"Does it hurt bad?" asked my wife, as we drove along.

"I'll be ok" I told her.

Less than two weeks before I had undergone a major surgery for cancer. The scar left by the surgery extended from my breast bone almost to my legs.

Several hours later we pulled into Reno, Nevada and checked in at a local motel for the night.

"Hon, would you mind if we went to a casino and gambled just a little bit." I asked my wife.

"Just for a little while" she said.

When we got everything settled we locked the door to our room and we walked the several blocks to one of the casinos.

I sat down at one of the card tables and placed a one hundred bill on the table. The dealer immediately took the money and gave back one hundred dollars in chips.

No matter what I did I just could not win a hand at poker. Within 30 minutes I had lost my stake.

"Let's go back to the motel" said my wife.

"I really want to play. I really do" I told her.

Again, I lost another hundred dollars. I rose from my chair and smiled at my wife. She handed me two rolls of quarters which I stuck into my pocket.

As we reached the motel we started up the stairs to the second floor. I looked across the parking lot and I saw an old man looking in a dumpster. I stood there for a moment watching him.

"OH MY GOD. He's eating out of the dumpster." I yelled out to my wife.

As quickly as I could I walked back down the stairs and over to the man who was leaning over the trash container. When I approached I could see that he was eating the left-overs from a Kentucky Fried Chicken Box.

Please don't do that. Please don't." I said. I reached in my pocket and I took out the two rolls of quarters.

"Here. Please take this and get yourself something to eat."

"Thank you Mr. Lucky" he said in a soft tone.

"Please don't buy nothing to drink. Get yourself something to eat" I told him.

He said not a word. I turned around and I walked back to the motel where my wife was standing. When I turned to look back at the old man he was gone.

My wife and I went up to the room where I tried to rest as best I could. After about thirty minutes I looked over at my wife and I said "I really would like to play cards" I told her. We put on our coats and back to the casino we went.

Once again I sat down at the card table. I took out another hundred dollar bill and I laid it on the table.

"LOW-BALL" yelled the dealer, as he dealt out five cards to each player. When I looked at my cards I had and ace, a two, a three, a four and a five. The lowest possible hand that you can get when playing low-ball.

All of a sudden the betting started. Within one round my entire one hundred dollars was in the pot. When the hand ended I had won eight hundred dollars. The cards were then dealt again. When I looked at my cards I once again had an ace, a two, a three, a four and a five.

"Fifty dollars to you" said this one man, as he threw his chips into the pot.

Carefully, I separated my chips into fifty dollar piles.

"Your fifty and fifty more." I said.

The table became quiet. All eight men threw in the wager.

"And a hundred more to you" said the first man.

"And another two hundred to you" said the man.

I threw in the wager and sat there quietly.

"Let's see the cards gentlemen" said the dealer.

Once again I had won. This time almost two thousand dollars.

"Take the money Clay" yelled out the man, as he pushed his cards off the table and onto the floor.

I sat there for six hours winning almost eight out of ten hands, constantly. When the game was finally over the casino stacked, trayed and cashed in my chips for me. In the end I had won more than sixteen thousand dollars. That was more money that I had ever seen in my entire life time.

With pockets full my wife and I started to leave the casino. Standing by the front door, out in the cold, was that same old man who had earlier been eating out of the trash dumpster.

"Can I buy you a mixed drink?" I asked the old man.

The old man reached out and touched me gently on the forehead. This very strange and warm feeling came over my entire body. A calmness like I had never known. All the pain from my surgery seemed to disappear in an instant.

"I don't drink, Mr. Lucky" said the old gentleman, as he smiled at me. I held out several one hundred dollar bills but he did not take it.

"Mr. Lucky" he said to me again, shaking his head and then patting me on the back. He turned around and he walked away into the night.

That was almost almost twenty-five years ago this November. Considering the doctor had given me less than six months to live I now know what the old gentleman meant when he called me "MR. LUCKY".

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