Early the next morning, I ordered coffee and then waited outside to catch the room service dude/dudette before they could knock on the door and awaken Sleeping Beauty.
(Yes, we had that coffee maker in our room but I wanted ‘real-brewed, bona-fide coffee’ for us and not some Taster’s Choice shit.)
Presently the coffee arrived and I laced mine with Jim Beam, poured lots of sugar and lots of cream into hers.
Very gently, I woke her.
“Ahhh, what time is it?” She said while yawning and reaching for the ceiling, stretching her slightly freckled arms, splaying her fingers, undulating her hips and moving her head round and round as if she were performing some exotic aboriginal dance to summon up a God or maybe a lessor Daemon.
I sat down on the bed close to her, preparing my aim to land a kiss on her lips.
“I smell ‘real’ coffee. You got us some real coffee!” she said, quickly sitting up as my aimed kiss landed on the pillow where her head had been just a moment before.
“You didn’t have to do that.”
“I was hoping to get at the very least, a kiss out of the deal.”
“I need to pee. Be right back,” she said, jumping up from the bed. “And while you wait, lots of cream, lots of sugar, ‘Sugar,’” laughing at her own joke all the way to the head.
“I Already Did That!” But she didn’t hear as she entered the bathroom and slammed the door shut.
Shonnie, in case you haven’t noticed by now, never, ever does anything delicately, daintily, half-way, or without lusto-gusto.
After what seemed at least an hour, but was more like six minutes, she marched out of the head. The sleepy look had vanished from her eyes, her body language was all energy now. She planted herself in the chair by the bed next to the night stand.
“Here ya go Darlin’,” I said as I handed her, carefully prepared by me, the cup of real, bona-fide coffee.
“Thanks Lover. Now, if you’d be so…”
“Yes yes, I know,” I said, as I lit two ‘Cowboy Killers,’ passing one to her.
“Much obliged,” she giggled, laying it on really thick.
Nervous apprehension descended upon me as I got up and dropped some already queued up, soft and low music into ‘lil boom box’:
The first few notes of Kris and Rita‘s ‘Help me make it through the night’ began. Satisfied it was still queued properly, I immediately shut it off.
“Name that tune Shonnie Girl.”
She took a sip of java, a slow, deliberate drag off her Marlboro, levelled her eyes at me, and said while exhaling, “Uh… ‘Goodtime Charley’s Rag-Tag Band with Tacos and Tamales on the horns section’. Song is called ‘He’s just another dead fish goin’ with the flow’.”
“That’s not even a ‘real’ song. You just pulled that outta your ass,” I protested.
“Of course I did. You wanna a ‘real’ woman in your life or you want one who wastes her time getting ready to be on lame-ass TV game shows?”
“Perfect Segway into something we need to discuss.”
My so well-rehearsed plan was coming apart at the seams. I had not meant to push the Red Shonnie Button. I had meant to push the Blue Shonnie Button.
Obviously, I had missed.
Trying to recover lost ground, aiming at some humility and some seriousness, I broached,
“Shonnie, I’m sorry. But I want you to indulge me for a few minutes. Can we shelve our little ‘word trysts’… sorry, our little ‘romantic word battles’ for a moment. I want to talk to you serious. Have a seat on the bed please.”
Suspiciously, she moved her props (ashtray and coffee cup) to the side of the night stand closer to the bed. Then she lay down stretching out and crossing her legs, seductively opening her bath robe as she did so.
“Ok, you have my attention. Do I have yours?”
*This Woman! ¡Ay, caramba!!*
“Shonnie, Baby, I want you to listen to this entire song without saying one word. It is a song I am sure you have heard many, many times, even several times while with me. Pretty certain you know it by heart, but this time, try to listen as if this is the very first time you have ever heard it. And then allow me to say something before you say anything. Will you do this for me?”
With a raised eyebrow, she said, “Uh, sure. Light it up.”
I got up from the other chair in the room, walked over to lil boom box and pressed ‘play’. Then I got into bed, lying close to Shonnie, reached out and grabbed her left hand, entwining my fingers with hers.
The beginning piano chords… as I lay there, using my fingers to tenderly stroke hers.
Kris began the duet:
Take that ribbon from your hair
Shake it loose and let it fall
Layin’ soft against my skin
Like the shadows on the wall…
As the ‘duet’ part of the duet began I stole a glance at her eyes…
I don’t care what’s right or wrong
I won’t try to understand
Let the devil take tomorrow
But tonight I need a friend
And discerned some tears welling up in them.
Shonnie knew where this ship was sailing.
Sailing headlong into dangerous unchartered waters.
And it’s sad to be alone
Help me make it through the night
I don’t want to be alone
Help me make it through the night
The song ended. Shonnie was weeping.
And so was I.
I sat up and pulled her into an upright posture. I faced her and took both of her hands in mine, looked straight into those intensely blue eyes,
“My Darling, I don’t want you to help me make it through a night. I want you to help me make it through a life. Our life. Together.”
“I love you Shonnie.”
