The trouble with me is that I never realise how deep in the shit I am until I'm choking on the stuff. My first clue should have been the way she said my name. It was polite with a touch of frost. Usually, I can charm my way past most red tape scenarios, especially with receptionists of a certain age. But Miss Burke was not about to participate in my whine tasting.
"Sir," she clipped through glossy pink lips, "I understand that this is an inconvenience, but you're going to have to sit and wait. Please have a seat. Mr. Louis will see you when he's ready."
I smiled at her and tilted my head. She put her glasses on and returned to her computer. So much for that. I sighed and spun on my heal. I glanced around the room. They say many CEO's decorate their offices as God might: situate them at the top of the building, add lots of white and heavenly objects to their surroundings. The antechamber I was standing in certainly had a pearly gates feeling to it. The walls were white with wainscoting and lots of fussy molding. Niches, inlaid with shimmery gold and lit from within somehow, contained statuary from the classical to the abstract.
I dropped myself into a lush love seat across the room where I could see the office door and Miss Burke. I couldn't imagine what I was doing here. Sure, I hadn't been one hundred percent straight at the tables, but that's hardly a reason for the CEO of Running Waters Casino to bother with me. There was a grand collection of thugs on the payroll that could harvest my small potatoes anytime without the formality of meeting with the guy upstairs.
See, every now and then, I like to perpetute the myth of lady luck, in particular, beginner's lady luck. I don't cheat much, but I do like to ply my sleight of hand to make a young lady's heart race. Usually she leaves the table with a couple of hundred bucks in winnings and a date to meet me later for a fun romp. And no one's the wiser. It's harmless. It's win win win all over the place and it doesn't cost the casino much at all.
It had been a while since I had a go at it. We'd all received a memo about how any favoritism at the tables wouldn't be tolerated. So I decided to cool it. Until last night when I couldn't resist. Her name was Sharon and she was a bright little penny from Phoenix Arizona. I was dealing straight and she won her first hand. Her gasp of surprise and noises of delight when I pushed chips her way were just so charming. I had to hear them again. And again. I made sure others won too. I dealt her a winner about every fifth or sixth hand; everything else I dealt straight. That had been both a profitable and rewarding evening on the green and in the bedroom.
Maybe I'm being promoted, I thought. They must see that I'm a favorite dealer. My table is always full. Tips are bigger for me and the waitresses than any other table in the place. They probably want me to train the other dealers in how best to service our clientele. I began to visualize how I would spend some time with the human resources people coming up with the class materials and a catchy name. I saw myself in the center of the UN style amphetheater the casino has for employee training and development, sharing my wisdom and helping to lift up my fellow man.
I would be smooth and charming. I would keep them on the hook with anecdotes of my superior people skills. Of course, I would have to be self-effacing and shine a light on myself that wasn't favorable, only to lead them to the lessons I learned and how they helped me become the pillar of dealership I am today. I would have them in the palm of my hands...
"Mr. Quinn?" said the insistant Miss Burke.
"Yes?" I asked, breaking free of my plans for the moment.
"Mr. Louis will see you now." she said and swung the door open.
I stood up and smoothed my hair and checked my breath. I nodded to Miss Burke and made my way through the door. I stepped onto the lush white carpet and took in the view from the floor to ceiling windows that surround the office. I could see for miles. Heaven indeed! I moved my eyes over to the desk where Mr. Louis sat with two of his favorite thugs parked at either side of him like bishops on a chessboard. I smiled at them and took a step towards his desk when I was wallopped by the third thug who had hovered in my blindside.
Knocked to the floor, my head reverberated with the echos of his brass knuckles chiming my jawbone. I blinked and chased away the momentarily hilarity I felt when I noticed that the carpet smelled like cotton candy. I tried to get to my knees but thug number three dropped his size thirteens on my lumbar area. He yanked at my hair and pulled my head up so I could see Mr. Louis better.
"Did you read the memo I sent about favoritism, Johnny?" Mr. Louis asked.
"Yes, sir," I said and grimmaced as the pain extended its stay into next week.
"Did you also read the other memo that went out at the same time?"
"It concerned my new wife, Sharon..." he said, trying to prompt my memory. Thug three dug his heel in to my back and farted.
Oh, shit. I thought. So much for the lecture series...
Friday Flash Fiction 28 with a challenging starter sentence from Paulie Decibels