13 Black - The last spin of the wheelSubmitted by Spam at 2006-01-24 05:51:25 EST
Rating: 1.94 on 20 ratings (20 reviews) (Review this item) (V)
There’s a swagger in my step as I stroll onto The Gaming Floor, a look of absolute confidence that can only come from somebody who’s decided that he’s already lost everything that’s worth a damn but wants to take that final journey anyway.
This is my last dance, the final goodbye, the farewell fuck with the girl you’ve grown to love to hate. After today, I’m hanging up the lucky suit and burning my membership, symbolic gestures really, seeing as if things don’t go terrifically well today, I won’t even have the means to play this game anymore, let alone the will.
I’ve walked into this pub a thousand times before but it’s always the same, I have the luxury of only coming here once a month or so and because of this, I’m fairly well liked – It’s easy to come across interesting and witty for an evening if you only have to do it once every four weeks. To this end, I am able to take the joyous greetings of my out-of-town acquaintances with a pinch of salt. Sure, they like me, I may have even earnt a bit of respect form them in the last year I’ve come drinking in this town but at the end of the day, they haven’t got a fucking clue what really makes me tick. I guess that’s the pitfall of befriending people in a purely social context.
And then I see Her.
It feels impulsive when I decide to change every last penny I have into chips but as I walk up to the roulette table manned by my old friend the croupier, I’m smart enough to know that this was probably my plan from the outset.
I mean, what’s the point in coming to these places if you’re not gonna gamble and what’s the point in betting if you’re not gonna go All In? Hedging bets just seems wrong to me somehow.
But I guess that’s what put me in this position in the first place.
I always knew she’d be here, the only thing that’s really shocking is the wealth of feelings that rise up, feelings I thought I’d buried a long fucking time ago.
“So you’re back then?“
“Yeah,” She replies with a sad smile, “Turns out I was wrong about leaving. I was wrong about a lot things.”
She lets it hang there as I take my seat next to her and filter out the surrounding babble. A small part of me is certain that we can pick up where we left off all those months ago but I’ve learnt to ignore such notions.
I’m never fucking right about that sort of thing.
“Welcome back sir.”
I’m on guard straight away because the croupier actually sounds genuine. I feel like for once, there’s somebody on my side in this emotional rollercoaster and this gives rise to the belief that I may actually win for change.
For some reason, I find the idea repugnant.
I change my plans and just make a small bet to start to get myself into the swing of things, I know that’s not what I’m here to do but It’s been a while for me and it’s probably best to get used to the little losses before I start to go large.
I wish I could peg the point I became such a cynic.
Flirting with a friend is tricky ground. Fuck man, I flirt with everybody, it’s part of what I do. So how then, do I now go about it in such a way as to let her know I’m not joking but still not put myself on the line again?
Tough line to tread.
My chip-stack looks meagre when I place it on the green baize and the confused look I get from Mr Croupier doesn’t help matters. We both know that this isn’t my style.
Flash decisions are the ones to go for and so I double up before the ball starts to spin.
“I missed you.”
I say it out of the blue, more of a way to cut through the bullshit than anything else – if you’ve got nothing to say then shut the fuck up.
Likewise, I’d rather voice my feelings than pretend they’re not there.
“Black 13, house pays out to number 13 Black.”
A dead loss. First bet of the night and already I’ve lost half of everything.
I knew this was going to happen though, so I continue to play. I aint gonna stop until I’ve got fuck all left.
She sounds surprised but I don’t know why, what was she expecting - that what happened last time we met wouldn’t matter because it was six months ago?
She should know better by now.
It’s still early but all of a sudden I want to leave, I know for sure it was a mistake to come here but now that I’m playing, I’ve gotta follow it through to it’s proper conclusion.
After all, that’s why I turned up – go out in style. Half measures are for pussies.
The silence is hanging too long and I feel the need to fill it despite my better judgement, it’s obvious what’s gonna happen so I’m already putting on my coat whilst I speak to her.
He knows, I can tell he does. He knows that what I place on the table is all have left, only somebody clinging to the bottom rung could throw away money with such uncaring nonchalance.
For a second, as he spins the ball round the wheel, I get the impression that he wants it to land on Red 23 more than I do. That said, It wouldn’t be too hard, I stopped caring a long while ago.
“Last time I was in town, before you left, I… I….”
I’m already out of my chair and half turned to the door as I say it, she looks confused which I am assuming is not a good sign. But of course, I continue anyway.
“…Well, I just thought that it meant something is all.”
