The Lucky Hat
Joanne Faries

"Are you going to wear that all day? You look ridiculous." Tina rolled her eyes.

"Yes, I am," said Sam, "if it means I'm winning. You have to admit we've stunk it up in Reno, until I got my lucky hat. It all started with a tiny balloon and the genius clown artist who blew up more to create this sensation."

"Nevada has not proven lucrative. I do way better in Jersey. Maybe it's the ocean breeze," she replied.

It was Sam's turn to sigh. "You hate Atlantic City, always complain about the whiny kids on the boardwalk, and that seniors hog the buffet line. Let's go to the Gold Mine Casino. Haven't tried my new system there."

Tina shrugged, clucked her tongue, and snapped open her compact for one last glance. She fluffed her bangs and then slid out of the diner booth. Smoothing her black mini-skirt, Tina sashayed past a table of twenty-something men. They hooted and begged her to come to the Peppermill for their bachelor party. Tina blew them a kiss over her shoulder. Sam glowered at the table and followed Tina.

"I hate when you're like this. You're old enough to be those kids' mother."

"Oh, we were having fun. You should be proud these legs get a whistle. I'm with you. What does it matter?"

"Sheesh. Act your age sometimes."

Tina patted Sam's head, "Yeah, like that hat dignifies your age." Sam re-adjusted his headgear, as the balloons squeaked.

The two entered the Gold Mine Casino, removed their shades, and took a lay of the land. Blackjack left, roulette right, all past the blinking lights of the slot machines. Brown swirl carpet hid footpath dirt and a few picks, shovels, and miner's hats hung on the gold-flecked red walls to acknowledge the theme.

"Craps for me," said Sam, "are you coming to blow on my dice?"

"I'm in the mood for a drink and some slots. Good luck, baby. I'll find you in a bit." Tina kissed his cheek, settled down at a dollar machine, and lost. The waitress never brought her drink. Annoyed, Tina wended her way to the craps tables. A cheering groundswell led her to Sam. Flushed with excitement and a huge pile of chips on one number, Sam shook the dice and took a step backwards.

Unfortunately, a waiter walked by. Headed to the buffet table, Manuel carried a heaping tray of shish-ka-bobs over his head. Tina gasped as a ka-bob skewered Sam's hat. The lucky charm popped, as he leaned in to throw. The dice bounced wildly until snake eyes emerged. Sam collapsed along with his balloon hat as the croupier raked in the chips.

First published: August, 2007
comments to the writer: knob'