For those of you who may have had the premature misfortune to read the end of the ‘Shonnie’ Series, I apologize.
I got lazy and lackadaisical. There (of course) is much more to the end of that story. I will sharpen my pencil and re-write it. The facts are the facts, but even ‘un-sharpened’ facts deserve their day in court… and with some poetry. This is just requisite in my world.
Meantime: Mae West is the woman I have always loved (This may speak volumes about me and most likely of my attraction for Shonnie).
We freshened up, got dressed, and headed down to the Casino floor. Generally I don’t gamble in The Plaza, but this night I was freshly feeling full of myself and wanted to capitalize on that feeling before the fresh wore off. Allow me to explain something: I do not believe in Santa, The Easter Bunny, Karma, Fate, Oklahoma, or God. But I do believe in Dama Fortuna, and I could sense her radiance shining down upon me that night. The casino was all flashing lights, laughter, musical sounds from the slot-machines—basically your typical Las Vegas Scene. I led Shonnie over to a bank of ‘dollar slots’, pulling out a crisp one dollar bill, I fed it into the machine. “Pull the lever and stand by,” I said to her.
“I’ve never gambled before,” she said.
“Honey, if my instincts are right, this ain’t gambling. Go ahead. It’s my dollar anyhow, so you really ain’t gambling. Per se.” “Pear who? Okay,” she said, “Here goes nothing,” while pulling the Bandit’s one arm.”
“I certainly hope not,” I said, as we watched the cylinders spin.
Double bar. Double Bar. Double Bar! Casino silver dollars poured into the tray, making that oh so magical sound of metal raining on metal. One hundred bucks! A propitious beginning!
“Oh My Fucking God!” she screamed.
“Baby, God had nothing to do with it. Thank Dame Fortuna, if you feel compelled to thank someone.”
“Wow! Look at all that shiny money!”
“It’s yours. Take that bucket and fill it up.”
“Should we go again?” She asked breathlessly.
“Absolutely not,” I said. “Come on. I’m gonna show you the real games.”
“You’re the Boss,” she giggled.
I leaned very close to her and pulling at my collar, breathed into her ear, “Speak into the microphone My Dear.”
“Lance, you’re crazy!”
“Yeah. C’mon.” I led her to a craps table.
“Oh! This looks complicated,” she said.
“Well, yeah. It is and it isn’t. Don’t worry. I will walk you through it. One question though, do you throw a baseball like a girl?”
“Ok then. We should be fine.”
Craps is the best game known to man. I love the high-energy. The camaraderie. The cacophony. The excitement. The electricity. The laughter. The tears. The suspense as the galloping dominoes bounce down the table. And last but certainly not least, the ability to win (and sometimes lose) large amounts of money in a very short time. And yes, I am what some might call, a ‘Dice Degenerate’. Started when I was hustling crap games in Junior high. In the hall ways between classes. Only got busted once. Proud of my record.
Shonnie and I shouldered our way in at one of the far ends of the table. We sandwiched ourselves between a middle-aged, gray-haired man (on our left) in a business suit (I immediately pegged him as a ‘Corporation Man’ on Convention) grasping what looked like a scotch and water and there was a cigar in a tiny ashtray set on the rail in front of him. On the right side of us, a ‘normal’ looking guy, about thirty something, sporting a too loud red t-shirt and a gimme cap. Baseball. I forget the team. Normal Guy had control of the dice, so that meant once his roll ended it would be Shonnie’s turn to be the shooter.
The table was just about at ‘capacity’. I glanced around, looking at the contestants. You see, in Craps the idea is to find the table with the highest energy level. You want the most up-beat, loudest players: Players who are having fun. Sad to say, but one can never (in my experience) win any money at an empty table or one with an atmosphere of doom, which does sometimes come rolling in. Savvy crap shooters recognize the early warning signs of ‘The Atmosphere of Doom’ and fly away like scalded rabbits just before, or as it descends. This table was on the upswing and I intended to make quick work of it before the worm turned. (The worm always turns, but sometimes thankfully, it takes some long turning time.)
Looking down the side of the table, opposite the ‘Boss’ and the dealers and the stick men and all, I studied the players. There was a young couple to the right of ‘Normal Guy’. Right out of “Honey Moon Ville,” I guessed. Next to them stood a Middle-Eastern type wearing a white starched shirt and lots of bling. Next to him, a dude with a crew cut, tight shirt, bulging biceps, who may have been suffering from Roid Rage, given his overly passionate ramblings at the dice as they bounced down the lane. At the far end of the table there was a young bleach-blond hanging onto the arm of another elderly well-dressed business man. (‘A man and his Hooker’, I ungraciously thought). Next to them a diminutive oriental man. I was thinking ‘China’, but could not be certain. I had a wonderful experience once at a craps table at The Golden Nugget following the streak of another China Man. Won almost two grand while he was in control of the dice. You see, craps players are infamously superstitious. And I was certainly no different.
