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My Two Voices This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

By , Dallas, TX
It was certainly not a humble place, that was an easy conclusion to make. It was a vast chamber of every conceivable matter of depravity of sin. It was, of course, a casino.

And I was young. Young, rich, and perhaps slightly drunk. I was the type who lives as different people—each passing moment yielding a different person for myself to call “me.” And so, with that mentality, who was I to care of the troubles—the regrets—of my future self? If each second was a different me entirely, then that meant me the next day—or the next week, or the next year—was just someone else, and, me being the selfish person that I was, not my concern.

Have I confused you? A mind like mine can be a complex thing. Indeed, it takes quite a complicated mindset to produce the sins I have.

“In heaven all the interesting people are missing.”

Friedrich Nietzsche said that once. The idea intrigues me. It is blasphemous, of course...but intriguing nonetheless. It is a good, yet agonizingly simple thing to commit an act of kindness and morality. It takes much stranger, more diverse conditions for evil and misdeed to take place. Are diversity and strangeness not more interesting than agonizing simplicity?

Of course, I do not endorse sin. Not anymore. But we can think and entertain without doing or advocating, can we not? That is the meaning of free thought.

But enough prelude. I introduce to you my story: It is not for your enjoyment but rather for your application. I do hope my terrible experiences will teach you. I cannot learn from my permanent mistake, but others can. I encourage you to draw something from my tragedy. I give it to you as the greatest gift I can give, for I can give no more...and yet I am giving you so much: The gift of having gifts to give.

It was an always-deadly combination: Infectious lights, a full wallet in my pocket, and several pints of alcohol...a threesome that has destroyed so many. I was a gambler at the time, and an ambitious one at that. Whenever I gambled, there was always a voice that constantly spoke to me during the time: Whispering, tempting, urging. That voice was called Greed. Greed was a persistent fellow, and I never was inclined to hold up long against him. Why should I? He seemed to have a happy marriage to his beautiful wife, a woman by the name of Luck.

Greed, Luck, and I stood together in the casino. We saw, a few yards from us, a spinning wheel of many colors. Other men and women stood around it, each accompanied by his or her own voices: A confident young woman by the name of Ambition. A spacious man who was known as Drunkenness. A poor, thin, sniveling old thing who was called Desperation. And many, many others. The three of us strode confidently up towards the gathering of people around the flashing rainbow wheel.

Approaching the man running the game, clad in a dark tuxedo and plagued with a permanently etched smile on his face, my hand went into my pocket and retrieved a bulging sack of chips. The man nodded to me.

“What will you be betting on today, sir?” He yelled over the noise of thumping club music and thousands of voices.

I looked to my left, at Luck, who was at the time surveying the wheel.

“Well?” I asked her.

“Red.” She replied. “Definitely red.”

I nodded. “Red.” I told the man in the tuxedo.

“And how much?” He asked.

I turned again, this time towards Greed. He returned my gaze, and smiled coyly.

“You know.” He half-whispered. “The usual.”

I grinned and turned back to the man. I handed him every betting chip I had.

“Everything.” I said, firmly. “Everything on red.”

The man smiled. “Daring, I see! We’ll just how long your confidence holds out, sir.” He took the chips, and tossed them into the betting pool. Then, he approached the wheel, meeting an enthusiastic chorus of cheering and yelling. Without a word, he spun.

Round and round the wheel spun, a blur of every conceivable color. It seemed never to slow down, until finally, the individual colors started to become more and more visible as the wheel began to slow. Gradually—but steadily—the wheel’s speed decreased, until it was slow enough that a group of colors that would probably win could be determined.

The small, bendable pin that was counting the colors, ticking past each one as the wheel turned, passed green. A veritable amount of disappointed and indignant cries of outrage could be heard among the crowd.

The pin passed blue. Another wave of disappointed shouting (as well as some less-than-polite words).

Finally, it reached red. It crossed the first peg on the wheel, entering the vicinity of the red section. Slowly, it approached the other peg—if it made it over that pin, I would have lost.

But moments before that happened, as the pin was bent against that conclusive peg, it stopped. The pin stayed in the red zone, and an explosion of shouting dispersed throughout the gathering. Greed, Luck, and I all smiled.

As I held the newly won chips in my hand, I stared down at them, confused. The chips must have been worth more than an average amount of money. A thousand dollars, at least...so why was I dissatisfied?

I concluded, as a person like me would have, that I did not have enough. I returned to the smiling man in the tuxedo and told him:

“I would like to bet again.”

The man raised his eyebrows. “Are you...sure?” He asked incredulously. “That’s an awful lot of money you have already.”

“Yes.” I told him confidently. “I’d like to bet on...” I turned to Luck. This time she had already made her decision.

“White.” She told me. “Yes...white looks good.”

I turned to Greed, barely doubting what his answer would be.

He smiled knowingly again. “Everything. Just as before.” He sneered cockily.

“Right then,” I said. “Everything on white!” I smiled.

“Good God, sir!” The tuxedo man was taken aback. “You already have a fair amount there, you would be mad to risk that twice!”

For the record, I was not mad, I was reckless. Rich. And determined to climb higher up a mountain destined for a terrible rockslide.

And so I did. Luck and Greed proved successful once more; the wheel landed on white without even considering any other color.

