Believe In Magick
Believe In Magick
by Chuck RitenouR
Louise and Martha were identical twins. They had lived their entire lives in the small Southern town of Front Royal, Virginia in a rented two bedroom apartment. The girls were seldom apart. Louise was a girly girl. She loved to dress up in her mother's clothes and pretend she was a princess. Martha was more of a tomboy. She was always bringing home stray animals. Their parents, who were not wealthy, had perished in an automobile accident a few weeks after they graduated from high school. This left the girls alone to deal with all the details which came as a result of their parents early and totally unexpected demise. There was very little money. Their mother had been a stay-at-home mom. Their father had worked as a lawn-care specialist. He carried a small life insurance policy. Once everything had been arranged and payment was made, there was barely two thousand dollars left.
Louise convinced Martha they should take the money and move to the city. She was certain they would do well. So, the girls decided to move to New York City. They rented a small one- bedroom apartment in Queens a few blocks from the Cross Bay Boulevard subway station. Louise got a job as a server in a small Italian restaurant in the Bronx. Martha got a job as a server in a small Italian restaurant just across the street. Both restaurants did a brisk lunch business. The girls worked hard and pooled their tips and wages. Between the two of them, they always seemed to have enough money to pay their rent and never go hungry.
Occasionally, one of them would receive a very good tip. Whenever this occurred, they would split the money and splurge. Louise and Martha would take the subway into Manhattan. Louise would go to Macy's Department Store and Martha would go to Central Park. Louise would spend several hours looking for a bargain in the Lady's Department.Martha would buy a few small bags of corn and peanuts from a street vendor and sit on a park bench feeding the pigeons and squirrels.
One day, I believe it was a Tuesday, an old man walked into the restaurant where Louise was working. She was very busy. The old man was dressed in a thread-bare gray suit which, though it had seen better days, was spotlessly clean. The man, who appeared to be in his eighties, was immaculately groomed. His hair was cut short. His blue eyes were clear and seemed to twinkle. The old man put his hand on Louise's arm and said, "Miss, I'm very tired and thirsty. I don't have enough money to enjoy a meal. I was hoping I could bother you for a small glass of water."
Louise spun around and removed the old man's hand. "Sir, we're very busy as you can see. Wait here and as soon as I finish cleaning this table, I'll get you a glass of water." She carried the dirty dishes and silverware back to the kitchen to the dish washer. "Here you go, Ben." She said. Ben grunted and took the dishes. "You have an order up," the cook said. Louise balanced the plates on her arms and walked back into the dining room.
She was on her way back into the kitchen when the old man stopped her and asked, "Miss, can I have that small glass of water now?" Louise frowned at the old man and said rather harshly, "Sir, you can see I'm very busy with paying customers. You'll have to wait until I can find a moment. Louise turned and walked back into the kitchen. "Roger, I'm taking a cigarette break in the back," she said to the cook as she walked passed the huge walk-in freezer and out the backdoor into the alley. She leaned against the wall and lit a cigarette. She looked all around her. There was trash overflowing from the dumpster. The sky was bright, but she could not see the sun for the tall buildings. A tear began to make its way down her cheek. She closed her eyes tight and said to herself, "What was I thinking? Why, oh why did I ever think coming to the city would be a good idea?" She put her cigarette out and threw the butt on the ground. When she breezed back into the dining room the old man was gone. She never gave him a second thought.
Meanwhile, Martha was very busy in the restaurant across the street. As she was clearing an empty table, the old man put his hand upon her arm. She looked down at the hand and turned slowly towards the old man."Miss, I'm very tired and thirsty. I don't have enough money to enjoy a meal. I was hoping I could bother you for a small glass of water." He said. "Sir, we're very busy. If you wouldn't mind having a seat at this table, I'll bring you a glass of water in a second," she said. The old man sat down at the table. "I'll be right back," Martha said as she carried the dirty dishes and silverware to the dish washer. Bobby grunted as he took the dirty dishes from her. "You've got an order up, Martha," Mike the cook said. "Just a sec, Mike." Martha poured a tall glass of water and walked into the dining room. "Sir, someone ordered a ham sandwich and never came to pick it up. Would you like a bite to eat? It won't cost you a thing," she asked. "Why yes, that would be wonderful. But may I ask you a question?" the old man inquired. "Why of course.ask away," Martha said, flashing a big smile. "Young lady do you believe in magick?" the old man asked. The look on his face was one of seriousness. "Yes sir. I believe magick is everywhere, working all the time. Now let me get you that sandwich."
