Sunday, January 24, 2010

The House always wins.

The House always wins.
(SEPTEMBER 23, 2009)

Luck of the Draw. A betting man would call it no different. What do you call a man down on his luck – Desperate. So desperate to use his last bit of luck and money on a slim to none chance of winning. The house always wins is what they tell me. Only a fool would enter and not expect to lose. Why try? Cause you can’t roll over and die, life’s too short, quitters never win and all the same ol mantras the good people of the world keep telling themselves to make it alright for just one more day. Just another night, no different than the last. Well, not for me. Got nothing left to lose. That will make a man crazy. No reason to live or die. Nothing. That’s why I’m here tonight. Playing cards and gambling at the Maison Rouge, darkest pit of hell this side of the Mississippi. Some folks call it the Devil’s pied-à-terre, where most folks who enter pretty much owe their soul to the game. Not much different than the fiery depths of Vegas one might reckon. However, this place is far worse. People leave Vegas with untold tales to share. Men don’t leave the Maison Rouge telling a tale they can’t remember. Brainwashed, zombies or aliens, but one might just say soul-less. What’s left looks as empty as a walking glass jar. No real thought process on the inside. Yet here I am sitting in the darkest depths of Hell on earth gambling my soul away.

Dealer calls the game and damned if I don’t lose. Not a single winner at the table. Poor fellow is out. Two very friendly gentlemen come over and escort him away. What’s left of that fellow anyhow? You can see the spirit just slip away from his eyes as the dealer takes his final chips and there’s nothing left inside; dead eyes with a hollow stare that shows no human recognition. Get up and walk away. Need a fresh game. I’ve got a few chips left to work with. Devil won’t be taking my soul without a fair fight. Besides, if I win big, the house pays out double. Double the value which in any other place isn’t quite the same. Two souls for the price of one. How desperate am I? Nothing left to lose. Lost the soul of my true love and this is the only way left. To see life in those blue eyes once more and have the spark of life animate her lifeless shell, well I’d trade all the money in the world and ten of my own souls a thousand times over. Roulette wheel. Sounds more or less like a gamble. Gamble it is…

The trick they don’t know about me at the Maison Rouge, well I’ve got lady luck on my side and she don’t falter very often. Granted I’m meeting a difficult disadvantage by playing here in the Devil’s own backyard, but that won’t defer me. Can’t lose. Not this time. Not if I want her back. Place your bets. Number 23. Red 23. Lady luck, smile on me one more time. Wheel spins and these soul-less zombies gather round me like they know I’m cheating. The powers that be are sensing something different about me now. I’ve put it out there and plan on bringing it in. Slower now, slower, as the wheel gradually makes its final turn, the ball finds its groove and rests. 23. Red. I’ve won. Dealer looks at me with a disapproving scowl. You know the rules… The house always wins.

The entire place shakes like the world’s come undone. The soul-less hoard is in an uproar around me. Not entirely sure what happens when you play with fire and don’t get burned. Especially with bare hands. Time to find out. The dealer, can’t pay me out, as he is an oblivious automaton that’s only used to one thing happening. Wait. The two gentlemen from earlier make an appearance and I’m immediately ushered away from the crowd. Most likely there’s quite a bit of questions raised from my sudden good fortune. From what I’ve heard there’s only been one other person to beat the odds at the good ol Maison Rouge. That’s pretty much a legendary tale in these parts. No one wins at the Maison. Souls enter and the empty containers walk out. It’s what happened to my dearest. She was manipulated into entering this dark hole and refused to gamble away her love. So the Devil took her soul as a punishment, like he’s about to try for mine.

Upstairs at the Maison, there’s a dark corridor filled with only shadows and doors that lead to unimaginable horrors. Screams escape the depths of these hidden dungeons. At the end of the dark passageway is a pair of double doors. This room, well I’m under the assumption, is the private office of the man himself, Lucifer. The two gentlemen stop at the doors, and motion for me to enter. The pair remains flanked on each side of the doors and it’s clear this room is invitation only. Either I’ve crossed the big man or he’s impressed with my clever little gift. Slowly I reach down, grip the iron door handles and open the large doors. Much to my surprise I enter a very large, open room with only a small desk in the center. The inside of the room isn’t fire and brimstone, in fact it’s quite the contrary, very bright, white walls trimmed with white curtains and light wood floors. There’s a small fire ablaze in the corner fireplace that gives off the only light, coating the room in a yellowish haze. No one is at the desk…where?

“Can you please shut the doors behind yourself, young man?” a small voice with great courtesy escapes toward me from the bank of windows behind the desk. A mere man, with great consideration and care stands before me peering out the windows into the dark night. This is a true gentleman by my measure, as he looks like a doctor or lawyer with his tailored shirt and pants. “Well, shall we get to the task at hand?” He motions me to have a seat in front of the desk in a chair that has appeared from air itself. My eyes must have been wide, as he nods in amusement at my bewilderment. “Young man, you understand that cheating is an unacceptable offence in any gambling establishment?” I nod. Before I can say anything, he continues. “I understand. You weren’t cheating. Well not exactly. In fact that’s a very unusual gift you have. Have you always been able to manipulate the odds, luck if you willto your favor?” Yes. But, how do you know about that? “Now, if I were the man up above you wouldn’t be asking me the how’s and why’s of the situation. You would accept that I’m all-knowing and indestructible. In fact, I happen to know exactly why you’re here tonight.” You do? “You’re here to win back the soul of your beloved. Her soul is mine!” his voice booms as he beats his hand on the desk. “You’ve won nothing. You can not have it back. She’s is one of us. I’ve found my true mate in darkness.” Her soul is not yours to take. “Understand, young man, I can end your miserable life with a whim. You’ve intrigued me and that’s no easy fete so I’m letting you live… For now.” Take my life, without her I’m nothing. “HAHAHA! Thank you for the amusement; you weak mortals and your need for attachment. She’s mine. I’m willing to entertain your alternative suggestion, so let’s have it…” Take my gift. With luck on your side what more could you need? “What need would I have for your silly parlor trick?”Obviously, it’s something beyond your powers or why allow me to win? “Very well, you are right. I can not manipulate your gift. However, you can not surrender your gift to me without…”

Without? “You must surrender your soul to me. Once I have your soul, it can not be restored without returning your gift. Do you understand? Your life in trade for your beloved.” I’m silent. “There’s your dilemma and you must decide soon as this deal will expire. Time’s ticking away.” Dirty. Damn that evil bastard. He saw this coming all along. Probably as soon as I walked through the doors. I’ve no choice at all. Fine! Restore her first! I want to see her walk away from this place. “And if she chooses to return?” No deal! She must be free to live a full life. “As you wish. She’s walking down the path right now, you may watch from the windows.” My beloved, beautiful Juliet, her graceful steps descend the last set of steps as she follows the path away from this darkness and out of my sight.“Young man, there is one last thing…” Turn around and face the bastard. YES? “Luck, is a funny thing and you can not give it away. And now that I’ve got your soul, you won’t need that body anymore. I’ll give my regards to Juliet.”

I'm not finished.  I'm exhausted. Still digging in. This is a repost. It's longer and felt appropriate since I'm working in length again. It's the closest in the same vein as the last story. Oh yes, someone asked me before... I was listening to Jimmy Hendrix and the Eagles when I first came up with the idea. The story however unfolded while listening to Mozart. Please ask! If you've never read this one by all means... ENJOY. kisses, m.

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