, August 2021

“Hi, Billy,” said Wanda, who’d been working the customer service counter at the IGA supermarket in town for 23 years.

“Hey, Wanda,” Billy said, 173 lottery tickets in hand. “Can you check these?”

“Sure,” she said, then began running the tickets through the scanner, making piles of the winners and losers.

“Thirty-seven dollars,” Wanda said.

“Ugh. Alright, put that on quick-picks for the Mega-Millions, then I’ll need ten on a quick-pick four-way box, twenty on a six-way—”

“Thirty on a twelve-way,” Wanda continued for him, “forty on a 24-way, and a carton of GPC 100s.”

“That’s why I love ya, Wanda,” Billy chuckled, then started coughing.

“Mommy,” said the blond-haired girl holding her nose on line behind him, “that man smells bad!”

“Hush, Sarah Leigh Lymon!” her mother said, holding the filled-out application for the IGA Discount Club card.

Billy removed his camouflage-print Velcro wallet from his Wranglers and extracted the crisp twenties he’d just received at the check-cashing store, then handed them to Wanda. She handed back his fresh tickets, the carton of cigarettes, and his change.

“Thanks, Wanda!” Billy said.

“You bet, Billy! See you next week!”

“The lady behind us smells too,” Sarah Leigh said to her mother.

“They all do, sweetie,” she responded, both looking at the line behind them extending nearly into the entrance foyer, most with lottery and scratch-off tickets in hand. ▪