Lady Trouble is rolling the bones tonight. She’s been in and out all week, and I can’t figure out her angle. I’m pretty sure two of the others around the table are working for her, losing and losing again with all of their might. Then there’s a chump of a tourist, looking lost, missing all of the subtext. And me. I work here.
I run a clean table, a harder task than you’d imagine in a casino full of Upgraded Persons, all of them rolling loaded dice. The bets on the table are barely worth mentioning though; it’s the side bets, relative, secondary, tertiary, exotic, that matter in this room. It has to be some kind of outside deal. Must be.
I steal a quick glance around the room. Tonight, we have: tourists, Daysiders, Nightsiders, blackjack, poker, royalty, baccarat, craps, one-armed bandits, Slow Loris, real bandits (with bandoleers), Hefty Ricardo, craps (okay, okay, it’s my job), as well as the ugliest carpet in the universe. It’s animated.
Hefty squats in his corner glaring at me, tapping his finger on his wrist like a rhino wearing a wrist watch. He’s bigger than me and bigger than you too, and packing more heat than a nova. He pings me. “Enough already, let me kick her out.”
“I need to know what she’s playing at.”
“Jacques is going to fire the both of us.”
“No, no, he’ll thank us. She’s been at it all week.”
“Maybe he’ll thank you, maybe not, but he’ll fire me.”
“Just give me a minute,” I replied. “Please.”
“One more minute, then I’m kicking her out.”
The tourist rolls and loses again. Lady Trouble throws a hard ten, scoops her chips without a glance. Her lackeys roll, and lose.
I ping Hefty. “I figured it. She’s got an exotic performance bet, and she fixed things outside with those two. They lose relative to her, she cleans house.”
“Hey Sherlock, I could have told you that yesterday.”
“So, what are you waiting for, slow poke?”
“I’ll show them out. The tourist too?”
“The chump? He’s completely tone-deaf. He shouldn’t be here without a nurse-maid.”
Hefty Ricardo looms, whispers a soft dismissal, iron fist ensconced tonight in a velvet glove. He and his men escort Lady Trouble and her crew of low-down, double-dealing scum out of the building.
The tourist looks around suddenly. He missed everything. “Where did everyone go?”.
“We escorted them out.”
“They were cheating?” I can see the gears moving, oh, so slowly inside his noggin. “Wait, were they ripping me off?”
I give him a hard look. “Are you utterly tone-deaf?”
There is a sudden hushed silence in our vicinity. Those can be fighting words around here.
“I don’t understand,” he says, piteously. “What’s going on?”
I guess I have to be the one to break it to him. “In this place, some people play to win, some to lose. Here’s the thing though,” I lean in towards him, “All of the dice are loaded.”