in Worth1000, Writing

Providence Department

Sharon Williams, age 39 plus twin toddlers, was making a fresh start. At 8:24, Freddy was already 250 miles behind them and with any luck there would be at least a hundred more before he sobered up enough to notice they were gone. She was confident he would never think to look for them in Dallas; there was no way he could have found the letter from her old roommate that had offered a glimpse of a different future. If he bothered to look anywhere she figured he would go to their hometown, but she had lost all connection to Little Rock when her parents died. Dallas offered a new life. Who knew if she would get any more chances? Sharon stifled a yawn and drained the last of the convenience store coffee, and with her head tilted back she did not notice that the 18-wheeler ahead of her was rapidly turning its tires into smoke.

=====

“Hold it, Fate! You’re WAY out of line with this one. Are you kidding me? She is TOTALLY on my side of the board. Call off your goon right now, or every alcoholic this side of Vegas will experience such a moment of clarity that they will never even be TEMPTED to drink again!”

Fate sighed, let out a shrill whistle and carelessly waved his hand. Time turned off his treadmill and took a break. Death, who had been hiding inside the trailer, appeared on its roof with a disappointed look on his face. His expression contrasted with the pure terror currently etched into Sharon’s face, frozen in the moment where she saw her imminent doom. Fate smiled. Free Will had intervened just late enough that the outcome was no longer a sure thing, but even he had been caught napping when Fate scared a deer – a deer! – over the fence and onto the highway. A brilliant move if he did say so himself. It would be interesting to see how this one played out.

“Fine, Will. Have it your way. This one’s all yours, but oops! Looks like you’ve got your work cut out for you to get the lady and her kids out of this in one piece.”

Will stormed out of Sharon’s beat-up Chevy and glared at Fate with furious eyes. “Are you out of your mind? I’m going to have to get her Ladyship involved to fix this, and you KNOW how much paperwork that means. For both of us.”

Fate shrugged. “Less hassle if you just leave her to me.” Will’s scowl got even darker in response. “Whatever. Let’s go see Lady Luck, then.”

=====

In person, the Commissioner of Providence was not nearly as glamorous as her public persona. She was only of average height, with dirty blonde hair and a few suggestions of crows’ feet around her pale blue eyes. Her mouth, pursed tightly with disapproval any time Fate was nearby, belied her legendary smile. Frankly, Fate didn’t get her mystique at all, and often wondered what back-room deals she had made to get the job. His life had certainly been easier before she arrived on the scene.

Naturally Lady Luck’s office was in Las Vegas. Fate and Free Will found her drumming her fingers on the felt of a craps table, staring irritably at the dice that were suspended in midair before her.

“You certainly took your time getting here, gentlemen,” she said. “Who has Fate tried to kill now?”

Fate tried on an injured expression. “Why do you always assume it’s me? Just moments ago, Free Willie threatened to make a move on my drunkards!”

“Spare me. Need I remind you that the Providence Department was established because you blatantly and repeatedly made end-runs around Free Will by sending Death after anyone who refused to accept their Fate?”

Fate rolled his eyes. Maybe one day she might add some variation to the lecture.

“You-” Luck turned her attention to Will “-explain.”

When Will concluded with the hopeful turn in Sharon’s story, Luck shook her head. Fate was such a … oh, she could almost scream!

“Okay, you two. Will, have you already filled out a Luck Request Form on behalf of Sharon and her sons? You have? Excellent. Fate, I won’t even both asking. Just have a Censure Acknowledgment Affidavit on my desk by tomorrow. In triplicate.”

“Triplicate? What the-”

“Triplicate. Don’t make me censure you a second time. Now get Time back on his treadmill so I can watch Timmy’s face here when he rolls his third 12 in a row!”

“You know, there’s something …”

“Do it. Now,” said Lady Luck, with a hint of menace in her voice. Fate wasn’t convinced that she had anything to back it up, but then again, he hadn’t been able to prevent her from getting the job. He shrugged and waved his hand again. Time climbed back on the treadmill.

=====

Sharon stood on her brakes, too shocked to scream as the trailer jack-knifed and skidded out of her way. The big truck scraped to a stop against the crash barrier and Sharon cautiously drove past. Out of the corner of her eye, she thought she saw a deer running into the trees, away from danger. Just like me, she thought. I guess Lady Luck just smiled on us both.

“Dallas, here we come!”

=====

Timmy’s face did indeed register a happy expression when the dice landed. He was not so pleased when someone jostled him and he turned around to see Death’s broad grin.


 

Previously published at Worth1000.com. Happy Throwback Thursday!