COL – Distraction

“What the hell are you staring at Ferguson?  Pay attention to your game!”  

Stepping right into his personal space, the Pit Manager Louis planted a large, hot hand on the back of his head and shoved his face down toward the table.

“Head down, ass up!  Nothing else matters!”

Blood surged into Shane’s cheeks as Old Dave the Boxman turned to stare at him with his too small, ermine eyes.  The hairs on the back of his neck leapt straight up.   The players on his end of the dice table started chuckling.  Thinking of them as second rate hyena’s he wished them all a healthy meal of his embarrassment and prayed for them to choke on it.  Six rolls of the dice passed before he dared to pick his head up again and casually glance into the other pit.  Camilla was dealing at optimal speed, her hands and arms flowing like water, placing cards with precision.  She was a perfect study in efficiency.

“Seven OUT!”

Tearing his eyes away he automatically started grabbing up the losing Passline bets in chunks that he dropped on top of his number line amid a chorus of complaints.

“What are you doing, man?”  A dark hand reached down to block him from picking up the next wager.

“Seven out, sir.”  Shane looked up into the older, frowning face.  “The Passline loses.”  It was a stupid explanation but sometimes the players forgot what was going on.  And if he wasn’t mistaken, this guy had laughed for three rolls over the head down, ass up thing.  

“Dude, the dice haven’t even rolled.”  Continuing to block Shane, the man shook his head firmly and used his other hand to point down the table.

Cautiously turning his head to look at Chuck on the other base, he saw his friend standing motionless, hands on the rail with all his Passline bets still in place.  Feeling panic start to slither into his throat, he looked at the Stickwoman.  Cassie stared back at him.  The thick, black braid over her shoulder seemed to bleed its darkness into her eyes.

“It was the table behind you,” she said, tapping the base of her stick lightly against the green felt covering, a clear sign she was irritated with him.

“The dice haven’t rolled, Shane.”  Old Dave the boxman wiggled his swelling finger joints at the mess in front of Shane in annoyance.  “You need to put the bets back.”

“What the hell is wrong, Ferguson?  Still not watching your game?”  Louis barked from his podium, his voice booming and hard enough to split granite.  “Dave, get a grip on this guy, will you!”

With trembling hands Shane started sorting through the chips he had dropped onto his line, feeling Dave’s eyes on him.  His boxman was a lifer, never supervising anything but dice.  If the Pit Manager was snarling at Old Dave then Old Dave was going to rip out someone’s throat.  Shane was positive he would be dealing blackjack for the next week once Dave finished with him.

Five minutes later the bets were restored but his ego was shattered.  Holding onto the rail for support, he stared down at the table listening to his players talk rudely about him like he wasn’t there, and waiting to feel a tap on his shoulder signalling he should clear out.  The dice rolled.  Leaping into action, he paid everything and returned to his starting position, still waiting for the tap.  After two more rolls he heard the harsh, blatting of Old Dave laughing through sinuses that were too used up to support the sound.

“I think he’s got it now, Lou.”

“Good.  I’m already tired of him today.”  Louis’s voice drifted away, signalling he was walking to the other end of the pit.  

“He’s so scared of me he probably won’t look up for the rest of the week.”  Slapping the rail beside Shane, Old Dave rocked slightly in his broken down office chair.  “Don’t worry, Shane, I’m not tossing you over to blackjack just yet.”  He chuckled.  “From the look of things, you’d be happy there right now.”

In the edge of his vision he saw Dave focus on the other pit and knew he was looking directly at Camilla.

Advertisements

COL – Perfection

“Every choice you make will alter you.  It will change the chemical makeup of your body and shape the way people see you.  It will give you a baseline for every decision that will follow.”

Tall and strong, Kaleb Ferguson stood beside him, his wide hands with their stubby fingers splayed on the edge of their kitchen table as he leaned down, staring him in the face.  Shane knew his father was only five foot seven, but in that moment his memory made him look so much larger.  The feel of it was like his dad had been towering over him, blocking the bright sunlight that had been shining through the kitchen windows.  Looking at his own hands now, especially the one holding the pen, he tried to feel a connection to that man who had worked so hard to make him understand something that day.  The lesson hadn’t been lost on him, but it hadn’t been learned either.

