after a few drinks and south carolina had defeated the favorite, alabama, eddie decided it was time to move a bit. go outside, look around, take a walk. he left things as they were in the room. including the TV tuned to a football game with the volume loud enough for someone to hear the game if they stood just outside the door.
eddie grabbed a jacket and headed out to the elevator. the paiutes, if that’s who they were, where pretty much everywhere in the casino. he thought of asking one of them what was up and if they were paiutes. that thought was quickly discarded. better to just mind his own business and stay under the radar. everyone’s radar.
when he arrived at the lobby he stopped once again to read the newspaper articles that were posted under glass there about john wayne. it also gave him a few minutes to see if anyone was interested in him. no one seemed to care. he was still curious about the john wayne connection though. maybe he would ask when he checked out. that is if he didn’t just leave without saying a word.
as eddie walked through the small smokey casino the old lust for gambling hit him like a short left hook to the belly. in fact he almost doubled over. easy he thought, this wasn’t the time to get lost in a gambler’s haze. though something did catch his eye towards the back of the casino and the rear exit.
it was a tiny sports book. probably the smallest he’d ever seen. the book employee was even wearing a black and white football referee’s shirt. low end and campy but the board behind the man had all the college games and tomorrow’s pro games. a simple white board with numerous boxes on it. the games had been written in with a black magic marker. the spreads as well along with the over and unders. low end for sure. but none the less all above board and legal with everything you needed to know in order to place a bet.
he stopped to look at the games and the odds. of course, he should have kept on walking but what was the harm? the employee greeted him and eddie spoke.
how long will you be open tonight?
we close right after the last game starts.
no, hawaii is off the board unless they’re playing here on the mainland.
eddie was still looking at the board. there were a few games that were calling to him. usc stanford for one and boise st had way too many points to cover was another. maybe he could parlay some of the money left from the sale of the stolen caddie into something more. he shook that feeling off as quickly as it it had come on. what the hell was he thinking? maybe it was the vodka. he’d have to watch that.
he stepped outside into the almost late afternoon. it was cool but the air was fresh after the stuffy casino. he breathed deep. coughed. and lit another smoke. he stood there smoking for bit just watching the light traffic and the few people out walking around enjoying the fall afternoon air.
the basque restaurant he wanted to have dinner in was just a short walk away down on the corner. he made his way there and the smell of whatever was cooking inside made his stomach growl. they were already open so he made his way inside to check the specials. a smiling but harried lady asked him if he was going to eat. he said no he was just looking at the specials for now. the bar was almost empty and there were several TV’s on the walls all tuned to the usc stanford pre-game show.
eddie decided this was the place to eat. he almost told the lady he was ready to eat but the siren of the lonely little sports book was calling to him. he turned and left the restaurant. then quickly walked back to the hotel casino. the man in the referee’s shirt was still there. fortunately for eddie he was busy talking to another customer. eddie hurried past them and went up to his room.
once in his room he made himself a stiff drink and tried to settle down. that damn gambling jones. what a time to kick back in he thought. maybe a shower would help. the short hot shower did nothing to calm the siren in his head. the vodka wasn’t helping either. he put on his clothes and went back downstairs.
he should have gone out the entrance by the main desk and then taken the long way round the casino to the basque joint and his dinner. should have being the operative words. eddie walked through the casino and made a bee line to the small sports book. the man in the referee’s shirt was alone.
can i still put some money on usc and boise st?
yes, you just made it.
good. ok. i want to put $1,200 on usc and take the points. another $1,500 on new mexico and take the points.
the employee efficiently took care of the money and the rest of the transaction. he handed eddie his betting slip.
i’ll be closing in a short time so if you win come back tomorrow and i’ll take care of you. or you can mail the slip in to the casino. either way.
thanks. i’ll do just that. either way. thanks.
not a problem. have a good evening.
eddie put the slip in his wallet and made his way back to the basque restaurant and dinner.
this originally appeared in july of 2014