Short Piece #5 – The Lights

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The following is an older story, from about a year and a half ago. It’s rather short, but I’ve always liked the end result. To celebrate the beginning of August, I thought I would post it here…

They looked at the lights.

Jason shook his head and turned his attention back to the poker table and the cards in front of him. He didn’t look at them again. He knew what they were. And they went perfectly with the flop on the table already. The jack of clubs made his pocket jacks three of a kind. Kinda like him, his girlfriend Lauren, and that other guy.

The man to his right bet. He called. Once again, the game became everything for him; the tourists gazing at the lights of Las Vegas were forgotten.

All three other players folded. The turn came out. A four of hearts. Nothing threatening. The guy to his right bet big this time, the stack of red and black chips reflecting off of his sunglasses. Jason called. It was tough to respect a guy who had to hide behind sunglasses. Sort of like how it was tough to respect a guy who kept coming on to your girlfriend when he knew she was taken.

The river: another four. Jason hid his smile, and waited for Mr. Sunglasses to dig himself even deeper into a hole. He did.

Jason called and laid down his full house. Mr. Sunglasses threw his hands in the air in disgust, gathered his remaining chips, and left the table. Jason pulled his winnings over and stacked them. It was just so easy to lose himself in poker, especially when he was winning. He simply forgot about his job and the sale on the line when his vacation was over. He forgot about Lauren and that guy who wouldn’t leave her alone even though he knew she was taken. He forgot about everything but the cards and the almost finished rum and coke at his elbow.

The sounds of the Strip washed over him as he won another hand, this time bluffing the pants off the fat blonde lady across the table. He sipped at another drink when the waitress brought it, feeling a slight burn as he swallowed. The bartender made that one strong.

Jason leaned back and stretched. As he lowered his head and started to return his attention to the table, he saw her.

It wasn’t Lauren. It couldn’t be. She was back in California. But the dark brown mane of hair looked so similar. The girl’s size four body, accentuated by black tights and a purple tank top, was identical. She glanced at him and her eyes struck him, green and brown and grey, all at the same time. Lauren’s eyes. He couldn’t look away.

Then she grabbed the hand of some tool in a polo, broke eye contact, and laughed. The two of them rounded a corner.

Jason gathered in his chips and stood up, to the shock and relief of the others at the table. He wouldn’t be taking any more of their money tonight. He would have laughed, had his mood not darkened so suddenly.

Chips clinking in his bag, Jason stalked away from the table. He intended to cash them in, but his feet led him away from the cashiers’ booths. The open exit from the Planet Hollywood casino beckoned.

Jason couldn’t get the image of her out of his head.

So he walked into the open air, feeling the warm night breeze ruffle his shaggy hair. He stood there, the flow of the crowds passing around him.

And he looked up at the lights.

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