His own fingers were long, more like his mother, with narrow palms and soft tips that seemed to read their way along every movement.  Kaleb had called it a natural gift for learning, an ability that connected directly to his brain through his eyes.  Whatever he saw, he could do.  His hands would move, copying the motions of what he was seeing, duplicating the rhythms.  It didn’t matter if he was watching someone type a letter on a computer keyboard or being mesmerized by how a machine could carve a small peg from a single block of wood.  His hands would move, following the patterns and flowing along invisible pathways that he could feel.

The pen in his hand was warm, the heat from his skin having created a bond between himself and the plastic.  It was a common pen, a simple thing purchased in bulk boxes of twenty-five with a personalized logo printed around its cylindrical exterior.  The casual appearance of the pen was a sharp contrast to the paper in front of him.  His eyes were captivated by the form, it’s perfect beauty a drug for his eyes.  Whoever had made this had cared very deeply for its shape.  They had taken the time to feel their way along its creation and respect the rhythm of its purpose.  The pen was typical, just ink in a tube.  The employment agreement was a siren’s song captured on paper.

“If you will sign your name at the bottom of the form that you are accepting the position we can move along to wardrobe and have you fitted for your uniforms.”

A perfect form.  A casual pen.  A voice that scratched his ears.

Rolling the pen between his fingers he ignored the blonde woman with her short, frozen hair and impeccable gray, wool suit.  The lesson wasn’t lost, it just hadn’t been learned.  Why now?  Why that memory at this moment?  His spirit ached for him to sign his name, to write it on the amazing form and become a part of what had created it.  His mother had called that rubbing against popularity.  People liked to be near things that were magnificent, feeling they could absorb the greatness and enhance their own existence with it.  Was that what this was?  Was he just trying to rub against popularity?

“Mister Ferguson?”

Ripping his eyes away from the beautiful form he found the woman smiling at him, the bottoms of her perfect teeth barely showing between her painted, pink lips.  Her eyes were fully open, the pupils expanded in the flourescent light of the interview room that somehow brought a

deeper blue to her them.  Was she wearing contacts?  Keeping his teeth to himself, he smiled tightly back at her.

“We should move along now.  We have a lot of ground to cover yet.”

Nodding his understanding he rolled the pen around again, looking for a cooler spot to grip.  Carefully he turned the paper, positioning it at the exact angle he needed to get the proper slant on his signature.  It was his way to write in an upward motion, away from him.  His second grade teacher had made a fuss over it, trying to force him to write from right to left instead, but he had ignored her, waiting until she walked away to turn his paper back to the angle he liked.  Positioning the pen over the line at the bottom of the form he took a last look at it, letting his eyes soak in the love that had been imbued into its creation.  Taking a deep breath he touched the nib to the paper.

“Okay, let’s move along to wardrobe.”

Feeling like the room had become slightly darker, he shoved the paper away from him, not looking anymore.  The form was ruined, its beauty destroyed the instant he had touched it.  All he felt now was regret.

Snippet #13 (COL – Chicken)

“The eighties were righteous, man!”  Bobbing his head in time with the music blaring from the overhead speakers, the man plucked two five dollar chips from the rack in front of him and leaned into the craps table to press them firmly into the field, centering them on the twelve.

Fighting the urge to roll his eyes at the guy, Shane lifted his hands into the air above his head and smiled.

“Hands up, boss.  Dice are coming.”

Two red cubes rocketed down the table, the sharp points digging at the green, felt covering.  Tumbling and bouncing, the dice grazed across the back of the man’s hand on their way to the back wall.

Way too slow, guy.

“Five, fever!  No field!”

“C’mon, man!  Get your hands outta the way!”

The shooter pressed both hands to either side of his backwards baseball cap, the scriptic M above the bill facing away from the game.

“Sorry, man.  They didn’t touch me, I swear.”

Liar.

