One in Sixty-Four


Sit down, sit down! God almighty don’t look nervous. Glad you made it! You act like this is the first time you’ve seen a bar stool by slot machine. Sit! Sit. And stop looking like a double dose of laxatives just kicked in. There’s no shortage of ass in this glorious house of cash, but you’ll never get any with that look on your face.

You want a cocktail?  Sure you do. You seem like a clear liquor guy. I’ve been in this game since you were a baby, and the biggest mistake you can make is giving bourbon to a vodka man. Total waste. Hey! Hey darl’n! Tiffany, right? Cheryl? Whatever. I need that double vodka you’re holding. It’s not the well shit, is it? No? Good. Yeah, yeah right there. Thanks!

Lord my manners! Do you mind if I put my arm around you? We’re practically pals at this point. Scoot closer. Atta boy. It’s so loud in here. The first time you enter a place like this, the sounds are a train wreck. Bells. Clashes. Cheers. A jazz band. The groans of drunks. The clatter of slot reels. The clanging coins. The thunk of the roulette ball on the roulette wheel. The sounds assault the senses, and there are two ways to escape. Get out, or down a cocktail and become one with the noise.

Hey! Enough gawking at that cocktail waitress. Don’t let that perfect ass and cotton tail fool you.  Nothing to see there but heartbreak and gonorrhea. Eyes on me. Take a drink.

Anyway–Sit here long enough, hour after hour, day after day, decade after decade, and your brain does weird shit. It turns into something like an egg separator, but for sounds. Tell me to close my eyes. Do it. Make sure they’re good and closed. If you catch me peeking, poke ‘em. I can take it. I’ve dealt with worse.

Ok. There’s a machine, three rows back and to the right. It’s a Star Wars themed penny slot. The pulls have been about 40 seconds apart. That’s a patient gambler, there. Someone who just likes to come for the free booze and the company. They pull the lever to fit in. To keep their seat. That’s it. But go back another row, to the left, into that clunky batch of Betty Bop slots?  Whoever has the end seat can’t pull the lever fast enough. That’s a person who doesn’t know the odds. You don’t come into this house without knowing the odds.

Impressed enough? I’ll just open my eyes and–and wow! Holy shit is it bright! I should show you the electric bill. You’d empty your colon, right on that seat. I mean, you might anyway. You see. When you weren’t looking a moment ago I slipped a bonus in your vodka. Clear and tasteless, just like the rest of the poison in that glass. By my count you have a good, oh I’ll say three minutes, before your heart seizes like an old engine.  My magic potion relaxes the bowels, too.

Do me a favor. If you keel over here, die before you shit yourself. It’s more dignified in that order.

That’s if you die. I don’t have lot of patience for peckers like you—not the ones who trample on my daughters.  And the balls on you! Playing both my girls once? What are the chances that happens? What are the chances you walk outta here?

As it happens. Your odds are about one in sixty-four. Go ahead, take a look at the reels in front of you. The jackpot is that picture of Popeye, flexing that juicy bicep of his and giving that signature wink. He’s your chance at mercy. I can sympathize with a man who’s let his cock run his life. I have my own history and kids to prove it.

You’ll hit Popeye once in sixty-four tries. You get one chance. If that spinach guzzling son of a bitch winks at me, you get the potion in my other pocket. The good potion. And no heroics. Every camera in this place, my place, is on you.            

Go on. Your pull.

~ fin ~


N.D. Coley currently serves as an instructor of English at the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, Community College of Allegheny County, and the University of Phoenix. In his spare time, he laments the human condition, reads satire and dark, depressing literature, plays with his son, irritates is wife, and tries to keep a smile on his face. His work has recently appeared in Near to the Knuckle, Deadlights Horror Fiction Magazine, the Indiana Voice Journal, Corner Bar Magazine, Massacre Magazine, and Funny in Five Hundred.