Table 12. I am back where I was 12 hours ago.
“It’s like you never left,” jokes Gerard, my charismatically cynical floor manager.
I glance across the table. Holy shit. He’s still here. Kostopolous is still playing, on this exact fucking table. He was up eight grand when I went home last night. He had what would be three months of my pay in his clutches. Now he’s using cash to buy another five hundred in chips.
I wonder if he’s been home. It’s hard to tell because he always wears those same three dark Ralph Lauren polo shirts, which probably looked good ten years ago, but now make an obviously uncomfortable stretch over his ever-expanding gut and tiny erect Greek nipples.
He’s an asshole, and as usual, I’m going to be waiting for him to lose and fuck off. He’s just about cooked though, and I don’t reckon it’ll take more than ten minutes.
As I push over his five stacks of chips I spy Giordano hobbling over to the table. For once I don’t cringe at the inevitable awkward and slightly disturbing conversation that is about to ensue. Sometimes it’s fun to watch crazy bounce off crazy.
It begins with the usual bullshit.
“How are you today, beautiful?”
Before I have a chance to reply, he goes on: “I’m tired, I couldn’t sleep all last night…”
Here we go.
“You know why? I was thinking of you!”
A cocked eyebrow is all he’s getting.
“Just this morning I bet on two horses, blondie, and princess! And they’re gonna win! You know why? Because they know I love you!”
“You never bet a cent in your life mate. Look at me, I lost five hundred in two minutes, mate.” Kostapopolous snaps at him.
“No more bets.”
The winning number is 6. I don’t even have to look up to know Kost’s not on it. Nobody ever bets on 6. It’s just not a very sexy number.
Kopopolous resumes his usual tirade of Greek profanities, and I’m pleased by the fact it doesn’t bother me anymore. He’s a professional loser. He could write a book about it. “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People” or maybe, “The Idiot’s Guide to Being a Cunt.”
He’s one spin away from losing his nut when who but good old Herman the German should come along.
Herman’s a crazy old bastard who lets his straggly grey hair compensate for the rather large amount of balding he seems to be experiencing on top. Herman always wears a short sleeve dress shirt, leaving the first four buttons undone to reveal a tan, unashamedly hairy, old chest. He’s missing half a finger… but you don’t ask. I like to think a shark bit if off – he looks to me as though when he’s not gambling he’s fishing or sailing, or just walking along the beach with a scrappy little dog trailing behind.
I like Herman for two reasons: he’s always nice (read: never complains), and, more importantly, he gets his kicks from driving the other punters crazy.
“Hallo my dahlink. How are you today?”
“Well, thank you.” I smile.
He then turns to formally address the floor manager, “Flooh manacher! Zis, zis is ze best dealer in ze whole casino!”
Gerard glances up from his folder, and delivers a quick smirk and raised eyebrow combo. He’s so endearingly English.
“She’s suhhch a goot speener. She is always so gentle wis my money.” Herman announces to the table.
I’m trying not to laugh. Kostopolossis is down three grand now, and he’s about to pop.
Some men have a deep sea of rage, calmly simmering inside of them, well beyond the range of everyday emotions, and only ever so occasionally tapped into. Other men, such as the fine infuriated specimen before me, have a tiny puddle of anger which they are forever stomping about in. And then there are men like Herman, who swan around feigning naivety, treading wherever the hell they want, whether there’s a puddle there or not.
It’s no coincidence that Herman only ever comes to offer me his adulation at losing tables.
Old Lucky Luciano is the first to bite.
“Why you dohn-ah shaddup?” he barks.
I used to be afraid of hulking old Luciano. He’s a leathery old Miami style mobster who gets his jollies by trying to intimidate new dealers. It’s hard to tell if he’s always angry, or never really angry at all. But, either way, you can’t take it personally. With most Italians, you just have to stand up to them once or twice and they respect you after that and don’t give you such a hard time. Besides, Luciano is up $500 today, so I know he’s only joking.
Kostapapos has had enough and storms off in his usual manner – a quick burst of expletives (ah, to be called a whore in every language of the world, a personal dream of mine), infuriated mumbling, and of course a, complete rendition of the sorry story of his losses, told to anyone in a fifty meter radius, in the classic medium of infuriated Greek hand gestures.
With his mission complete, Herman too takes his cue to leave, outwardly disinterested, but laughing his ass off on the inside I’m sure.
Luciano cashes out (the only winner), and slowly the table begins to fill with middle-aged Asian women.
These ladies don’t want to talk. They just want to make some fucking free money, and that’s fine by me. Sure, they complain all the time, but it’s always in Thai, or Viet, or Mandarin, so as far as I am concerned, they can say whatever the fuck they want.
Gerard asks if Kostapalous left with anything.
“It’s sad, really, isn’t it? How he just spends his time, all day, doing the same thing. Over and over. You’d think it’d get a bit boring, really.”
I don’t feel sorry for him. It’s not like he earns his money anyway. He couldn’t have a full-time job and still come here as much as he does. So how is he getting all that cash to blow? That’s what I want to know – how a prick like Kostopololus gets his hands on so much money. It mustn’t be easy, because, unlike the common drug dealer who waltzes in with a bum-bag full of cash, blows it all in half an hour, and says a quick, “thanks for the game” when it’s gone, unlike them, Kos actually cares when he loses. He must have to do things that other people wouldn’t do. He’s a complete fucking moron, but he’s got a bit of muscle, and none of the other Italians disrespect him.
Maybe he’s into some hardcore Donnie Brasco shit.
“New dealer, everybody.”
Doesn’t matter anyway.