There were several other players mixed in and even some standing behind, perhaps waiting for some space to open up. I was happy with the crowd and after the present ‘roll’ had ended (wins all around) I pulled out four Benjamins and put them on the table in front of one of the dealers.
“Give me two hundred green ($25), and two hundred red ($5),” I announced. The dealer spread out my four bills so ‘The Eye in the Sky’ could get a look. He then stacked my chips and slid them toward me.
“Good luck Sir,” he said, as I split the chips (‘Checks’ in the Vegas’ vernacular.)
With all the bets paid, Normal Guy was ready to go at it again. I instructed Shonnie to take a red chip and place it in front of her on the “Pass” line (If you don’t know how Craps works, you may be at some loss here—I will try to make it as easy to understand as possible.) I placed a red chip in front of me on the Pass line as well. All bets placed, Normal Guy tossed the dice toward the far end of the table. He rolled a four. (Meaning he had to roll another four before he rolled a seven, thus crapping out.)
“Put two red chips behind your bet,” I told Shonnie.
“We’re taking the odds,” I said.
“I don’t understand.”
“Just do it. Smartly.”
She stacked up the chips behind her original bet and I did the same.
On a hunch, I tossed a red chip onto the middle of the table and said, “Hard Four!” (Betting that the shooter will make his ‘four’—called his ‘point’, but that he will do it ‘the hard way,’ i.e. two deuces and not an ace and a three. This is really a sucker bet, but I had Dama Fortuna in my corner. The bet pays ten for one, which if won, would net me $45 dollars, plus of course our pass line bets with the odd’s bets behind them.)
Normal guy tosses… wait for it… Double Deuces! Pandemonium from the players. Everybody wins!
“How did you know to do that?” Shonnie asks, as some decent stacks of red chips came our way.
I put my hand on her neck, pull her ear to me and say, “Stick close Baby. Gonna be a bumpy night.”
Winners paid, Shonnie and I put another two red chips on the pass line. Normal guy rolls an eight. We back up our bets with two each red chips. Normal guy then rolls a seven. Aw Shit! Crapped out! No worries. We are still way ‘ahead’.
Now the dice pass to Shonnie. I can see she has stage fright. One of the dealers sees this too.
“Don’t worry Little Lady! Newbies are always lucky!” He says.
The ‘table’ agrees and I see chips of all colors dropping to the ‘Pass Line’.
Shonnie and I both drop one each green chip onto the Pass Line. Yes. I was confident. All bets now placed, I watch as she picks up the dice. Picked them up as one might imagine someone picking up a rotten banana, or a dead rat.
“They won’t bite,” I assured her. Just toss them at the end of the table. Oh and shake ‘em a little. But you can only use one hand when tossing them.”
“One hand?” she protested. “I always throw a baseball with both hands.”
“Hun, this ain’t a league of your own. Use one hand or they will frown and be perverse.”
“Okay,” she said. Then after shaking the dice a bit, she wound up… and threw! Right over the heads of the players at the far end of the table on off into space.
Collective groan from the table. In craps, the absolute worst thing one can do is miss the fucking table. It is always bad Juju. Ninety-Nine times out of a hundred, the next roll will produce a crap out. In Shonnie’s case, the anticipated next roll would be snake-eyes, Box cars, or ace-deuce. All losers. I watched as most of the table players pulled chips back from their original bets. Not me. As someone went searching for the errant dice, I told Shonnie to put two more green chips on her pass line. I did the same. We now had one hundred-fifty-dollars bet, even though I was not certain she would find green felt upon her second try.
She was offered two more dice by the dealer (stick man, just another word for him). I whispered in her ear, “Just relax Honey. Use a little less passion and a little more finesse this time. You’ll do great.”
She shook the dice, wound up, and pitched ‘em down the lane. When they came to rest: Natural Eleven! Winner!
Well… now! Suddenly the table went nuts! Large bets were placed all around (after some applause).
Shonnie kept ‘control’ of the dice for the next fifteen minutes: an eon in ‘Craps’ Time. We won almost a grand, (thanks to my recklessly wild betting and the favor of Dame Fortuna. And of course to Shonnie’s curve ball.)