Martha walked back into the kitchen. "Mike, I haven't had lunch yet and we're really busy. Could you make me a ham sandwich?" Mike laughed. "Who are you feeding now?" he asked and shook his head. Bobby said, "She orders the same thing every day and always seems to find someone else to eat it." Martha smiled at Bobby and said, "I remember giving you one of those ham sandwiches before I got Mike to hire you as a dish washer." Mike laughed and said, "Worse mistake I ever made was hiring both of you.Here's your sandwich. I hope you don't starve to death working in my restaurant. It wouldn't look good." She could hear the laughter as she pushed through the door to the dining room. She sat the sandwich on the table in front of the old man. She could see the gratitude in his eyes.
"Thank you so very much. Young lady. could I ask your name?" the old man said as he prepared to take a bite of the ham sandwich. "Of course, my name is Martha." She said. The old man touched her arm again and said,"If you could have one wish, what would you wish to have?" he said in a very soft and hushed tone, as if he wanted only her to hear. "Well that's an easy question. I'd like to win tonight's one hundred fifty million dollar lottery. Sometimes I dream of winning the lottery and think of all the things I could do with the money. Well at least my share. I'd want my sister to have half." From the kitchen the sound of a bell being rung told Martha she had another order ready to serve. "I hope you have a wonderful day," she said to the old man as she left to enter the kitchen. Though she did not hear him, the old man said, "I hope you enjoy your wish." When she came back into the dining room, the old man and the sandwich were gone, leaving only an empty glass to show he had ever been there at all.
Both restaurants closed at ten o'clock every evening. Martha and Louise would spend about an hour cleaning and setting tables for tomorrow's lunch crowd. If Louise finished first, she would wait outside the restaurant where Martha worked and smoke a cigarette or two. If Martha finished first, she would walk across the street and help Louise finish. Then they'd both walk together to the subway and take it home.
Tonight as with most nights, Martha finished first. She said good-bye to Mike and Bobby before leaving. "I'm all done, boys. Is there anything else I can do before I leave?" she asked. "No. I suppose you're itching to get across the street and help Louise," Mike said. Bobby asked, "How was that ham sandwich today?" He and Mike burst out in laughter. "Oh, you boys," Martha said between laughs. "I'll see you tomorrow," she added as she walked out of the kitchen.
As she entered the restaurant across the street Ben said, "Hi Martha. I was hoping I'd get to see you tonight." Then Ben looked down at the floor as he said, "There is a late night John Wayne movie marathon next Monday at the Zigfield. I was wondering if you'd like to go. It would be my treat." "Why thank you, Ben. I'd love to go with you, but let's wait until we see how the week plays out before we make it a date," she said. Ben looked up with a smile so big it would have broken a dishonest face. "Okay Martha. No problem. I hope you won't think too poorly of me if I say I'll be hoping the answer is yes," he said.
Just then Louise can out of the ladies' room and said,"I was wondering if you'd ever get here. I've cleaned the ladies' room. Could you get the men's room for me while I vacuum the dining room? Then, we can get the hell out of here." "Sure, I'll get it," Martha said. Ben put his hand on Martha's arm and asked, "Why do you come over here night after night and work for free?" Martha smiled and winked at Louise. "Ben, I thought you knew. I do it so I can see you every night, " she said in a joking manner. Ben blushed and looked down at the floor. It was not a joke. It was a partial truth. Martha thought Ben was a honest, thoughtful, hard-working man. She sometimes would think of him and daydream of what it would be like to be his wife. Ben was a little shy, and though he had the same daydream, he could never summon the courage to tell Martha how he felt. "Jesus, Martha get moving or we'll miss our train," Louise snapped.
