For those of you that are unhip, Flash Fiction is piece of fiction that is between 250-500 words–between 1-2 pages. With nothing but time and words to chase, I decided to craft this one. I’m sure there will be more to come. Flash Fiction is challenging, and dope! Enjoy! -JBHarris
Curtis watched as he swept up the lobby, watching the late night early morning crowd come in. “The look like gas station dogs!” he looked up, giggling in the direction of Ms. Lucille, the chef that came in at 6:00am for the morning shift. She always came in humming Amazing Grace while she got the food ready for the Lucky Morning buffet. He watched her go through the heavy gold doors to the kitchen. “Morning Ms. Lucille!” Curtis, still sweeping, said after her.
He was right thought. There, on the casino floor, every morning he worked was the wrecking of the night before. There were the regulars that came in because their rooms were comped. There were those that were too drunk to go home because they would have to explain why checks were bouncing the next week. And then there was who Curtis nicknamed The Wanderers. Every day, these group of six people would come in al in their Easter best and they would leave about 7:00am. They would eat after gambling and then they would just…go. Upon seeing them, Curtis thought they looked like Jehovah witnesses. The ‘spiritual walkers’ Stevie Wonder talked about.
They would be these three women in their church hats and dresses. These men would be in their suits and they would just…leave. Curtis watched them leave as he vacuumed, watching the other stragglers either leave or settle by the machine. The Wanderers were leaving, all 5 of them without their 6th. Curtis looked towards the slot machines, and saw him there. The last one, with gray hair, unbrushed and a dusty brown suit. He walked away from his vacuum and looked and walked towards the flashing and dingings light, and the angry voice in the machine that kept screaming “You lose! You lose!”
Curtis got to him, shaking him, his eyes shut at the Keno machine, wishing he was dead. In the year that he had worked at Happy Cherokee Casino, he had never spoken to these people. He couldn’t remember anyone speaking to him. “Um, sir?” he said, sounding more awake than he was. “It aint hittin’! I ain’t sleep!” The old man’s eyes opened as if they were snatched. He looked at Curtis. “It ain’t hit! I ain’t lose nothin’!” He slid from the stool, half shuffling completely cursing at people that weren’t there. Curtis watching him walk away muttering to himself, cursing like spurts from an old Monte Carlo. “I can’t eemb shut my eyes without folk bothering me.” Curtis walked behind him, scared he would fall over for how he was walking. He trotted to the seat he was in and found his wallet. “Chester Humphrey Allen.” The wallet said. There was an old Steel worker union card inside. Receipts, a casino rewards card and a note. And a crumbled five dollar bill.
Remember to come home by 8.
Curtis ran to this man, newly discovered as Chester Humphrey Allen. Retired steelworker. Mama looking for him. He tapped his shoulder, giving the wallet to him. “Mister Chester?” he caught him right before he left the casino floor. He turned, the pain in his face, willing his body to move backwards. “You left your wallet.” Chester looked at Curtis’s face, as if it were mirror. “Thank you.” He blinked, Curtis blinked. And he turned toward the direction of bacon, biscuits and eggs. “It just ain’t hit. Idda made it up if it had just hit!” Curtis went back to his world, consumed with vacuuming and screen checks and checking for drunks for the next 8 hours. Chester would be back tomorrow.
[image from casinomarket.co.uk]