Here, there is noise. Expectation of bloated wallets just from exercised slot machines and constant coddling of quarters. The carpet reeks of cigarette smoke and the walls cough against the humans inhaling the overpriced nicotine. Look around. Notice the fanny packs. The Santa hair tie. The insatiable bellies that belong to both genders. Notice the couples looking in opposite directions. There is a live band here. Instruments include tear drops bouncing against laps. Drop. Loss. Drop. Rent. Drop. Child support payment. Listen to the percussion of bloat inside stomachs from second helping of mussels or Friday night special of beef sliders. Hear the chorus of coins dropped into machines. The slurp of free alcohol or sober mugs of coffee. It will be awhile before this song walks away from you.
This is America is this America?
We want to win; we want to be winners. We want to sit in seats with neon screens flashing in front of us and drown in the aroma of success just from a simple pull of plastic lever or deck of cards or lucky number called out.
We want a way out. Out of punch cards or nine-to-five expectations or monotony of alarm clocks and exhaustion.
Just.One.Win.And.Then…….everything will be ok.
Machines consume paychecks and found coins hidden beneath couch cushions and the insides of childhood piggy banks and cashed in bonds and 401Ks. Humans feel the weight of regret as time ticks away from them. There are no windows here! And there is no reason to leave if smoking and fornication are permitted and is there a place to rest one’s head? Yes. And what about and what about and what about….
* * *
My body watches. My body follows the thoughts of my mind as I observe men and women… and some of them brought their babies… and some have left their children at home… and locate the new gamblers… and recognize the professionals… and then there are the ones who just love the sound of bells. My wallet remains unopened, unexplored. I do not gamble, but I watch those who do. I wonder if this is the America I grew up in or if this is the America of my future.
Desperation. Dissatisfaction. A need to be saved. Torment to win something.
Sometimes I think about having a kid or adopting one. Sometimes I think how wonderful it would be to live alone. Sometimes I fantasize about universal health care—no restrictions–no fears of “is this covered?”. Sometimes I just want to write all day, wrapped up in brown, borrowed writing blanket. Internet only for moments like this. Breaking for peanut butter and coffee and fresh vegetables formed into something magnificent. Breaking to kiss someone or breaking to call someone. And I wonder how many wins I’d need for all that.