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Susie Shircliff, 09 Apr '13

The man didn’t flinch when the alarm bells whirled on the slot machine, alerting the empty high roller room that he had just won $15,000. He was startled when Cody-Ann clapped the back of his faded navy Dickies jacket and implored “Ain’t ya excited?”
        He shrugged off her palm and dusted off his shoulder. “Yawp.”
        Cody-Ann lifted herself off her vinyl-stool roost, her bones squeaking and groaning from being sat on too long. The man had been at the machine before she got there for a smoke, and now her ashtray held the stubbed butts of almost two packs of Virginia Slims. She perched her current cigarette on top of it’s past pack mates, it’s ashes slowly falling outside of the tray leaving a dusty film next to the MAX BET button on the untouched machine in front of her.
        “Look’s like the Missus gets the new hardwood floors?”
The man just fidgeted, looking past Cody-Ann and out of the pit.
“Or maybe a new plas-maw TV…for yourself?”
The man swigged back the rest of his plastic cups contents and took a step away from the machine.
“Must feel good to win that big money?” Cody-Ann took a step towards the machine.
The man quickly grabbed the silver edged corner near him and sneered. “Sure.”
Cody-Ann retreated back to her stool and fiddled with the remaining cigarette, taking a long drag and blowing out a steady stream of smoke from the edge of her lips in an off-kilter grin. She didn’t have enough money to spend in the High Roller Room, well none that she felt she could afford, but she liked being here. She liked seeing the out-of-town tourists all dressed up for dinner and stopping to show-off by tossing a big dollar bill into a slot machine and letting their frail dates push the buttons with their slender manicured fingers.
The man wasn’t an oddity in his faded Dickies. Cody-Ann would see a few regulars hit big on the levels below and come try their luck up top. Only to lose it all in three button pushes. But she was hypnotized by the unflinching rhythm in which he drew out $100 bills: MAX BET. MAX BET. MAX BET. MAX BET. Unfold envelope. Insert Cash Here. Repeat.
The whole process being interrupted sporadically with a few minor wins. The man must’ve unfolded the white envelope at least 45 times.
The casino manager barreled towards Cody-Ann and the man. “So I see we have some High Rollers!”
“Just him.” Cody-Ann pecked her head forward towards the man, his hand still on the machine, and the other hidden in his right pocket.
“Ah. My apologies. Would you prefer credit, check or—“
“Right.” The manager hurried back and forth. First bringing back the tax form, and the next a crisp bright white envelope.
“Government likes a good bite.” Cody-Ann flashed a smile between both men,
“They certainly do.” The manager looked over the form, while the man put both hands into his pockets, waiting.
The manager gave a nod and handed over the envelope which was quickly stuffed it into the man’s pocket as he left without a word, the slot machine still whirling for attention.
Cody-Ann stood under the flashing lights and peered into the window. Three neon bright American flags were strung together by the middle black line. It reminded her of the way her mother used to dry the bed sheets. All hung in half and slumped over the line so they wouldn’t touch the ground as they were hung out to dry in the warm sunglow.
The alarm sound was cut off mid-chirp as the manager inserted his key to indicate payout.
        She headed out of the High-Roller Room, now completely deserted, and went outside on the top deck. She pulled out her last cigarette and smoked while watching the moon glow tumble onto the river.

Comments · 1

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  • Anthony Blackshaw said...

    Gripping! I don't know why but I love stories around gambling, especially if there's some sort of system or cheat being employed. Anyway loved it!

    • Posted 7 years ago