Ed is packing his tweed overnight bag for his regular weekend trip to Atlantic City, New Jersey to play his favorite game, black jack, at the Bravo casino.

Sylvia stands in the door with her bed head hair donned in plaid robe and well-worn slippers. Deep disappointment is etched on her plump face. “Not again, Ed,” she whimpers. Sylvia knows he’s headed to gamble, a “hobby” that has almost ruined their once stable union. It has put a huge dent in their budget, as well.

Sheepishly, Ed responds, “I’ve got to win back my losses from the last few times that I played, Sylvia. Don’t you remember, babe, that I sometimes win?”

“Actually, I remember the odds and they stack up to — mostly, you lose, which adds up to — we lose, Ed.”

Ed winks. “But when I win, I win big, don’t I — don’t we?”

Sylvia responds with disgust. “In the WHOLE of the matter, Ed, you’re not even breaking even. You know it, and I know it. Who is being fooled here, Ed? Nobody. You need to stop.”

Undeterred, Ed exclaims, “What can I say, Sylvia? We know that I love the black jack game.”

“Evidence mounts, Ed, that it doesn’t love you.” Sylvia loudly exhales as she leaves the room. Repeatedly, over the years, she’s attempted, to no avail, to convince her husband that he’s gone overboard with his gambling jaunts. Thousands of dollars have been spent at casinos. Bill payments are late, needs are ignored, desires, such as vacations, are out of the equation because Ed’s a slave to black jack.

Ed is ready to go to serve his master. He attempts to kiss peck on his wife’s cheek.

She turns and “gives” him her back.

He hesitates, picks up his bag and leaves.

Sylvia’s weariness has escalated. She wonders, “Will Ed’s addiction ever end? We need so much and he keeps wasting money that should be spent in wise ways. I’m so sick of living like this.” Sylvia sighs and goes to load the dishwasher. She looks upward and pleads, “God, I’ve not been much engaged with You, but please help in this situation. Please.”

Ed is bothered by the concern that Sylvia displays. But he just doesn’t care enough to end his gaming pursuits. This weekend he’s driving to Jersey sans his gambling partner, Brent. He had an unexpected need to address so this is the first weekend that Ed has gone solo.

Ed drives the ninety minutes “cranking” Billy Joel on his car stereo. Yes indeed, the piano man has long been one of Ed’s favorites. With his ride on cruise control and windows open to enjoy the soft breezes, Ed sings along with Joel. Every so often, he feels a twinge of guilt for the state of his wife and the damage done to their marriage and finances. He pushes his regrets aside, though, to continue his selfish agenda.

Ed’s blue Buick approaches the Bravo casino. There’s a huge crowd gathered in front of the building. Ed parks and rushes to the scene. Yellow police tape is wrapped around the area. Ed approaches a well-dressed, bald-headed man.

“Hi, what happened?”

The man slowly shakes his head, sadness evident on his creased face. “A guy suffered catastrophic losses at the black jack table, and couldn’t bear the reality. They say he was a regular who did more losing than winning. It looks like today he cracked under the pressure. He jumped to his death from the roof of the building.”

Ed’s mouth gapes open; his eyes bulge in shock. He staggers backward.

“Are you okay,” the man asks in concern.

Ed turns and runs to his car. In panic, he dials his wife.

Sylvia answers.

“I’m coming home.” He doesn’t wait for her to respond. Ed disconnects the call.

Puzzled, Sylvia phones back.

Ed doesn’t answer. He waits a few moments before he turns off his phone. The broken man leans his head on the steering wheel and weeps.

Aftermath:

Ed tells Sylvia the horror of what happened in Jersey.

She remembers her plea to God.

Ed never gambles again.

They both chose to devote their lives to righteousness.

Eventually, healthy restoration manifests in the union with Sylvia, Ed’s long suffering wife. They repair their financial status, as well.

God did indeed answer Sylvia — how and when He deemed fit.

Proverbs 8:5 – KJV
O ye simple, understand wisdom: and, ye fools, be ye of an understanding heart.

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Sandra Hicks

Sandra is a native of Washington D.C. who joyously walks with God, and firmly believes in the steadfast flow of love and truth. She is president of a home-based business that specializes in writing, editing, consulting and retail sales of photo products. Her published pieces include essays, inspirational topics and stories, reflections, commentaries, and poetry. In January 2011, one of her inspirational pieces was selected as a Jewel Chest feature on a Christian website. Sandra enjoys photography and snaps shots often in her hometown of Washington, D.C.

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