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Choose Your Own CRAPS Adventure

Congratulations!

You have decided to embark on a wondrous journey through the GAME OF CRAPS! Try your luck at the world-renowned table game that will chew you up and spit you out a much more mature, level-headed human being. Are you feeling lucky?

Naturally! Your name is Rocky “Hard Rock” Spitz, and you’re the baddest gambler this side of the Atlantic City Bus Terminal. Your winnings are the stuff of legends, and if you keep it up, you’ll go down as the first Craps player in history who almost had a little left over for child support. You like to play the inside, let it ride, bet the snakes; 30–1 odds don’t intimidate you, nor does casino security, who claims you still owe the Sultan’s Buffet three nights of unlimited crab legs. You’ve got a lifetime presidential suite at the Days Inn, but before you lay down and fall asleep to the hum of your premium cable package, Caesar’s lucky dice want to have a word…

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A rickshaw drops you off on the Boardwalk outside the casino. You tip the peddler $2.75 and spank him on the ass. A saltwater taffy vendor you bailed out of jail eons ago hurries to open the door. You pat the bulging wad of cash in the pocket of your track-pants held together by a rubber-band large enough to cinch the waist of a hippo. It’s my lucky night, you think to yourself.

Inside, the slots are crooning. The jangle of jackpots is like music to your ears, specifically Wagner’s “Entry At The Gates of Valhalla.” You insert $1 into a Big Bang Theory penny slot and crank the arm. You’re up $1.03. You think about pressing your luck, but decide to cash out and head to the tables. Besides — you came here for one reason, and one reason only: to win big at Craps. There are no clocks, so you have no idea what time it is. You thrive in perpetual twilight. You are crepuscular, not unlike the common skunk or marsupial glider.

You spot Frank “Perks” Derulo, a fellow dice-setter, hitting his number at your favorite table.

Do you…

A) Post up next to Frank and start playing Craps.

B) Pick a different table: Frank’s hand is still shaky from his hip replacement surgery, so you can’t trust his roll.

C) Go back to The Big Bang Theory slots.

You chose A — Time to play Craps!

You slide in next to Frank. He turns to make eye contact — his breath stinks of Inca Cola.

“Well, if it isn’t Hard Rock. Here to win your money back, old pal?”

“Keep your eyes on the board, Perks. I ain’t here for funnies.”

“Fat Umberto got your herring in a bone broth, I see.”

“You can say that again.”

Five seconds at the table and Perks is already breaking your balls. Last time you two played together, you begged him to never bring up Fat Umberto, but here he is, bringing up that fat piece of shit again.

“Buy me in for $500.”

The box-man counts out your chips. You visualize them doubling and tripling with every roll…enough money to send your grandkids to the Oceanographic Institute. But first, you have to make a bet.

Do you…

A) Bet $5 on the Pass Line.

B) Bet $5 on the Don’t Pass Line.

C) Bet $100 on the Yo.

You chose C — $100 on Eleven!

You steer $100 worth of chips onto the 11, at 15–1 odds. Perks furrows his brow — a million wrinkles, one for every lost roll.

“I ain’t rollin’ for you, Hard Rock. Who do you think I am, Sticky Jerry?”

Perks blows into his palm and shoots the dice across the battlefield. They hit the wall, surrender, and die.

The box-man calls out: “ELEVEN — YO ELEVEN!”

The box-man passes you your winnings — $1,500! Not bad for your first bet. Looks like it’s your lucky night. You order a Malibu Spritz and count your chips. Time to lean in.

What’s your next bet?

A) Bet $5 on the Pass Line

B) Bet $5 on the Don’t Pass Line.

C) Let it ride! Bet all $1,500 in previous winnings on the Yo.

You chose C — Let it ride!

A rake appears out of thin air and guides your chips back to the 11, at 15–1 odds. The chances of Perks hitting another Yo are pretty slim, but don’t forget: you’re “Hard Rock” Spitz! Craps ain’t supposed to be easy.

Perks lowers his sunglasses; beet-red eyes, cocooned in rheum, stare directly at your chips.

“Who am I, Santy Claus?” He says.

“I dunno, Perks. Any elves in your room watching pay-per-view?”

“Just my kids. And yeah, they’re pretty fuckin’ short.”

Suddenly, you spot your ex-wife, Gertie, making small-talk with the pit-boss. You think: Why is she here? She should be back in Des Moines with her mother. She looks good. Shame things ended the way they did. Boy, I was such a good-for-nothing louse.

Perks lays in.

“Hey Hard Rock — ain’t that Gertie with the pit-boss?”

