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May 29, 2012

Like A Good Neighbor - J. Bradley

 The flat screen blares faintly something about "from downtown", then sweaty men high-five each other. Luckily, the couch, the expanding mass of Matt Freeman faces the open window, his second chin wobbling when he yells at the game. I have to thank Tom for recommending this scope.

According to the dossier, Matt Freeman won the $1,000 a week for life scratch off game. Based on his lifestyle, the actuary estimated he would live for about three years after winning. As of now it's been now five years, two months, three weeks, and four days.

The game goes to commercial. Matt gets off the couch, heads over to the kitchen. I notice the beer he's taking out of the fridge is a Miller Lite. Guess he's been watching his weight lately.

My first one was a clusterfuck. Nancy Herrea was three months past her estimated expiration date despite her heart condition and the commission got a little jumpy. She didn't go down after the first or second Taser dart. Had to strangle her with her own scarf. Had to give up all of my fee to the cops and the coroner to keep it quiet, a little more to the funeral director to make sure her throat wouldn't have her family start asking questions. We used a different private eye after that.

Once, I asked Tom why the lottery kept printing out these "for life" games if the lottery was scared of losing so much money. He said it was one of their higher grossing games, that it appealed to those who didn't want it all, just enough. He said giving money to an American is like giving them a loaded gun, then let me borrow his DVD of the Behind The Music episode with M.C. Hammer. I understood what he meant as the credits rolled.

Matt sits back on the couch, beer in hand, nursing it as the last of the fourth quarter ticks off. The concentrated Vivitrol will cause him to double over, vomit up the organ fight. The morphine will shut down his nervous system. The cops, the coroner will say he mixed too much beer with too many oxys. His mother will shake her head, cry, then after a dignified period of time, come into our office to try and claim what was left on his ticket. I love it when Tom tells an angry widow or parent that "for life" only applied to the winner and was non-transferable. Matt’s mom will storm out of our office and eventually sue his orthopedist.

Goodbye, Matt. Thanks for playing.

J. Bradley is the author of the upcoming novella, Bodies Made of Smoke (HOUSEFIRE, 2012). He lives at


  1. Brilliant. There is no higher grossing game than the endless Stupor Bowl of amerikan life.

  2. life is gross all over.

  3. agreed, but it was invented either here or in germania. these details are hard to remember. but so is everything these days thank gods.

    and speaking of g -- this site of yours is getting to be gee whiz good, V.

  4. It's that tight, finite fist wrapped up as The Endless that has us suckered almost every time. Here in Old Blighted too.

    Thanks to J for showing up the broken promise; it hurts but it's necessary work. Like the remembering...