2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Card Counting

We were escorted to a room with four concrete walls, two wooden chairs, and three linebackers, all here just to see us. I was sweating more bullets than Bonnie and Clyde’s car, but Jimmy was a cucumber. He had that half-smirk he gets just before somebody else’s day gets ruined.

“What’s going on?” I asked the pit boss who’d dragged us here. He answered with a voice straight from the gravel pit.

“Your friend here’s been counting cards. We don’t approve of that here.”

Jimmy smiled. “I was counting all right, Dutch. You had three decks in play and only 147 cards. What’d you take out to stack the deck?”

“I don’t like your tone, boy.”

“I guess not. You won’t like this, either.” He flipped open a faded Nevada Gaming Commission ID.

Dutch wasn’t impressed. “You find that in a Cracker Jack box? They ain’t used that design since the 60’s.” He nodded and the defensive line moved in.

A three-goon orchestra started playing the Black and Blue Danube on our skulls and I got lost in the music pretty quickly. The next thing I remembered was Jimmy waking me up.

“Come on, Doug. We gotta scram.”

I opened the one eye that was willing to allow it. Jimmy looked like he’d just been to the butcher shop as a pig. I scanned the room to see how the other guy did and found the three bruisers – in half a dozen places.

“What the hell, Jimmy?”

“They had an accident. Now come on!”

He dragged me to my feet and out the door. We were both limping, and I saw the end of a broken chair leg sticking out his back. The other end was sticking out of his stomach.

“God Jimmy, doesn’t that hurt?”

“Nah, they missed my vital spots. We gotta get out of here before Dutch gets back.”

“Why? Is he bringing a bazooka?”

“Worse. Holy water.”

“What are you, Jimmy, some kind of vampire?”

“Yeah. I thought I told you.”

“I thought you were just shitting me. You’re really a vampire?”

“Have been since ’64. I ran into something worse than a crooked casino owner; now I’ve got the whole bloodsucking immortal thing going on.”

I thought about it. Jimmy didn’t go out in the daytime, and he showed up in church less often than Satan.  He was smoother than rum and coke and always ordered his steak veterinarian rare. All in all being a vampire didn’t seem to have done badly by him.

“You know Jimmy, that actually sounds pretty cool.”

“It isn’t. The vampire thing is awful.”

“Why?”

“Italian food just isn’t right without garlic.”

 

Originally posted to Writer's Digest.