At work this past week, I chatted with VEGA44 , WILLIE FROM FILLY and CS about our Las Vegas experiences.
I reminded them that my first craps dealing job was the Slots-A-Fun Casino, (this low-roller haven is still there). I have mentioned many times in MGTP that in my day, (January-April 1979), it was the worst casino job on the planet, ( I grossed $150.00, for a forty hour week).
VEGA44 already knew about Slots-A-Fun because he dealt there two years ahead of me. His tenure was far worse because before they hired him as a craps dealer, he served a three-dollar an hour apprenticeship that required standing in the street handing out coupon booklets. Sometimes, as a treat, out of the goodness of management's heart, they allowed VEGA the privilege of "practicing" his trade on a live game...for zero pay.
VEGA was exposed to the same cantankerous and psychotic boss that I had, Mr. Broderick Boyle, (the only gaming supervisor I had in 36+ years who insisted on being called Mister). A tornado of negative energy, our Mr. Boyle could have passed for TV film critic Roger Ebert's evil twin.
|ROGER EBERT (1942-2013) WAS A BELOVED JOURNALIST AND SCREENWRITER WHO WAS MOST RENOWN FOR CRITIQUING MOVIES ON TV.|
Perhaps Mr. Boyle's edginess could be traced back to being overworked. Slots-A-Fun was so small that his duties included owning a fraction of the club, being the casino manger, shift boss, pit boss, relief blackjack floorman and the relief boxman in craps. Boyle was also rumored to be armed because that shithouse was so frugal, they didn't have security guards. Mr. Boyle wore so many hats that he refilled the cigarette machine and I once saw him empty trash cans.
VEGA told me that Mr. Boyle was indeed armed. He said, "I saw our bartender chase down a customer who left an insulting tip. When Boyle saw him punching the stiff out front, he rushed outside. By the time Boyle got there the bloodied man was pinned down and getting pummeled. Boyle ordered the bartender to stop. The attack continued until Boyle pulled a pistol from a shoulder holster, pointed it at the idiot's temple and fired...him (not the gun)."
VEGA and WILLIE FROM FILLY know many of my stories. So instead of telling Slots-A-Fun reruns for the sake of CS, I responded with this...
In the late 1980's, I went to a baseball card show at the Shore Mall, (Egg Harbor Township NJ). To my surprise, one of the vendors was Eddie Murphy. Of course my Eddie Murphy wasn't in show business. He was a fourth generation coal miner from a tiny town near Scranton Pennsylvania. Like his father, he might never have gone further west than Harrisburg but when the mining industry dried-up, my Eddie Murphy moved to Vegas.
Prior to bumping into Eddie Murphy at the mall, it had been ten years since I saw him.. Our shared claim to fame was starting our craps dealing career on the same day, at Slots-A-Fun. He and I started trading stories, (please note, this was way before I started writing...so indirectly, this chance meeting has something to do with why I chose to put my experiences down on paper).
This might seem far-fetched but Eddie told me stories that I already knew. But I wouldn't dream of interrupting because I wanted to hear his versions. His accounts were the same as mine. But because they were so crazy, so impossible and ridiculous, I had stopped telling them because of the doubt in my audience's eyes. I got to the point that I didn't believe my own stuff. But Eddie rattled off a few and rekindled the confidence I needed to retell them myself...and eventually write them out.
Eddie Murphy reminded me that at Slots-A-Fun, we had a moronic, penniless, alcoholic boxman, Willard Lafitte. Lafitte was the most brutal, insensitive individual I ever had the misfortune of working with or for. My short story, "THE HEAT IS ON," is a murder mystery with Lafitte being the victim. I killed him off because this ignorant, fat, ugly, bald redneck from Slidell Louisiana was so hateful that if he really was stabbed to death, the list of suspects would include all women, disgruntled gamblers, anyone from an ethnic group, northerners, intellectuals, the physically or mentally impaired...or in reality...almost everybody.
Murphy set the stage for his story by saying that he was the stickman. Lafitte was the boxman, the dealer (Ken Berd) was where the trouble was and that I was on the opposite side of the table. Two of our five players (they were friends) had a bet on the hard ten, (a seven-to-one bet on a double five getting rolled). One of these bets was twenty-five cents, the other was half a buck.
|THE ONLY WAY TO WIN A BET ON THE HARD TEN IS FOR TWO FIVES (above) TO BE ROLLED BEFORE AN EASY TEN (A SIX AND A FOUR) OR A SEVEN.|
The shooter rolled a hard ten. Eddie said, "I was about to make my pay-outs when Lafitte used his finger to knock the dice onto a different number. When I told Berd to pay Lafitte said, 'Boy y'all crazy or what, that ten came easy.'"