The pit-boss cracks a joke. Gertie laughs. She puts her hand on his shoulder. Cheap gags, you think. I’m way funnier. Except when I lose big-time. Then I ain’t so funny, that’s for sure.

You’re distracted by Perks, who shoots the dice across the table. They hit the wall, bounce back, and curl up like a pair of dead roaches.

The box-man calls out, “ELEVEN! YO ELEVEN!”

You can’t believe it. You just won $22,500! Enough bread to cash out and start a bakery. Gertie notices the commotion at your table and you two make eye-contact. This is my chance, you think. To make things right…to make up for when I was just a common gambler, a low-life, a two-bit suit with a bubblewrap belt. The box-man rakes over your hard-earned winnings.

You call over the cocktail waitress. She asks if you want another Malibu Spritz. You nod, and stick a hundo in her tip-cup.

“Can you deliver a message for me on your way to the bar, sweetheart?”

“Sure thing, Hard Rock. Who’s the mark?”

“My ex-wife…”

You point to the spot where Gertie was flirting with the pit-boss. She’s gone.

“Why don’t you tell her yourself? Gertie says, appearing next to you.

You haven’t spoken to Gertie in 10 years, but it feels like just yesterday you were getting hitched by an Elvis impersonator after meeting in the Pharaoh’s Lounge at the Luxor.

“Still a table-lizard, I see.”

You point to your stack of chips.

“I’m up over $22,000.”

Gertie smiles.

“You look good,” she says.

“I’ve started cycling…in the mornings, you know. I cut out red meat.”

“That’s great.”

You want to tell her she looks good too, but you hesitate.

“What brings you to AC?”

“Work conference, the Mosquito Exterminators Association of New Jersey.” she says. “I’m over at the Sheraton. Room 604. You should swing by sometime.”

You lock eyes. This is your chance. Don’t screw it up.

Do you…

A) Try to get back together with your ex-wife.

B) Try to have a one-night stand with your ex-wife.

C) Recommend meeting for drinks to talk things out, real casual-like.

D) Stay at the table and put all $22,500 in winnings on the Yo.

You chose D! — Stay at the table and play craps!

“I’m sure the pit-boss has another knock-knock joke for ya,” you quip to Gertie. “How about you make like the Zika virus and buzz off?

The cocktail waitress returns with your Malibu Spritz. As she hands it to you, Gertie intercepts the highball and pours it over your head. Coconut rum and prosecco drip down your Costco Hawaiian shirt and onto your chips.

“You haven’t changed, Hard-Rock. You’re still the same small-time hustler I married by mistake all those years ago.”

“You loved me, sweetheart. Don’t talk trash on recycling day.”

“I loved the idea of you. Fixing you, making you a better man. But you let me down. You always will. Goodbye, Hard-Rock.”

You turn to the box-man.

“Hit the Yo, Doc, and don’t let Perks fix the dice.”

“Who am I, Grover Cleveland?” Perks jokes.

You don’t get the reference, but steer your leaning tower of chips onto the Yo anyway. Perks whispers into his palm. You’re pressing your luck, and it would kill him if you won again. He will literally die of an aortic aneurysm.

The ticking hands of time screech to a halt when Perks hurls the dice. You watch them fly in slow motion, suspended in mid-air above your life savings, bad decisions, everything you’ve ever loved and ever lost and then some. They hit the wall, scramble down the pitch, and nuzzle up together like eskimos in a tanning booth.

“THREE!” The box-man calls out.

Perks jumps for joy.

“TAKE THAT, Hard-Rock! I ain’t your golden goose after all!”

All your hard work — all your Hard Rock — is quickly swept up by the rake. You lost. Big time. $22,500 down the drain, into the sewer, crocodile food. You turn to see if Gertie had been watching the last roll from the casino mezzanine, but she’s gone. You’re not surprised. It was always supposed to end this way.

You tip the box-man the $500 you started with and leave the table…

Well, you lost the money and you lost the girl, but you still have your sweet n’ sour pride. You stumble through the casino, lost in the thick haze of menthol smoke. The Big Bang Theory slot appears between two plumes and coaxes you to play. You reach for your rubber-band wallet and find it is empty save for a lone dollar bill suffocating under the boa-like grip. You break the rubber-band with your teeth. You slide the buck into Jim Parsons’ mouth and crank the arm. Five atoms appear on the pay-line in quick succession. The lava-lamp jackpot siren wails, Mayim Bialik’s head spins, and the floorman appears to verify that you, Hard Rock Spitz, did indeed just win the $500,000 payout.

“Looks like it’s your lucky day, Hard Rock.”

