by Arnold Snyder
I sat down at an empty blackjack table and tossed a few thousand bucks onto the felt. “Black chips please,” I said to the dealer, a pretty young bare-breasted redhead.
The pit boss approached the table. “You got a player’s card?” he said to me.
I didn’t like his tone of voice.
He was decked out in his sagging not-so-tighty-whiteys and a sleeveless vest, but no shirt. His huge gut hung over the waistband of his underpants. Shoeless, of course.
I handed him my player’s card.
He scanned it then studied the computer screen on his podium before returning the card to me, saying, “You’re not some kinda troublemaker, are you?”
“Of course not,” I said.
“I don’t want to catch you thinking about how to play your hands,” he said. “You better play your cards the same way everybody else does.”
“I will,” I said. “Exactly like everybody else. How many spots can I play?”
“No more than three,” he said with a frown, then started cracking his knuckles.
I leaned close to Lulu and whispered, “This guy’s an asshole. I ought to send him a plague of locusts.”
“Do it!” she said, with a genuine cheerfulness in her voice. She’d said it loud enough that the boss could hear her, but he had no idea what she was referring to. We had a private conspiracy. And she knew that I could, in fact, send that irritating son-of-a-bitch a plague of locusts if I so desired.
The dealer pushed three stacks of black chips to me. “Six thousand in black,” he said.
I pushed a stack into each of the three betting spots in front of me.
“So, you’re betting all six thousand on the first round,” the boss said. “Are you using a system, Mister?”
I stopped paying attention to him. He was an idiot.
The dealer dealt the cards. I got a blackjack on each of my three hands. The dealer showed a five up.
“That’s my system,” I said.
“Player wins all three hands,” the dealer said.
“Wait a minute,” the boss said, putting his hand over the dealer’s check rack to stop him from paying off my bets. Then he turned to me. “Are you going to try and tell me that you didn’t know those snappers were coming?”
“No, I didn’t know,” I lied.
“Well, I don’t like the way you play, Sir. If I catch you playing blackjack again, I’ll call security and have you removed from the premises. Is that clear?”
I stood up and started to collect my chips from the table. I couldn’t understand why he was harassing me. The games were all rigged for the players. Players were supposed to win now. They were expected to win.
“Leave your chips on the table,” the boss said. “They’re property of Caesars now. You lost those hands.”
“C’mon, Lu,” I said, taking her hand. “Let’s get outta here.”
This wasn’t right. One of my henchmen must have misunderstood my instructions. I wasn’t going to tolerate this nonsense. We were supposed to be having fun.
“Are you crazy, Don?” Lulu said as I hurried her through the crowd of naked bodies jamming the aisles.
“Don, you’re God! You don’t have to put up with that crap!”
“I’m just sick of it,” I said.
“He just stole six thousand dollars from you! You could’ve turned him into a goat! You could’ve given him a painful wedgie! Something … Anything … What about the plague of locusts?”
We got onto the elevator and I pressed 274. “I could’ve just picked up all the chips in the entire casino and put them into my back pocket. I could’ve taken all the money on the planet and stuck it into my other back pocket. But it’s not fun, Lu. When you can do anything, nothing’s fun anymore.”
The elevator arrived at our floor and we walked quickly down the hall to our room. Once inside, she let me have it.
“You are the wimpiest fucking god in the history of gods! You know how you looked in the casino, Don? You looked scared. Like you were afraid of that beer-bellied asshole. I was embarrassed to be with you!”
“You don’t understand, Lu.”
“No, that’s the problem. I do understand. Even when it’s your turn to be God, you’re a total wimp. I can’t believe I almost married you.”
“We’re getting married at midnight, Lu. I reserved the chapel and everything. It’s going to be a beautiful ceremony.”
“Not anymore. I wouldn’t marry a god like you if you were the …” She stopped and stared daggers at me.
“… last god on earth?” I said.
“I’m not wasting the best years of my life with a wimp. I like men who can take charge. You’re pathetic.”
“C’mon, Lu. You’ll never find another guy who can do maraschino cherries. Not like me.”
“Don, I love you but I hate wimps. I’m not getting married tonight. That’s settled. Tell Jesus I’m sorry. Feel free to blame me. I can’t go through with it. I won’t do it.”
“I’m not a wimp, Lulu. I just have a different perspective on life. But that’s okay. It’s fine with me if we cancel the wedding. Or maybe just postpone it till we’re more comfortable with each other. And Jesus will be okay with it. He’s been through a lot worse than a canceled wedding ceremony. I’ll invite him up for a drink later. What should I tell Elvis and the Beatles?”
She slumped down onto the leather sofa. “Tell them all to come up for a drink,” she said.
“I’ll have to get some girls up here,” I said.
“Why? What girls?”
“I can’t just invite half a dozen guys up to our room for a drink. There should be some girls here to balance it out. A lot of girls. These aren’t just regular guys. These are guys who are used to having women hanging on them.”
“We don’t know any women, Don,” she said, with an accusatory emphasis to her words.
“I know some.”
“Do you remember fifty years ago, when I was planning to destroy the human race, I told you I was going to save Solomon’s wives and concubines?”
“That was not fifty years ago, that was yesterday afternoon. And I said no. You’re not inviting them, Don! This was supposed to be our romantic excursion to Vegas.”
“That particular yesterday was fifty years ago. But right now, I’m thinking of something much more creative, something to prove my love for you.”
“Then ditch the harem, Don. I’m not into harems.”
“How about if I make you the harem?”
