Lucky You

Lucky You

3.6 32
by Carl Hiaasen
     
 

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Grange, Florida, is famous for its miracles—the weeping fiberglass Madonna, the Road-Stain Jesus, the stigmata man. And now it has JoLayne Lucks, unlikely winner of the state lottery.

Unfortunately, JoLayne's winning ticket isn't the only one. The other belongs to Bodean Gazzer and his raunchy sidekick, Chub, who believe they're entitled to the whole $28… See more details below

Overview

Grange, Florida, is famous for its miracles—the weeping fiberglass Madonna, the Road-Stain Jesus, the stigmata man. And now it has JoLayne Lucks, unlikely winner of the state lottery.

Unfortunately, JoLayne's winning ticket isn't the only one. The other belongs to Bodean Gazzer and his raunchy sidekick, Chub, who believe they're entitled to the whole $28 million jackpot. And they need it quickly, to start their own underground militia before NATO troops invade America.

But JoLayne Lucks has her own plans for the Lotto money—an Eden-like forest in Grange must be saved from strip-malling. When Bode and Chub brutally assault her and steal her ticket, JoLayne vows to track them down, take it back—and get revenge.

The only one who can help is Tom Krome, a big-city investigative journalist now bitterly consigned to writing frothy features for a midsized central Florida newspaper. With a persuasive nudge from JoLayne, Krome is about to become part of a story that's bigger and more bizarre than anything he's ever covered.

Chasing two heavily armed psychopaths down the coast of Florida is reckless enough, but Tom's got other problems—the murderous attention of a jealous judge; an actress wife who turns fugitive to avoid divorce court; an editor who speaks in tongues; and Tom's own growing fondness for the future millionairess with whom he's risking his neck.

The pursuit takes them from the surreal streets of Grange to a buzzard-infested island deep in Florida Bay, where they finally catch up with the fledgling militia—Chub, Bode Gazzer, a newly recruited convenience-store clerk and their baffled hostage, a Hooterswaitress.

The climax explodes with the hilarious mayhem that is Carl Hiaasen's hallmark. Lucky You is his funniest, most deliriously gripping novel yet.

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Editorial Reviews

San Franciso Examiner
Lucky us -- one of the year's funniest books. Hiaasen is truly an American treasure.
Entertainment Weekly
Sledge-hammer wackiness never flags in this amusing tropical freak show.
Staff Newsday
Sophisticated...never less than completely entertaining.
Newsday
Sophisticated. . .never less than completely entertaining.
Chicago Tribune
Hilariously subversive. . .wonderfully entertaining. Trust me, you'll love it.
Library Journal
JoLayne Lucks has one of two winning lottery tickets each worth a cool $14 million. She plans to spend it rescuing a local plot of swampland from a strip mall developer. The holders of the other winning ticket, however, are Bode Gazzer and his sidekick, Chubb, who want the whole $28 million. Afire with paramilitary fervor, Bode and Chubb need the cash to bankroll the start-up of the White Clarion Aryans before NATO takes over America with a handicapped parking sticker scam. They steal JoLayne's ticket, but before they can cash it she mounts a hot pursuit with the help of local journalist Tom Krome. As they chase Bode and Chubb through the swamps and sleazy dives, dodging bullets and local religious fanatics, Tom and JoLayne leave a wake of mayhem and hilarity. This is Hiaasen (Naked Came the Manatee) at his wacky besta steamy amalgam of raunch, righteousness, and riotous laughs. -- Susan Gene Clifford, Aerospace Corporation, El Segundo, California
Kirkus Reviews
As soon as an informative headnote warns that 'there is no approved dental use for WD-40,' you can relax, knowing that you're in for several blissful hours in the hands of a master farceur whose subject this time is what passes in South Florida for providence. Even though she's confirmed the winning numbers on her Lotto ticket, placid veterinary assistant JoLayne Lucks refuses to give an interview to rolling-stone 'Register' features writer Tom Krome. Hoping to rescue the turtles of Simmons Wood from mob-backed development by buying the parcel out of her half of the $28 million jackpot, she doesn't see any point in telling the world she's rich. Then, suddenly, she isn't, because the holder of the other winning ticket, halfwit white supremacist Bodean Gazzer, decides to double his own payout by heisting her ticket. Bode and his sidekick Chub have their own public-spirited vision for the prize: arming the White Rebel Brotherhood (membership 2 and growing) in preparation for the U.N.-sponsored invasion of the U.S. via all those unused handicapped-parking spaces. Along with the obligatory romantic complications, Hiaasen provides an alarmingly comical parade of spiritual counterparts to the providential nostrum of the Florida lottery: the weeping fiberglass Madonna, the Road-Stain Jesus, the miraculous apostolic turtles who bring nirvana to the features editor sent to retrieve Krome after he takes off with JoLayne in pursuit of the Lotto thieves. Not even Hiaasen (Stormy Weather, 1995) can sustain this balancing act forever, and eventually it collapses like a house of cards. But for an impossibly long time, the whole wild sideshow seethes and boils with all the grinningvitality of a 'Have a Nice Day' poster reimagined by Hieronymous Bosch. Just when you think Hiaasen can't outdo himself, he finds more lunatics who just happen to tap into your deepest fears about America. Makes you wonder.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780446604659
Publisher:
Grand Central Publishing
Publication date:
10/28/1998
Edition description:
Reissue
Pages:
496
Sales rank:
165,482
Product dimensions:
4.25(w) x 6.75(h) x 1.12(d)

