A Thousand Happy Lives

A Thousand Happy Lives

Youth. His father lived a thousand lives before he died at the age of 53. He worked as a security guard at the casino, watching 12 screens linked to cameras placed high above the throngs of people moving about below. Playing cards, pulling levers, drinking, laughing, shouting, generally unaware. Always drawn to the most interesting and dynamic outfits, hairstyles, physical peculiarities and mannerisms of the people who passed beneath his gaze, he gave each of them their own story and invented personalities, fleshing out pieces of his own being – his wishes, dreams, regrets, fantasies and inspirations – for them to live in his stead. At night he would share these stories with his son. The boy would stay awake long past what his mother told him was bedtime, waiting beneath the dinosaur bedspread for his father to come home, the bedside lamp still on and books on paleontology and planes scattered across the floor. His father sat at the foot of the bed, his face half-lit in the light of the lamp, and told him of the woman who was once a star goaltender for the German soccer team; she blew out her knee making a spectacular save at the World Cup. The man who had written poetry in his younger years, published three books in French, but never reached his full potential; he now spends his time at the blackjack tables. And there was a family of four today, their first vacation together, their first time leaving their hometown of Blooming Prairie in fact, and the experience will surely change them forever. And so on. But while...