Genre: Noir Fiction
Type of Short Story: Short Story
Summary: In this short story, Harry's a blackjack dealer at the Flamingo in Las Vegas. The kind of guy you'd never notice. Ordinary-looking, inconspicuous, practically invisible. Lives in a little apartment behind the hotel. Been working graveyard shift for twelve years now. Got no life of any consequence.
But one night Petra sits down at his table, and then…
If only I’d never noticed them.
She came up to my table one summer night at Bally's, setting about two thousand in chips in front of her. It was slow that night, even for the graveyard shift. The usual racket of the slots was down by quite a few steps. Here in the pit, dice action had narrowed to one table, and even those players were restrained. The roulette tables were empty, wheels stilled beneath thick canvas covers.
There was only one other player in my game, a collegiate-looking type in a sweatshirt at first base. He was playing five and ten bucks a hand, stuck about three hundred.
“What do you pay for blackjack?” she asked.
“Three to two,” I replied without looking up. When I did look at her, I blinked and swallowed at the same time.
Plenty of reddish-brown hair framed her face, falling to her shoulders. Her mouth, nose, cheekbones, neck … hell, I don’t know. I didn’t even catch the clothes. After the hair, I only saw the eyes. They were beckoning, shrewd, sexy, and … and vile. Swimming in large chalky pools, daring you to dive in.
Shit, she could’ve been the bride of Frankenstein and I wouldn’t’ve noticed.
She placed two green twenty-five-dollar chips over the line. Joe College bet another single red fin.
I dealt the cards. He busted, she hit blackjack. I slid three green chips toward her.
“Wow! That was pretty easy.”She sounded like she meant it. She upped her bet to a hundred.
Here come the cards. Joe College busts again, she catches two face cards, and I bust. I pushed her a hundred.
“Ooh, I love it,” she said. But she wasn’t the only one.
Reaching onto her stack in front of her, she counted out five hundred, then shoved it over the line. “Let’s live dangerously, okay?”
I looked right at her, which I shouldn’t’ve done. But hell, I never know what’s good for me. After swallowing again, I found my voice hiding somewhere in the back of my throat and forced it to say, “Okay.”
Looking back at me through thick lashes, she knew I wasn’t just talking about her bet.
Then, after only a moment, I had to look away from her — although I really didn't want to — back to the shoe and the cards and the game. I didn’t want her to catch me staring, but it may have been too late.
She hit blackjack again.
I paid her seven hundred fifty.
“When do they change dealers?”
I glimpsed my watch. “Twenty-five minutes.”
She gathered her chips into her purse and got up from the table. As she started to walk away, she turned back to me, asking, “What time does the coffee shop open?”
Now, the first thing that even the dumbest rubes learn when they come to Las Vegas is that places like casino coffee shops never close. “It’s open twenty-four hours a day,” I replied.
“Thanks.”And she sashayed away, disappearing into the deepest reaches of the casino. I knew where I was headed when my shift ended.
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