Written for the prompt(s): We can’t lose.
|Word count: Approx. 1,600
“We can’t lose!”
I rolled my eyes and sipped my drink. Benny had been saying that all night since we’d entered the casino. And every time he said it, we lost. I was getting sick and tired of seeing him blow our money on blackjack, so I took my drink and, muttering something about going to find the men’s room, left the table.
“But, baby, you’re my good luck charm!” Benny called after me, but I kept moving, pretending I didn’t hear him. For if anything, the reverse was true. One of us, at least, was nothing but bad luck, and I had a feeling that, with his usual luck and skill at anything game related, it was Benny.
I wandered through the crowded casino, filled with other tourists like myself—tourists who seemed to be winning money rather than watching their boyfriend lose—and showgirls. I finished my jack and coke and deposited it on a lone, untenanted slot machine in a relatively deserted corner near the john before making to move on. But as I started to turn away, a pineapple caught my eye and I gaped.
“Well, well,” I murmured, digging in my pocket for a coin as a sense of whimsy stole over me. “I didn’t know they still even made slot machines like you.”
The slot machine, with its current display of pineapple, cherries, and jackpot signs, respectively, didn’t reply, merely sat there looking like a lost icon from Vegas’ antiquity. Looking, in fact, just like the evil slot machine from that episode of The Twilight Zone.
Shuddering, but weirdly excited, I fished out the coin I wanted and put it in the slot machine and pulled the handle.
Cherries. Cherries. Pineapple.
Laughing, I glanced around me, blushing for some reason. The rest of the casino seemed at a remove, everyone ignoring me, my corner, and my slot machine.
I turned back to the machine and dug another coin out of my pocket.
“Heyya, babe! Where’ve you been?” Benny demanded excitedly, pecking my lips and sliding an arm around me as I joined him at the blackjack table. “We’re up eight thousand ten!”
I snorted. So much for me being a good luck charm. I leave and Benny not only wins back the money we’d lost, but multiplies it exponentially. “I found an old fashioned slot machine, the kind that only takes coins and I think I’m close to winning,” I said, rather excited myself. “There’s just one problem: I’m out of money.”
Benny frowned. “You burned through all your dollar coins, already? On a slot machine?”
I fidgeted and smiled nervously. “Actually, I’m out of money, period. I turned the rest of my cash into dollar coins and the machine . . . ate them. But I’m close, Benny. So close!” I added, pouting because Benny can’t resist my pouts. And indeed, the look of dismay on his face melted and he reached up to brush his fingers across my cheek tenderly.
“My baby’s got a gambling problem. That’s adorable,” he murmured, and I glared.
“I can stop any time I want. I just don’t want to stop now,” I clarified. Benny was the one to snort this time.
“Well, I hope you wanna stop after a thousand, because that’s all I’m giving you,” Benny said, separating some chips from the greater pile. I grinned. I’d been hoping for two hundred.
“Hey, baby,” a low, familiar voice breathed in my ear and arms slid around my waist, pulling me back slightly against a familiar body. “How’d you like to get fucked by a moderately well-off man?”
I fed the machine another coin, grabbed the handle, and yanked down on it: Pineapple. Cherries. jackpot sign.
That’d been my last coin.
Meanwhile, my obviously tipsy boyfriend was kissing my neck and grinding against me, half-hard. I leaned back into his embrace, turning my face in time to get a kiss on the lips. Benny tasted like those fruity drinks he likes—the kind that comes with tiny umbrellas, or top hats, or whatever.
“You’re gonna get so lucky tonight, baby,” Benny murmured against my cheek.
“I couldn’t agree with you more . . . just one more coin—please, baby? I’m right on the edge of a win! I can feel it!” I whined when Benny groaned.
“What happened to the grand I gave you?”
“Well. . . .”
“Sweetheart, they don’t call it a one-armed bandit for nothing,” Benny said, quite reasonably, one hand sliding down my stomach to the front of my pants for some furtive stroking. “Let’s go back to the room and get you taken care of, and if you want, we can come back to visit your new best friend tomorrow.”
