Casino – A Short Story

“Can I get you a drink, hon?”

Green eyes framed in ochre eyeshadow that look like they’ve seen a thousand wars look beyond and through me. Her hair precariously towers in silver and gold ringlets with no apparent supports. It sways with her collecting motions, a sign language of gathering other people’s dreams glass by empty glass.

It is silent on the game floor. The table areas climb in slow terraces into the never-ending distance, arcing around the corner and out of sight. This place feels haunted.

“Double Jack and Coke, please.”

She vanishes as efficiently as she appeared.

The croupier taps the table insistently with his rake, “Place your bets, sir, place your bets.”

He wears a pencil-thin mustache, black and waxed with hair to match, severely parted down the middle and pomaded. In his uniform, he looks like a cartoon villain who’s lost his cape and top hat.

The stocky pit boss perches on his stool and compulsively tics. Fingers at his tied and collared neck, then a wrist shake with watch adjustment. Pull and flick, pull and flick, over and over, like a wild beast walking a cage in pinstripes. He stares at the table unsmiling, his personal rhythm only interrupted for the business rhythm of counting money splashed onto the table.

“New roller coming out!” is the bark.

Chips are placed and Newton’s benediction is sought while the dice are being raised and thrown to Schrödinger.

“Seven, seven, lucky seven! Winnahs!”

Clackety-clack-clack-clack the chips say to each other in their endless dances across the tables between dead wood and greasy palms. The winnings are scooped and pocketed in favor of a search for sustenance.

The arc is followed in and is chambered like a nautilus; slots in this section, roulette in another, and so on. All are silent, empty.

At the core is an arcade and bathrooms. A red-lit EXIT sign hovers above a nondescript door. It leads to a parking garage ramp that shares the same arc-radius as the floor. Pac Man is left behind in the maze to forever eat. A tangential journey into the desert beckons.

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