Chapter Eighteen

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I decided to pay Raashid the rent, $900 cash for the 2-bedroom suite. He didn't say anything about it costing more and he seemed to have forgotten completely about the damage deposit and the key to the other apartment that I still had. Once again, he wrote me a receipt on the back of a postcard. I quickly took the receipt and left before his memory returned. I had just bought myself another month, but I definitely needed a new place. I didn't even bother hooking up the electricity because I didn't think I would be there too much longer.  

I woke up at 7:00 a.m. on Tuesday morning. It was the beginning to my weekend. My manager deliberately scheduled my days off on the two slowest days of the week so that I could be there to maximize the sales for the rest of the week. Ashley was working so I needed to find something to occupy my time. I decided to take a long walk along the sea wall.  

I walked for hours - just thinking. What do I want to do with my life? I asked myself. I drew a blank and tried another way. What's missing in my life? The answer to this question came a little easier. I needed one thing - happiness. Everything else was just a byproduct. I then asked myself, how can I acquire happiness? I continued to walk, pondering these grand questions.  

At around 3:00 p.m., I texted Ashley. She texted me back right away. 'HEY, I'M OFF AT 3:30. COME MEET ME :) '. 

I arrived at her work just as she was leaving. "Hey, gorgeous," I said, as I gave her a big hug and a kiss on top of her head. "Mmm, you smell like pancakes and syrup." 

"Eww that's disgusting. I need to go home and shower." 

When we arrived at Ashley's place, I fell into my usual routine: grab some snacks and juice and make myself comfortable in front of the TV. I flipped through five hundred and thirty channels and there was nothing on. I finally settled on Oprah.  

I wasn't paying too much attention to what she was talking about, I was much more interested in studying her body language. I was curious as to why some people are successful and others are not. There had to be something in Oprah that I could point to, a particular talent she possessed that others did not. It wasn't obvious to me. Was it luck? I wondered. Luck probably had something to do with it. I bet when she was my age she never imagined how her life would turn out.  

Oprah's story fascinated me. Here was a woman who miraculously came through the mix from the ground up, and somehow made it to the top when so many others had failed, and she was an ethnic minority. If she could do it with two noticeable disadvantages, then surely I could do it too. I had heard ambition beats talent ninety percent of the time, so maybe that was it.  

On the commercial break, I went over to the fridge to refill my juice. On the kitchen counter was a pile of opened mail. On top was Ashley's most recent bank statement. I contemplated on whether or not I should have a look at it. I wasn't interested in how much money she had, but I was curious how a minimum wage server at a pancake house was able to afford such a nice downtown apartment on her own without having a roommate. I figured the rent was at least $1,600.00 a month.  

The bank statement was practically opened already; all I needed to do was casually poke it open some more and have a quick peek. What's the harm? I thought. I listened for a moment and heard Ashley still splashing around in the shower so I set my glass down and picked up her bank statement. On the top of the page I saw her name 'Ashley Taylor'. My eyes scrolled down to her account balance '$8,162.15'. I went over the statement in more detail. 'June 1st - deposit... $5,000.00'. What the heck is going on here? 

I heard the water shut off so I folded up the statement and went back to the couch. 

"You still okay?" Ashley came out with a towel wrapped around her. 

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