Meet the Author

Carl Hiaasen is the author of six previous novels.

Brief Biography

Hometown:
Tavernier, Florida
Place of Birth:
South Florida
Education:
Emory University; B.A., University of Florida, 1974

Read an Excerpt

The following excerpt is from Chapter 1.


On the afternoon of November 25, a woman named JoLayne Lucks drove to the Grab N'Go minimart in Grange, Florida, and purchased spearmint Certs, unwaxed dental floss and one ticket for the state Lotto.

JoLayne Lucks played the same numbers she'd played every Saturday for five years: 17-19-22-24-27-30.

The significance of her Lotto numbers was this: each represented an age at which she had jettisoned a burdensome man. At 17 it was Rick the Pontiac mechanic. At 19 it was Rick's brother, Robert. At 22 it was a stockbroker named Colavito, twice JoLayne's age, who'd delivered on none of his promises. At 24 it was a policeman, another Robert, who got in trouble for fixing traffic tickets in exchange for sex. At 27 it was Neal the chiropractor, a well-meaning but unbearable codependent.

And at 30 JoLayne dumped Lawrence, a lawyer, her one and only husband. Lawrence had been notified of his disbarment exactly one week after he and JoLayne were married, but she stuck with him for almost a year. JoLayne was fond of Lawrence and wanted to believe his earnest denials regarding the multiple fraud convictions that precipitated his trouble with the Florida Bar. While appealing his case, Lawrence took a job as a toll taker on the Beeline Expressway, a plucky career realignment that nearly won JoLayne's heart. Then one night he was caught making off with a thirty-pound sack of loose change, mostly quarters and dimes. Before he could post bail, JoLayne packed up most of his belongings, including his expensive Hermes neckties, and gave them to the Salvation Army. Then she filed for divorce.

Five years later she wasstill single and unattached when, to her vast amusement, she won the Florida Lotto. She happened to be sitting with a plate of turkey leftovers in front of the television at 11 p.m., when the winning numbers were announced.

JoLayne Lucks didn't faint, shriek or dance wildly around the house. She smiled, though, thinking of the six discarded men from her past life; thinking how, in spite of themselves, they'd finally amounted to something. Twenty-eight million dollars, to be precise.

