Winner? - By Mizeta Moon

The price of fame turned out to be total loss of privacy. It wasn’t like he sought fame through being talented, smart, or connected–it came through a stroke of luck. Or maybe it wasn’t luck if one looked at it a different way. He’d stopped at a convenience store to buy a burrito and bought a Power Ball ticket on a whim. He didn’t usually gamble but thought two bucks to win over a billion was worth a shot. When they announced the winning numbers, he nearly had a heart attack. Having the only winning ticket meant that he was suddenly a very rich man. Unfortunately, what seemed like a blessing became a burden and a curse. He lived in a state where winners had their photo published in the paper so suddenly everyone knew his name and where he lived.

Bad feelings between him, his family, and friends developed when he didn’t pass out large sums of cash or invest in their schemes. He wasn’t miserly. He was willing to share. He just didn’t give people as much as they asked for. At restaurants and bars he was expected to pick up the tab for people who ordered top shelf instead of their usual fare. His mailbox was flooded with requests to help thousands of sick or dying children and abandoned animals. It seemed there was a huge pocket of need he was expected to fill or be deemed an ogre. It didn’t matter that he’d been poor his entire life with no one helping him survive. He felt like he was riding a carousel in a nightmare theme park where he was doomed to endless circles.

He was so used to a minimal lifestyle that he wasn’t capable of becoming extravagant and living large. When he moved out of his apartment it was to a small cabin in the woods instead of a beachfront condo on a tropical island. Instead of a Maserati he bought an antique Power Wagon that could handle back roads with ease. He did buy a new TV, and upgraded his devices so he could stay abreast of the outside world while slipping into the shadows for protection from predators. When he did go into town he wore a ball cap, sunglasses, and a hoodie. Even then, people he’d known for years managed to recognize him and stuck their hands out. He was becoming a hated man due to the jealousy and envy of others instead of his actions and attitude.

He'd never been popular with women but it wasn’t long before his email was flooded with offers of sex and marriage so he had to cancel his account. He had no idea how the address became public knowledge. The day came that he realized there might be no respite unless he sold everything and moved out of the country or gave away his fortune and went back to his previous way of life. That felt like losing and seemed unfair. It wasn’t his fault that others weren’t as fortunate.

So, he decided to put a few million in trusts for various charities, then applied for a name change and a passport. When those came through, he transferred the bulk of his fortune to a Swiss bank and invested the rest in CDs that would mature over time. The few people he cared about received a check in the mail before he booked passage to London. From there he planned to travel to places where no one would have the slightest idea who he was. He loved to hike and ride trains so he could become just another tourist exploring out of the way places and sampling local cuisine. Hopefully, he would meet a woman with similar inclinations along the way. If they fell for him, it would be based on genuine feelings instead of a desire for financial gain. Meanwhile, adventure was in the offing and he was ready for anonymity.  

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