The ball is spinning around now and the whole audience is enraptured. Most of them have bets running themselves but they’re all waiting to see what happens to me, they can spot a man on the edge a mile away and that shit’s always fun to watch.
“look Sam…” She fades out.
Heard it before. Nobody ever starts a sentence with “Look Sam,” unless they’re gonna let you down in some way.
Her demeanour speaks volumes and I can tell that this is tough for her, that she’s moved on since we parted ways but she doesn’t quite know how to say it to me. She looks fucking miserable and I can’t bring myself to put her through the whole laborious rejection process.
Losing has always been a strange experience for me. Not because I win all the time but more because I find myself feeling sorry for putting the Croupier in such a position where he has to take away what he knows is all the money I’ve got.
It’s my fault. We both know it’s my fault.
But I guess that’s not gonna make his job any easier.
She still hasn’t got past that initial “look, Sam…” and we’re both starring at each other wordlessly, both knowing exactly what’s about to happen but neither one of us wanting to put the other through the pain.
I decide I’m gonna spare her.
The steel ball starts to jump around the slots and The Croupier and I both know that it’s way off 23. He’s starring down at the wheel and to the outside observer it may look like he’s actually interested where it’s gonna land.
But I know that it’s really because he can’t look me in the eye.
“Do you know what? Fuckit. Forget I said anything, I’m gonna go find another Bar.”
I bend down and give her a quick kiss on the cheek before she has a chance to respond.
“I’ll see you later.”
Actually, no I won’t.
I hear the cheer go up from the table as I walk away and this show of happiness from my fellow punters makes me glad I left before the ball landed.
I don’t think I could’ve put up with it after such a heavy loss.
It’s a few hours later and I’m fucking hammered. It’s not enough. It never is.
I know I’m drinking to forget and that it’s not constructive, but I carry on regardless, having somebody stomp all over you will that to you. But, you know, at least I insist on doing this shit by myself. Temporary depression is not an emotional state that should be shared.
“Another double please Barman.”
And that’s it.
My gambling career is over and although I’ve said that before, this time I know it’s true. I throw my membership to a bum as I walk home and despite the fact that I’ve been cleaned out, the knowledge that this is the last time it’ll happen is something I can draw genuine comfort from.
I resign myself to the nine to five normality of the rat-race I’ve been trying to escape all this time. This was never really the way to do things anyway.
I need a fucking drink.
A female voice.
“I’ll Get that.”
As I trudge through the street I hear footsteps behind me, like somebody’s running. They slow down as they get louder and when the sound is just behind my shoulder, I hear a voice struggling between panting breath.
“Sir?! Sir, you have to stop for a second”
I turn to see my benefactor and in my surprise, am instantly slapped by the long arm of sobriety. What the fuck is She doing in here?”
It’s the croupier, still in his uniform, a big smile on his face despite how harried he looks after his run.
“You’re not gonna believe this Sir…”
And I’m fairly sure I won’t.
A million questions.
“Shut the fuck up.” She says.
And before I know what’s going on she’s on me, pushing me up against the bar, kissing me even as she does so.
“It came up.” he says. His grin widens as he pulls a white slip from his pocket.
“I’ve never seen anything like it before, the ball bounced for ages and just when I thought it had stopped, it jumped up again and landed square on Red 23.”
I stare at him uncomprehending.
“Don’t you get it sir? You won…. You won Big-Time.”
“You absolute twat.” She chides gently, her arms still around my neck. “Why the fuck did you leave? Do you have any idea how many bars I had to go into before I found you?”
I’m about to answer but she puts her fingers to my lips with a big smile.
“Forget it, I guess it doesn’t matter anymore.”
He hands me the credit slip and explains that I can cash it tomorrow.
“What will you do with it?” he asks.
“I don’t know. To be honest, I never really thought that far ahead.”
He laughs at this and shakes my hand firmly.
“Something tells me that we’re not going to be seeing you for a while. Good luck my friend.”
And with that he turns his back to return to the Casino, a buoyancy to his stride that I know I’ll mirror as soon as the truth sinks in and I start walking.
“Let’s get out of here” She whispers in my ear, “We’ve got a lot of time to make up for.”
I don’t really hear her, half dazed as I am, still recoiling from what just happened.
Did she really just search through all the bars in town to come find me?
Did that kiss actually happen a second ago?
Is she really grabbing my hand to drag me who-knows-where, so we can do god-knows-what?
I actually fucking Won.
Other Casino Tales:
23 Red: - http://www.ubersite.com/m/67860
23 Red(reprise): - http://www.ubersite.com/m/74687
00 - Double Zero: - http://www.ubersite.com/m/79568