It was one of those nights that seemed like it lasted an eternity. Being Pit Boss on the graveyard shift at the Garden of Eden Casino was always like that.
I bummed a cigarette, and then a light, from the new guy, Prometheus. He looked a little pale, guess he was having liver problems.
As I inhaled and watched the tip glow red, the burning ember reminded me of better days, back when I’d been an adventure travel guide leading long hikes in the Middle East. I’d had a good run — 40 years — but those days were long gone. No matter where you led people, they just didn’t appreciate it. It’s like they thought every hike would end in the Promised Land. Lot of pressure and too many rules for my taste. That’s how I ended up here. It was just a Job and you had to suffer through it.
Gabriel, the Floor Manager called me over.
“Moses,” he said, “We’re taking some big hits at the Craps Table. I need you to take over as Croupier. This guy’s a real whale.”
I knew the story. He wanted me to be a cooler. I’d been around the block a few times but I was still pretty cool.
It was table three, the one we called ‘The Trinity.’ There was quite a frenzy there. I parted the sea of spectators and took over the stick. It felt good, like a staff in my hands. I didn’t see what the big fuss was about. Just two old white-haired guys. One with a long beard and one with an outlandish bushy mop and a mustache that defied physics. I heard them arguing. Bushy mop was Albert. I didn’t catch the other dude’s name, maybe he didn’t give it, maybe he didn’t like people to know it, who knows?
Anyway, I nicknamed the nameless one Beardy. I didn’t care about their Christian names because it didn’t matter what you called them. I was The House and they were the sheep just waiting to be slaughtered.
Beardy signed a marker, a big one, and I pushed the dice out to him. Beardy, a bit holier-than-thou, reached for the dice quicker than the speed light. He was all too eager to create something but I was ready to deal with him.
The other old guy, Albert, was pretty worked up. He leaned over to Beardy and said:
“C’mon, not dice. Don’t play dice, for god’s sake. Do you know the odds? The risk?”
I moved over a bit and pushed against little old Albert. He shot me a look and I just said, “What’s matter, Al?” He didn’t answer but I didn’t need a lecture, anyway. He was taking up too much of my space and too much of my time. It was a simple equation. I didn’t have the energy to waste.
“I know what I’m doing, Al,” Beardy said, as he laid an unholy amount of shekels on the green felt, snatched up the white-spotted red dice, shook them in his gnarled up fist and blew a bunch of hot air into them, like he thought he was breathing life into the dice. “It doesn’t work that way, Beardy,” I thought to myself. This was my game and it was survival of the fittest.
“New shooter, coming out,” I said. I watched the dice tumble over the baize, spin on their axis and come up four and three. Seven, like the archangels.
“Pay the line, take the don’t,” I said and shoved the dice back to him as the croupier pushed forward a huge pile of Beardy’s winnings.
He rolled again. Seven. We continued the dance until it became just a contest, a mad mixture of me, him, the chips and the dice. Seven. Pay the line. Seven. Pay the line. Over and over again, until “Pay the line,” seemed to become some sort of impious mantra. For a while it was like the dice were possessed, like he’d subjected them to transubstantiation. I checked them. Just dice.
Beardy was a player, all right. He had game like you wouldn’t believe. He kept rolling sevens and doubling down. God this guy could play, that’s for sure. His stack of chips grew to bibical proportions. The crowd grew, applauding and high-fiving him with each roll. I mean they worshiped him. He was on a streak but I had the facts on my side. I had the stick and I had the odds. It was simple math and no whale on a streak was going to make a believer out me. I had faith. In the odds. I’m no prophet but I knew how these stories ended.
Our private battle became just he and I, faith on one side, facts on the other.
“Let’s bet everything,” he said, with a commanding confidence, as if we was a god.
For a bet of that size, I should’ve checked with the eye in the sky but this was different. This was about our duality and it was my baptism by fire.
“Covered,” I said.
The crowd grew silent as the red cubes randomly rolled and tumbled across the felt. It was almost a religious moment. It lasted an eternity and it was over in an instant. I watched them spin like two electrons in an orbit only I understood, then they collided with a big bang against the back felt. One and one. As long as I’d known, it made two.
“Snake eyes. Eyes of the serpent. Crap dice. Winner on the dark side,” I said, as the crowd stared in disbelief as Lucy Fer hauled in his losses and put the chips back where they belonged.
He had a look on his face like he’d never lost a thing before.
It was a bit sad. There was injustice in the world, for everyone, though, and there didn’t seem to be a thing he could do about it.
He walked away in shame and I watched the exodus of the crowd for a moment before I called for a replacement and went for a break.
There was a new taco truck out front I’d become fond of.
“Hey, Jesus, give me a couple of fish tacos. Extra guac.”
“Extra guac costs, Moses,” he said.
“Everything has a price,” I said.
He pushed forward a delicious plate of three fish tacos like they came out of nowhere.
I took a bite. Holy cow, they were good. I was going to become a real disciple.
“Good night?” he asked.
“You know how it is, some winners, some losers.”
“That’s the way it is, all right.”
I finished my tacos while he brewed me some coffee and said bye to Jesus and went back to face more of the odds. Believe what you want, but this is just how it happened.
The words of Jesus rang in my head as I walked back into the casino to finish my shift: “That’s the way it is, all right.”
Scott Stavrou is a Medium Top Writer in Humor, Satire & Music. And he wonders what are the odds of this getting a clap? Seven is a winner for every one. Drinks are free for players.
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