When she finally crapped out, there was more applause. Everyone had ‘gotten well’ with her streak. And there are no more appreciative gamblers than craps’ shooters when it comes to situations like this.
“Color us up,” I said to the dealer as I pushed our chips toward him.
“But Sir,” He protested, “You’re up. Aren’t you gonna shoot?”
“Nope. We’re done here, but thanks.”
Shonnie and I gathered our (now mostly black–$100 chips—and I led her away)
“What now!” She demanded.
“Lance. You’re nuts! I have never had this much fun! I love you!”
She dropped her robe and lay back on the bed. I had to pause a moment and fill my eyes. Her petite body was perfection. She was very light-skinned (not my usual ‘type’—truly I have always been a ‘brunette-with-a-tan’ man; never had any luck with blonds at all, but Shonnie was a different kind of blond. The sun was setting outside the huge hotel window and cast a slight shadow over her. Her hair was still semi-damp and fell down perfectly over her breasts, slightly curling up at the ends. Her right leg was seductively raised up, bent at her knee and turned slightly to the side, thus denying me any direct look at my lustfully desired target. A better scripted scene could not have been created by even Howard Hawks. (Thinking ‘To Have and Have Not’ here—Bogie an’ Bacall). I continued to draw the scene into my mind, hoping to meld it permanently with my memory cells. Joni began singing “Blue Motel Room” on the boom box.
“You window shoppin’, or are you coming into the store?”
“Into the store,” I said, “I have spied something interesting enough to draw me in.” I knelt down at the foot of the bed, picked up her right leg and kissed the underside of her foot, then took her big toe into my mouth for a moment or two. I began working my way up her calf to the inside of her thighs, ever so slowly back and forth, ‘thigh to thigh’, I suppose you could say. At this point she was beginning to writhe a bit. I proceeded north and just as ‘Blue Motel Room’ ended, I began. Tantalizingly slowly at first, then faster and faster, then slowly again… occasionally gently sucking her clitoris, alternating with circular tongue motions, also mixed in with rapid back and forth tongue movements.
While Joni sang ‘Song for Sharon’, a rather longish song, I brought Shonnie, by my count, to three or four climaxes. (But what do I know? Well, I WAS THERE, after all, and I felt her contractions in my mouth.)
I was about to lose it myself so I threw my back down beside her, pulling her on top of me. Grasping that so fine little firm ass of hers, I pulled her on top of me. She straddled me sitting full upright and as I kept my hands on her hips, she fucked me with what could almost be described as pure violence. Embarrassed to report, but about twenty seconds after I entered her, I was spent. She didn’t complain though, as she rolled off of me and lay on her back, both of us panting, sweating, but completely and blissfully sated (and spent)
As Joni began singing ‘Refuge Of The Roads’, Shonnie said, “Reach me a cig, will ya Baby?” (First time she had called me ‘Baby’. I kind of liked the sound of it. I lit two Marlboros at once, Movie Style, handed one to her, and we lay back, smoking and began (between giggles) a smoke ring competition. (I lost.)
Cigarettes dispatched, Joni run out, silence now, Shonnie once again broached the subject,
Our road trip to Vegas takes five hours and change. Once we got past San Bernardino and well into the desert I announced it was safe to drink and drive and ride. Therefore, we pulled over and had some cocktails. And smokes. Then we hit the road again. We stayed on Interstate 15. It’s a straight shot into Vegas. Lots of desert. Not much traffic as well, even though it was a Friday. For once, I had planned ahead and made a reservation at the Plaza Hotel and Casino, downtown: Glitter Gulch. I never much cared for ‘The Strip’ during my visits to Vegas, but as this was Shonnie’s first trip there, I promised me I would set aside some time to show her the Glitter-That-Was-Not-Glitter-Gulch.
“Are we there yet?” she asked, rather mockingly about an hour out of San Bernardino.
“You need to pee again?” I shot back over strains of Jimmy Buffett and wind coming from my half-open window.
“Yeah. Matter of fact, I do.”
“Wimmen!” I said, as I pulled off onto the breakdown lane.
“I ain’t gonna pee here!” She protested.
“Look Darlin’, See those big ol’ rocks over there? You can go pee behind one of those. Nobody will see you.”
“Snakes,” she said.
“Snakes. I don’t like snakes.”
“Okay, I will come with you. Just let me git my M60 outta the trunk.”
Ignoring my piercing wit, she said, “I won’t be able to piss if you’re watching me.”
“You’d prefer the rattlers watch instead?”
