Oct 22

The Abditory Casino

Landon Lupa could usually be found by the Abditory Casino bar. One hand neatly folded into the pocket of his jacket, the other cradling a glass of brandy. At first glance, this is a man of sophistication. But no. This was a man who holds secrets closer than friends. You may think this sort of person is a given in every society. But life is more disturbing up close. If you strapped him to a chair and turned on the light, you would see the plastic comb marks in his greased hair. The fraying hole where he cut the security tag from his suit. The sneaker shoelaces he laced into his shining shoes. And one must not miss the golden band of a watch dangling from his pant pocket. Meeting naive bar goers and palming the watches was his custom. 

Landon was a perfect representation of the worst things in life. If you gave him the chance, his sleazy doings could turn horrendous. He’d trick the world for a few coins. He was unmovable from his circuit. The tracks below his shoes didn’t bend around the mountains. Landon lived in his little sinful cage. He wasn’t oblivious to the people outside the bars, but he certainly had no care for them. If someone reached into his crinkled menagerie, Landon would bite them. But in the cage by the bar, he made sure to retract his claws and seem as normal as he could be. Attempting to seem less like the feral creature in the corner and more like a lion sunning in the darkness. 
    Ruby was on her way to pick up sandwiches at the deli for her uncle. He was bedridden at the moment. For the simple reason that he had gotten too round in the middle. Her family had entrusted her uncle into her care. Tying him to her wrist like some high-flying balloon. So she pretended to care. But when her uncle couldn’t see her over his stomach, she scrunched her face and pulled her hair. If she left him now, her family would cut her off. To her right, a flashing sign caught her attention. The Abditory Casino. It enticed her. Ruby opened the glovebox, she had five quarters and a ten. The deli was cheap. So she turned into the casino parking lot. Ruby did not believe in ghosts. But many a time, she had felt watched. Guilt drenched her white coat like blood. The sliding doors welcomed her and she snuck towards the slot machines. She noticed a sharp fellow leaning on the bar. He reminded her of a garden statue. At home among the barstools and equally immovable, his suit sleeve fused to the counter top. But his marble eyes did seem to follow her as she passed. Her thumb poised her keys like a knife. 
    Randall Lock didn’t come to the Abditory Casino much. But this was his second time this week. He viewed it as a place of sin. Randall was a loyal Christian, but he loved to gamble. He often made excuses to his wife and his church. He didn’t view the Abditory Casino as right, but he certainly didn’t view it as wrong. He tried to think of all the good things about the casino. It was against cheaters. Randall laughed, a place of sin that hated sinners. He was currently sitting at a poker table near the back. He could vouch for the casino, but still didn’t want to be seen here. His golden cross was exposed on his black button up. The dim lighting glinting on the chain. If the men he played with noticed, they didn’t say anything. Too many people double-dipped for the world to keep track. But there is a risk to dipping into both salsa and guacamole, it can be hard to keep both flavors. 
    Obman Clark was a first grade teacher. But his being at the Abditory Casino on a school night was not unusual. The little children he taught were nothing special in his eyes. And the fact was he simply didn’t care. Because that was what Obman was. Taking more than he gave. By now it was four pm and the casino was beginning to fill. He started by going down the slot machine rows. His fingers fumbled in the coin returns for loose change. If he was lucky enough to find a few quarters, which he usually did, he would hurry over to the bar for a drink. A shadowy character stood by the corner. Upon noticing a slight twitch in the man’s smirk, Obman winked at the man. A ghost under a sheet to a ghost under a sheet. A drink in hand, Obman sauntered over to a poker table. Obmen took the seat opposite a man with a cross necklace and was dealt in. His cards lay in order from two to six, a straight. A young kid sat next to him. He poked Obman anxiously. 

“I, um, don’t come here often.” His eyes were round and sorrowful.

“What about it.” Obman blinked boredly.

“Can you tell me if I have a good hand?” His eyes now pleading.

The kid fumbled to tilt his hand towards Obman. It was a flush of diamonds. Better than Obman’s cards. The kid looked hopeful. 

“Don’t bet on it kid.”

The boy’s eyes tendered with trust. Obman won the hand. The man with the cross necklace stared at him across the green felt. The kid beside him tossed his cards to the dealer. In the process they flipped.

“Ya could’ve won with that.” A wrinkled geezer said.

The kid shot Obman a disgusted look. Pushing back his chair he left the table. He didn’t come to the Abditory Casino again.

The table had just begun the next hand, when a cry came from the bar. 

“Hey. Hey!” A burly woman, who appeared to be a security personnel, was charging up the stairs after a man. An old woman tottered after them. 

“My watch!” She shrieked.

Obman loved this type of stuff.

Ruby Redlin was tensed, her hands frozen on the slot lever. She shouldn’t have come.

Randall knocked over his chair and bustled up the stairs after them. He grasped his necklace in his palm. Maybe he could help.

The security woman gained on the running man making circles in the mezzanine. Though Ruby knew not what he had done, she hoped he got what he deserved. The casino goers were crowded under the balcony. This was a splendid show for them. The man pushed over a potted plant, the dirt spilling over the balcony. He certainly did look like a caged animal. The burly woman had him against the railing just as Randall made it up the stairs. 

“Stop!” he wheezed.

The security lady squinted at him. She drew a few golden watches from the man’s pocket. The crowd blinked and looked at their wrists. What had they lost? 

“We all have to scramble to live!” Randall cried.

“What of living does this thief know?” Questioned Ruby from her place in the crowd. 

“We all have to scramble to not die?” Randall was lost. 

The crowd shook their heads. The security lady cuffed the man to the bannister. With two hands she carried a golden watch to the old woman sputtering at the bottom of the stairs.

Obman gazed at the man wrestling with the handcuffs. Obman found the man’s eyes. His suit pockets were more empty than they had ever been. But someone else would fill his spot by the bar. And as the security lady, Randall, Ruby, and Obman watched. The man faded from the mezzanine. And there was nothing left to remember Landon Lupa except a pile of watches, a broken casino, and an empty suit. But arguably this was all he had ever been.