Shane locked up the ten dollars from the field and focused his eyes on the passline behind it.  Historically, the shooter was short tempered.  He had a history of bullying other players and arguing with the staff over one dollar bets.  The guy in front of him liked to play chicken with the dice.  Last second betting, sometimes just tossing his chips down, letting them scatter toward the field in a way that made them seem like dice magnets.  He always caused a seven out.  Tightening his lips to keep the smile from getting out, Shane gripped the wooden rail and waited.  It was just a matter of time.

COL #4 – Already Been Chewed

Jonathan watched from the safety of the far end of the pit as Miss Diamond slurped at Charles’s soul, her aura flaring brightly as she absorbed him.  Charles moved mechanically, his wraithlike body bowed slightly forward as he held tightly to the blackjack shoe and dealt his game.  His eyes were empty and withdrawn.  Jonathan felt a tug of recognition at the blank expression, the emotional refusal to interact with the guest.  Considering the earlier encounter Charles had with Dolphus Grime, it was a wonder the young man had made it this far into his shift.  Charles was a shell of the person he had been six hours ago.  It was not unheard of for the casino to literally lose a dealer or two when Dolphus came to play.  The appetite of the man was unmatched and he usually ate until he was too full to move.  

Miss Diamond frowned at the dealer and pulled her chips from the betting circle.  Here we go, Jonathan thought.

“Excuse me, Floor?”

Fixing his expression Jonathan slowly walked toward Miss Diamond.  She was a regular and her appetite was something of a joke among the staff.  Unlike Dolphus, she liked to feed off a select few and when she couldn’t there was usually an argument that often escalated up to the Pit Boss.

“Good evening, Miss Diamond.  How can I help you?”

By reflex Jonathan weighed his appearance against hers.  Miss Diamond was a middle aged, black woman with a solid income and tasteful clothing.  Her nails and hair were impeccable, her eyebrows always perfectly arched.  His suit, while it fit him well, was bought off the rack at a local outlet.  The slacks were a bit snug in the butt and the jacket a hair too loose in the shoulders.  His haircut was a little grown, needing a trim.  Compared to the younger Floor Supervisors who shopped mostly at discount stores, he looked damn good.  Standing beside Miss Diamond, however, he looked like he tried to hard.  He felt small.

“This dealer… Charles?”  She looked closely into his eyes.  Jonathan nodded obediently.  Yes, he was paying attention.  “He appears to be… used…”  Her voice trailed off expectantly.  Jonathan knew he was supposed to just understand the question.

“Yes ma’am.  It has been a busy evening here at the Casino of Light.”  He tried to sound apologetic.  “Many of our dealers have been… overworked.”  He glanced at Charles as he spoke, assuming the man was listening despite his closed off appearance.  Overworked was an obvious understatement but he was trying to be tactful.

Miss Diamond frowned again and tried to move closer to Jonathan.  He held his ground for a moment, anticipating her next move but not prepared to submit.

“Don’t you have some way of… refreshing them?”  Her aura shimmered outward, barely noticeable.

“I’m afraid not,” he stated with a tight smile and stepped casually out of reach.  “The next shift will be here in just a couple hours.”  He was rewarded with a sharp flash of her carefully made up eyes.

“You were always one of my favorites,” Miss Diamond purred.

“Mmm hmm.”  Jonathan took another step backwards, openly avoiding her.  He saw Charles’s head turned just a bit toward him now, watching from the edge of his vision while he continued to deal.  So there was a bit of life left in him?  Clever man.  

Turning to face the south end of the pit Jonathan used his chin to indicate a woman with dark hair and a very slender build dealing on one of the tables.  Her expression was open and smiling, completely blind to the actions of the feeders around her even though one was actively gulping at her, his aura flaring like a beacon.

“We have some newbies that just started tonight.  Maybe one of them would be suitable for you?”  Jonathan was gratified to see Miss Diamond follow his gaze and lock onto the female dealer.  Interest sparked in her eyes.  He wondered if her interest was just in the dealer or in being able to cut off the greedy feeder?  Based on his knowledge, she would enjoy both games quite a bit.

“Maybe…”  Miss Diamond stepped back and collected her chips from Charles’s table.  “I’ll have a look.”

Jonathan nodded politely and stepped forward a bit.

“Yes ma’am.  I’m glad to have been of help to you.”

