Bad Luck (A #WorldsEnd story)

Bad Luck (A #WorldsEnd story)

 By David Eccles

 

There’ll be no birthday cake for me this year, or any other year, for that matter. No party with loud, blaring metal music to annoy the neighbours; no congratulations, kisses, hugs or slaps on the back from friends, family and other loved ones; no nibbles, dips or sandwiches with hard, turned up edges because someone uncovered them a little too early; no having to clean up pools of puke and having to apologize to everyone on behalf of the person responsible; no discovering the couple who are the usual ones to sneak off to a bedroom, so eager to fuck each other’s brains out while they’re high on drugs and the moment, and no having to get up early in the morning to clean up the expected disaster zone while suffering the assault on the senses that is one’s parents complaining about the smashed vases, the ruined curtains, the turd floating in the swimming pool.

To tell the truth, I’ve never had any of that anyway. It’s a whole set of different life experiences being brought up in a children’s home. The nearest thing to a birthday present I’ve ever had is the extra cookie passed to me under the dining table, or the cockroach in a matchbox that someone gave to me one time. Man, did I get a beating when it was discovered! Oh, I got clothes from time to time, hand-me-downs from the other kids who outgrew them, but I guess you can’t really call those birthday presents, though it sure did feel like my birthday getting those boots that didn’t look like I was wearing fingerless gloves on my feet!

No, I’ve never felt that warm feeling inside as you’re handed a perfectly wrapped present and the giver greets you with a warm smile and says “Happy Birthday, John!” It’s always been more of a “Here, Jonah!” kind of experience as someone thrust something at me with what can only be described as complete indifference. You see, I’m considered bad luck by most folk, hence the moniker, Jonah. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I suggest you go get yourself a Holy Bible and get familiar with the story of Jonah and the whale. Things just seem to happen to people when I’m around. Really bad things.

Most of the kids at the Lucas Trask Home for Children here in the State of Florida usually only stay for a short while before being lucky enough to find the couple who are willing to adopt them; but not me. Sure, I’ve had times when I’ve stayed with families who I thought liked me and wanted to adopt me, but it’s just never panned out; I’ve always been returned within days, a little like an unwanted Christmas present, and I know the comments were not meant for my ears, but sometimes I’ve managed to pick up on a few of them: “That boy’s just bad luck” “He’s a Jonah, that one” “He just ain’t right”. It doesn’t exactly do a lot for one’s self-confidence, does it? Neither does losing both your parents in a car crash when you’re only a few weeks old, or having to live in an institution run by a religious order, having it drilled into my head that the death of my parents was somehow my fault; that they must have done something really awful to be condemned to such a fate and that I must suffer the sins of my father and my mother.

At least I won’t have long to wait before I see them again. That’s what the preacher tells me, anyway, what with this being a Baptist-run home and all. I’m expected to believe that there’s a life after death, and that there’s hope for us all yet, even though there’s a huge asteroid heading our way that’s going to impact on the Earth and wipe out all intelligent life forms in a little under two years’ time. There was a lot of running around like headless chickens at first, with people all confused and not knowing what would happen if the banks were to close, if commerce were to grind to a halt and the whole monetary system become useless; they were shitting their pants that there’d be riots and stuff, but folks seemed to learn to accept the inevitability of the situation pretty quick and the widespread bedlam that was anticipated just never materialized. Admittedly, there are those who’ve just thought fuck it, preferring instead to go out in a blaze of glory and just get drunk and loot all they can before they’re gunned down by law enforcement, but for the most part, things are pretty quiet and have returned to normal.

Ha! Normal. Is it normal to just sit around and wait to die? To pray to a God who in all probability does not exist? I don’t know, but I guess we all need to believe in something. In the end, it doesn’t really matter which side of the fence you’re on: if you’re a religious person, then you’re bound to believe in everlasting life, whereas if you’re of a scientific disposition, then you are certain in your knowledge that matter can be neither created nor destroyed; it can only be transformed. However one looks at it, we’re all immortal, so why argue, and why worry?