The two players thought Lafitte was kidding until he swiped the two bets off the layout and profaned Eddie Murphy for being a stupid break-in (inexperienced dealer). We (all three dealers) were in shock. One of the robbed players jokingly begged Murphy, "Sticky, you gotta straighten-out your big boss man. I got $1.75 coming back and my friend won $3.50." Lafitte told the customer, "Shut the fuck up!" The game stopped as a three-person verbal tirade exploded. Lafitte stood-up out of his chair and leaned over the game to emphasize his crude, misguided opinions. One of these cheated players tried to grab Lafitte. He jumped back and retreated to the safety of his boxman's the stool. A split second later, he reached underneath the table and unbelievably came back up with a sawed-off baseball bat.
Lafitte swung for the fences. If his target remained stubborn and didn't spring backward, I (and Eddie Murphy) were certain the man's brains would have been splattered all over the craps game. Lafitte was crowing loud and proud as the two men, fled and left their chips behind.
The incident took only a minute. So when Mr. Boyle hurried over, the damage was already done. Lafitte lied as he explained what happened and added, "So when the bastard came after me, I grabbed the dingus (this weapon and it's nickname had been unbeknownst to us), and went to hacking."
While Boyle soaked in all the information Lafitte continued, "They knew they done wrong, cuz they high-tailed their scared asses out of here without their chips." Boyle said, "Where's their money now?" Lafitte pointed to the rail and on the table, "I reckon it's sixteen bucks." Boyle took off his glasses, squeezed the bridge of his nose and sighed, "Lock up the money, good job."
For anyone who has worked or played in casino, this story should be preposterous. Even if you never stepped in a casino most people envision the current regulations to be so stiff that a gaming corporation would never risk their license by allowing employees to be cut-throat. So until Eddie Murphy substantiated events like this, you can see why I stopped telling them.
My Willard Lafitte story was till fresh in everyone's mind when VEGA44 and I both got a break at the same time. Before heading to the cafeteria, we detoured to the public restroom. VEGA advanced to a urinal and I headed to the stall, directly behind him.
What I'm about to tell you is worthy of, "RIPLEY'S BELIEVE IT OR NOT."
The big difference between me and Ripley is, I have VEGA44 as a witness. Just remember, the series of events that are about to unfold are so absurd, so ridiculous and so impossible that at the risk of being called a bullshit artist, I would NEVER repeat any of it without a collaborator.
Suddenly, as I walked into the stall, before I could lock the door or unzip my fly, someone from next door broke the silence, "Hey, buddy!" Like I said before, I don't engage in conversations with strangers in men's rooms...especially through the stall walls. He spoke-up at a higher octave, "Hey Mack!" Maybe n the cramped space, the acoustics were skewed? I was disoriented because this time, I couldn't tell which adjoining stall (left or right) the cryptic utterance was coming from. During my fraction of a second hesitation he roared, "Yo, yo, yo waddaya doin'?" From the strain in his voice, I knew he wasn't going to ask me to pass toilet paper under the wall. I gulped, "What?" The invisible man said, "Dude, look up."
In a million-to-one shot, above me, a plumber was working on pipes in the ceiling. VEGA44 turned to see what the ruckus was and only saw two ankles dangling above me. I looked up and saw his legs spread wide apart, (luckily, he was wearing workmen's overalls). In a combination of fear, shock, embarrassment and my need to pee, I vamoosed to the furthest corner of the rest room.
While doing my business, it occurred to me that at a risk of a lawsuit from a traumatized guest, the genius would have been better served had he locked the stall door or put an "out of order" sign up.
I went back on duty and settled into the notion that it was all an odd coincidence. But VEGA44 busted my balls the rest of the night. I knew I could make it an entertaining story but I didn't tell WILLIE FROM FILLY, CS or even my wife. Not because I was disturbed but because...who'd believe me? You know the old saying; you had to be there. Now a few days later I realize, it happened to me AND I do have a witness. Maybe I have a shot for a big payday from Robert Ripley.
The incident was still gnawing at me after my two days off. So I returned to the scene of the crime. I looked up at the still-missing ceiling panel and regretted not having a camera feature on my cell-phone. It boggled my mind because I couldn't figure out how the maintenance man suspended himself up there without falling. Maybe that mystery can be the next viral attraction at a Ripley's Believe it or Not Museum.