Throwing a crisp smile at him she headed down the row of tables.

Casino of Light – 3

“Shane, shouldn’t you be on the floor right now? Why are you on break?”

Shane stiffened as Charles twitched beside him, almost violently, at the sound of the woman’s voice. They shared matching opinions of Carla, the micro-managing Pit Boss with blazing red spiked hair.

“I was in an hour and twenty,” Shane stated.

“Don’t lie. I know what time you went onto the floor.” She didn’t actually look at him, choosing instead to stay visually engrossed in stirring her tea in its recyclable paper cup. Shane bristled.

“I’m not lying.” He squared himself with her and glowered, aware that most of the people in the lowly lit breakroom were listening attentively even though their eyes were focused on the television or their books and phones.  She couldn’t possibly know what time he had walked onto the floor as she was stationed on the far side of the casino, nowhere near him.

“Both of you like to grab extra breaks when you should be on the floor.”  Carla raised the cup to her lips and sipped, her lips pulling toward the center like the mouth of a guppy.  

“You need to stop accusing us of stuff,” Shane growled. Beside him, Charles stared angrily at the floor.  Charles wouldn’t speak to Carla at all which left him open to all sorts of accusations from her.  It made Shane crazy that his friend took so much abuse from the woman.

“Is that a threat?” Now she looked at him. It was very disconcerting because even though her eyes were focused Shane was positive she was actually staring at a spot on his head.

“It’s a statement. Do you see the difference?”

Someone snorted softly from the couch, confirming Shane’s belief that the other people were listening.

Carla set her cup down and looked toward the television where a commercial was trying to encourage people to pester their doctors for a new drug that would cure everything.

‘You need to lose the attitude, mister.”

This would have been the perfect time to walk away.  Shane knew he should just grab Charles by the arm and head out the door, leaving Carla to her thoughts but, today had been a rough day and his nerves were snapping off sparks over everything.  Her baiting him like this seemed to be an open invitation to argue.  Taking a single step toward her table he planted both his hands flat on the faded, faux wood top and stared at her spiky hair that always looked like she had just rolled out of bed.

“Since I actually know what time I went onto the floor and can verify it without guessing, I would be happy to take this little problem to the Shift office with you if you like?”  At this distance he could see that her skin looked paler than usual, her cheeks barely tinged with healthy color.  For the zillionth time he wondered if she was a vampire?  Charles was terrified of the idea of blood-sucking immortals.  They had logged many hours of conversations on the subject of which mythological beasts their supervisors resembled the most and Carla always landed in the category of vampire.

“I can certainly arrange that!”  Carla’s head swiveled toward him and her eyes fastened onto his.  They stared each other down.  Every head in the breakroom rose and turned to watch the outcome.

Shane felt his stomach clench in sudden panic.  What had he expected to happen when he had decided to loom over her?  Did he think Carla would just back down and concede that she might actually be wrong?  The seconds ticked by while his eyes stayed locked on her, trapped by the challenge he should have walked away from.  Win or lose he was sure he would be paying for this in the end.  On impulse – or desperation – he spoke.

“Then make the call, Carla.”  His vision threatened to blur as he fought the urge to blink.  Please, make the damn call, he begged silently.

As if hearing his unspoken plea Carla’s mouth twisted into a nasty, gleeful, snarl and she shoved her chair back from the table, ripping her eyes away from his in a way that didn’t feel at all like a victory.  Moving like a panther she shot to her feet and walked to the breakroom phone.

Savoring the relief of not looking at her Shane stayed hunched over the table just a second too long for him to actually claim a win.  How the hell had she managed to break contact first and still leave him feeling like he had been wrong?  He could feel the onlookers return to their previous postures, leaving him alone with his loss.

Straightening up, Shane spared a glance behind him, looking for Charles.  His friend was leaning against the sink, staring at the drug commercial on the television, trying hard to not add to the problem.  Had that really only taken seconds?  Maybe the commercial had played twice in a row?  That happened sometimes.

Carla’s voice, soft and respectful now as she spoke into the phone reminded Shane that things were not settled.  The first shots had been fired and now the wounded needed to be interrogated.

