Esquire has a real life story out of Oz that could have been written by O. Henry.
The greatest adventures happen when you least expect them. And on July 15, 2010, Luke â€œMilkyâ€ Moore never thought one of the greatest in recent memory was about to start for him. …
Though he grew up comfortablyâ€”his father, Brett, was a bank executive, and his mother, Annette, a child-care supervisorâ€”heâ€™d been employed since thirteen, bagging groceries, mowing lawns, selling insurance. He was a bright student, but he opted to forgo college for work. â€œI always thought Iâ€™d be a millionaire one day,â€ he says in his thick Australian accent. While his mates were out drunkenly hunting wild boar, Milky was investing in hedge funds, and at nineteen he bought his own home, for himself and his high school sweetheart, Megan.
But then, in the fall of 2008, the life heâ€™d worked so hard to achieve took a series of tragic turns. It started with the stock-market crash, which depleted his $50,000 life savings. With Goulburnâ€™s economy in turmoil, he lost his job as a forklift driver. A few months later, he was driving in the early-morning darkness to paint happy birthday on a boulder near town to surprise Megan when he fell asleep at the wheel of his white Mitsubishi pickupâ€”and drifted right into the path of an 18-wheeler, which plowed over his truck.
He awoke hanging out his shattered window covered in purple and black paintâ€”but, miraculously, alive. â€œIt was incredible that he survived,â€ recalls his father. Milky had a broken collarbone, arm, and ribs, and a ruptured spleenâ€”but the scars ran deeper. He fell into a crippling depression, barely able to drag himself from bed or hold on to the job his father had helped him get as a teller at his bank. Adding to the pressure, his mother was suffering from a debilitating degenerative back disease, sometimes unable to get out of bed herselfâ€”leaving Milky to care for his year-old brother, Noah. It wasnâ€™t long before his relationship with Megan ended under the strain, and Milky assumed the blame. By mid-2010, he was broke, alone, unemployed, and on the brink of foreclosure.
And thatâ€™s just when life suddenly gave him the equivalent of a royal flush on the pokies. It happened on July 15, the day his biweekly mortgage payment was due. With no money in the bank, Milky was bracing himself for the beginning of the end. But then something strange happened. The automatic debitâ€”500 Australian dollarsâ€”went from his savings account at his bank, St. George, into his mortgage account. Two weeks later, it happened again. When he checked his balance, he could see that he had racked up the corresponding debt, and interest, under his name. Once he hit the limit, he assumed, the overdrafts would surely stop.
But they didnâ€™t. Fortnight after fortnight, his mortgage got paid. Thinking this crazy, he put in a request for $5,000 to be transferred to his mortgage account. A couple days later, he called his bank to check on the transferâ€”figuring, at worst, he had reached his limit. â€œDid that go through?â€ he asked the teller, who told him casually, â€œYes, thatâ€™s all paid.â€ A few days after that, on a lark, he called St. George and asked the bank to transfer $50,000 to his mortgage account. â€œI was literally thinking that Iâ€™ll just wing it and see if it works,â€ he recalls. And sure enough, it did. The $50,000 deficit was charged on his savings account, but the bank didnâ€™t seem to notice, or, if it did, it didnâ€™t care. It was like getting a free, unlimited loan. â€œI probably had a bit of a smile on my face then,â€ he says. â€œNot smiling because I was thinking I was scamming the bank, but smiling because I was like, â€˜This is my fresh start.â€™â€
By the time he sold his home a year later, heâ€™d paid down his mortgage so much from the overdrafts that he cleared $150,000 (US$115,000).
Though heâ€™d been quiet about this so far, he finally confided in a friend. â€œWhat do you reckon I do?â€ Milky asked him. What do you do, in other words, when youâ€™re single, twenty-four, and just got a pile of free money from the bank? No-brainer, his friend replied. â€œLetâ€™s party!â€
Milky was going to Paradise. …
Milkyâ€™s rock-star lifestyle became routine. Sleep late, hit the gym, buy memorabilia online, slap the pokies, cocktails at the strip joint, then dancing all night in the clubs. On the nights he didnâ€™t pick up, he sought the ready alternative: the many legal brothels in town. â€œEspecially with girls,â€ he says bashfully, â€œyouâ€™ve got to make the most of every opportunity, because you might turn around and thatâ€™ll be gone.â€ One week, he threw down $40,000 and rented out an entire brothel to himself for four days. And so it was that, one day in November 2012, he barely registered what happened when he went to pay for repairs on his Alfa Romeo. He was standing there in the car shop, hungover and bronzed, when he saw a message heâ€™d never seen before come up on the credit-card machine. â€œCall bank security,â€ it read.
Milky blinked a few times, trying to digest the moment heâ€™d feared for the past two years. Fuck, he thought. Well, thatâ€™s done. He went back to his apartment in a daze. How could this just end? There was no old life. There was only this one, and the hole he had dug for himself. So he did the only thing he could think to do. He grabbed as many stacks of cash as he could find around his penthouse, drove to the airport, and booked the next flight to Phuket.
RTWT for the happy ending.