Chips? There's more than one kind of chips. Sorry to run have run over the time limit, but the story kind of grabbed me and ran. Recalled my wife mentioning a guy in bluejeans who threw down $7,000 in cash at the craps table last week. Thousand words, 45 minutes.Flying Chips
Things were humming along for a Friday night at the Tropicana, even at 5 o’clock—early for the New Yorkers to get down to AC on the bus from Chinatown. The FIs—the Fixed Incomes who burned off their Social Security checks as soon as they got off the bus from Geezer Heaven Adult Community—were in the bathroom before getting back on the bus.
For me, daytime-nighttime was the same time since my wife walked out on me for a clarinet player in Brooklyn.
I sat down at the blackjack table, nodding at Cho, the dealer from Fujian Province who knew after an hour I was going to need a comp ticket for dinner. The babe in the skimpy skirt brought me a Johnny and water and I was dealt my first hand.
Twelve in my hand and 15 showing on the dealer’s. I tapped the table for Cho to hit me again. Three of diamonds came up and the dealer pulled a deuce. Hit me, I said, when the babe sat down.
“Go for it,” she whispered, like some foreign words mixed up in a PA announcement from a mile away.
“Say something?” I asked.
“Go for a card.”
Mentally, I gave her a f#$% you and told Cho to hit me. I don’t need a suicide blonde from Shitsville to tell me how to play blackjack.
Cho dealt me a deuce of spades and had to stay with his 17 showing. Even up at 17.
“Once more,” I said, eyeing the three hundred in the pot.
Things stopped at that point when a rube sat down and threw three thousand dollars on the table. We all looked at the guy, probably a car mechanic from the bluejeans and gray T shirt he was wearing, the grease under his fingernails, but where a shitheeler from the Pine Barrens gets that kind of money is beyond me. “Gimme some chips, Mr. Chinaman,” he said too loudly.
Cho looked at him and said, “Soon as this hand’s played, Sir.” His flat eyes looked at me. “Card, sir?”
“Hey, I want into this hand, goddammit,” he said, throwing down his ante and matching the raises. He talked too loud. People at the next table turned around.
“In a moment, Sir,” Cho said.
“Go for a card,” the woman next to me said. I turned. She was kibitzing, but what a morale booster. Her breasts were like two supermarket chickens reincarnated into flying eagles, threatening to escape her skimpy red tank top. Her blonde hair was an Ohio wheatfield inviting me to get naked and get back to nature.
“You telling me how to play my cards?”
“I’m helping.” Her smile lit up like klieg lights at a Hollywood premiere. “I just loooove poker.”
“Blackjack,” I corrected her. “Hit me,” I told Cho.”
“I said I want into this hand,” the Piney said. “Deal me one hand, no raises.”
“Piss off,” the bimbo said.
“Mind your manners,” I offered politely.
Cho was ready to deal when the Piney’s hand went down on mine. “I said hold on a minute. I got three thousand in chips. Means I’m not good enough to play?”
“Call the pit boss,” I told Cho.
“Well, what if you dealt him one hand, no raises, huh?” the bimbo asked. “See what comes up? C’mon, Mr. Highroller.” She winked at me and I saw a little bit of Cincinnati or some flyover place creep out from behind the façade on her face.
Cho raised his eyebrows. This was highly irregular, improper, and perhaps uncorporate too. I saw the boss in the black suit sidle up behind Cho to keep things cool.
“f#$% it,” I said. “Deal one hand to the kamikaze pilot here.”
Cho shrugged and dealt the greaser three 5s, a trey and a deuce.
“Hot diggity damn!” he shouted. “Knew it was my lucky night.”
“Your card,” Cho said sliding a card out of the shoe for me.
I turned the corner up. “Go for broke, Cowboy?” I asked the greaseball. “You got 20 showing to the dealer’s 17. He has to stay. Want to match my 21 and share the pot?”
“You’re busted,” the country boy whispered, but I knew he was flinching, wondering what I had. I come to AC twice a month. This is my home and I was going to take Miss Cincinnati upstairs tonight. I was still debating whether to duct tape her mouth.
“Pay to play," I said. "I’ll raise you a hundred.”
“You city boys are so smart.” His voice was the hoarse gargle of someone who’s knocked back a pint of Jack Daniels. “You come down from Philadelphia and New York with your high-handed ways, walking all over us locals. Take our jobs, our women. Turn our farms into condo-fucking-iniums. I am so sick of you white-assed, lily-livered, sewer-swimming. subway-riding city folk.”
I shrugged elaborately. “That’s the game, Cowboy.”
With the superb wit and response of a rural, he took a hundred dollar chip from his stack and whistled it across the table at my head. "There's your ante!"
It struck me two microseconds before the pit boss tackled him backwards off the chair and threw him to the ground.
“Oh, baby, are you alright?” the babe gasped, grasping my temples in her cool hands. A manicured fingernail brushed my eyebrow smooth. “Oh, my God, I’ve never seen…. I think we should get you to a room with a cold cloth for your eye. Can I call a doctor?”
Cho was worried and came around the table to put a hand on my shoulder. When he saw that I wasn’t mortally wounded, he asked if he could comp me a room for the night and dinner for two. “And, perhaps, we can finish this hand, Sir.”
“Yeah, let’s get this over with.” I turned over the cards. Twenty-one. The pot was pushed over to my place, I put the chips in a bucket and held the blonde by her elbow. “Dinner? And tell me your name.”
“That was so dramatic,” she oohed.
“Wait till you see a couple of supermarket chickens fly. That’ll be dramatic.”