Through blinked back tears she said, “Yes yes, I know. Have known. Just did not know how you were gonna deal with it. Were you gonna run away scared? Or were you gonna stay not scared?” She tried to produce a laugh as she said, “I gave the ‘stay part’ forty-sixty.”
I drew her close and kissed her very lightly on her neck, then deeply on her mouth.
She continued as I kept her locked in my embrace, “Lance, you know I love you too. Have loved you ever since…”
“Ever since our first night?” I interrupted. “Me too. I loved you from that night.”
Joni was well into the next song on my homemade cassette,
Help me, I think I’m fallin’ in love too fast
It’s got me hopin’ for the future and worryin’ about the past
‘Cause I’ve seen some hot, hot blazes come down to smoke and ash
We love our lovin’ (lovin’)
But not like we love our freedom
Neither Shonnie nor I suffered fools lightly, but we knew we were both fools whenever we were together.
How could we even dare to hope for a happy ending to our story? Both of us so headstrong and so independent. She of course not quite as subtle in showing her traits as was I with mine.
And not to mention the two other salient realities:
- We were both married, but not to each other.
- I was a sailor, and would be compelled to leave her for recurring lengthy deployments at sea.
Liberally and loosely stealing from Shakespeare, we were ‘Star-Struck’, ‘Love-Struck’, ‘Star-Crossed Lovers’ living in a stolen season.
But at that moment, we didn’t care.
We made the most tender, yet passionate, slow passionate, if there is such a thing, love we ever had.
It was, to tritely yet accurately describe it, ‘Heaven on Earth.’
We lay there in the warmth of each other, knowing full well our relationship had been forever changed. And I am certain she, as did I, hoped it had changed for the better.
It was already perfect, but now it had the potential to become ever ‘more’ perfect, which I suppose is impossible grammatically, kind of like being ‘more unique’ or some such nonsense, but damn it all!
If we could form a ‘More Perfect Union’ then by God we would! Come Hell or Rapture!
Just hoping we hadn’t fucked up what we already had.
After lying there for half an hour, wrapped around each other and not saying even one word, just listening to Joni, we got up silently and sat down in our respective chairs.
Shonnie lit a cigarette and took a big sip of what had to be by now, horrible-tasting cold coffee.
I took a sip of mine, but it had been perma-warmed with Beam.
We exchanged loving, lustful, provocative looks.
Not being able to stand the silence or the exchanged and corny goo-goo eyes any longer, she blurted out, “You gonna teach me that Goddamn card-counting shit or what?!” Then she laughed loudly and hysterically.
And so did I.
Our previous rapport had been spared from our love confessional and thankfully remained fully in-tact.
“Drag your ass and your chair over here while I drag the coffee table between us,” I said.
“Fix me a drink while you’re at it will ya? This coffee tastes like shit which hasn’t even been warmed over.”
“You got it, Darlin.’”
“And stop callin’ me ‘Darlin’ all the damn time. Come up with something new, will ya? You’re wearing me out with that Texas Darlin’ shit!”
I had to laugh. See why I loved her so? What the Hell is not to love about a woman such as she?
However. I think she was trying just a little too hard to make sure that I knew and she knew that our previous tête-à-tête way of banging our respective relationship heads together remained firmly grounded and fully preserved. In other words, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.”
I began teaching her how to count down the deck.
“Shonnie,” I said. “Aces count as zero. Two through nine count as plus one. Tens and the rest (face cards) count as minus one.”
“You’re gonna sit there and keep a running count in your head while you place two-dollar bets. Don’t get fancy. Just use the basic strategy I taught you.”
“When the count goes hot, I mean, when the count goes real positive, anything over plus five, you light a cig in your left hand. I’ll be at the bar and come on over, playing a drunk with a lot of money. Should just be a bit-part for me. No acting required. I can do ‘drunk’ slicker than owl shit.”
“Wait a minute!” She said. “You’re gonna ‘play’ a drunk?”
“Yeah. So what?”
“Never mind. But you probably might need to ‘rehearse’ a little bit.”
“Funny. Anyhow, we’ll go to the El Cortez this evening and you’ll go in first. Take a seat at the blackjack table closest to the bar. I’ll come a few minutes later and park my butt, watching you from the bar.”
“When you signal, I’ll stumble on over and start throwing black chips around. You hand off the count to me by stacking some chips to your right. Five six, seven… Whatever it is. I’ll pretend not to know you while I pick up your count.”
“If all works well, I’ll score a grand or two or three, then feign needing to move on, color my chips and bug. You stay for another twenty minutes or so and then meet me back at The Plaza. Got it?”
“Great Girl,” I said.
“Oh Yeah? Fuck you! If we get into trouble, it’s on your ass.”
“Honey, nothing illegal ‘bout countin’, but they do frown on it. We’ll be fine. Just lay off the sauce a bit.”
“Double Fuck You!” she said.
“There’s that Girl I love.”
“Love? I thought we had already settled that issue.”