“Okay, but you turn your head at the last minute.”
“I never figured you for a prude Honey.”
“Fuck you. Les go. I gotta go.”
And off we went. There were no snakes that day, so mission accomplished; no apparent casualties, except for maybe some ants who could not scurry away fast enough.
Back on the road. The rest of the trip was pretty much uneventful. We arrived to Vegas about six in the evening. As we drove along The Strip I pointed out all the hotels / casinos which had been graced by my patronage (and my money) during past trips. She was impressed and I could see her eyes lighting up. Shame it was still daylight and she could not see the glory of the Neon City that is Las Vegas. Well, time enough for that later, I mused.
We finally arrived at the very end of Fremont Street and checked in to my old Nemesis: The Union Plaza. I have always had a love/hate relationship with The Plaza, but like a bad marriage, I just could never seem to break it off.
We found the way to our room, which for me was mediocre (I have been around the world, remember? And spent time in some fine, really fine hotels), but to Shonnie, who was not so much a world traveler—more of a life traveler—the room was amazing. She immediately did a thorough inventory of all the ‘accoutrements’ in the room.
“Hey Lance!” she exclaimed. “Come look at this shit! There are little tiny soap bars in the bathroom. And little tiny shampoo bottles. And some paper thingy on the toilet. How I’m supposed to pee with that paper there? And look at this!” she said, walking out of the head and back into the room, “There’s a coffee pot and Coffee! And Look at this here! A remote control for the TV!”
*heavy sigh* from me. “Shonnie, welcome to the First World.”
“Smart ass! Hey! Just look at that bed! Is that one of them water-beds?”
“I seriously do not think so. This ain’t Caesar’s Palace, Hun. We are in the part of Vegas known as the home of ‘The Sawdust Joints’.”
“Oh… Well, I like it.”
She walked over to the little desk beside the TV and picked up the room service menu. “This is my idea of Heaven”, she said.
“We can have room service! I’ve never had room service. What should I order? I’m hungry.”
“Honey, order anything you want.”
“No. I’ll tell you what I want and you order it. I don’t wanna talk to some stranger on the phone about food.”
“Very well,” I said. “Go ahead. Take your time. Then I will order us up some supper. Wanna drink while you ‘peruse’ the menu?”
“While I what?”
“Decide what you want to eat.”
“Yeah… reach me a beer and my cigs while I study this. So many choices!”
She was enjoying her stay so far. And I was loving her enjoying.
“Have you decided what you want for supper?” I asked after a bit.
“Yeah, but I caint make out what some of this stuff is, so I am shopping ‘price’”
“Baby, you don’t havta shop price. I have money. Order what you want.”
“No, I mean I am shopping price. Gonna order the most expensive thing on this menu and see what I get.”
Good Gawd! I am loving this woman! “You go right ahead Darlin’.”
She had picked out, what she called, a baby steak, based upon the photo in the menu (Filet mignon) and then said, “I love the picture of that steak but it looks kinda small. Can you add some taters or something with it?”
“Don’t worry Honey, I will take care of it. I am gonna go for ice first, then I will order.”
“The Seven Eleven is way far from here,” she protested. “Don’t you leave me alone.”
“You really are country, ain’t ya? And you called me ‘City Boy’. Baby, the ice is just down the hall. Be right back.”
Over her protestations, I went and fetched a bucket of ice. When I returned, she announced she wanted a shower:
“I’m gonna freshen up. You make sure that room service guy don’t come into my bathroom while I’m in there.”
“Shonnie, I will gallantly stand my post just outside your door. No worry.”
“Okay then. See ya in a bit.” And she disappeared into the bathroom.
The food arrived while she was still in the head, showering. I tipped the dude and laid out our supper table. Opened a bottle of red wine I had tacked onto the order along with my ‘steak’, a semi rare cheeseburger (I am a simple man: simple tastes). Anyhow, presentation is everything. I had also requested a single red rose for ornament and I placed that ‘just so’ too on the table.
She yelled at me from behind the bathroom door: “Is he gone?”
“Yes Babe. He is. Come on out.”
She opened the door, enveloped in a cloud of steam, like something out of film noir, wearing a hotel white cotton bath robe, and waltzed into the bedroom. I was impressed. She looked stunning and I felt one more brick in my emotional wall crumble.
“Let’s eat! I’m starving!” she announced gruffly in that coarse gravelly voice I had grown to love so well.
We had our meal to the strains of ‘Joni Mitchell’ singing from Hejira on my brought boom box. Neither one of us had any desire to watch TV, as we were too much into music. The TV with the remote was just a novelty for her; she had no desire to actually watch it. Nor did I.
