(this won best essay about “Luck” on Skirt)
~~~~His rings glittered gold against the green of the black jack table. The pit boss informed me he was from Saudi Arabia, that he had flown into Nassau on his private jet, and that he had a harem with him.
They called me into work early because I happened to be the quickest dealer and they wanted his money fast and furious. This sort of guy made the casino management a bit jittery.
They placed Mr. Saudi in the back room with his harem. This room was built exclusively for the high rollers, the big kahunas, the rich son-of-a-guns. This was a room where your meals were served to you while the dealer dealt your cards and the pit bosses breathed their nicotine -coffee breath down the back of your neck like a bad furnace. This was a room where, if you desired, you could be fed grapes off the vine like Tiberius.
He played all seven hands while his harem, all resembling Play Boy Bunnies, intensely watched on. He played ten thousand dollars a hand. You heard that right, ten thousand dollars. One sweep of the hand could have purchased a small flat on the island.
It was exuberating, stimulating, and terrifying all at the same time, and my fingers were sticky and sweaty against the cards. My brain was calculating the numbers, patterns, splits and double downs. I was so preoccupied, that I second guessed myself, Now what does a ten thousand dollar black jack pay out again?
Mr. Saudi did not talk. He just tapped his gold-ringed finger when he wanted a hit. Tap, tap, tap. His bunnies swarmed around him as if he were a big fat Buddha. Actually, he and Hugh Hefner had a lot in common‚ minus the turban. I remember thinking how money could buy you almost anything, but it couldn’t buy you a winning hand.
He was losing. Still, he did not utter a single vowel or reveal any emotion.
After three or four hours, Mr. Saudi had lost almost half a million dollars. He whispered something to one of the bunnies and she exited the room swiftly. I heard later that he had told her to call the airport to get the jet ready.
He glanced up at me and grinned. It was the first time he had made any eye contact whatsoever during our encounter together. He threw several black and red chips in the middle of the table, gathered up his belongings, and his harem followed him out of the building like little obedient ducklings.
He left the Cable Beach Casino girls a ten thousand dollar tip that afternoon. We jumped up and down as if we‚ won the lottery.
I find it absolutely astonishing how one person’s bad fortune became another person’s good fortune, how a stranger from Saudi Arabia financed my very first car, and how luck had nothing to do with it.