Week #18 – Lucky number

Groups of three plus one by Llyvonne Barber

Take my identity . . . please! by Guy Yasko

— Let me tell you about e. Now, all the other numbers say e is lucky; they admire her natural-yet-transcendental qualities. But she herself will tell you that having been raised by i and π, she can be a negative one. She thinks “hey, when i was in a relationship with some one with a multiplicative identity, it all ended in a big zero.”

— It’s like a Niagara attraction. You take a koan, something that should be approached circumspectly, meditated upon and turn it into a dumb joke. Euler’s identity is a thing of beauty. Why should those numbers relate, and relate so elegantly? And yet they do: eiπ + 1 = 0.

— That is the dominant aesthetic, yes. Numbers are the servants of the state apparatus, the lackeys of engineers and of capital. And what is not bourgeois banality is sublime genius, utterly apart from the workaday world, the product of an intellectual asceticism. It’s a kind of piety. I want laughs. I want drama, mud-wrestling, eating contests…

— If i can’t enjoy Euler’s identity, i don’t want a part in your mathematics.

— Who’s not enjoying it? I am. Just in a different way.

Add it up by Bernard Heise

He was born in Berlin in 1933 – an unlucky year. Yet one of his earliest memories was of his mother telling him that he had a lucky number. He asked her a few times what it was, but she always told him that he needed to find out for himself. So he stopped asking and started wondering instead. Was it twelve? For that was the address of their building in the working class neighborhood of Wedding which for some reason remained unmolested by both allied bombs and Soviet soldiers. Or perhaps 53, the year they immigrated to Canada, where he worked off his debt to the government in Alberta’s sugar beet fields and later bought a modest farm in the rough country north of Edmonton. When gazing upon his wife, he’d wonder if it was the number one, for their love, which ignited young, had matured but never waned. Perhaps it was two, the sum of his daughters, both beautiful and well-adjusted; while unimportant in the eyes of the world, they were his inestimable treasure. Then one spring, while fixing a wire fence, his 73-year old heart collapsed and he fell back into the snow. Gazing up at the blue sky for what he knew was the last time, he observed his own death: painless, easy, and quick. Which made him consider the number three. And so he died, never actually knowing what his lucky number was but having lived a life in which he’d always counted his blessings.

Lucky Number’s father by Al McDermid

When he became old enough to know that names were given by parents, in his case, by his mother, and realizing that she could have named him anything, he was not happy knowing that she chose to name him ‘Lucky’. His sister, Fortuna, couldn’t understand why he was so upset. “You don’t have a dog’s name,” he had told her.

His mother, Prima, had said it was because his father, Wrong, had been, well, just wrong. “When I was dating your father,” mother said, “my mama had said ‘that man is wrong for you’. I thought she was making a bad joke, but turned out she was right and he was wrong.”

The Number family lived in Manhattan, near the corner 5th Street and 3rd Avenue, but Wrong was always ending up at the corner of 3rd Street and Thompson (what would have been 5th Avenue had the numbering system stretched into Greenwich Village), wandering around looking for his apartment. Most of the people in that neighborhood came to know him and someone would eventually call Lucky to come and collect him.

Then somehow, while on his way to a cryptology conference in Munich, Wrong managed to get on a plane flying to Manila.

A few weeks later, after no word at all, Lucky received a postcard from his father. The front of the card was of the Banaue rice terraces; the back read:

“I’m living in a small village with no addresses. I think I’ll stay awhile.”

Genesis by Roberta Lawson

I read that hyenas come out of the womb already fighting. In that sentiment I recognised you.

Inside me you kicked and cartwheeled– me bent double with nausea but still a strange smile on my face- convinced that after three boys, I had a female martial artist growing in my abdomen. The doctors muttered nervously about Caesarans. Your father took to pubs at night-time, late business meetings, more and more time stood outside smoking, and stopped quite meeting my eye. I wrapped my arms around the swollen drum of my belly and still I couldn’t stop smiling. Your brothers were grown already. From then, it’d be you and I.

November — you sprang from me, red-white and slippery, arched a finger at the world, drew a breath, exhaled– roared. And I thought yes – yes, this is what I’ve been waiting for.

Spider by Kelly Grotke

This is where I will build my web, near the light from an open window, and wait for my meal to come. Amor fati. A mere spider, not very widely read but I did read once that we are born to catch flies as humans are to be consumed by sorrows, even though it troubles me sometimes that I can see no horizon beyond this truth, the magnitude of it all makes me quiver when it overtakes me, I lose my step and you can imagine the result. But then I remember that I am nowhere else but here and now, and I continue with my work, leaving the rest up to chance and luck, since whether I feast or starve depends on endless backward-bending causes far beyond my awareness, which is, as I have already admitted, very limited, and also incapable of irony. It is said that only humans are aware of the past and capable of divining its mysteries, untangling freedom from necessity and, so they say, from themselves in the process, but I am a mere spider, and all my expressive spinning is a mechanical tendency peculiar to my kind, an interpolation in the corner of someone’s window, and if my mistakes along with labor’s endless contingencies deny my work the perfection of pure geometric abstraction after which I so evidently strive, it is good then to remember that we cannot feed forever on ideals without going hungry.

