It’s been a while since we have been inside Wonderland. But never fear, that strange casino where death lurks around every corner is never quite beyond the horizon.
Snake Eyes and Seven Bones
Terry blew on the dice in his hand then passed his hand in front of the girl to his left. She glared at him then leaned forward and blew into his hand. “I hope you choke,” she said.
“Baby, if you want me to choke, then why you giving me some luck?” He kept his eyes locked to hers as he tossed the dice onto the table.
“We have a winner!”
He smiled at the girl as he collected his chips and slipped them into his chip holder. “How can you deny such love?” he asked her.
“Fuck your love,” she said. “You owe me half.” She reached for his chips.
He side stepped out of her reach. “Come on baby, don’t be like this.” Away from the table he scanned the room around them. The game room floor held a bigger crowd than usual for a Wednesday night. He noticed a couple bachelorette parties, definitely unusual for a Wednesday. Those were a Friday night thing.
A quick glance at Shelly, he had to get her away from all this. She’d been beating him over the head lately with her cries to get married and he still wasn’t ready. Her latest claim to half his winnings, part of a long string of her pressure. At least they weren’t in Vegas. The idea of a quickie wedding would push her over the top.
“Hey, loverboy, let’s cash in so we can get out of here.” She yanked at the sleeve of his coat. “I still gotta get up in the morning.” She rubbed at her round pregnant belly with one hand while her other held the small of her back.
Terry’s gaze lingered at the crowd a moment longer then turned back to her. “Right, sorry,” he said. “Let’s cut through the crowd to the cashier.” He clasped her hand in his then led her toward the edge of the game room.
“Fancy a game of black jack, Mister?” She held his gaze and tried to bring him in with a shy smile.
Terry didn’t recognize her, the small blonde black jack dealer. Not unexpected but he spent enough time at the casino that many of the dealers were at least familiar by sight.
Shelly pinched his arm with her free hand. “Sometime tonight,” she hissed.
“Damnit, why do you always pinch so hard?”
“Same reason you make googly eyes at black jack dealers,” she said. “I can’t help myself.”
Grumbles… He frowned at her then grumbled again. “Fine, I’m going.”
A group of the bachelorettes crossed in front of them, on their way to one of the restaurants. The majority of the group was tipsy but the bride, with a large white bride sash over her shoulder, she leaned heavily on a girl half her size. Terry didn’t look at them, he scanned ahead, his eyes locked on the exit from the game room floor.
“I know you saw them,” she said. Fewer people littered the main hall outside of the game room. Still early in the evening, they had a clear path to the cashier station. “When Terry? When are you going to commit? My mother,” she said. “She is getting tired of asking me all the time.”
He rolled his eyes and looked everywhere but at her face. She suckered him when he made eye contact. His only protection was to avoid it. “If she’s getting tired maybe she will stop asking altogether then.” He knew he shouldn’t have said it. One of them moments when he stood outside himself and watched the words coming. Even as he watched his mouth move his inner voice screamed at him, Don’t say it!
But it was too late. Her jaw dropped open, closed, then fell open again. To add to his mistake he made eye contact. Her eyes, though, they had glazed over. He could still see the fire, a raging inferno behind those glassy orbs. Her mouth snapped shut and without a word she turned and walked away from him, toward the exit.
Terry looked back toward the cashier behind the glass window, then to the chips in his hands, then to the back of Shelly’s head as she walked away. With a heavy sigh, “God damnit,” he said. He dropped the chips to the floor, didn’t watch as they scattered away from him. And then ran to catch up to her.
“Shelly,” he said as he reached for her arm. “Wait a second.”
She pulled away from him. “Fuck off Terry.” She looked out the glass door into the parking lots beyond.
“Just… Just hear me out ok,” he said. He pulled a small black box out of the front pocket of his jeans. “I didn’t want to do this here. And your mother, well, she never lets up.” He blew on the box and then took a knee.
“Don’t,” she said. “Don’t, not like this…”
“I can’t see any other way,” he said. “Please turn around, I can’t stay like this forever.”
She gripped the door handle, her knuckles white. “That’s been the problem all along,” she said. “You’ve never taken to change. Why should I believe this?”
“Just turn around…”
She turned. Her gaze lifted from the floor, lingered on the black box in his hand and then ended on his face. “How long have you had that?”
“I was waiting for the right time,” he said. “Hell, I don’t know what exactly I was waiting for.”
She stepped back to him and leaned down to kiss him. “I don’t know either.”