Wednesday, February 18, 2009


Brick-like pieces of luggage roll smoothly over the marble flooring of the lobby. A low rumbling echoes dimly against the walls as the plastic wheels roll over tiny lines of grout where each slab of marble comes together to meet another. There is a steady stream of people in the lobby. Couples walk in through the doors and towards the registration desk, men in their fifties walk quickly from the elevators towards the revolving doors that lead to the waiting taxis. A gray haired man in a long black coat reads the newspaper in one of the lobby’s blue upholstered armchairs, women in high heels click and clack on the hard floor. Beyond the marble boundary of the lobby, the green carpet begins. Down four steps and past two gold handrails is the large open casino. A variety of sounds comes from the dozen rows of slot machines on the right of the room. Their lights blink and flash, white, orange, and red. A group of large, white haired ladies in matching kacki pants and white collared shirts sit in a line on the padded stools of the slot machines. They hold small plastic cups, their hands reach in, almost in unison, grabbing quarter after quarter and feeding it into the machine. The casino is covered in a carpet of green that is accented by a busy pattern of yellow lines and blue dots, but the chaos of the pattern is held together by the dark green background of the thin carpet. It is a well worn carpet, made even thinner by the constant high heels of the waitresses in short black skirts that hardly cover their rear and the shined black shoes of the blackjack dealers that stand stoically upon it. A mirror covers the wall at the far end of the room. The mirror and the track lighting above reflects the thousands of bottles that sit on clear shelves just an inch from the mirror. Each bottle holds a varying shade of yellow tequila and each bottle is a different color, red, blue, buffed white glass. Waitresses swarm around the bar, behind it, in front of it…the women in tightly fitting nylons and black-strapped high heels hold small circular trays. Some hold trays with small glasses filled to the brim in clear alcohol, some hold trays that only have the melted remains of ice cubes and small slices of limes and crumpled napkins. Mounted on the wall, just perpendicular to the mirror, is a flat screen TV. A football game is on the screen, the images flash and change every second, but the sounds are muted and the importance of the game is lost amidst the sounds of slot machines and dealers and waitresses taking orders and the jingling of a dozen quarters spilling into plastic cups. A cluster of 6 blackjack tables are positioned close to the bar. The oak tables are taller than average and around it are extra tall metal stools with padded leather seat cushions. Three people sit at the table, the dealer stands like an idol before them, holding the cards that will determine their future. A blond woman in her thirties holds four cards in her hand. She looks at them with boredom etched along the sides of her red-painted mouth. She looks at the cards, she looks at the dealer, she takes a sip of her drink. All along the sides of the casino are metal bleachers like the kind found in a sports stadium, only despite their size, there are only five rows. They are dotted with the young children of gamblers, left to anxiously observe the proceedings as powerless spectators.

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