One hour earlier and almost three hundred miles away, a candy-red Dodge Ram pulled into a convenience store in Florida City. Two men got out of the truck: Bodean Gazzer, known locally as Bode, and his companion Chub, who claimed to have no last name. Although they parked in a handicapped-only zone, neither man was physically disabled in any way.

Bode Gazzer was five feet six and had never forgiven his parents for it. He wore three-inch snakeskin shitkickers and walked with a swagger that suggested not brawn so much as hemorrhoidal tribulation. Chub was a beer-gutted six two, moist-eyed, ponytailed and unshaven. He carried a loaded gun at all times and was Bode Gazzer's best and only friend.

They had known each other two months. Bode Gazzer had gone to Chub to buy a counterfeit handicapped sticker that would get him the choicest parking spot at Probation & Parole, or any of the other state offices where his attendance was occasionally required.

Like its mangy tenant, Chub's house trailer emitted a damp fungal reek. Chub had just printed a new batch of the fake emblems, which he laconically fanned like a poker deck on the kitchen counter. The workmanship (in sharp contrast to the surroundings) was impeccable—the universal wheelchair symbol set crisply against a navy-blue background. No traffic cop in the world would question it.

Chub had asked Bode Gazzer what type he wanted—a bumper insignia, a tag for the rearview or a dashboard placard. Bode said a simple window tag would be fine.

"Two hunnert bucks," said Chub, scratching his scalp with a salad fork.

"I'm a little short on cash. You like lobster?"

"Who don't."

So they'd worked out a trade—the bogus disabled-parking permit in exchange for ten pounds of fresh Florida lobster, which Bode Gazzer had stolen from a trapline off Key Largo. It was inevitable that the poacher and the counterfeiter would bond, sharing as they did a blanket contempt for government, taxes, homosexuals, immigrants, minorities, gun laws, assertive women and honest work.

Chub never thought of himself as having a political agenda until he met Bode Gazzer, who helped organize Chub's multitude of hatreds into a single venomous philosophy. Chub believed Bode Gazzer was the smartest person he'd ever met, and was flattered when his new pal suggested they form a militia.

"You mean like what blowed up that courthouse in Nebraska?"

"Oklahoma," Bode Gazzer said sharply, "and that was the government did it, to frame those two white boys. No, I'm talking 'bout a militia. Armed, disciplined and well-regulated. Like it says in the Second Amendment."

Chub scratched a chigger bite on his neck. "Reg'lated by who, if I might ast?"

"By you, me, Smith and Wesson."

"And that's allowed?"

"Says right in the motherfuckin' Constitution."

"OK then," said Chub.

Bode Gazzer had gone on to explain how the United States of America was about to be taken over by a New World Tribunal, armed by foreign-speaking NATO troops who were massing across the Mexican border and also at secret locations in the Bahamas.

Chub glanced warily toward the horizon. "The Bahamas?" He and Bode were in Bode's cousin's nineteen-foot outboard, robbing traps off Rodriguez Key.

Bode Gazzer said: "There's seven hundred islands in the Bahamas, my friend, and most are uninhabited."

Chub got the message. "Jesus Willy Christ," he said, and began pulling the lobster pots with heightened urgency.

To run a proper militia would be expensive, and neither Chub nor Bode Gazzer had any money; Bode's net worth was tied up in the new Dodge truck, Chub's in his illegal printshop and arsenal. So they began playing the state lottery, which Bode asserted was the only decent generous thing the government of Florida had ever done for its people.

Every Saturday night, wherever they happened to be, the two men would pull into the nearest convenience store, park brazenly in the blue handicapped zone, march inside and purchase five Lotto tickets. They played no special numbers; often they were drinking, so it was easier to use the Quick Pick, letting the computer do the brainwork.

On the night of November 25, Bode Gazzer and Chub bought their five lottery tickets and three six-packs of beer at the Florida City 7-Eleven. They were nowhere near a television an hour later, when the winning numbers were announced.

