Shane made his way back to the black jack pit with slow, plodding steps, his black shoes flashing little pieces of light. He could see they needed buffing. Another week and someone would start riding him about it. All employees will be neat and professional at all times. They are a visual representation of the company. His mind ran through the words in a sing-song cadence. Just thinking about it made his shoulders slump further and for the umpteenth time he wondered how he had come to work here? His life had been rough but it really hadn’t been so bad that offering himself to the Casino of Light was his only option.
Other dealers flanked him as he walked, heads drooping, eyes fading. All of them were slender, frail looking people clothed in black, polyester tuxedo pants and royal blue shirts that were buttoned all the way to their throats. The last uniform they would ever wear. Shane felt a stray wisp of his dark hair tickle his forehead as he walked. Not every hair could be contained in his ponytail. During rare moments of vanity he thought the stray pieces made him look a bit rugged. Not that it mattered really, his chances of ever getting a date again were slim unless he could hold onto enough of himself to actually climb the company ladder and acquire the ability to feed.
Entering the pit through the south end Shane tipped the brass pole to one side, stepping carelessly over it and ignoring the blood red velvet rope strung between it and the next pole. Jonathan frowned at him.
“Enter through the rope like you’re supposed to, not around it.”
Like a vending machine Shane felt his spirit dispense a small amount of itself, the light within him diminishing a nearly imperceptible amount. Nodding his agreement to his Floor Supervisor, Shane headed for his table, tapping the relief dealer on the shoulder to signal him to finish up and move along to the next dealer. He could have just walked in through the rope and saved himself the pain but, the point seemed lost. His soul was vanishing regardless. Dropping his left hand onto the plastic shoe Shane jiggled it briefly to loosen the flow of the cards then swept his right hand across the layout and announced, “Bets are open.”
Jonathan stood just outside of Shane’s peripheral vision, watching, his round, healthy cheeks bunched in a smug grin. Shane dealt his game, each card precisely located on the felt and made a point to count clearly and accurately for the players. He couldn’t see Jonathan without turning his head too far, rounding it was called, but he could feel him back there, waiting to lap up the crumbs left by the players each time they nibbled at him.
An hour later the relief dealer returned and tapped him on the shoulder. Shane pulled the shoe to the center of the table and turned it inwards so the hole faced his tray of chips before clapping his hands and showing them, palms up, to the camera above. He stepped to the right and left his table. Jonathan was waiting for him, a snake-like look in his eyes. Shane noted the little flakes of dandruff powdering Jonathan’s shoulders. Only two hours into the shift and the guy was already snowing. Probably should lay off the mousse, it aggravated dry scalp issues.
“You need to watch your players better.” Soft, fleshy hands rose, still clasped together to gesture vaguely at the black jack table. “The guy on first base has tried to cap his bet four times in the last hour.”
“I know,” Shane replied feeling a low rise of irritation. “He hasn’t been successful or I would have called you over. That is the proper procedure, right?” You already had your bite tonight you little mole. Go chew on somebody else.
Jonathan breathed in and out through his nostrils, staring at Shane’s eyes. Then he shrugged.
“Yes, that is the right procedure. Keep an eye on the guy though.”
“Sure thing,” Shane said. He let his eyes travel over Jonathan’s outfit, a cheap off-the-rack number that bagged just a little bit too much through the chest. “Can I go?” Jonathan waved him off like someone swatting at a gnat. “Nice suit,” Shane muttered and headed for the rope.
“What was that?”
Shane didn’t bother turning around.
“Shiny!” he called back. “Very shiny!”
(Casino of Light – 2 here)