After our meal, she asked me, “So, you gonna show me about this Fool’s Paradise Town of yours or what?”
“In due time. In due time. Now take off that robe and lie back and relax. I have something I want to do to you first. Then I am gonna teach you how to ‘count’ down the deck in Blackjack.”
Thought I’d throw this back out, before I delete it and since I ‘swerved onto it’ and it made me laugh because I still cannot believe I am capable of writing such shit at this late date in my lifetime.)
And a fucking night moth just flew past my ear. This Moth don’t know my mind and who she is fucking with! Just saying. Just saying: Sleep is an option (for me). Gonna explore it.
(be certain to watch the video of Sammy Davis and Dean and Frank and Johnny Carson: you will not be disappointed–classic Rat Trap, er…Pack.)
And pondering why I love the TV show, ‘Nashville’ so much.
Many a time while stationed in San Diego, I would make a spur of the moment decision to drive the five hours to Vegas.
Occasionally with a buddy or two after closing down a bar somewhere downtown San Dog. Once or twice with a female accomplice, but usually alone.
“It’s OK. We (I) can sober up on the road. We’ll get to Vegas about sunrise.”
Would just show up, never having the wherewithal or forethought to reserve a room so I’d just nap in my Tornado if necessary.
But then, I never really slept while in Vegas anyhow. Why would I need a room?
One Saturday night after a not-too-lucky session at the craps table, I fell asleep in my car, which was always parked in the Union Plaza Parking Lot & Cow Pasture.
Union Plaza Live it Up!
Well I woke up Sunday morning, (with no way to hold my head that didn’t hurt) knowing full-well that I was due back in San Diego and on my “boat”before nightfall.
While attempting to drive out of the parking lot, the young uniformed schmuck informed me that I owed two dollars for the parking.
“Listen Asshole, I just dropped two grand in your casino last night.”
“Sorry Sir, but the parking is two dollars.”
“Let me say this one more time: I just ‘invested’ two large in your fucking casino.”
“Sir, I am just doing my job.”
“And me mine, for fuck’s sake. I’m protecting your way of life and your right to be an idiot.”
I then proceeded to drive through his little wooden gate, trailing splinters all over, never looking back except briefly to see the look on his face. (This behavior is not unprecedented in my past).
Got to San Diego with no gas, no cigs, no money, and no nada.
Had to ring up (collect) my girlfriend to meet me at a station and buy me some gas just to get to 32nd Street and back to my ship.
Ah! To be young, bullet-proof, and not worry about life’s consequences!
I love Las Vegas.
Was once almost thrown out of the El Cortez (Downtown Glitter Gulch) for card counting.
You see, I had read and studied Kenny Uston’s book
which I had purchased in a book store in Hong Kong. I spent many hours a day while at sea, practicing Uston’s card-counting methods. I also read Ed Thorp’s (The guy who “invented” or rather “discovered” card-counting)
Actually, I got rather proficient at it hence my early and unceremonious exit from El Cortez. I was too proud of my new-found skills and did not try to conceal my counting behavior. I would place one or two-dollar bets when the deck was ‘cold’ and fifty-dollar bets when the deck went ‘hot’: breaking the cardinal rule, of never ever be obviously stupid. Technically card counting is not illegal, but the casinos will still throw you out if they suspect you have that skill. And do not mistake: Black Jack is the only “game of skill” in Vegas, aside from poker, but who can afford that?
Slots? Oh Yeah. Once I was playing the “Big Quarter” ($25) machines at the Tropicana and won $5,000. (Proceeded to give it all back at the craps table, but not before I impressed the hell out of the management, betting black chips). They asked me “What do you do for a living?” I said, “I’m in the Navy.” They just shook their heads and asked me if I needed a girl. I said, “No. I just wanna roll a hard six; can you arrange that?”
Roulette? One time, after a particularly successful round of BJ, I was walking out of the Union Plaza (again), dropped a green ($25) chip on seventeen black: Bond, James Bond’s bet.
Bond; James Bond.
And WON! Took my winnings (approx. $800) and went to breakfast. Smartest, smoothest move I ever made in Vegas. Ah… those were the days My Friend; thought they’d never end….
Obviously I have some stories from Las Vegas.
Too bad I was born too late to experience “The Rat Pack.” Maybe if I accumulate enough good Karma, I can come back as Sammy Davis Jr. Or Frank Sinatra. Stranger things have happened, in the night, eh?