I started to walk into the family room to watch some TV only to find the lights off and a single votive candle burning on a side table near Pavo’s cage. I flipped on the light switch and all hell broke loose.
“No! No! No!” I heard Pavo cry. “No lights! No lights Big Guy! You’re killing the spell!”
“Spell? What are you talking about? What spell?”
“I’m clairvoyancing the future for Mrs. Big Guy. She asked me for some lottery information and I was just about to conjure it up when you barged in here.”
“Wait a minute Pavo. You’re not making up numbers for Chinese fortune cookies again are you? I’ve tried a few of those and come up short every time.”
“That’s not the way it works Big Guy. I just predetermine the overview not the details. I don’t do numbers.”
“Come on Pavo. Why should anyone believe that?”
“Easy Big Guy. I read doodoo dots on the bottom of my cage. You know how fortune-tellers read tea leaves? Well I have the same power, only I use the dots on the paper lining the bottom of my cage. I have an impeccable track record. It’s proven. It’s accurate. And you can give it a try if you are interested”
I narrowed my eyes and squinted at him but I think he took that as a look of disapproval.
“You don’t seem to favor the idea BG.”
“If it works Pavo, who am I to question? But I’m sure that the nature of the results will be consistent with the source.”
This was the first time since I rescued him that I had an opportunity to question the extraordinary powers he claimed to have. So I decided to give it a shot and test him a little bit more.
“Okay Pavo. Here’s the deal. What is the winning number combination for the Mega Mammoth Lottery drawing tonight?”
“No dice Big Guy. You don’t understand the way the game is played.”
“Sure I do. Match five numbers plus the Big Ball number and you win the whole jackpot. Tonight’s pot is humungous. It could have you rolling in luxury seed for the rest of your life.”
“I’m not talking about the lottery game Big Guy. It’s MY game you don’t understand. You see, I’ve observed quite a few fortune tellers in my short life especially when I was riding with a traveling carnival during my recent cross-country tour. Middle America, like Iowa or Nebraska, that’s where the best customers lived. Yessir. I have the gift.”
“Really? How does this telepathic tell-all actually work?”
You can ask me any question you want Big Guy but I can only conjure up a generalized answer. No names, dates, addresses or phone numbers. If you ask me if you have won or lost, I can answer that. But if your question is too specific and you want a definitive answer, I have to fudge and hedge a bit. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have any faith in me.”
“Okay Pavo. Here’s the deal. I have a lottery ticket for tonight’s drawing for the Mega Mammoth Lottery. Am I a winner or a loser?”
I thought I heard a brief chuckle, as if he had an opinion that might be contrary to mine. “That’s the same question Mrs. Big Guy had already asked me when you broke up my meditation a few minutes ago.”
“Then you already have an answer?”
“No but I’ll do it all over again. Your arrival on the scene crashed the earlier try. But first douse the light. It kills the mood.”
He slid down the side of his cage and started scratching around on the bottom in the dim light. He cocked his head, leaning first to one side, then to the other as he studied the dot patterns. Finally, he bowed down and hid his head under his right wing. Some muted mumbo jumbo came out but I couldn’t make out what he was saying.
He fluffed his wings, snapped up his head and stood erect but looked dazed as if coming out of a trance.
“Okay,” he said, “I have results you’ll like. Yessir. You’re a winner.”
“Thank you. Thank you. Thank you Pavo. And for all your troubles, here’s some premium seed for you. And enjoy yourself. I’ll replace the bottom paper of your cage later.”
“Don’t be too quick Big Guy. That’s sacred ground you’re tampering with. It may still have a few more meaningful predictions left on it.”
Later that evening I could hardly wait for the lottery results. I stayed up two hours past my usual bedtime, until eleven, settled down in my recliner and clicked the remote to get the local TV station carrying the results. As usual, they were having trouble with the transmission and the results were delayed until the end of the newscast. After wading through the local murder, mayhem and mutilation, and following the hyper gussied up weather report, the day’s stock market failings and the bone-headed banter between the talking hairdos, the lottery numbers were displayed on a crawl line at the bottom of the screen.
I couldn’t believe it. Finally my perseverance was about to pay off. But, as I studied the numbers, only the Big Ball agreed with the numbers on my ticket. The rest weren’t even in the same neighborhood. Because it was well past my bedtime I couldn’t wait for the correction so, the first thing in the morning, I hotfooted it down to Marty’s Smart Mart where I bought the ticket to confirm my winning numbers.
Marty was behind the counter. He scanned the ticket and watched the computer screen. “Yup,” he said, “you’re a winner. But you gotta decide how you wanna get paid off? You want the two bucks or do you want a couple candy bars?”
I took my Snickers Bar and a roll of Necco Wafers and headed home. I decided that next time the choice would be between being a big winner or a little winner.
It makes a difference.