Ted had just gotten off of work. He worked in a printing factory. Boy was he tired and bored and bored and tired. It paid good money but he found it to be so dull. Even though he was sitting at home. All he could hear was the sound of the machines clacking along. And the smell. The sweet burning smell of paper printing.

All day long all day long. He couldn’t wait to get off. Everyone had to have something to look forward to. His girlfriend Clara and his newborn was home. He felt happy seeing them. But he still felt shaken and dazed.

Clara looked at him. What’s wrong baby you look like a deer caught in the headlights.

Tired baby just tired. Same thing over and over

I know baby you should have a beer it helps. Clara worked part time at a grocery store. She was a cashier and knew the pain of work fatigue. The customers got on her nerves.

I’m getting tired of drinking baby I don’t really need that as a crutch. Been trying to cut back on that. I think the stuff is making me stupid. Keeping me happy and numb.

The truth was substituting one addiction for another.

He was thinking about the slot machine as he talked with her.

You lost a hundred dollars last week.

You win some and lose some baby. I’ve been winning recently.

I gotta play. Anything I win I’ll give you half. You know that. I’m not greedy. You can come along with me.

You know I gotta watch the baby.

The baby can come along with us.

He knew that she wouldn’t come along with him.

Okay then go just don’t lose too much money. You know don’t gamble with the bill money.

Alright baby you know I wouldn’t be that stupid. Do some shit like that. I couldn’t do it.

He grabbed a beer and downed it quickly. He was excited about winning he was excited about being at the casino.

The casino seemed like the place to be. All those people are coming. The rich the poor. Those in the middle, rubbing elbows with each other. Everyone is chasing money. The casino was the pinnacle of what America stood for.

The excitement of anticipation moved through every pore of his being. The car seemed to glide through the streets as he drove. The car couldn’t get there soon enough as he pressed the pedal.

Too many cars for a Sunday. People in the way. There were a few snow flurries. Roads were a little slick. More and more people seem to be driving more recklessly. Speeding and tailgating. People were pissed off by a lot of stuff.

He found a shortcut, which meant less people on the road. An old country road few people took to get there. Mostly everyone took the interstates.

The casino stood in the middle of woods all bright and lit up like the center of the universe. The smell of the river and the landfill were terrible but every one drove in its direction.

He had been going there so much, people had started to notice him. The workers and the casino regulars. Before he started going he couldn’t have imagined that people went to the casino daily. That was just beyond his comprehension.

He talked to people in the casino. There was the valet dude he saw mostly everyday. There was a girl in the coffee shop. Ten years younger than he was. He liked her too. She knew so much about a lot of stuff. Her parents had traveled a lot, which gave her a different perspective on things. A wide perspective, something he didn’t have while growing up.

He talked to her and thought about the machine. The machine he wanted to play. The machine that was giving him so much money.

The money that he needed. When all the other machines had failed him.

He started to think that he was bugging the girl. He often thought that sometimes. He stood too long talking to her. Wasn’t she supposed to be working or doing something around the shop?

He kept thinking about the machine. He was in a hurry to get there and then he wasn’t in a hurry. He knew that the machine would let him down one day.

Yeah day after day the thing had worked and paid off for him. He was afraid that it would turn on him and just take his money. But now it was his best friend, a lover who always kissed him when he needed it.

He didn’t want the romance to end anytime soon.

He got out of the coffee shop and decided to head to the bar. He didn’t go to the coffee shop just yet.

He needed a drink. So he went to the bar on the other side of the building. Drinking at the bar, would keep from doing too much gambling.

He tried his best not to gamble too much and lose all his money.

He knew the bartenders too. He had been going to the bar, even before he had started gambling. Just hanging out and drinking at the bar and watching people. The casino was an interesting place to him.

He liked cocktail waitresses with their short skirts.

He asked the bartender for a Bud Select. He got it back and it tasted good to him.

He liked sitting at the bar. It was a lot better than sitting in the neighborhood bars he had been into. Those bars felt suffocating at times. The casino had a lot of room. And no seemed to really be thinking about you at all. They were busy gambling. They even had slot machines in the bar. You couldn’t get a break from gambling.

He sipped his beer slowly. No rush. Plenty of time to gambling. Breathe no hurry. No rush.

The bartenders would ask if he wanted a beer periodically but he said no.

He was curious about the others around him. He wondered how much they were betting?

That’s the thing at the casino everyone was fighting a different fight away from themselves it was personal.

An older Asian lady sat next to him and she played to machines at once with impressive dexterity. He watched her out the corner of his eyes.

He found it funny the way that she played. Playful but with much skill

He thought too much about the dangers and the good fortune of gambling. The beer helped him to quit thinking so much. Too much.

He wondered what Clara was doing? He didn’t like lying to her now that he thought about it. He felt guilty. I don’t think she truly understood him wanting better things for himself.

But he couldn’t help himself. Without the slot machines, without the casino he would like he didn’t even exist. He had to go there and gamble. It was an escape from home life and work life. Responsibility and all that.

He entered the world of flashing lights and the hope of jackpot. A perpetual rainbow of hope which kept him going.

He started to walk to his machine. He looks at it and admires it. It was not alive yet. No tokens in it. He would have to put tokens in it. But not now. Now was not the right time. He didn’t want to spoil it with it not being the right time.

Had to play a different slot machine. A slow machine that didn’t give him much luck. It made him calm and relaxed him. He played it cheaply with pennies. Good game and it went slowly but no money.

That was a big problem. He needed money. Didn’t everyone need money? How much easier life would be if he had plenty of it. Forget about bills: rent, gas, electric, Internet phone, car insurance.

All those troubles. Yeah money would help his situation immensely.

A couple of small wins. He took the ticket out of the machine.

It felt good to win.

He started to walk towards the machine. He could feel the anxiety and excitement course through his body. He had to calm himself down. Deep breaths deep breaths. Breathe normally. This was nothing. Calm.

He became calmer.

There was the machine though. The one that had given him so much.


He got to the machine. He wondered if anyone else knew about the machine and how good it was? No one seemed to be around it. He could always get right on it and play. Win.

He sat down in the chair and quickly got up. It wasn’t time. He was nervous. He looked around and it wasn’t good to be nervous. He put his player card in the slot, to check his collected points for the casino.

He was just stalling again. The slot machine was right near the poker room and he would look in and spy on all the poker players. He knew if they were playing that then they were serious. He kinda didn’t want them to see that he was playing the slot machines. And he didn’t want them to see his luck.

He put his dollar in. He could feel the energy of the machine go up. Along with the playful music. Hit one credit. Then he hit spin. Nothing.

Sometimes it hit didn’t hit right away.

He put another dollar in. Spin around. The bars didn’t like up to get him the money. Nothing. It seemed like the machine was different. It seemed like it wasn’t going to give him the money. Let him win. He could feel it.

No. not a let down. Not the disappointment.

Another dollar. And one more. Nothing. Zilch. He had been had.

The romance was over. He lost this time.

He wanted to put more money in the machine but couldn’t. He wouldn’t know stop putting money in if he did that. He didn’t wanna start that addiction up. He saw the gambling addicts around, he didn’t wanna be another one going to the pawnshop and selling his shit. Not him.

It was different losing money. He felt the depression descend on him. It started from the top of his skull and went downward. The heaviness which is like a couple of hundred pounds on his back. He could hardly move. He didn’t want anyone to see the expression on his face.

He couldn’t hide his emotions well. He needed a poker face. He didn’t want anyone to know that he lost. He came there too often. He smiled at the greeter who always saw him coming in and out of the casino. Make them believe you’re a winner or you broke even this time. Everyone wins. No losers at this casino.