Poker Faced! (7/6/08)

A short story by Joe Eulo

I flew to Las Vegas solo; no luggage, no carry on, just the cash in my pocket and the shirt on my back. I sat in the window seat, isle 10; took me ten minutes to convince the little old lady sitting there that she was in my spot. She stared at me as if I were a crazed vagabond, who could blame her, I’m unshaven, disheveled and look as if, I belonged in a cardboard box on top of a steam grate. The flight attendant sauntered over, confirmed my story, and told the old bag to move. She did, reluctantly, cursing me under her breath. Damn me!

I sold everything I owned to gamble it in a poker game, thee poker game: the world series of poker. My chances of winning at poker were better than black jack, and much faster than slots. It was my last ditch effort to redeem myself to my family, friends, and the two big Italian guys with the broken noses. I owed them too much money and this was my only way to get them off my back and reclaim any crumb of dignity that I had left. Damn me and my gambling habit!

I prayed to the poker gods, and hoped they would grant me good cards and enough luck and wisdom to play them. I had been practicing my poker face the moment Sin City invaded my thoughts, but is hard to hide a smile when you have good cards and a scowl when you do not. It is difficult, and I am emotional. Damn me!

As I looked out the window over the wing of the plane, I could see bright lights of the strip, the green glow from the MGM grand, and the eerie beam of light shooting up from the Luxor. This wasn’t my first time in Vegas and I hopefully not my last. I don’t know if it was the stale peanuts or the thoughts of torture that the kind and understanding gentlemen with the broken noses would inflicted on me if I lost, that gave me so much heartburn, so I starting popping Tums in my mouth like they were tick tacks. Damn me!

The butterflies in my stomach made me vomit as we landed. Bits of peanuts and strawberry Tums stained the dress of the little old lady that sat next to me “Sorry” I said as I attempted to wipe off the vomit from her dress, “get your hands off of me, you @$$hole!” she howled. Great, I have been in Vegas for less than five minutes and I am already making great friends! Damn me!


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