Ancient Burial Grounds of Tonopah
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The Ancient Burial Grounds of Tonopah
The quarter dropped past the switch, an electronic greeting warbled, and the wheels of the slot machine spun. A bar, a space, a seven. No winner. Grady looked in the bucket beneath the machine and saw two quarters lying fallow there. The credit display read "41" and he knew he had four more quarters in his pocket. All totaled, less than twelve dollars remained from the forty he started with. A bad night. Breakfast tomorrow? Or put it all back in to chance for a big one? God, he hated decisions like this.
"Cocktails?" It was Shireen's husky voice coming up behind him. "You want another one honey?" she asked over his shoulder. "How's it going?"
He didn't turn around. He continued to stare at the machine. He wouldn't have to pay for the drink, not as long as he was playing, but he'd have to tip her. Sigh. Another decision. "Sure. Scotch and — "
"No more than an ounce of water. i know." She patted his shoulder. "Be right back, honey."
He decided to keep the four quarters in his pocket. That's it, absolutely. Not touching those four, he vowed. He hit the Max Bet button and pulled the handle. Damn near all the slot players these days just pushed the "Spin" button, the slot machine equivalent of a remote control. You don't have to get up to change channels anymore, you don't have to read a paper to get the news, and you don't even have to burn the calories to pull the handle to lose your money. The whole world was nothing but buttons. Grady still pulled the handle. It was his little bit of rebellion at the modern age.
By the time Shireen returned with the drink, he had worked the 41 credits up to 68. The wind was blowing a bit warmer now.
"Here ya be," Shireen said cheerfully and set it between the machine he was playing and the next one. Christ, they cram so many of these things in here you hardly got room to put a glass. But then, Grady remembered with a wry grin, there was the night when being close to the woman playing next to him at the Oasis in Mesquite ended up with two days of naked keno from her room. Knee bumping has its rewards. "Thanks, babe," he said to Shireen, and dropped two quarters on her tray. "Last one, though. Even if you beg me."