A journal of narrative writing.
Paradise: Seven Clans Casino

You could stay home and count your blessings. But your hibiscus blooms toward Black Bear Creek and the box turtles taking their chances across asphalt stretching North to Red Rock’s plastic palm trees flashing yellow-green around the Otoe-Missouria bend. Sunday afternoons every chair in Paradise is filled. Ashes hang from mouths like incense drifting over sacred slots, moist palms, players clutching their talismans— one good spin—while Red Ruby twirls her hair, woo woo when her ruby lips click thrice in place, black stiletto heels, ruby shoes. Bells to the right and bells to the left ring their clappers off like code reds in a ward. Save this one. Save this one. Security guard could be Chief Little Pipe’s great great grandson dressed in his tall frame, ponytail and glasses, watching the hopefuls at Black Jack. Maybe his ancestors gambled their lives on frost-bitten hunts around the Great Lakes. He uses their skills to observe modern trails of tears to the ATMs. Medicine women in purple, gold-leaf, palm-print shirts rush to rescue all the stuck cash tickets from over-worn machines. Some folks think it’s crazy, “throwing money down the drain” while they bet on safer things: garden tomatoes, a mortgage, kids’ college, Disneyland. You want a piece of that too. Like the bonus pool of golden dew from the Amazing Blazing Bees honey pot. There’s the night you and Mr. Oil went head to head in Texas Hold ’Em after you busted the Mayor of Yale, sheriff of Pawnee, Mr. Goober Drilling, and a rancher who looked like Pistol Pete. Oil got married to his pocket queens, re-raised your raise, and put your chips all in. Your ace hit the river and caught the straight. Everyone clapped at the cashier’s cage as they counted your thousand bucks. Hailed you as Bright Star, Promise who out-played the good ol’ boys. You don’t dwell on the bad nights, your best calculated risk sinking slowly down the long drive home alone in the gloaming. What are the odds of this cow loping along the edge of the road? Of all the fencing, on all the acres, she found the rare hole, like three eagles lined up on Wild Frontier. Whether dumb to have wandered, or greedy, or wanting a change of scene, cooler water from an imagined stream, she faltered one step, then shamelessly pressed her big regal ignorant head through free rein, planted her hoof down, hefted herself through.