As I sit down to write this my mind is filled with more questions than answers. What does it mean to be a friend? Is there really such a thing as a friend, or are we truly alone in this life, neither knowing or being known. And finally, where are my house keys? When I got home from my weekend adventure last night I had to sleep in the garage. Possibly, in writing this I will learn some of the answers to these questions.
The adventure began on Friday afternoon. I was able to duck out of the office a bit early (around 11 am) to kick off the weekend. I went home to find that Netflix had sent me "Hidden Fortress". I also found that the power company had plastered some "final notice" paper on the front door. I should really take care of that. Anyway, Hidden Fortress was a Samurai movie, and no joke, Star Wars was a pretty blatant rip off. Well, except for the Star Destroyers and Laser guns, and Death Star, and Robots, well, you get the idea. Anyway, so I am enjoying one of Akira Kurosawa's masterpieces (I am also enjoying the Brunch of Champions which consists of a large Cherry Slurpee, a Pizza Hut Meat Lovers Pizza, a Denny's Grand Slam and a box of Hostess Powdered Donettes) when the doorbell rings. So, I pause the movies set down my plate, and yes, I fit all that food onto one plate, (I guess technically the "plate" was the lid of a garbage can, but now we are just arguing semantics) and ran upstairs to see who had come to visit. Maybe people that are home in the day are use to this kind of thing but it was a new phenomenon to me, but apparently there are these guys from the "Inner City" that have an opportunity to get out of that life by selling magazine subscriptions door to door. Right before my very eyes was a young man, James, trying to better his life by selling magazine subscriptions.
I didn't ask how the whole "get out of the inner-city by selling magazine subscriptions" deal worked, and in hindsight I wish I had. I just assumed James had to sell X number of subscriptions and he got a nice house in the suburbs somewhere. Needless to say I wanted to help the kid out, so I bought two subscriptions from him. The problem was he didn't have any magazines I really wanted. I asked if he had US News and World Report or The Economist and he looked at me like I was crazy.
Not wanting to embarrass myself again while simultaneously wanting to look cool in front of James I just got subscriptions to Field and Steam and Better Homes and Gardens.
This got an even stranger look from him. I was not doing well at impressing James. Feeling the sting of failure creeping up my spine I asked him if he wanted a drink or anything to eat. He replied "Yeah, that would be cool man. Most of the people around here won't even let me get through my sales pitch, your a pretty decent guy."
Yes! I was in, James thought I was cool. "Don't blow it Chris by talking about anything too dorky" I thought. Thinking fast, but also feeling a little desperate I asked James if he ever shot dice. Just as the words left my mouth I thought "Chris you idiot, you are going to sound like the most white bread cracker out. Asking a guy like James if he shot dice was akin to asking someone from Alabama if he was married to his cousin". I braced myself for a stinging rebuke when James said "Yeah man, I like shooting dice, but I can't find any games around here."
I had found my in. After just a few minutes of convincing, James agreed to ditch selling magazine subscriptions to come play dice with me and the guys. And man, he made the right decision, James rolled nine 4's in a row! We made bank. The guys were sure James was cheating so when he finally rolled a 7 on his tenth roll they kicked us out of the game.
We both knew we had witnessed something amazing and that it would border on sacrilege not to do more with this gift James had. So we went to Wendover. The next 72 hours were a blur. James was a machine and at one point we were up $175 grand! I could not believe our luck, James was going to get that house in the suburbs and I was going to pay that stupid "final notice" bill from the power company.
It didn't really strike me as strange at the time, but now I see where it all started to unravel. James and I had just been "asked" to leave the Peppermill Casino by some large, unsavory looking Italian gentlemen. We were walking across the street to the Montego Bay when James said "Hey man, I need to call my Moms". It was 3:30 in the morning and seemed a little late to call home, but not wanting to look like a dork I said "No problem, I'll call home too." He said "Naw man, you just go on in and I will catch up in a minute. Oh, hey I need some money for the pay phone." I said "James I saw you talking on your cell phone like ten minutes ago." "That wasn't mine man, I borrowed it." "But it had 'James' written across the back in Rhine Stones." "Yeah, James is a common name." Just then his cell phone rang. "James I can hear you cell phone ringing." "Look man, just give me some money for the phone." "Ok, ok, how much do you need?" "How much you got on you?" "Well, I think I have around ninty-five grand." "Yeah, just give me that and I should be good." "Uhhh, but a phone call cost like twenty five cents. How about I give you a dollar?"
James was ticked, but he took the dollar and said he was "gonna get me later". I assumed at the time he meant catch up with me later, but hindsight is 20/20. So, I played craps for like an hour in which time I was able to loose all but $25 of my previous $94,999. At that point I realized James was the lucky one and I needed him to help me win it back. I went out into the street looking for him. It didn't take me long because he was looking for me. And so were his large, angry looking friends.
This is a family blog, so I am going to skip most of what happened next, but I will say they were not happy I had lost $94,974 dollars in an hour. They had plans for that money. Also, they had plans for my wallet, phone and car. Lucky for them I had not lost those items. Unlucky for me, I was about to.
Again, this is a family blog, so I will spare you some details, but hitchhiking home from Wendover is not much fun and sometimes you get kicked out of a car somewhere on the salt flats. It took me two days and 7 different rides to get home, but I finally made it. I also now remember where my house keys are; with my car keys in James' possession.
I am glad to be home, now I just need to figure out how to get into the house and pay the power bill...