 

New Dealer Standing Still

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.

Casino of Light – 2

(Casino of Light stories are becoming something of a pet project of mine.  I may eventually turn them into a novella but for now they can live here.)

Smooth black hair, slicked back and apparently impervious to the smoke of the blackjack pit gleamed thickly in the direct glare of the tiny spot lights shining down. Adding to the distraction was the fact that the royal blue shirt of the new dealer’s uniform actually looked good on him. He looked lean and fit, like he worked out every day and didn’t eat anything heavier than fish. It didn’t hurt that despite his shiny newness he looked like he had been dealing cards for years already. The sense of self-assurance coming off him was astounding. Tasting jealousy on the back of his tongue Shane watched from the corner of his eye as he dealt his own game. That guy is about two days into his job, he thought, and had the grace of a cheetah. Judgmental of his own movements by comparison he made a point to smooth out his card placement and to make his payouts clean and precise, not letting the chips click together any louder than necessary and setting them politely beside the winning wagers. On his other side he could hear Geoff table-slamming with his cards and thunking chips down like they were rocks. Geoff wouldn’t know how deal a clean game if you moved his hands for him. Shane focused himself and picked up his pace, sweeping his hand across the layout, palm up to open the new hand. His forehead was spotted with small beads of perspiration from the spot lights. Those things really heated a table up when there were players present.

“Envy is a strong motivator, I see.” The greasy voice appeared in Shane’s mind like a dirty smear. He didn’t twitch even a hair to show he was listening. “Keep humping rookie. That girl will move into a suit before you will but, you might get there yet.” Jonathan laughed softly, just over Shane’s left shoulder. The laugh was creepy enough to give him the feeling that Ol’ Shiny Suit might actually have a body in his basement. Then he realized what he had just heard and stopped dead.

“Girl?” The timbre of his voice cracked in surprise and he turned his head a fraction, catching sight of Jonathan’s ridiculous poofy blonde hair. All this guy needed was red lipstick and a bulbous nose and his clown costume would be complete.

“Yup.” Jonathan flashed a crocodile grin. “That’s a lady my friend. And she is slaying hearts left and right back of house.” A friendly elbow in the arm. “You have some serious competition pretty boy.” Shane got a hold of himself and gave Jonathan what he hoped was a casual shrug.

“Bets are closed,” he said and dealt out the cards.

On break Shane grabbed his tablet from his backpack hung on the coat rack and headed for the third floor break room, intending to bury himself in his current read for a few minutes. The sounds around him faded to a muffle as he swiped his finger across the tablet and touched the book icon. The fluorescent light from above, much brighter than the carefully controlled lighting on the main floor, gleamed against the tablet’s face, creating an annoying bright spot that he found himself staring at instead of through. Shifting around he looked for a position that moved the light off the tablet so he could read. Once he found the sweet spot he stretched his legs and moved to prop one foot on the seat of the chair opposite him. His foot found emptiness. Looking up in surprise he found Charles  smirking at him from the other side of  the table, his pale face lit up with enjoyment and holding the chair just out of reach. Shane gave him an impressed grin.

“What’s up Chuck?” The greeting never failed to amuse Shane though he knew it bugged the crap out of Charles. Chuck smiled blandly and sat down.

“There’s a new class sign up sheet posted for dice. Are you going to try to get in it?” Charles delivered this information with very little vocal inflection though his pale eyebrows moved up and down with excessive animation. Wondering for the millionth time if Charles might actually be tone deaf Shane raised an interested eye at him.

“Will you sign up with me?” Charles went very still, his greenish brown eyes becoming a bit unfocused. Shane recognized this as Charles’s basic bug instincts kicking in, the whole don’t move and no one will see me routine.  “Come on Chuck, you have great math skills. Dice would be a breeze for you.” Charles shrugged thin shoulders that wardrobe couldn’t seem to fit properly. His shirts were always too small in the neck, his top button held closed with an extender because his shoulders were abnormally small and narrow. “We’ve talked about doing this together so many times.” Charles focused and gave him a slow, feline blink. Shane chuckled. “I know you want to.”

“Yes.”

