* * * * * DO WHAT YOU LOVE * * * * *
Shut Up & Write Scene-Building Prompt Day 2: Underground Gambling Game (For today’s exercise, take a moment to picture an illegal gambling game set in your favorite time period. Are you in love with the 1920s, or maybe you prefer medieval games of chance? Whichever is your favorite, today we’re going to bring that gambling scene alive and fill it with story potential.)
She was a tall drink of water, see. Not like them other dames. She had class. Style.
“What’ll it be sweet cheeks?” I says to her and she says, “Whiskey. Neat.” Whatta gal.
I poured her two fingers of my finest and was over the moon when she says to me “What’s a gal to do for some kicks in this one-horse town?” and I says, “I can show you some fun, baby. Just gimme five,” and I nodded at Tiny Lou and went to get my coat. I can’t believe that angel done me wrong.
Her and me, we walks down to Bad Jimmy’s and I gave the secret knock. (knock-knock-knock (pause) knock (pause) then two quick raps) Squints eyes me through the peephole and he says, “Who’s the skirt? She ain’t the fuzz is she?” and I says, “She’s with me. Don’t worry 'bout it.” He says, “You know the drill. I gotta pat her down. You know. New face and all.”
I was offended at being called sweet cheeks, skirt, and dame but I kept smiling sweetly at Bricks while we waited. We’d been after this pile of goons for a while and Bricks was the key to the kingdom. I heard a jingle and a series of clicks as Squints turned numerous keys in numerous locks and then one final thud as he lifted a draw-bar. This door looked like it had seen better days; warped and splintered in places and spattered with rusty brown specks, crusty like dried blood.
The stairwell was dimly lit and stank of smoke, booze, and the distinct tang of body odor. I sucked in my breath while the battered door slowly creaked open and Squints moved to pat me down. I batted my lashes at him and killed him with my brightest smile and he said, “Eeh. Gal couldn’t swat a fly,” and stepped aside.
I took Bricks' arm and he led me into a cloud of smoke, so thick it had my eyes watering and left me gasping. The walls were cast in a yellow glow and there was a hum of excitement in the air as I took in the tables, laden with wads of cash, as sad-sacks hovered around and eyes were peeled to dice being cast while others sat on low chairs at a round table as cards were dealt.
Some eyes exuded panic inside of faces drenched with sweat. Others looked serene in faces calm and smug. Lives would change with every cast of the die, with every ace dealt.
Thugs were silhouetted by the golden light as they leaned on walls and eyeballed a wisp of a girl with smudges of mascara and sweat streaked rouge, as she squeezed by balancing a tray, heavy with amber liquid inside of chipped highball glasses. She couldn’t have been a day over 14 and it was apparent that she’d been bawling. I spied the distinct outline of a meaty hand-print, red on an otherwise stark cheek, as she glanced my way in passing.
These meatheads were going down. Bricks was so gullible. So easily manipulated by the smile of a lady. I almost felt a twinge of guilt about what I had to do but then my eyes drifted to the girl, still making her way around the poker table, setting drinks down with arms shaky from the burden of her tray, that red hand-print glaring like a beacon.
I leaned in, real close-like, and inhaled the masculine scent of cigar smoke mingled with the sickening sweetness of pomade, slick in Bricks' hair. I whispered, real gentle-like, "You were wrong about me, baby.”
“Whatcha goin’ on about doll-face? What da ya mean, I was wrong?”
“Wrong about me not being the fuzz.” I reached under the hem of my skirt, finding my thigh holster, and pulled my weapon just as the blood-spattered door imploded and my squad rushed in, weapons drawn.
“Police! Freeze!” That door had seen its last day.
By Lisa H. Owens
Inspired by a Shut Up & Write Scene Setting Challenge