On their way to the subway platform, Louise spotted a quarter on the ground. She bent down and picked it up. At that very moment a gentle breeze blew a slip of paper a few feet in front of Louise. Martha saw it and realized immediately that it was a lottery ticket. She went after it, and after a few quick steps, held the ticket in her hand. She walked a few extra steps and stood beneath the street light. She checked the date on the ticket. It was for tonight's lottery drawing. "Hey, we're double lucky tonight," she said to Louise. "You found a quarter and I just found a lottery ticket for tonight's drawing." "Well at least my quarter is worth something," Louise replied. She dropped the quarter into her purse. Martha opened her purse, took out her wallet, and carefully put the lottery ticket inside. As they continued on their way, Martha suddenly remembered the old man and his question. "I do believe in magick," she said quietly.
The week passed as work weeks usually do. Both restaurants were closed on Mondays. When Martha walked into the restaurant across the street to help Louise, Ben met her at the door. "Have you given any thought about going to the Zigfield with me tomorrow night?" Ben asked. Martha studied Ben's face for a moment. He had the dark complexion of most men from Sicily. His eyes were as blue as the summer sky. Martha said, " Yes I have Ben. I would love to go with you." The smile on Ben's face went from ear to ear. "But you'll have to allow me to buy the first bag of pop corn," she said.
Just then Roger came out of the kitchen."Have you heard the news? Someone won the lottery last Tuesday night, but no one has claimed the prize," he said. Martha remembered the ticket she had found and stuck in her wallet. "What were the numbers, Roger. I have a ticket that I forgot all about." Roger went back into the kitchen and returned with a New York Times. He flipped through the pages and quickly found the page he needed. Martha retrieved the ticket and looked at the numbers as Roger read them. "Four, nineteen, twenty-seven, thirty-one, forty-six, and the power ball is eleven," he said. Martha's head began to spin, and she could not stop her legs from buckling. Ben was standing close enough to catch her before she hit the dining room floor.
Louise picked up the lottery ticket, which had fallen out of Martha's hand, off the floor. "My God, Oh, my God," was all she could manage to say. She handed the ticket to Roger. "Son of a biscuit!" he said. Martha was still in Ben's strong arms when she regained consciousness. He said, "I guess this changes everything. Martha, you're rich, I guess I have to go to the movies alone after all."
As you might imagine, Monday morning Louise and Martha were in a yellow cab on their way to Albany with the ticket. Upon arrival at the Lottery Administration Building they were met by a sea of reporters and flashing cameras. They accepted a cash pay out of a little over eighty million dollars, half of which was electronically deposited in each of their bank accounts. Louise now had over forty million dollars. Her head was spinning thinking of every thing she could buy. Martha also had forty million dollars. All she could think about was all the limitless possibilities to help others.
After posing for pictures with a huge card board check, they spent a few hours being interviewed, answering questions like "are you going to quit your job?" and "what are planning to do with all that money?". Louise said she was going to buy a car because she was tired of taking the subway.So, they went directly from the lottery administration building to a Porsche dealership. Louise purchased a sweet little red sports car. It was the first time she had ever written a check for sixty-thousand dollars. Martha was still in shock. It was going to take some time to get used to the idea.
Louise drove them back to their apartment. A small crowd had gathered there. People from the Red Cross, people from the Salvation Army, one and all with requests for contributions for their organizations. Louise just pushed by them, ignoring their requests. Before she entered the apartment building she said to the crowd, "This is the very last time any of you will see me again."
The crowd turned their attention to Martha. As she reached the door, she turned and said, "Tomorrow I will put a notice in the New York Times with the address of an attorney. You can contact him with your requests. I promise I'll give them the attention they deserve." "Are you going to leave with your sister?" a lady from the Diabetes Association asked. "Not immediately. I have a date with a friend tonight. Tomorrow, I'll contact an attorney. However, I'm pretty certain I'll eventually return to my hometown in Virginia.
Ben was standing in line in front of the Zigfield's ticket window. He was next in line. When the girl behind the window asked how many tickets, Ben said "One please." A voice directly behind him said, "Don't you mean two?" Ben spun around. There stood Martha wearing faded blue jeans, a tee-shirt with the likeness of John Wayne on the front of it, and tennis shoes. "I didn't think, I mean I thought." Ben stammered. Martha smiled and asked,"Ben, do you believe in magick?" " I'm Sicilian. If I never believed in magick before tonight, I swear I believe in it now," Ben answered. He put his arms around Martha, and there in front.of the Zigfield Theatre, kissed Martha for the first.time "I believe in magick," he whispered in her ear.