The rumpled little man took a seat at the plush bar that lined the casino. He ordered tequila – the gold amber color of sunshine, and let the liquid slide down his arid throat. It burned and felt like silk at the same time. His raw nerves frazzled were a live wire sizzling with frustration.
He yanked his last cigarette from its crushed pack. It was smashed almost flat and lit it with trembling fingers. He blew out the match. Smoke and sulphur mingled for more than a minute.
He looked around searchingly for action he couldn’t afford. Flashy fast women did not spend time with hopeless little men in ill-fitting clothes. His brown trousers were wrinkled and his fake leather loafers had holes worn through the man-made soles.
Arnold stopped eyeing the various stream of females, grunting to himself that it was their loss. He laid his last five dollars on the leather-padded bar.
“One for the road, barkeep.” He wiped the back of his hand across his nose and sniffed back a sigh.
A shot glass of golden liquid was placed in front of him and the five dollars disappeared. He tossed back the shot and he began to ruminate about what he would say to Peggy and the kids. She thought he was on a job interview. He had been so optimistic. Taking the last of their savings and flying to Las Vegas for the weekend. A private getaway, and then come back a winner. He wanted to show his wife and kids he wasn’t a loser. That he was someone other than a husband and father unemployed since the downsizing epidemic.
He had felt so lucky for hours flooding the tinkling coins through the machines, never to get the fruit of his effort. Sadly, he tucked his tail between his legs admitting defeat.
Arnold slid off the barstool with slumped shoulders and pathetic eyes, winding around the casino, oblivious to the cacophony of lost wages. He bumped his way past the crowded roulette tables and coin robbing one-arm-bandits.
He swiped at his nose again and then thrust his hands into his baggy pockets and felt, to his surprise, the last silver dollar he had to his name. He pulled it out and rolled it between his thumb and forefinger as his other hand touched the revolving door that would exit him to the street of broken dreams. He paused a neon flash second before he turned back to look at the slot machines. Puny bloodshot eyes crinkled with a sly smile, while an adrenaline rush stained his face red with perspiration.
Arnold was beginning to feel lucky again.