Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Charade (08/14/08)
TITLE: The Bet's Off
By Allison Egley
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Kevin took in his surroundings: the bright lights, the sounds of laughter, and the cheers of victory. He wanted to scream. <i>Don't you know what you're doing? Can't you see the lies? The scams?</i> Instead, he walked out to his car; the car for which he couldn't afford the next payment. He got in, his head hung low. As he turned the key, he stopped. He had one more thing to do.
Kevin walked back into the casino. "Hello," a cheery voice greeted. "Welcome to Lucky Strikes."
"I... I..." <i>Come on. You can do this.</i> Kevin found his voice again, and looked the lady right in the eyes. "I'd like to add myself to the state's self-ban list."
"You know this is for life, right, Sir?"
"Yes." Kevin didn't even take the time to read all the specifics, for fear that he would back out. With a defining thud, he slapped the papers onto the counter and walked away.
Maybe now he could begin to recover. How had it ever gotten this far? It had started out so simply. A way to relieve some stress and spend a small portion of his hard earned money. But the hobby soon grew out of hand. It led to lies to his wife. She thought his extra job was to save for their son's college fund. She thought it went straight into a separate savings account, and never questioned why she didn't see any of it. The truth was the extra job was to support his gambling habit.
But now, everything was gone. The checking account would be overdrawn with the next purchase, and the little money left in savings would be spent trying to correct the problem. Only now, even that wasn't enough.
Kevin drove home slowly, taking the scenic route, as he thought about how he was going to break the news to his wife. The idea of suicide crossed his mind. No, he thought. That wouldn't solve anything. His wife would still have to pay for his consequences. She didn't need a dead husband and father on top of it all.
He thought of his son, Kevin Jr. He had just turned one, and had called him "Dada" for the first time last weekend. No, it wasn't worth it. He'd get through this somehow.
As he passed the park by his house, Kevin stopped the car. He found a picnic bench overlooking the pristine lake, watching as families enjoyed the warm Friday night. His head in his hands, he cried out, not caring who may hear him. "Lord, I don't deserve Your love. I don't deserve Your grace. I don't deserve Your mercy, and I certainly don't deserve Your forgiveness. I come before You a broken man, asking You to pick up the shattered pieces. I come seeking Your mercy and forgiveness. Lord, I don't want you to simply put the pieces back together. Take the pieces and refine them like pure gold. Make something completely new, Lord, and do away with the old!" Heavy sobs shook his weary body. "Create in me a clean heart, oh God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence, and take not Your Holy Spirit form me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain with me a willing spirit."
Kevin stood up and walked toward the car. His eyes caught a small piece of paper on the ground. As he picked it up to throw it away, he turned it over.
<i>Gamblers Anonymous, Local Chapter
Call Charles at 555-3412 for more information.</i>
Kevin opened his wallet. He took out his Lucky Rewards Card from the casino and ripped it up. In its spot he placed the tattered business card.
As he stared at the pieces of the rewards card into the dirt, he thought again of the turn his life had taken. Gambling. It was such a charade! Kevin chuckled at the irony. Charades was a game, just like Blackjack. But both were so much more than a game. Both had the power to ruin lives forever.
Scripture taken from Psalm 51:10-13 (NASB)
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