He prints a chit and tells you to visit the cashier. You stare down at the fat block letters:

WINNER — $500,000!

You laugh, crumple up the receipt, and tell the floor-man to keep his money.

“I’m a craps-man, daddio. Big Bang Theory ain’t my bone broth.”

Perks, from the craps table, starts a round of applause. Soon the entire casino joins in. Fat Umberto, the fat fuck posted up at the Roulette wheel, even starts cheering “Hard Rock! Hard Rock! We Love Hard Rock!” You’ve won over the crowd. You’re a hero. Nobody in Atlantic City history has even spurned a jackpot, much less exited the floor to a standing ovation with their dignity intact. Looks like you are in fact the legendary Hard Rock Spitz after all.

You make a bee-line for the double-doors and think to yourself, it’s never gonna get any better than this, baby. Suddenly, as you near the staircase leading to the boardwalk, you spot your estranged daughter, Kylie, now a grown woman. She looks good. So good, you barely notice the double-wide stroller she’s pushing. Must be your grandkids.

“Hey there, old man. Word on the street says you won. Big time.

All the love you couldn’t give your daughter when she was a little girl boils over. All the regret, guilt and shame for spending more time with the dice than with your own flesh and blood. It’s too much to handle, and you fall to your knees and break down. You pound your fists into the floor and scream “WHY GOD? WHY DID YOU CURSE ME WITH THIS DISEASE?” Kylie helps you to your feet. You embrace her, squeeze her, apologize for being such a lousy no-good dad.

“I’m so sorry, hunny. I’m so sorry.”

“I forgive you,” Kylie says.

Cue the waterworks. Tears stream from your eyes and crash onto your daughter’s shoulder like high-tide on a private beach. You dry your tears with your Costco shirt, but the Malibu stings your eyes. Kylie offers you a tissue.

Do you…

A) Take the tissue and reconnect with your long-lost daughter.

B) Take the tissue, tell her you love her, but say you’re not ready for a father-daughter relationship just yet.

C) Slap her hand away, return to the Big Bang Theory Slot, pick up your jackpot ticket, cash the $500,000 in winnings, return the crap table, put it all on the Yo.

You chose C — Time to play craps!

Reality sets in. What the fuck am I doing? I’m a craps player, goddamnit! You look at your daughter, who now resembles a Martian. Who the fuck is this? A baby’s hand pops out of the stroller and tugs on your track-pants. You recoil and run back to the casino floor.

“Hey floor-man! I changed my mind!”

You spot a casino janitor sweeping up your jackpot chit. You charge him like a linebacker and dump his trash bag onto the floor. You sift through the cigarette butts and cocktail napkins and locate your winning ticket.

A-HA!”

Your adulating fans, once willing to die for you, have now clocked back into their shifts at Slot, Inc. You sprint to the cashier, holding the jackpot ticket over your head so nobody can steal it. But nobody tries. Nobody can see you. You’re invisible. You never existed.

“Cash me out, doc,” you bark at the teller. “Clean bills, no mustaches.”

The teller slides you five stacks of $100,000. You make a cradle with your Hawaiian shirt and sweep the cash towards your belly. These are my grandchildren, you think to yourself. Not those gargoyles in the stroller.

Suddenly, you’re back at the craps table. Perks flashes you the side-eye.

“What are you trying to prove, Hard Rock?”

You don’t answer. You buy-in half a million worth of chips. You direct the rake towards eleven.

“$500,000 on the Yo.”

Perks still has the dice. He laughs, and shoots his roll without looking. The dice hit the wall, fall, and can’t get up.

ELEVEN!” The box-man calls out. “YO, ELEVEN!”

You’re in shock. You just won seven-and-a-half million dollars. This your biggest score to date. Blood rushes to your head. You feel like you’re gonna pass out. But you do more than pass out — you die. The joy of winning is too much stimuli for your brain to handle, and it shuts down. You collapse on the casino floor, dead as a Dewars on-the-rocks. The game resumes shortly after.

“Still your roll, Perks,” the box-man says.

“I ain’t going nowhere,” Perks replies.

A cocktail waitress nudges your lifeless corpse out of the way as Perks’ shoots the dice and orders a Corona with eighteen limes.

“The limit is fifteen,” the cocktail waitress says.

“Fine, fifteen limes.”

You are dead. But you died doing what you loved most — playing craps.

Your soul seeps out through your nostrils and wafts through the casino, mixing into the clouds of stale cigarette smoke by the Big Bang Theory slot, suspended for eternity over Jim Parson’s animatronic head forever beckoning the lucky and unlucky alike…

Bazinga!”

“Bazinga!”

“BAZINGA!”

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