But even then, Greed turned to me and said,

“You can do even better! Luck never fails, she is a perfect weapon in this game! You could become the richest man in the world! You could buy anything—everything! The possibilities are limitless! Go again! And again, and again, and again! You cannot be stopped!” He was all but screaming by now.

I was a fool, of course, and as I said earlier, the quickest to give in to Greed. And so I played again. This time my color was blue. Once again, Luck and Greed proved powerful allies. The two were whispering aggressively behind me at the time, but I took no note of it: I was too busy winning.

I turned to Luck again, now for the fourth time, and asked for the color. She and Greed seemed to be nose to nose, red faced, and angry. Luck turned to me shortly.

“Green!” She said passively, glancing quickly at the wheel. Without a second thought, she resumed talking to Greed.

Without bothering to ask Greed (I knew his answer already), I turned to the man, who at this point was virtually stunned at my fortune.

“Everything on Green!” I towered over him, daring him to challenge my brilliance. He did not, for he was in awe (rightfully so).

The wheel spun, and spun some more, over and over again, seeming to take longer than ever this time. Behind me, Luck and Greed’s voices grew louder and louder; they seemed to be arguing about something. But I kept my eyes fixated on the wheel. It slowed down, and the colors were narrowed down. As it was about to come to a stop, the pin hovered over the green section. I grinned, knowing that I would once again be victorious. It slowed...it was almost stopped!

But then, the unthinkable happened. Miraculously, the pin crossed the threshold into the blue area—right next to green. I had lost!

As the tuxedo man grinned triumphantly at me, enjoying my downfall, I spun around to Luck and Greed. They were now viciously arguing.

“I am a weapon?” She yelled. “A tool? What are you, then? Nothing more than lust and sin! How dare you discredit me?”

“You’re being ridiculous! I am Greed! It is my job to convince others to want! I was merely convincing our friend into gambling again! You are overreacting!”

“Overreacting?” Luck sputtered angrily. “You are—I can’t believe—I will hear no more!”

She turned, poised to go speeding out of the room.

And that she did. She sped to the door and left. She sprinted across and exited. She shot from the casino to the outside.

Luck ran out.

Greed and I stared after her for a moment. Then, shaking his head, he turned back to me.

“What happened?” He asked, noticing the look of disappointment on my face, and the lack of a huge bag of betting chips in my hand.

“I lost.” I told him emptily. “I lost everything.”

Greed looked shocked. “But Luck told you...she’s never wrong!”

“She wasn’t really listening.” I replied. “She was distracted.”

“What do we do?” Greed was disheveled. “How do we recover? Do you have any more chips?”

I fished into my pocket and found one or two extra. “Just these.” I told him.

“We can use those.” Greed decided. We returned to the tuxedo man.

“Back again?” The man was about to burst out laughing. Wordlessly, I handed him my remaining chips.

“Put those on...black.” I decided, staring at the wheel and wondering how Luck could do the magic she did.

“Whatever you wish.” The man took the chips and turned away, just in time. His shoulders started shaking as he laughed heavily.

I turned away, too.

The wheel spun. It spun for the longest yet. But as it slowed, the pin wasn’t even in the vicinity of black. Instead, it landed on red, and a great wave of cheering from others who had chosen better erupted.

I sighed. “Those were my last chips.” I told Greed.

He frowned. Staring for a moment, he finally turned.

“Goodbye.” He told me coldly.

“What?” I asked. “Goodbye?”

“Yes.” He replied, not looking back. “I work for winners. You are of no use to me anymore, and therefore I no longer need to associate with you. He walked away, following the direction Luck had gone.

“But I—without you—come back!” I cried. But it was too late. He was gone.

Luck and Greed left me. And I had built my whole life on them. With their departure came the collapse of all that I held dear. I returned home, a fallen sinner, to find I had no home to return to. My glorious mansion, with it’s high ceilings, golden chandeliers, and marble winding staircases, now ceased to exist. I found no beautiful wife adorned in jewelry and lavish clothing, as I had left her—what became of her is beyond my knowledge. But I never spoke to her, nor saw her again. She was gone, and my house was gone, and my gold, and all my worldly possessions, whisked away in an instant. My fortune, tainted with depravity, and built on a faulty base, fell to ruin.

When Luck and Greed deserted me.

And so here I am, an old poor man writing on scratch paper. Luck and Greed have long since been gone, though I see them occasionally: On the televisions that shine through other people’s windows, and in the Business section of discarded copies of The New York Times. At the very least, I find comfort in knowing what they do not—that they will fall one day. That one day Luck and Greed will bid them farewell, and they will fall from grace, and join me at the bottom of the world looking up.

As for my own concerns and endeavors, I have found a new voice that speaks inside me now. Two, in fact. One we met at the beginning of my story. His name is Desperation. I don’t care for him much, but he cannot leave me, so I hold on to him.

The other is a young lady, small, thin, but bright. She is Desperation’s wife. They are quite the odd couple, but they actually go quite well together. Not in the way that Luck and Greed did. This couple is more steadfast—more permanent. They have always helped me, and not through the sins of gambling—only Desperation alone can do that. No, they help me by other means—perseverance, kindness, and faith in myself. So I do not need to climb higher, for I am comfortable at my current height. So I do not need to have Luck, for I have trust in myself. So that, no matter how many times I fall I always look towards the two—and they are the ones who catch me.

Desperation’s wife is Hope.





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