“Come into the house. You’re getting soaked.”
Jack hesitated before stepping through the door. He stood dripping on the welcome mat as Frank closed the door. Moving and thinking were beyond him at the moment.
Frank took in the passivity, the paleness of Jack’s skin. He disappeared for a moment, returning with an almost threadbare towel and handing it to the other man.
Jack just held the towel for several seconds before using it to dry his hair. The glimpses Frank caught of his face weren’t reassuring. Jack looked lost.
When Jack stopped dripping, Frank took the towel from his hands and and tossed on the beat up end table. He nudged Jack in the direction of the sofa, sighing a bit at the shabby, stained upholstery. It took a slightly stronger nudge to get the other man to sit down.
Frank took a seat too, shifting slightly as a spring made itself felt through the thin cushion.
“Talk to me, Jack. What happened?”
Jack stared at him, eyes wide and mouth working, but no words coming out. Frank took a deep breath. He’d never seen Jack like this – something truly horrendous must of happened.
Jack ran a hand through his hair, then shoved the same hand into his coat pocket, digging for something. He needed a new coat and Frank winced as the frayed seams reminded him of how hard it had been to find the money for that one. But they’d manage somehow. They always did.
Jack found what he was looking for, pulling a crumpled slip of paper from his pocket. He smoothed it out against his knee and handed it to Frank without a word.
It was little more than a scrap and was in sad shape. The six numbers on it told Frank why Jack had been hesitant to show it to him. Jack had spent money they didn’t really have on a lottery ticket.
He’d just been looking at the winning numbers from the last drawing and at least a couple of numbers on Jack’s ticket seemed to match. He pulled the paper over and opened it to the right page. His fingers tapped the paper as he compared the numbers.
He lifted his eyes from that scrap of paper to Jack’s face. Jack nodded and a slow smile spread across his face.