“But this time for sure! I really can feel it,” I pleaded, though I was becoming distracted by Benny’s teasing hand. “Just one more try and I’m done!”
Benny sighed, his hand drifting back up to my stomach where it settled, heavy and perfect.
“One more then you stop,” he said firmly, kissing my neck, one hand leaving my stomach to dig in his pocket. “Then we get you away from this thing before you wind up in Gamblers Anonymous.”
“Haha.” I took the coin he pressed into my hand with a flirt of fingers, and put it into the machine, crossing my fingers for luck—which I’d never really believed in before tonight—before yanking down on the handle.
Jackpot sign. . . .
Both Benny and I let out held breaths. I leaned back in Benny’s arms once more and he sighed.
“I’m sorry, baby.”
“Not your fault,” I said, trying to shrug it off like it was nothing. “I was just . . . so sure.”
“Such is the way of gambling. Hunches build upon hunches, until next thing you know, you’re mortgaging your house to play another hand.” Benny kissed my earlobe. “The trick to gambling is knowing when to bow out.”
I turned in Benny’s arms, so that we were facing each other. His dark eyes were sincere and fond. “I think . . . the time to bow out is now, for me.”
Benny smiled proudly. “Good call, babe.”
“What about you?” I asked as he slipped an arm back around me and lead me away from the one-armed bandit. “When was your time to bow out?”
Benny laughed his full-throated laugh, his head thrown back. “That time came when I broke fifteen.”
“Hundred?” I asked tentatively. A tiny old lady with blue hair and a bright pink mu-mu hurried past us—as much as one can hurry when wielding a walker. A second later I heard the clinking of coins and the rattle of one making its way down into the guts of the slot machine. I shook my head, thinking: Another one bites the dust.
“Nope. Thousand.” Benny squeezed my waist, pulling me close. Meanwhile, my jaw had dropped and I’d stopped walking. He stopped with me and I stared into his face looking for signs of a practical joke. But I found none.
Benny grinned. “I’m not.”
I practically jumped on him, holding on with arms and legs, and squealing. Benny caught me and held me, spinning us around in a circle and laughing.
“You’re amazing!” I whooped, kissing him hard and messily. He returned it just as hard and messily, putting me down and pulling me flush against him. Oh, yes . . . we needed to get back to the room STAT.
When we finally stopped kissing to come up for air, I was more than a little dizzy. I leaned on Benny as he walked us toward the exit.
Suddenly, a mildly noisy ruckus and an elderly shout went up from a little ways behind us:
“I won! I won!”
Benny and I stopped and looked at each other, mouths gaping, eyes wide.
He started to speak: “Was that—?” and I silenced him with a kiss.
“Let’s go back to the room,” I whispered, turning his face back to mine when he started to look behind us, toward the old lady who’d won what could’ve been my jackpot.
Just one more coin, would’ve done it.
“Baby, I’m so sorry,” Benny said, looking sincerely apologetic and slightly nauseated. “Your hunch was dead-on. It was—”
“Never mind,” I told him calmly—surprisingly so. “You were right. The important thing isn’t winning, but knowing when to leave. And if I’d won once, there’d have been no prying me away from that one-armed bandit. Believe me: it was better this way.”
“Better this way.” I said firmly, and tugged on his hand to get him moving again. We continued on our way to the exit. I was in pretty good spirits for a man who'd given away his jackpot.
“Speaking of better, you’re a better man than I,” Benny said, running a hand through his short, spiky dark hair. “I’d have been pissed!”
I shrugged, smiling. “It simply wasn’t meant to be.”
“Still. Ugh.” Benny paused under the exit and pulled me into his arms again, gazing into my eyes like a man in love. “I love you, you know that? You’re so calm and enlightened and sweet. And gorgeous. Let’s not forget gorgeous,” he added, kissing me tenderly, oh-so-gently. “And I’m proud of you. Always, but especially tonight. You were the epitome of grace under fire. I love you so much.”
“I love you, too, Benny.” I closed my suddenly wet eyes and kissed him back, seeing flashing lights and JACKPOT flashing on the backs of each lid.