Monday - Day 8 - Part 3
I had settled into a groove at the Aces and Eights machines, early on a Monday Morning at Circus Circus. I'd never played more than a few minutes in CC, and I'd never played Aces and Eights before in my life.
But I started to have some success and the machine, the end one on the right, with my back to the wall, furthest from the Men's room (in case you needed to know), was getting hot. Now was the time to concentrate and try to make some dough, while watching for those 7s, 8s, and Aces. The Aces weren't a problem because I have long been tuned to them. But getting excited when some 8s show? Those 8s weren't on my radar at all. And what if I was dealt a pair of Aces and a pair of 8s? I'd cross that bridge if I came to it. (Probably hold both pairs...).
I nailed a quad and was enjoying the game. And then, this big, lumpy, greasy man came out of the Men's room and sat down one seat away from me. I didn't really take heed and would have forgotten all about him, if he didn't turn out to be so unforgettable.
It took all of 3 seconds before he started talking.
"Do you know anything about the Tickets 4 Tonight booth? I'm waiting for it to open. Do you think they'll have good seats for Arthur Nutsack and his Flying Squirrel? Is that show any good? Have you ever seen Arthur Nutsack and his Flying Squirrel?"
He was one of those guys who you wouldn't say was fat, but just big all over. Tall. Draped in acres of pilled polyester. Nine different gadgets housed in well-worn leather holsters on his plastic belt. He didn't have male pattern baldness, he had male all-over-his-watermelon-head baldness, a shiny, grimy, pocked scalp showing clearly under his barely there canopy of long individual hairs which ran every which way across his scalp like ant tunnels.
He was the kind of person that you would not be surprised to see in a buffet line in pyjama bottoms, leather slippers with fur on the inside, and a giveaway conference t-shirt from 15 years ago that was three sizes too small, fingers dug deep into the bread pudding bin.
Being polite, as I usually am, I answered.
"I've used them but I really don't know about that show. You'll just have to try your luck!"
Seventeen seconds passed.
"I'm from New York City, so I know how these things work out there, but I haven't been to Tickets here so I thought I'd ask," he bellowed.
I kept playing.
"I'm from New York City, as I said, and you're probably looking at the only person who will ever win at a casino, lifetime. I played one time and got a Royal Flush and it paid 250 nickels which is over 12 dollars."
He said it 'dall-erz'.
"Yep, won twelve dall-erz and fifty cents, and you know what I did?... I never played again. So I'm a winner, lifetime."
Now my machine was flying, and I was in that mode. Everything was hitting.
Lumpy fumbled around with his machine, making grunting sounds, poking at buttons.
"Hey, you seem to really know what you are doing over there... how does this work?"
Oh shit, here it comes, I thought. No... no no no no no fucking way was I going to sit and give video poker lessons to Lifetime Casino Winner Lumpy McTaint.
I had to think fast.
"You need to have a card. Do you have a players card?"
"Yes, you need one. Hey, there's Leaky Shawarma, he can fix you up the a card. Hey Leaky!!!"
Leaky and Lumpy trundled off to the his special lair by the Men's room babbling brook, just under the slot carousel tree and sat side by each on little hand-carved wooden stools made of magic dickwood, next to Leaky's pot-bellied stove. Sending Lumpy off to get a player's card took the heat off and got him out of my sight for a good five minutes so I could pillage the now white-hot Aces and Eights machine.
Leaky and Lumpy eventually came back and Lumpy worked his taffy-like muscles to arrange himself over the seat and the machine.
Leaky, what a Godsend! Lumpy asked daft question after daft question while Leaky explained the fairly daunting process of using a player's card.
"You put the card in," said Leaky.
"I put the card... in," said Lumpy.
"You wait... see the name?" said Leaky.
"I'm waiting. I don't see the name. Where's the name? Where is it? I don't see..."
"You have to wait," said Leaky. "There... see? There it is."
I piped up, "Not everyone masters this part, you're doing great."
The next blood-ceremony to be attempted was The Insertion of The Money, followed by Why Didn't It Work?, What Does This Button Do?, and everyone's favorite, Why Is It Doing That - It Didn't Do That Before.
A lot of the confabulation arose from the fact that the machine could be played for anywhere from one to twenty-five nickels at a time. Apparently, having the number 25 appear on the screen (as in 'Play 25 Credits') was at odds with the number 1 that appeared on the screen after one credit was bet. This created much lively discussion, which amounted to the equivalent of Leaky Shawarma trying to explain quantum mechanics to a broken Magic 8-ball game, which could only respond with "I don't get it."
I really thought that Leaky had more patience but within about three minutes he broke out in a cold sweat, swore under his breath, fumbled some buttons on his walkie talkie, causing it to emit some loud squawking noises and then pretended he was answering a critical call.
"Omigosh! Whatever you do, don't pull it out, I'll bring... a something... for a tourniquet," Leaky said into his walkie talkie, which responded with a constant stream of 110 decibel static. "Sorry sir, I'm needed elsewhere... good luck, sir!"
By now, Lumpy had managed to learn the ancient and mystical art of Bet One Credit. And, he managed to fumble through a game of video poker or two. He was thoughtful enough to provide me with a vocal running commentary on everything he saw, did, held, drew, and won or lost.
"Excuse me... hello?... I'm from New York City we know our kitchen poker there, but should I hold the King and the two sixes, or keep the two to a straight?"
"Umm... well, I actually never, ever give advice. It's your money, so you have to decide how to play it. I never tell people how to play."
I turned and stared Lumpy down. He needed a firm hand at this juncture of his video poker career, which was already cartwheeling out of control, down a steep embankment, in flames, straight toward the growing, liquid silver of spilled jet fuel spreading around a ruptured tanker truck. A nickel at a time, he was threatening his "life-time winner" status.
"Well, it seems like you know what your doing, sorry, I hope you don't mind if I ask a couple of questions now and again."
I gritted my teeth and tried not to roll my eyes.
"Well, I'm kinda busy... I'm actually just learning this game, so I'm trying to concentrate here," I said.
"Sure, well you sure seem to know a lot about it, and I thought I'd just ask you a few questions if you didn't mind..."
He pushed his smeared glasses up to the top of the bridge of his nose with his middle finger. They spent the next 4 seconds sliding right back down again
I sat. I stared straight ahead. It had come to this.
"Actually... you know what? I do mind. I'm really trying to think here and... it's very distracting being interrupted constantly."
"Okay, thanks for telling me. I won't talk to you any more. It's not long until the Tickets booth opens anyway, and I've got to be there to try to get my tickets. Sorry to bother you, I'm glad you told me."
I couldn't bear this particular brand of torture any longer and punched the cash out button. I'd dropped down quite a bit and didn't want to give it all back.
I needed to walk around CC, take some pictures, clear my head, and get away - far, far away - from Lumpy McTaint.
Little did I know then (and little do you know now - although much do I know now, but not you) that the crazyness at Curse-us Curse-us was not over.