“You probably shouldn’t do that here,” Jason whispered to his friend Grant. “Everyone is looking.”
Grant looked down at the pile of Micro bucks on the table. “I’m just counting this before I take it to the bank,” he said with a shrug. “Besides, everyone knows it’s from you!”
“It’s not like I’m just giving you money, Grant,” Jason said in a hushed voice. “I set up that Arts Endowment with the money I made from selling lottery tickets so you and everyone else at the gallery could do more work.”
He motioned to the drawings hanging in the cafeteria. “‘Like that!”
“Amie did that one. She was really excited to finally get paid to make something,” Grant said with a smile. “Thanks again for setting up the thing.”
“Endowment,” Jason corrected him.
“Right, the endowment. Well we’re all really happy at the gallery. I’m going to put this in the bank now before I accidentally spend it all.”
Jason shook his head and laughed. He was glad his friend was happy, but slightly annoyed that Grant had been flaunting the money from the Arts Endowment. Some of Jason’s classmates weren’t exactly thrilled about the fortune he’d amassed in the past three months, and his best friend Grant’s behavior certainly wasn’t helping.
“It’s not fair you have all the money,” an angry third grader said to him at lunch. “Now nobody else is buying our bracelets at the marketplace because they’re spending their money on Lucky Lottery tickets.”
“I never see you buy anything. What do you do with all that money anyway?” another classmate questioned.
Jason didn’t know what to say. He wasn’t forcing anyone to buy the Lottery tickets. It was a fun game, and there was a happy winner every week. And as for spending his money, he was giving a lot of it to the Myersville Gallery, but he had no interest in friendship bracelets, baseball cards and most of the other items being sold at the marketplace.
Lost in thought, he nearly jumped out of his seat when he felt a tap on his left shoulder. “Hallie!” he said, surprised to see the Myersville president standing over him.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you,” she said. “But we have to talk.”
Uh oh, Jason thought. Add her to the list of people at Myersville who hate me!
When they got to her office, Grant was waiting for his friend. “I told her where to find you,” he said.
Hallie closed the door. “I know I helped you when you first started the Lottery. I thought it was wrong that they froze your bank account and that the teachers tried to force the legislature to pass a law so quickly. And I still think it was wrong.”
Jason nodded nervously.
“But things are getting a little crazy, as you might have noticed. Everyone’s been asking me about the Endowment, why their business didn’t get one, where all the money went – taxes are going unpaid. And we have three businesses in the process of filing for bankruptcy!”
Jason wasn’t exactly sure what bankruptcy meant, but he was too afraid to ask – and whatever it was, it sounded pretty bad.
“If you want me to shut down the Lottery —” he began to say.
Grant interrupted, “You’re not shutting down the Lottery! It’s a huge success! The Myersville Gallery needs you.”
“Well, I can’t ask you or force you to shut it down,” Hallie said, placing her hand over the binder that contained the Constitution. “Besides, even if you did shut it down, you still have all that money.”
“I did call you in here for a reason, though,” she continued. “I wanted you to know that I spoke withMrs. Downing and we decided to set up a meeting with the Myersville IRS, plus the City Controller, someone from the City Council and a local business. They’re coming here on Thursday to help me — to help us — solve this.”
“Like, the real City Council?” Jason gulped. What had he gotten into? He wished he’d never started the Lottery to begin with. All that money in his bank account was turning into a big headache.
On Thursday, the meeting began with Jason explaining how he’d started the Lucky Lottery because he didn’t want to work for anyone else – and because he thought it would be fun.