Father / Daughter Moment

When you are a parent, life is full of teachable moments. Thats what we tell ourselves when we fuck up.

And in the Gutter, those fuck-ups are bigger, deeper, badder. Which just means more opportunities to grow. Or cut bait and get the fuck out.

Father / Daughter Moment by Todd Morr

“We could be rich.” 

“Unlikely. The chance of winning is only slightly better than dropping a twenty in the street and having it find its way home with friends.”

“This way is more fun.”

“The answer is still no.”

“I just want a lottery ticket.”


“How about a scratcher?”


“Why not?”

“You’re too young.”

“What’s the worst that could happen?”

 “You could win.”

“How is that bad?”

“You don’t win ‘buy a yacht money.’ More like, ‘buy an iPad money.’ How much is not important. What matters is you get a taste of the gambling rush when your mind is not ready.”

“My mind is not ready?”

“Don’t be offended; some minds are never ready, but the odds are higher if you are younger. You get a taste of it, and you like it, no, you love it, love it more than anything.”

“More than pizza?”

“Way more; you love it so much that if you don’t do it, you feel like crap. At some point, you aren’t placing bets to feel good, you’re doing it not to feel bad. It happens slow, so slow you don’t even notice. Gambling becomes the most important thing in your life. That lacrosse scholarship you’re planning on?”

“I don’t get a scholarship because you bought me a scratcher?”

“No, you get it, because like I said, it happens slowly. Worse, you end up kicked out of school because you stole something to pay a debt, and your grades are shit because you spend too much time playing online poker. You realize you screwed up, but it is too late. You take up drinking, not frat-house look-how-crazy-I-am binge drinking, but real, I-need-something-to-forget-how-fucked-up-my-life-is drinking.”

“OK, but. . . . ”

“But nothing. This is just the start. You drop out of school. You get a job, but you are still drinking and placing bets. In fact, having a job makes it worse; you think you can afford to spread a little cash around, and for a while, you can. There comes a time though when you get behind, and like all degenerate gamblers—”

“I’m a degenerate now?”

“Yes, and because you are, you start betting more, figuring you can gamble your way out of debt, which has worked exactly never times. Soon enough you owe some money to some shady motherfuckers—”

“Didn’t Mom tell you to stop cursing around me?”

“Yeah, but one, you’re in high school, so you’ve heard worse, and second, she’s not here, and third, I’m trying to make a point. These aren’t shady gentlemen, these are shady motherfuckers.”

“So if you buy me a scratcher I’m going to be in debt to the mob?”

“Russians instead of Italians, but yeah. Pretty soon you are back living with me to hide out.”

“Living with you in my twenties would suck, but. . . .”

“Don’t worry, they will find you soon enough. And they will offer you a way out. All you have to do is provide them a kidney.”

“Well, I have two of them. So you should let me get a lotto ticket; it’s at like twenty million.”

“Sure, but they aren’t doing the removal in a hospital. You’re going to be lucky if it’s a decent hotel. It’s not like the top surgeons are helping gangsters harvest organs. Even if it does go well, what is going to stop them from taking both?”

“You telling me criminals can’t be trusted?”

“You can trust them more than gamblers, I guess. But never mind. You figure this out. They want a kidney, but it doesn’t have to be yours. You have this friend, who you figure, correctly, would do this to you if she were in your shoes. You spike her drink, only instead of hitting her with a roofie, you hit her with that liquid sweetener your mom uses, since the bottles kind of look the same. Instead of knocking her out you make her crown and cola a little sweeter.”

“How do you know what roofies look like?”

“That’s beside the point. There’s some junkie surgeon assisted by some guy who just finished a stretch in a Siberian Gulag waiting at the Motel 6, so even though you lost your tennis scholarship—”

“Tennis was your game, at least until you somehow managed to lose your racquet; mine’s lacrosse.”

“Even better, you lost your scholarship, but kept your stick, which you use to bash Gertrude’s head in.”


“Named after her great grandmother. You take Gertrude to the hotel and let the gangsters take her kidney.”

“Bummer for Gertrude, but sounds like I come out okay.”

“No, you got a little carried away with the stick. Gertrude was pretty dead by the time you made it to the hotel, too dead. Her organs were rotten by the time the surgeon got them. You still owe these assholes a kidney. You’re at my place, and the only other kidneys around are mine.”

“You wouldn’t give me a kidney?”

“Sure I would, but these are gangsters, I’m not walking away. I have to decide whether to save myself, or let some junkie harvest my kidneys. That is a decision no father should ever have to make. So no, I’m not buying you a lottery ticket.”

His ringtone interrupted before she could reply.

He cupped his hand over the mouthpiece. “Let me take this outside.”

Out on the sidewalk, he craned back at his daughter. “Look. . .” he began.

“Don’t tell me to fucking look, you look. You were supposed to be here a half hour ago. I’m paying for the goddamn room, and the surgeon, and I’m not doing that shit for nothing twice.”

“I’m right across the street. I’ll be there in a second.” He slid the phone off and stepped back inside.

“Are you going to tell me what we are doing here?” his daughter asked as he sat back down.

“Don’t worry, it will be fine.”

Todd Morr lives in Salinas, California with his wife and children. He has had short stories published in Shotgun Honey, Out of the Gutter 8, Out of the Gutter Online, The Big Adios, and Death Throes Webzine. His first novel, Captain Cooker was published by Snubnose Press and his second, Jesus saves, Satan Invests, is coming out soon from Spanking Pulp Press.