by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash
Becky Liu
Becky Liu
Nov 11, 2018 · 5 min read

It was just past nightfall which was Rich’s favourite time to visit The Donarium. He drove towards the flashing neon sign that was perched above the entrance and tapped his diamond keyring on the sensor. Dazzling golden gates that towered over the car park accepted his arrival; in he went and parked in front of a reserved sign and made his way towards the entrance.

“Good-evenin’, Sir! It’s nice to see you back. It’s been a while,” said the concierge, tipping his burgundy and gold-tasselled top hat, which was extravagant and matched his velvet gold-buttoned topcoat. He proceeded to open the front doors for him. Rich’s expression remained the same but nodded in his direction and continued to walk along the red carpet and into the building.

There were new billboards in glass-panelled frames plastered across the dark patterned walls depicting clothes, models, new cars and action films. One of the frames to his right caught his attention; it featured a handsome pair of Spectofones with blue text below it reading,

“New Spectofone 4S out! Get yours for only 20,000 reals or 2 limbs. Subject to T&Cs.”

He looked down at his beige suede briefcase, patted it and continued to follow the red trail.

As he entered the main room his eyebrows raised. It was brightly lit, bustling and the air was so thick with smoke that it irritated his nose. The familiar environment wrapped around him like a warm blanket. There was a loud exciting hum of hundreds of people laughing, chatting away and bickering intensified with shuffling sounds and reward gongs.

“Ding ding ding we have a winner!” echoed throughout the room.

He straightened his back, scanned the room quickly and found an empty chair at one of the tables near to the entrance. Walking over, he glanced at the other seated people and sat down.

“Are you buying in? What’s your bid?” asked the dealer who was dressed in a lighter rendition of the concierge’s suit.

“5,000 reals,’ replied Rich.

He quietly unlatched the briefcase. A gush of whispering rippled through the table and everyone’s eyes locked onto him. As Rich got out his Reals, the corners of his mouth curled up as their eyes dug deeper into him.

“And yours?” asked the dealer nodding to the next player.

“My left index finger.” said the player quivering. He had stitching around his mouth where his lips once used to be. He held up his stub and waved his only remaining finger at the other players to show his buy-in.

“ALL IN!” said the next player as he tossed a left arm onto the pile.

Rich shuffled his chair closer, his eyes grew wide and his pupils dilated as he fixated on the severed limb. The arm was still warm, freshly sawn off, and there was a strong smell of metal in the air that tempted his senses and made him feel dizzy with ecstasy.

“Check.”

“Check.”

The dealer dealt an Ace to Rich.

His face twitched as everyone showed their cards.

“FULL HOUSE WINS!” the dealer exclaimed nodding his way.

The entire table groaned as Rich jumped up and grabbed the arm with such intensity that the table jolted. The players remained calm and expressionless. Whilst this was happening the dealer had already taken ahold of the other player’s finger, sliced it off and zapped his wound shut and threw it onto the pile.

Suddenly, there was a loud piercing cry as everyone tried to filter through the noises of the room to figure out where it was coming from. As the fuss settled, their attention flashed to the player with streams of tears cascading down his face. He tried to wipe it with his now fully smooth stubbed wrists as they all stared at him blankly.

“I need to win!!!! I needed that win. My family are going hungry we have nothing left. No one else can walk anywhere. Please, I’m begging you to spare my last finger. You have Reals! I have nothing left. I can’t leave like this. I won’t leave,” he cried as he fidgeted around in his seat.

Everyone avoided eye contact whilst he placed his stub on Rich’s arm. Rich’s face screwed up as he jerked back and looked at the stub, then at him in great disgust and then back at the dealer who immediately went over, stood in between them and started to carry the convulsing player off. They slowly disappeared into the crowd.

Rich took out his Spectofone and proudly snapped a photogram of his winnings. Then he cut up the arm, gathered a finger, a kidney and a nose and placed them neatly into his small briefcase and made his way to the exit. On the way out he passed 2 similarly dressed women in grubby grey aprons with lace trimmings as he overheard them talking about something that sparked his interest.

“Did you see the new Spectofone 4S coming out? It only costs an arm and a leg. If I manage to use my arm to bid tonight and win I might actually get to keep my leg!” said the thinner one who was perched on her only leg. She fluttered her fake lashes that were glued to one open eye and one sewn-shut eye-socket and took a puff out of her pink cigar.

“That’s a reasonable deal. If I had my arms still I would totally go for it,” replied the larger woman, who was bald and resembled a wooden clothespin. She pouted her rouge lips at her companion who held the same cigar out to her lips to help her take a pull.

Rich let out a low snigger as he left The Donarium with all of his limbs and everyone else’s.

When he got home Spike came to greet him at the door with a series of barks and tail wagging. He bent down, cooed and patted him.

“Honey, is that you? How was the show?” asked his wife calling out from the living room.

“Simply dazzling darling the actors really managed to capture the essence of a true romantic tragedy”

“Oh, it sounds lovely and very classic Shakespearian. There’s steak in the kitchen if you’re hungry.”

Before Rich entered the living room he opened up his briefcase took out his bag of reals, placed them on the console table and emptied the rest of the bag into Spike’s food bowl.

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