“I don’t want to be a harem girl.”
“No, no. You won’t be a harem girl. You’ll be all seven harem girls. I’ll take Solomon’s seven all-time favorites, the seven babes who slept in his bed every night, and I’ll make you all seven of them, simultaneously.”
“I don’t get it.”
“I mean you will be seven women at the same time, your consciousness split into the minds and bodies of Solomon’s ATFs.”
“Why would I want to be seven women?”
“Because you’ll be at a private party with seven men—Jesus, Elvis, John, Paul, George, Ringo, and me. And you may have noticed there are bowls of maraschino cherries all over the suite.”
“But those guys can’t do maraschino cherries. Well, maybe Jesus, but not the regular guys.”
“They can do whatever I enable them to do,” I said.”
“Wow … maraschino cherries with Jesus. That’s gotta be a trip and a half. And Elvis and all four Beatles …?”
“This is gonna be a really great party, Lu.” I sat down next to her on the sofa and put my arm around her shoulder. “We don’t need to get married to have fun,” I said.
The hardness in her eyes softened. “I love it when you take charge, Don.” She reached into a bowl of maraschino cherries on the coffee table and popped a handful into her mouth. The cherry juice and brandy syrup started dribbling from her lips. She chewed the cherries with gusto, letting more of the juice escape from her mouth, then she licked the juice off her fingers and reached for another handful.
I went into a momentary trance just watching her eat those too-sweet almost-neon-red cherries, then I shook my head to clear my brain. “I’ll show you something else, Lu. Something I did just for you. C’mon.” I stood up and took her hand.
She grabbed one more enormous handful of dripping cherries in her fist, more than she could fit in her mouth at one time. “Where are we going?” she said through a wet filter of partially-chewed cherry pulp as I pulled her to her feet and hurried her out of the suite.
I led her down the hallway to the elevator. “To the casino,” I said, as soon as the elevator doors had closed behind us and I’d pressed the “C” button.
Moments later, as the elevator doors slid open, I noticed that Lulu’s whole lower face and both of her hands were sticky with cherry red brandy juice. She looked so deliciously sexy that way. Yes, I really did want to kiss her now. I wanted to taste the sweetness.
We made no move to exit the elevator. We looked out over the sprawling casino, rows of blackjack tables to the right, roulette tables to the left, flashing, clattering, ringing, clanging banks of slot machines in front of us, and everywhere we looked we saw giant green locusts, landing on naked people who were screaming and trying to run, some falling, slippery green and brown grasshopper guts getting squished into the carpeting.
A group of naked gamblers who were tightly jammed in the slot aisles saw our open elevator door and started to run toward us to escape the disgusting bug attack.
I yelled, “You’re dreamin’!” as I closed the elevator door just in time.
We could hear them pounding on the door.
I flipped the power switch to OFF. “Sounds like the town folk are coming after us with pitchforks,” I said.
Lulu started laughing, a heartfelt laugh that got me laughing. It made me feel so good to know that I could still find humor in the world.
Lulu grabbed me and kissed me on the mouth, hard, passionately. I could taste the cherries. The stickiness on her lips and cheeks was transferring to my lips and cheeks. I wanted her cherries. All of them.
“I still love you, Don,” she said.
“How many cherries did you eat?” I asked her.
“Why do you keep asking me questions you know the answers to?”
I did know the answer. Lots. I could smell the brandy on her breath.
“What if I turn you into Solomon’s main squeeze right now?” I said. “You can experience maraschino cherries as a young Arab slave girl. Solomon liked ’em young.”
“How young?” she said. There was a note of concern in her voice.
“Well, he liked ’em down to seven, but—”
“But his main squeeze wasn’t that young. She was a teenager.”
“Thirteen? You want to do maraschino cherries with a thirteen-year-old girl?”
“No. I want to do maraschino cherries with you. But you’ll have the body of a thirteen-year-old girl. And not any thirteen-year-old girl. An olive-skinned beauty with thick black hair falling in ringlets down your shoulders. A stunning specimen of the nubile human female. But you’ll still be you.”
“Oh, Jesus Christ, my fiancée’s a pervert!”
“Me, a pervert? You’re the one who invented maraschino cherries.”
“Yes, for consenting adults. Not for children.”
“Lulu, I want those cherries.” I took her shoulders in my hands and pulled her closer to me.
“Stop it,” she said, in a way that meant don’t stop.
“I want them right now, right here, in the elevator.”
“Don’t change the subject. We were discussing your proclivities for jailbait.”
“Kiss me,” I said. I let my tongue snake out of my mouth and slowly approach her lips, those gorgeous full, sticky-sweet, red lips. Our faces were a good eight inches apart but I purposely didn’t lean closer for the kiss. I let my long thin glistening tongue slowly bridge the gap, as I watched her eyes widen in anticipation.
I touched the tip of my tongue to her lips, then I slid it slowly into her mouth and explored her tongue, her teeth, her gums, the roof of her mouth, until my tongue was coated in brandy. I snapped it back into my mouth and sucked the sweetness down my throat.
Her eyes were wide and she was breathing in short little pants, still as a statue, as once more I let my tongue snake out of my mouth and touch her lips, then slither decisively between them and into the wet warmth of her mouth.
Gently and ever so slowly deeper, deeper, until I tickled the back of her tongue with the tip of mine. She tilted her head back and her throat opened. I wriggled my tongue delicately down, down, down, down, down, way down …
Those cherries were mine.
Go to Chapter Seventeen