to walk it in, truly he did. Hand her the mail and smile, as if to say, See, I can change. He even took the first step, but then stopped as the voice in his head protested. Today was the day. He couldn't deny the signs. Like how he felt it in his bones, the way his joints didn't hurt, which was saying something given the cold front blowing in. Big changes in barometric pressure always caused his joints to scream. It was bone on bone some days the way they could hurt—from his shoulders to his knuckles and down to his toes. Sometimes his knees felt like they had knives in them and someone on the other end just twisting and sawing away. Not today, though. Today, he felt just as easy-breezy as he did on those rare occasions when he saw the doctor for a cortisone shot. So that was a good sign, now wasn't it?
Signs were popping up all over the place this morning. Beyond his joints, there was the daily horoscope: STOP SITTING AROUND WAITING FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO. BY THE TIME THEY GET AROUND TO FIGURING IT OUT, YOU WILL HAVE ALREADY GONE THE DISTANCE. And there it was, almost as if the stars knew that he regularly traveled twenty miles out of the way to the Pit-N-Gas in Brownwood to pick up his lottery tickets. Darrell did it that way to avoid any unpleasantries, namely running into anyone who might go to the same church as he did. If that were to happen, the Missus would know all about it before he could even clear the parking lot. With technology these days, texting and photo clicks at everyone's fingertips, word traveled faster than the pink porcelain bowl express after a Friday night of drinking.
On top of everything else, now there was the freaky thing he found in the mailbox. Darrell didn't know why he decided to check the mail; in fact, it was downright strange the way that little voice challenged his memory. He was certain he had picked up the mail yesterday, but the voice wouldn't let it go. You sure about that? it said. It could've been two days ago, not yesterday. After all, the Missus had you pretty busy by the time you came home last night, yelling at you from the front door before you could even climb out of your car. You might have forgot. And thinking about it some more, his hand on the car door this morning, almost ready drive off to work, Darrell had to agree. It was possible. The Missus was particularly on fire last night, really giving it to him, asking where the friggin' bank money went, even though they both knew he'd already spent it playing the lottery yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that.
In the mailbox he had found a small envelope, and inside that he found two notes. The first was a hand-written letter. Heard you needed a little help to make things work out. It was signed, Because God loves you. Looking into the envelope again, Darrell pulled out the second note, a crisp Benjamin.
Standing there in the driveway now, completely baffled by the wonder of it all, Darrell pulled out his pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes. He slipped one of them into his mouth, lit it, and drew down deep on the smoke, thinking: It's not like the Missus knows about the money, right? He turned the question over and over in his mind like a smooth stone. Then he shook his head. The way she went on about the finances last night, he knew she would have pocketed the dough and never said another word about it. She wouldn't have left it there to chance. Certainly not to test his resolve.
As the moment passed, his confusion turned to sheer, illuminating joy. On top of his joints not hurting, and then the horoscope with its tiny nugget of advice, here was God's messenger giving him a big shove and putting some wherewithal in his hands, too. He'd almost been a believer before, placing a spare dollar in the Sunday plate—and sometimes an unscratched lottery ticket—but this morning he was now fully committed.
Darrell pocketed the money, climbed into the car, and started up the engine. He looked at his watch and smiled. There was still enough time to make it to the Pit-N-Go.