Numberplate by Matt Potter

My mother was never the happiest of people.

She turned to me one day, rubbish and other detritus piled high around her in the garage and said, “I want to give you this.” It was a numberplate from a car. Just one.

I did not recognise the numbers, but took it gracefully and wondered aloud why she wanted me to have it.“

It has great sentimental value to me,” she said, eyes misting. It was clearly painful for her to talk about, so I let it slide.

After she died, clearing out her safe deposit box at the local bank, I found more numberplates. There were ten, all polished and shining, just one each, not both to complete a set, and of different vintages. I had no idea she had ever collected them.

And with them was a brief letter, on which was written, To be opened in the event of my death, Marion Slipkowiecz, in her familiar scrawl.

My life has not been the best, often miserable, she had written on the paper. But whenever I had a nice time, I would take the numberplate off a nearby car, as a memento. Perhaps you could track down the owners and give them back. They are the milestones of my life.

Of course I kept them. They hang above my desk, alphabetised and descending. I have no idea which happy moments they marked in my mother’s life, but despite their minimum cheer, they oddly connect us.

Game Night by Shelagh Power-Chopra

I play poker with these guys on Tuesdays. Most of them are parents; smoking, drinking, holding kids under arms, talking politics. Some are lucky, others just dumb, not wise to the seasons, not wise to signals, not wise to love. I think Sam is having an affair with Nan, he leans over the table and taps his ash in her ashtray, tap, tap, I’m not looking at your hand, no, no, he winks heavily as if a lead sinker was thrown on his eyelid. She’s motionless, her husband at the next table, grim, studying faces and dirty chips. I fucked the dealer in his car last game, he gives good face, his eyes always going nowhere fast. I hear crying in a bathroom and someone kicks a chair clean across the room. There’s a dirty bowl of peanuts next to a boy sleeping on the couch. I drink too much, stain the rug, a wide, red splash of wine thrown down like a poor hand. He’s got a flush!, someone yells in the next room–the first in weeks, doughy knuckles grab the pot, happy grumblings.

7 + 2 = 9, and We All Know What That Means in German by Martin Brick

His dad said two was the ideal number, for martinis and breasts. One, something’s missing. Three, gluttonous. Good rule, so developed the progressive martini. Keep refreshing while you drink. Glass never goes dry – only counts as one.

But he’s thinking about sevens on his seventh wedding anniversary. Seven-year itch. He thinks that has something to do with divorce. Seven’s the hump. Make it over, you’re okay.

Divorce sounded inviting that morning, with Sweetie nagging about the gutters. But by mid-afternoon he’s shiny from the first martini and gutters sound reasonable.

The ladder rises. He swigs, then climbs.

Seven-Year Itch is also a Marilyn Monroe film. The gin facilitates a blending of Sweetie and Monroe.

Gutter clear. Back down. Swig. Move the ladder. Swig. Up.

Back to thinking about twos because next door a bikini top does yard work . She sees him, waves. Makes him wonder… if given the chance? That morning he would have said “cheat.” Now, into martini one, no.

Down. Swig. Move. Swig.

He passes the bathroom window. Sweetie’s showering. Taps the glass. Eventually she answers.

“Wanna elope?”

“What are you doing?”

“Gutters! Happy Anniversary.”

“The sitter will be here in an hour.” Her tone is sharp, like the morning. He was hoping for playful. And a peek. But she wears a towel.

Down. Swig. Move. Big swig. Up faster.

The next thing he remembers is the paramedic. “How many fingers?”


“Good.” Sweetie emerges over the paramedic’s shoulder. “You feel alright?”

“Yes,” he answers. “Yes.”

Martini by Stephen Hastings-King

She drinks a chocolate martini. I fold myself up and slide into her pocket. There I join the others. We seven in her pocket talk animatedly about space, travel and the topologies of her breasts. She pays us no mind. We organize an expedition to the opening in her shirt. We want to slide around her skin. We climb carefully in a column. When she brushes us off her hand comes like a storm. Airborne I open myself to her length. My hand hovers just over her stomach. I disappear into details. She drinks a chocolate martini. She does not know my name.


Back to Wk #17 – We are not responsible

Forward to Wk #19 – The last time

2 Responses to “Week #18 – Lucky number

  1. Bernard,
    I loved this one before and I’m glad to have it to read here again. Beautiful.

    Eclectic names and avoiding meaningful numbers. This one made me smile.

    Loved this. Very visual.

    Great description, and the last line was perfect.

    I think this is one of my favorites by you. So sweetly sad.

  2. Shelagh,
    I guess lucky at cards, unlucky in love. I could picture this vividly.

    Sometimes couples are so clueless. You captured the difference between the sexes perfectly.

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