For the rest of the morning and slightly into the afternoon we practiced her ‘counting.’ She was surprisingly adept and dare I admit, picked it up much quicker than I had back when I was floating around in the Northern Indian Ocean trying to teach myself.
I pronounced her ‘Ready for Prime Time.’
“Ready? I was ‘ready’ two fuckin’ hours ago. I’ve just been humoring you. Can we have some food now?”
Love is a Many-‘Splintered’ Thing… and a Double-Edged Sword of Damocles.
And absolutely extraordinarily exhilarating with Shonnie.
Part X: “Shonnie The Biker’s Wife, Chapter X: Dalliance (and loyalty in Las Vegas)”
Coming Very Soon
Update: Part X is UP
If you are new here, or a long-lost returning Pilgrim, you may want to begin your Shonnie Journey Below
And then simply “Follow the Yellow Brick Road” i.e., The Lancelot Links:
Below You Will Find Most Of The Original Posts. Once / If You Arrive At Thirteen There Are Links To The Final Few Chapters. Please keep in mind however, that each and every one of them is in the process of being rewritten: first to last. This will probably take at least two or three weeks.
But if you can’t wait… Here ya go!
Parts One Two Three Four Five Six Seven Eight Nine Ten Eleven Twelve Thirteen
Commentary Section from Original Post.
For continuity, please read from the bottom up.
12 THOUGHTS ON “SHONNIE THE BIKER’S WIFE, PART IX: COUNTING”
LAMarcom July 18, 2014 at 10:05 Edit
Pretty sure you could. Just takes practice.
Thanks for reading Teela!
Teela Hart July 18, 2014 at 09:59 Edit
I couldn’t count cards if I wanted to.
Looking forward to reading the rest.
LAMarcom July 1, 2014 at 21:01 Edit
Problem with me being ‘Lance Corporal’ is that I am a Sailor, not a Marine. 😉
There are many different levels of skill in card counting. I had honed my skills on a six month Western Pacific deployment. I also read Thorpe’s book and Kenny Uston’s.
(This book must be a later edition. The one I worn out reading, I purchased from a book store in Hong Kong. Same title, but published in the late Seventies if memory serves. Was not aware of any later editions. Might be the same book, just a reprint.)
I taught Shonnie just the basic count. Not as powerful as the more sophisticated ones (for example keeping a side count on Aces). The thing I learned from Uston was the concept of the ‘Big Player.’
The easiest way to get spotted as a card counter is to be betting small, then suddenly when the deck goes ‘hot’, start betting large. Sure tip off. Having someone else counting, then walking up and immediately placing big bets is safer. Usually.
Thanks for your comments and for the visit. You are correct. I need to finish this up. I aim to.
Exile on Pain Street July 1, 2014 at 06:24 Edit
You make counting sound so easy! If you don’t have a brain for numbers or, like myself, a functioning brain at all, you get pretty tripped-up in the pluses and minuses. But that’s a pretty concise explanation.
I know my way around a craps table but don’t know nuthin’ ’bout no stinkin’ cards. I’ve sat at black jack tables and fucked it up for everyone. Boy, do they give you dirty looks!
I think it’d be cool if your last name was Corporal. You’d be Lance Corporal. See what I did there? Finish this up. Did you get busted?
LAMarcom June 30, 2014 at 18:22 Edit
It’s a grind if ya do it right Sadie. More and more difficult these days. Most of the Joints deal from a six-deck shoe and reshuffle halfway into it. Tough to get a real advantage.
Thanks very much for reading and commenting.
LAMarcom June 30, 2014 at 18:21 Edit
Laughing my ass off!
LAMarcom June 30, 2014 at 18:20 Edit
You could be right Mark.
Thanks for the read and your comment. I appreciate it.
LAMarcom June 30, 2014 at 18:19 Edit
Yeah, I think I know that guy.
Thanks My Friend.
happierheathen June 29, 2014 at 22:26 Edit
One of my cousins is a nice guy who dresses well and speaks softly, and if you aren’t careful about counting cards in certain Vegas “properties” he’ll drop by and invite you to take a walk with him. Good thing you didn’t get to meet him.
markbialczak June 29, 2014 at 19:14 Edit
Somebody’s gonna end up either beat to a pulp in the back room of the casino or bloody face down on the pavement in front of the joint, and I sure hope it ain’t Shonnie. You know how to build the tension, Lance-a-rooney.
Mad Annie, Bronwyn, Ann June 29, 2014 at 19:12 Edit
“There’s that Girl I love.”
Methinks the cat just landed amidst the pigeons!
~ Sadie ~ June 29, 2014 at 18:42 EditDamn – you can get an education anywhere 😉 I want to try that card counting shit, now!!! Thanks Lance for teaching me something new & the continued saga . . . great writing & storytelling!!
Dear Angry Bird… It is all true.
I really did love that woman.
And she loved me.
And as we say in the Navy:
“That’s a no-shitter.”
Thank you for your visit and for your comment.
I appreciate your time spent here.
A really interesting story.. 🙂