I worry because I’ve pondered on the thought that somehow it is my fault. Silly, I know. How could it be my fault? As if I could ever cause a few million tons of rock to crash into our planet! Still, the feeling is there: that this extra-terrestrial monolithic “whale” is going to swallow up not only this “Jonah”, but every “Jonah”, Janet, John and every other person with a name, and this time, no matter how much we repent for our sins, it isn’t going to be spitting us out! It’ll be the vengeance of God, in true Old Testament style! I’ve been bad luck to so many people that I know. People have had accidents; people have even died because of me. Is it too much of a leap to think that my bad luck affects more than just those I know? What if it does affect all people? What if I’m the world’s greatest ever “Jonah”? Is bad luck infectious? Is that what I am, a walking, talking, virulent form of misfortune?

My head hurts through too much needless thinking. I need to get out into the sun and enjoy the warm weather we’ve been having lately, but guess what? Yeah. Just my luck! It’s started to rain!

8 thoughts on “Bad Luck (A #WorldsEnd story)

  1. Jodi (@perkjo)

    I love the blunt honesty of your narrator, David! I also really enjoyed his internal monolgue (as heart-breaking as it was)–that constant stream of consciousness really brought life to your character. Well done!

    Reply
    1. David EcclesDavid Eccles Post author

      Thank you so much for your comment and kind words regarding poor John (“Jonah”), Jodi. It was great fun writing this, and i am happy that i managed to convey the angst and turmoil in John’s mind; a mind so damaged by the indoctrinations of a religious set. I saw no other alternative than to tell the story as i wrote it, and it’s become a favourite piece of mine 🙂

      Reply
  2. Holly Ice

    It’s a whole set – something about this is clunky – doesn’t fit the flowing narrative
    cookie that was passed- cookie passed
    clothes from time to time; hand-me-downs – comma not semi colon
    boots that didn’t leave my toes exposed! – try rephrasing a little. getting boots that didn’t chill my toes with all the holes etc. play around with it 🙂
    I’m around: bad things. – I would use a comma rather than colon
    I’ve always been returned within days – great sentiment – you could also play around with imagery – like a present regifted/rejected etc
    also, is a Jonah something I should understand to be bad luck? I did not have that association in my mind 🙂
    like headless chickens – maybe use something more original to describe? Perhaps go into detail of banks closing, money useless, riots and fires etc?
    have just got drunk and looted all they can – just drunk and looted all they can
    before being gunned – before getting gunned
    than just those who I know? – than just those I know?

    Really interesting character.
    The narrative is believable and mostly flows well.
    Only a few comments, as above. Sorry if it’s too much! I warned you, haha!
    Hopefully it’ll help somewhat 🙂

    Reply
  3. Jodi (@perkjo)

    Isn’t it funny that even though you were writing this directly toward a given-prompt, it ended up being one of your most enjoyable projects? I experienced that same thing with my story. I had so much fun with it that I ended up writing a “Part 2” (I didn’t submit that one to #WorldsEnd, but I’ll link up to it once my original is up on J’s blog).

    Reply
    1. David EcclesDavid Eccles Post author

      Excellent, Jodi! Something else to look forward to reading, and thank you for taking the time to explain Jonah and the Whale to Holly for me.
      Most youngsters would just think it was a reference to the band! Hahahaha! 🙂

      Reply
  4. Jodi (@perkjo)

    Holly–“Jonah” is a reference to the Biblical character who disobeyed God’s command to go to the city of Ninevah, and thus got swallowed by a whale. No matter how much he tried or how hard he ran, he could not escape ‘bad luck.’ I think to change it to a chicken with its head cut off would take away the underlying current that David was going for (the fact that John’s was traumatized by strict religious indoctrination) and turn it into something cliche.

    Reply
    1. David EcclesDavid Eccles Post author

      Holly was suggesting i use a reference other than the headless chickens reference, Jodi, but i think it fits well and it’s going to stay. It may be cliche, but it works! Have you ever seen a chicken that’s just had its head cut off? If you put the body down, it flaps around and sometimes has been known to run around! It’s a great analogy to people running around in a blind panic! 🙂

      Reply

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