Do we really need an introduction for these posts on Fridays? Basically this is another story in the casino series. I had a random title for it that didn’t really fit the final piece so I gave it something new to go with. Let’s just pretend I didn’t have anything to say today and jump right into the story…
In the Cards
Eric tapped the table and watched the next card drop in front of him. An eight and a three face up and a ten as his hold card. The dealer flipped another card, two fives and then a king. She went bust with the nine in the hole.
He collected his chips and left the table, slightly richer but not enough to draw too much attention. The night served him well, an extra three hundred bucks lined his pockets. He could have pushed for more but he saw what happened when greed got the better of a person.
Probability, numbers, they worked in his favor, always have. Some called him lucky in the past but to him it was little more than working his abilities. Eric didn’t count cards, he didn’t need to. The cards always gave him what he needed. But only cards, this never worked with mechanical games.
He tried roulette once, lost five thousand dollars in five minutes. But poker dealt the bigger blow. He discovered that having the right cards in poker meant less than your attitude when you played the game. Low hanging fruit, the last words his father said to him, those were the words he lived by. Don’t put your neck out there anymore than you have to. “Thanks dad,” he said.
“What?” Shiela asked. She rubbed against him and nibbled at his ear. “Baby, you’re talking to yourself again.”
“Hey, why don’t you go and get something to drink. I want to check out this table over here.”
“Okay,” she said. He could feel her watching him as he walked away. If he turned around, he knew he would see her frown or pout, but he didn’t care. Deadweight, that’s what his father would have called her. She hung with him for the thrill of the game.
He dropped chips on the roulette table. The odds against him didn’t matter, he wanted time away from Shiela. At some point he would boot her to the curb, but he liked the company sometimes still. What was that song, he asked himself. I’ve grown accustomed to your face by Sinatra, that was the one. At least she wasn’t ugly.
The croupier dropped a small pile of chips in front of him. Eric let the chips ride on black. He thought of Shiela and chuckled. That was the plan then, let it ride.
He moved the chips around the table between spins a few times. Each time his small stack doubled. He played it smart, banking chips between spins, but the pile in front of him continued to grow. The tap on his shoulder broke his concentration. “I thought I told you to go get a drink.” When the ball stopped he lost the pile of chips on the table.
“Excuse me sir.” Not the voice he expected, thick masculine. Shiela stood between two casino security guards. “Does this belong to you?” His name tag showed the name R. James.
“What did you do Shiela?” He tried to catch her eyes but she never raised her view from the ground.
“It wasn’t what she did sir,” R said. “Well not exactly. There was an incident in the bar sir.”
“What do you mean, ‘incident?'”
Shiela jumped into the conversation. “He touched my boob!” Fear filled her eyes when she lifted her head.
“Sir, your date poured a pitcher of beer and an ashtray on Mr. Clartens. He won’t press assault charges if you take her home now.”
“He won’t press charges?” Eric asked. “I think he will be lucky if we don’t press charges.”
“I don’t think you understand sir. Mr. Clartens owns this hotel and casino.”
“Wait, so what you’re saying is we have to put up with this because he owns the place?”
“Look, I don’t like this anymore than you do,” R. said. “But I need this job, so I do what I’m told.”
“Come on baby, I didn’t like it here anyway.”
“Let me gather my chips,” Eric said.
“Didn’t I tell you to remove ‘this’ from my casino?”
Eric didn’t like him. First impressions spoke volumes and the man was a douche before he even said hello. Must be a money thing Eric thought. Shiela and him were the unimportant pawns in his greater games. “We’re leaving. I need to cash in my chips first.”
“The hell you do,” Mr. Clartens said. “Remove them, Get them out of my casino.” He pushed his way back toward the bar.
“Ya know, keeping me from cashing in is pretty much theft. This place owes me money.”
“I’m sorry sir but we need to escort you out.”
Eric grabbed his chips and pushed past the guards. “Let’s go Shiela.” She followed him through the game floor. Instead of turning toward the cashiers and the exit he went straight into the bar. He spotted Mr. Clartens on the other side in a booth with a few other people.
“You need to get out of here,” R said. He grabbed Eric by the shoulder but Eric shrugged him off.
Eric continued his path to Clartens’ booth. “You think your money gives you all the rights.”
“I thought I told you to remove these people,” he said to R. “You’re fired. Get rid of them all.” He motioned for the guards around his booth.
“I don’t have to take this,” Eric said. He pulled a deck of cards out of his jacket pocket. The frayed case had seen better days. The frayed cards looked no better. Eric shuffled them in the air as they moved about his hands with a life of their own.
“The cards have always been in my favor,” he said. “Like this one.” He snapped his fingers and the ace of spades popped up between his thumb and index finger. “Do you know what the ace of spades represents?”
“What the hell is this?” Clarten asked. “Quit standing around and remove this jerk. Fricken card tricks…”
“The ace of spades is the death card.” Eric flicked the card, like a dagger it sliced the air and ripped a line across Clartens’ cheek. “You need to treat people better.” Another card flashed through the air and sliced the other cheek.
“Don’t do this Eric,” Shiela said. “He isn’t worth it.”
“Maybe you’re right,” he said. “Let’s get out of here.” The turned to go. With their backs turned Clartens reached into his jacket and pulled out a 45.
He chambered a round as R yelled, “Gun!” Eric spun back around and released one last card with the flick of his wrist. Clartens fell back into the booth, the ace of spades sticking out of his throat.
“Now we can go.”