Each bite was nearly unnoticeable, only a feeling of anxiety and building frustration marked the exit of a piece of his soul. Shane cleared his hands and rubbed a sleeve across his face, mopping away the nervous sweat that poured from him. He could smell himself.
“Seven OUT!” The dealer on stick yelled. “Clean ’em up, pay behind.” Shane stood still, staring at the layout before him.
“Seven out,” the Boxman said. “Are you listening?” Shane nodded and began picking up the chips in front of him. “Get the line!” Shane froze again, his eyes wide but not seeing anything.
“Right, the line.” He looked at the Passline then back at the Boxman. “What rolled?”
“Oh for Christ’s sake. It’s a seven out! Take the Line! Pay the Don’ts!” The Stickman rapped the curved end of the stick sharply on the table several times. “Clean it up!”
Shane felt his head drop in confused failure and began picking up all the losing bets. Why had he thought learning to deal dice was a good idea? He could swear he was losing himself faster now than he had before. Even the Stickman was taking a share of him. How can other dealers do that? His hands fumbled the chips as he struggled to pick them up quickly. Nothing was easy here. Everything he tried to do seemed to be a magic trick that he didn’t know. The Stickman had hands that seemed to move independently of each other, the fingers turning all directions at once as they plucked chips from the layout and stacked them neatly to either side of him. Shane stacked his chips in front of him then watched as the stack of red, five dollar chips over-balanced and spilled across the layout toward the Boxman. The Stickman’s laugh felt terrible in conjunction with the nasty glower from his Boxman.
“Hey Karl! Where did you get this one from, the kitchen?” An elderly player tucked in next to the other base dealer leaned out, one crusty-looking hand held outward like a question mark turned into a water basin. The Boxman chuckled.
“Nah, we got him from the training class. It’s his first night Gel, try to be nice.” Karl gave Shane a small grin. “He’ll learn.” The words would have been encouraging if Shane hadn’t seen the tiny gleam in Karl’s eye as he spoke. Anxiety crawled down his spine.