For over thirty years Paco did his daily rounds of the bars and cafés with his clipboard of lottery tickets hung across his chest. This man, crippled by polio as a child, was known well by everyone in the village and was himself thought to be a lucky omen. He had always bought a small fraction of every number he offered and almost twenty years ago he brought joy to the village by distributing a winning ticket of which many people had bought a share.
Land mortgages were paid, tractors were replaced, and houses rebuilt. The people here were pragmatic and little ostentation was observed. He himself came out of it very nicely and his modest needs were met for life. He bought a specially adapted 2CV car, which he rarely drove, and continued his daily rounds. Every morning he would take a coffee or a beer in each of the village’s five establishments and never offered his tickets for sale; people would buy if they wanted to. After lunch and a short siesta he would repeat his morning’s route. This, he explained, was his life. He loved to talk and to listen, to serious news and to gossip alike, and saw no need to change his habits.
Five months ago all this changed forever. He had carried and sold a large number of fractions of the winning ticket in the huge Christmas lottery. The legendary win of twenty years ago was insignificant compared to this. Over fifty families had become rich overnight and the prosperity of the village was assured. Paco was now an old man and had not bought a share of the ticket, had indeed not bought a share of any ticket for some time, and he did not care. His 2CV was still reliable and he wanted for nothing. He felt blessed by this great occurrence and looked forward to spending his remaining years basking serenely under the glowing lamp of prosperity which he had lit.
Along with the euphoria of the winners soon came the complaints and supplications of the dozen or so people who had let lapse their weekly purchase of that ticket number, in some cases months earlier. Paco had sold some outstanding tickets to other people, had returned the rest to the lottery administration, and nothing was to be done. They must have known this, but still they pursued him and hounded him and, worst of all, called him a cheat and a liar. They were mostly working men with steady jobs who now felt poor. They couldn’t bear to see the new tractors and four-wheel-drive cars parked outside their bar or café and the constant movement of builders’ wagons, so they took out their frustration on Paco. He began to avoid certain places and to spend more and more time at home. By spring he was no longer to be seen with his clipboard of tickets.
Paco’s funeral was a quiet affair, as was the desire of his few surviving family members.