Instead they were parked along a dirt road on a tree farm, a few miles from the Turkey Point nuclear reactor. Bode Gazzer was sitting on the hood of the Dodge pickup, aiming one of Chub's Ruger assault rifles at a U.S. government mailbox they'd stolen from a street corner in Homestead. An act of revolutionary protest, Bode had said, like the Boston Tea Party.

The mailbox was centered in the headlight beams of the truck. Bode and Chub took turns with the Ruger until they were out of ammo and Budweisers. Then they sorted through the mail, hoping for loose cash or personal checks, but all they found was junk. Afterwards they fell asleep in the flatbed. Shortly after dawn they were rousted by two large Hispanics, undoubtedly the foremen of the tree farm, who swiped the Ruger and chased them off the property.

It was some time later, after returning to Chub's trailer, that they learned of their extraordinary good fortune. Bode Gazzer was on the toilet, Chub was stretched on the convertible sofa in front of the TV. A pretty blond newscaster gave out the previous night's winning Lotto numbers, which Chub scribbled on the back of his latest eviction notice.

Moments later, when Bode heard the shouting, he came lurching from the bathroom with his jeans and boxer shorts bunched at his knees. Chub was waving the ticket, hopping and whooping like he was on fire.

Bodean Gazzer said: "You're shittin' me."

"We won it, man! We won!"

Bode lunged for the ticket, but Chub held it out of reach.

"Give it here!" Bode demanded, swiping at air, his genitals flopping ludicrously.

Chub laughed. "Pull up your pants, for Christ's sake." He handed the ticket to Bode, who recited the numbers out loud.

"You're sure?" he kept asking.

"I wrote 'em down, Bode. Yeah, I'm sure."

"My God. My God. Twenty-eight million dollars."

"But here's what else: They's two winning tickets is what the news said."

Bode Gazzer's eyes puckered into a hard squint. "The hell you say!"

"Two tickets won. Which is still, what, fourteen million 'tween us. You believe it?"

Bode's tongue, lumpy and blotched as a toad, probed at the corners of his mouth. He looked to be working up a spit. "Who's got the other one? The other goddamn ticket."

"TV didn't say."

"How can we find out?"

Chub said, "Christ, who gives a shit. Long as we get fourteen million, I don't care if Jesse Fucking Jackson's got the other ticket."

Now Bode Gazzer's stubbled cheeks began to twitch. He fingered the Lotto coupon and said: "There must be a way to find out. Don't you think? Find out who's this shitweasel with the other ticket. There's gotta be a way."

"Why?" Chub asked, but it was awhile before he got an answer.

Sunday morning, Tom Krome refused to go to church. The woman who'd slept with him the night before—Katie was her name; strawberry blond, freckles on her shoulders—said they should go and seek forgiveness for what they had done.

"Which part?" asked Tom Krome.

"You know darn well."

Krome covered his face with a pillow. Katie kept talking, putting on her panty hose.

She said, "I'm sorry, Tommy, it's the way I'm made. It's time you should know."

"You think it's wrong?"

"What?"

He peeped out from beneath the pillow. "You think we did something wrong?"

"No. But God might not agree."

"So it's precautionary, this church visit."

Now Katie was at the mirror, fixing her hair in a bun. "Are you coming or not? How do I look?"

"Chaste," said Tom Krome.

The phone rang.

"Chased? No, sweetheart, that was last night. Get the telephone, please."

Katie put on her high heels, balancing storklike on elegant slender legs. "You honestly won't go? To church, Tom, I can't believe it."

"Yeah, I'm one heathen bastard." Krome picked up the phone.

She waited, arms folded, at the bedroom door.

Krome covered the receiver and said, "Sinclair."

"On a Sunday morning?"

"I'm afraid so." Krome tried to sound disappointed but he was thinking: There isa God.


From the Audio edition.

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