One in Sixty-Four by N.D. Coley

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.

Uninvited by N. D. Coley

I getcha. You just wandered into this party like it’s one of the other parties on this block-cauldrons of frat boys in rugbies and girls shaking their asses in high-waisted shorts, the mixed scent of cheap beer and weed.  You figured you’d put up that grey hoodie of yours, tuck your head, and tip-toe around the room, eyes peeled for fake tits, ears perked for the smell of perfume that says yes please, there’s a room upstairs and I’m all yours. You have a condom in your back pocket, but I would check the expiration date on it. You’ve never had to use that thing, have you? I can tell when a man’s never seen pussy.

You won’t need the rubber, though, because this isn’t a frat party and you’re not going to be able to duck under the cover of black lights and disappear into the thundering base of that shit you kids call dance music. Oh it’s dark here, and there’s music, but not the kind that would make sense to you. There was a time when if you didn’t fuck to jazz and piano, you didn’t fuck at all.

You’re not the first person to accidentally show up here, and I can’t fault ya, kid. This property is in your part of town now. We used to force you little frat shits out years ago, but you multiplied like a virus. And my people? We still have pull, but we can’t just punt you out like a football. Not anymore. The thing is that we didn’t feel like screwing off, either. Pop Carl has had this place here long before you were sperm. So we just stuck around.

I’m going to do you a favor. Not because I’m a nice guy. I’m not. I used to fold people like you up like leftover pans of meatloaf and run them through garbage disposals. You ever run a human hand through a garbage disposal? It’s like a wood chipper mixed with a wooshing sound. Awful.

Listen. You made it to the back of the room without anyone else noticing, but I wouldn’t take your chances on the return trip. Just stay tight against that wall, and head for the back door. Don’t knock over Pop Carl’s fish tank. He loves those fish more than his mother. Once you get past the fish tank, sneak along that curtain, the purple one that looks like hotel carpeting, and duck out the back door and run.

Hurry.  In a few minutes, you won’t want to be here. See, Pop Carl’s nephew stiffed me on some cash, and he knows it. Look around. See the giant, untouched cupcake display in the center of the room, with the cutout of Marilyn Monroe, showing everything that God gave her? I offered to take care of the catering myself. Call it a gesture of goodwill. Here’s what nobody else knows:  those cupcakes are filled with enough cocaine to get half this room sent away for three lifetimes.

An hour ago, I gave some kid like you an envelope with a note in it. It’s to be taken straight to the police in, let me check my watch, five minutes ago. The kid did it for a case of light beer. You millennials. You’ll do anything for thirty rounds of carbonated piss.

Pop Carl doesn’t own the police anymore, so when the little boys in blue get here, he and his people will fire first. Pop’s men will throw off a few shots, and the room will fill with bursts like fire crackers. The walls will grow dozens of bullet holes.  Blood will splatter onto the floor, and Pop’s boys and whores will drop and lay, wide-eyed and stupid. I’ll probably be among that number. I might just sit and play the piano until someone puts one in my temple. I want to live, but I want to see the fireworks even more.

I don’t know why I’m telling you this. Maybe my heart grew three sizes today, like that furry green thing from the Christmas cartoon. I can’t say for sure, but I can say this:

Get the fuck out, now.