TITLE: Ace 6/15/16
By GiGi Mezzio
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It all started innocently enough. Bob had purchased the occasional lottery ticket at his neighborhood 7-11, but had never won more than $20. He also loved playing fantasy football. His team, the “Who Dat”, were a tribute to his alma mater in New Orleans, Louisiana. He watched football religiously, thanks to the Season Ticket he had frivolously bought.
“Of course, he loves any sport that involves a ball”, Bobʼs pretty blonde wife, Melody, often informed acquaintances, as she rolled her eyes. She preferred to spend her Sunday afternoons relaxing at the Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville. Thursday night football was Thursday night LMN for her.
“Oh well, it could be worse”, she reasoned, as she listened to her husband cheer from her bedroom sanctuary.
Melody bemoaned the opening of the first riverboat gambling casino in
their Lake Pontchatrain community. She declared that she would never go aboard, even though Bob told her that one of his friends would be performing at the PowWow Casino and he planned to catch the show.
It turned out that Melody was “a woman of her word”, as she frequently and proudly reminded herself. Bob went alone.
Bob arrived at the casino early because he hoped to be able to catch up with his buddy, Walt, before the performance. He admired the “Island splendor” decor as he crossed the plank onto the floating casino. He felt overwhelming excitement and smiled brightly at everyone. He was offered numerous cocktails from young women wearing grass skirts, and gladly accepted a drink from each of the lovely ladies.
Since he couldnʼt locate his friend, Bob decided to try out the gaming tables. He had always enjoyed beating his dad at Black Jack.
“ I sure miss that crazy old man,” he mused
as he purchased chips. After winning $500 and drinking several more Rum and Cokes, he decided to call it a night.
“Man, that was the most fun Iʼve had in a long time, even though Walt was a no show”.
The next day, Bob thought about the thrilling evening heʼd had at the casino. He planned his next escapade. After work on Friday, he stopped by the casino.
“ A lot of guys stop off for a drink after work, “ he justified, even though he knew Melody would not be happy to find out about his latest “shenanigans”, as she caustically referred to his behavior when it didnʼt suit her.
It was past midnight when Bob tiptoed into his bedroom. Melody was already asleep, so he quietly undressed and slid into bed. He thought about the money he had won and then lost and grinned inwardly. He had broken even and had partied hard.
The next morning he met Melodyʼs dark, brooding eyes over his first cup of French brew coffee and cringed.
“So, where were you last night? I tried calling you many times and you didnʼt answer your phone!” Melodyʼs voice rose higher and warbled, as she slammed a plate of syrupy pancakes in front of Bob.
Bob knew he had to think quickly, despite a hangover.
“Iʼm sorry, Mel. My battery went dead. I worked late and then went out and had a few drinks with the guys. I completely lost track of time.”
Bob began spending more and more time away from home and when he was there, he became moody and withdrawn. He knew that he had to keep his gambling a secret. Sure, he had lost some money, but he still had their finances under control. Surely, he was due to break the bank at the Pow Wow soon! He could feel it magically happening. But when it didnʼt and the experience of entertainment at the games quickly dissolved into a desperate means of winning money.
Melody became increasingly suspicious. One day, while doing laundry, she found some poker chips . Later, when she confronted Bob, he became angry and told her to stop snooping.
Late notices for the mortgage were mailed, along with threatening phone calls over unpaid bills. Melody fervently prayed that Bob would come to his senses and stop gambling. She worried that they would lose their home and their marriage. Their relationship suffered. Days passed with no words passed between them. Melody avoided Bob in fear of starting another argument. Some days, she just sat and cried-- devastated and ashamed to let anyone know that her husband had a gambling problem. She didnʼt like this new Bob who had moved in with her.
Late that evening, when Bob dragged himself home from the casino, after losing the last of their savings. He found Melody sitting bleary eyed in the candle light. She sat lifelessly in the shadows. Immediately, Bob knew that the electricity had been shut off . He took a closer look at Melodyʼs grief stricken face and fell to his knees in front of her. He knew that there was no one to blame but himself. He was tapped out, out of chips, at a complete gamblerʼs ruin. He finally realized that there was only one way out when you dine with the devil---” you got to know when to fold em”---and thatʼs miraculously what Bob did as he brokenly begged his wifeʼs forgiveness, holding her so close he could hear her breath catch as she clung tearfully to him.
At once, he knew that he had won an ace that he could keep.
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