ROYAL CASINO Pt2
It is morning, and I wake up. I smell coffee. And, I smell the six, or eight, maybe nine cocktails Joanna drank last night on an empty stomach. That’s how strong she smells. All while she was gambling on Baccarat. At first she was up big – probably twenty thousand, but then she came crashing down and then came to the Royal Suite, then puked while I held her hair, and then passed out on the bed. Then I grabbed a blanket and pillow and slept on the couch under the window, twenty feet from the bed. Twenty feet away and can still smell her. Yay.
I also smell coffee, so I get up and stumble to the kitchenette. This suite is so big. These Four Anti Arcana are all up and dressed in suits and talking on their chipped and worn out old flip phones and I notice a prehistoric laptop sitting on the coffee table. Ancient.
I say, “You guys have the oldest tech ever, I don’t know whether to laugh or to be really worried my life is currently in your hands.”
I point to the coffee table with the laptop and say, “That laptop looks like you found it encased in amber, like dinosaur DNA in Jurassic Park.”
SeventyNine looks at me, smiles serenely, and says, “Good — uh, afternoon. Looks like you guys had a blast last night. I’ve had a long talk with Hotel Security.”
I say, “Yeah, Joanna is a handful when she’s hammered. She was talking shit with this guy who claimed he was a diplomat. She tried to steal his turban.”
SeventyNine says, “The man is a diplomat.”
I say, “They were threatening to kick her out of Canada.”
He says, “Yeah, that wouldn’t do. I fixed it.”
I say, “Damn. You hold some sway.”
SeventyNine laughs and says, “Let’s just say, the casino owners are friendly to our cause. And, so is that diplomat.”
Then, SeventyNine takes a sip of his coffee.
Then, SeventyNine says, “Any issues last night? With being Overcome I mean.”
I say, “No, nothing since the one you saw.” I felt so embarrassed. I didn’t want to talk about it. Like, I just black out now? That’s a thing?
SeventyNine takes another sip, nods his head a couple of times and says, “Hey, so, I needed time to work out a few details last night, but didn’t quite get it done. Grab a shower, then come with. We leave in ten minutes.”
I generally like a long, hot shower, especially when the shower is the size of my entire living room back home. But in fifteen minutes, I am standing at valet with SeventyNine, NineNineNine and TwoZeroEight. EightHundredThree stays up in the room with Joanna, who only moaned when I told her I was leaving.
So standing there in the cold, and this big orange Lincoln Towncar rolls up. Yeah, I said, orange. It hurt my eyes. NineNineNine gets behind the wheel and I’m afraid the car is going to disintegrate as she shuts the door.
The car is such a beater. I mean, I thought their phones were teetering ancient scrap heap devices, but this is a junk yard work of art!
Remember in Star Wars when Luke sees the Millenium Falcon for the first time and he says, “What a hunk of junk!” and then later, when Princess Leia sees it for the first time, she says, “You came in that thing? You’re braver than I thought.”
Remember that? That’s what I’m thinking looking at this burnt orange P.O.S. “You drive around this hunk of junk? You’re braver than I thought.” It looks like, if I pull on the handle, the door might just come off in my hand.
SeventyNine says, “this is us” and I’m like, nuh uh, no way, not getting in that rattling death trap. Not happening, Senor. You can’t make me.
But then, we get in. Oh, wow! Easily the nicest car I’ve ever been in. How nice? Think of the nicest car that you’ve ever ridden in. Now, forget it, that car is a piece of shit compared to this one.
So, now we’re driving around and I’m like, “What about Joanna?” And SeventyNine says, “She’s sleeping it off.” I ask about Jan, and TwoZeroEight says, “Jan’s fine. Dropped her at an ER. Robbie’s with her.” I say, “But, what about the Arcana?” NineNineNine says, “They are afraid of the Canadians. That’s why Montreal is our home base in North America.”
And I’m like, “Hmmpft.” They got an answer ready for anything. And something is bothering me about that.
Annnnddddd …. Next thing I know, we are stopping in an alley. I’m like, “I must have fallen asleep” and TwoZeroEight says, “No, you blacked out again. We’ve arrived, get out.”
SeventyNine says, “Hey, it’s going to be okay. Come on. This should help.” I like him better than I like TwoZeroEight.
And, I have a funny feeling as we go into this building. We enter a building. And it smells weird, like Maui Wowie mixed with every barn in the county, and however how many cherry incense and a lime bath bomb dropped in a vat of embalming fluid combine to smell like lighter fluid.
But, as soon as we enter, I feel sharper. Alert. Awake. Aware.
SeventyNine points me to this small man, he says, “This is Tomas. Tomas is going to give you a potassium iodine treatment. Takes about ten minutes, right Tomas?”
I say, “Why?”
SeventyNine says, “It uh, will help your issue.”
TwoZeroEight says, “Just do it. We don’t have a lot of time.” I give her what I hope is a dirty look.
Tomas and I go behind a shower curtain in the middle of the room. There is a toilet, all by itself. Tomas says, “Pull down your pants.” I’m like, “What?” From the other side of the shower curtain, I hear TwoZeroEight sigh loudly and say, “Don’t be a baby!” Tomas says, “When you drink this, you’re going to want to be sitting on this toilet.”
I give Tomas what I hope is a dirty look.
He says, “This is a potassium iodine cocktail. It will clean you out. It works quickly. It’s safe, though.”
One thing I’ve learned, when someone says, “It’s safe, though” it means it’s not safe at all. So why did I drink what he gave me and said to drink?
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I mean, I was sitting on a toilet in the middle of the room with four other people practically staring at me. I wasn’t really in a position of power, even if I was on a throne.
So, I drank, and yeah. Went right through me. After I was done, I felt dehydrated and exhilarated. It was both completely awful and actually awesome. I can’t really explain it, you’d have to try it. Also, I don’t suggest you try it.
We get back in the car, me feeling violently violated, decidedly annihilated, like I’d just been to a frightfully large-fingered proctologist with a leaf-blower, and I’m all like, “What just happened there?”
And SeventyNine says, “It’s experimental. We’ll see if it helps. You’re at an advanced stage of withdrawal, so we could learn a lot, maybe save lives.”
I say, “Save my life?”
He looks at me very seriously and says, “Yes. Especially your life.”
We head back to the casino, I feel great. The best I’ve felt in two weeks, I realize. SeventyNine says, “One more night at the Royal Suite, then we need to move to a new casino. They are great places to stay, but it’s best not to stay too long.”
We drop the car at Valet, head up to the room, and… EightHundredThree and Joanna are gone. Not there. Missing. What is there? A Polaroid photo. On the floor, on the nice white shag carpet. I pick it up.
And I see who is in the picture at the same time that I hear TwoZeroEight yell, “Fuck! Eight is in here, call an ambulance!”
SeventyNine and NineNineNine run over there. But I stand here, looking at the Polaroid.
The picture was taken in this room, on the red couch over by the floor-to-ceiling windows. In the picture, I see Robbie, Jan, and Joanna… and… Rufus and Anna. Those ancient, white-haired assholes have all my friends. And, they want me to know it.
And, while everyone else is in the bathroom, trying to save EightHundredThree’s life, I slip out the hotel door and leave.
Written, Produced and Narrated by Hans Anderson