This 2012 short story is a nifty little slice of Las Vegas noir, a variation on a familiar theme. I reread it this morning and I have to say I think it’s a damned good story, if I do say so myself. Here’s the opening. See what you think.
Oh, they were a deep blue, all right. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. They were the color of the clear desert sky in those first brief moments before the onset of dusk, right when the blue begins to darken, to veer into violet. Somewhere right after periwinkle, that’s where her eyes were.
If only I’d never noticed them.
She came up to my table one summer night at the Flamingo, setting about two thousand in chips in front of her. Business had been slow all over Las Vegas the whole week and that night was particularly dead, even for the graveyard shift. Outside, it had cooled off to the low nineties, the arid, ovenlike heat causing people to itch deep beneath their clothing where they didn’t want to scratch. Inside, 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. A couple of other blackjack tables struggled to stay alive.
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.
She asked, “What do you pay for blackjack?”
“Three to two,” I replied. I didn’t raise my eyes at first, but 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.
Are you hooked yet? Can’t wait to see what happens? Well, trot on over to Amazon, specifically this page on Amazon, and buy this story. It’s only 99¢! How can you not???