“What was that?”” Shane leaned dramatically forward and cupped a hand around his ear. “I didn’t catch it.” 

“I said yes.” The volume was a little higher but not much.  A large woman with goddess braids and wearing a teal shirt that marked her as belonging to the Slot Department began a slow clap as she passed.

“Congratulations!” she gushed obnoxiously.  “He said yes.”  Shane shot her an exaggerated look of happiness that he let slip into a serial-killer-clown grin.  The woman’s look of nosey humor winked out like a lamp and she kept moving.  He gave Charles a sly wink.

“Great!  Let’s go get our names on that list before it fills up.” Shane closed the tablet’s app and toggled it into blackness before standing up. “Ready?” Charles nodded and tugged nervously at his short ponytail. “Relax,” Shane said. “Don’t eat your hair.” Charles snorted.

“I don’t eat my hair.”

“Not yet.” Shane lead the way toward the elevator to the first floor. “But once you get into that class there’s no telling.”

The first floor break room was packed. Careful to not step on any of the legs sprawled out around the tables and couches Shane moved toward the cork board and found the sign up sheet. Grabbing a pen from the nearest table he scribbled his name on the first open line then turned to hand Charles the pen. His friend was standing frozen, face slack, eyes fixed in place. Shane drew back a bit in surprise and waved a hand across Charles’s face.

“Earth to Chuck.” Charles blinked a little and his eyes slowly focused to follow Shane’s hand. Shane looked around, wondering what had so alarmingly captivated his friend. It was only a seconds before he spotted her.  Sitting cross legged on the sagging leather couch was the new dealer, staring down at her phone and paying zero attention to them. Taking advantage of the opportunity to indulge his curiosity Shane looked for a sign that she was actually a she. He couldn’t see her throat from this angle so judging by the absence of an Adam’s Apple wouldn’t work. The cheekbones were sharp and the forehead was high, fully exposed by the nicely oiled, swept back hair that was cut short and shaved on the neck and sides. The build was all wrong for a woman, squared and broad shouldered, tapering downward in a slight vee. He couldn’t see any actual signs of breasts. Could she be trans?  To his horror she picked that moment to look up and see him staring at her.

“Take a picture, it’ll last longer.” Her voice was deep and smooth but carried a slight lilt. Shane felt his face get very hot. Charles looked down at the floor and turned to solid stone.

“Sorry,” Shane stammered. “You’re new?”

“Second day,” she stated and smiled at him with perfect teeth.  Letting go of her phone she extended her hand. “I’m Camila.”  Shane stepped forward to shake it and glanced at her throat. There was a slight curve where the Adam’s Apple was but not overly pronounced like his own.  Her hand was very warm and long fingered, her grip quite firm.

“Nice to meet you. I’m Shane.” Almost as an afterthought he hitched a thumb behind him. “That’s Charles.” Camila tilted her head to look past him and smiled at Chuck.

“Nice to meet you both.” To his credit Charles managed a bobble-head impression. Good boy, Shane thought encouragingly. Looking amused Camila pointed her chin at Charles.

“I believe you were going to write your name on that paper?” So she had been paying attention.  Shane looked at the round clock on the wall as she spoke. It was 11:15 pm.

“Holy crap Chuck! Get a move on. We have to go.” He pressed the pen into Charles’s hand. “Come on buddy, sign it.” Charles closed his fingers around the pen and very stiffly turned to write his name directly below Shane’s, his signature shaky but legible.

“Done!” he croaked a bit too loudly. Shane did a slight double-take at him.

“Great, let’s go.”

“I’m at the other end.” Charles said loudly.  ” I’ll see you later.” He practically ran out of the room, his miniature pony tail poking straight out behind him. Camila chuckled and stood up, slipping her phone into the green canvas bag at her feet and shoving the whole thing back against the wall.

“He’s in a serious hurry. Is his table very far away?”

“Huh?” Aware that his jaw had swung slightly open Shane forced it shut and pulled his eyes away from Charles’s shrinking figure. “Oh, no. Not any farther than ours.” Feeling like he had just missed something he lead the way out the door onto the main floor.

 

(More Casino of Light here)