Word Count: 1,522
Once we had established that I wasn't going to get kicked out anytime soon, we all began to relax a little. A tall, dark haired guy approached us from a crowd and we all tensed up again but the guy appeared friendly enough. He offered to teach us how to play poker and I was pretty interested. He had lost completely good-naturedly as well, smiling and congratulating us at the end. Now that we were three grand richer our spirits seemed to lift. I know mine did anyway, I think mum was too busy panicking that I was going to get thrown out. She didn't usually like to live life on the wild side. She was the type of person who drove 20mph in a 30mph zone. She was the woman who cleaned her teeth twice a day religiously and refused to eat junk food. I loved her but she didn't really know how to have a good time.
We watched Mikey, as he'd introduced himself, disappear once again. Mum and dad immediately turned their attention to something else but I watched him approach a small guy, smaller than me and whisper something in his ear. None of them looked up and it was only for a fleeting moment before Mikey walked off again but it made me frown. Something wasn't quite right...
For the next hour or so I followed mum and dad from table to table, from game to game and watched as they collected up a fair amount. It seemed luck was on our side this holiday. I grinned, despite the fact that I was underrage in a casino, despite the fact I was waiting any second to get thrown out and despite how boiling hot I was. We were going to be rich! No wonder people gambled. I hope I wasn't getting an addiction to it...
Just as we were about to take the winnings and leave we were approached by a small kid who looked familiar. When I say small I wasn't exaggerating; he was shorter than I was and he was skinny. He only looked about thirteen.
'Sorry to interrupt but I've seen you playing a couple of games of Poker. Did you wanna join my table?' He was the most enthusiastic person I had ever seen; like a happy child at Christmas and his smile was infectious. Even my mum agreed without any doubts. My parents were probably just feeling a little overconfident from their recent wins. I followed them over to the table where this small guy was getting settled into a seat. There were a few other people, a couple of guys and a girl. They were all dressed smartly and I suddenly felt very out of place in my plain shirt and shorts. I wondered how dad was feeling in his sandals.
The game got underway and I wasn't really paying much attention, instead people watching. My mother's excited laugh every now and then told me when they'd won a game. I heard a couple of "Congratulations" from a few of the players and smiled to myself. Reno seemed like a really friendly place to be. I watched a couple of guys in suits pass with earpieces in their ears and I turned quickly, hoping they didn't see me. I certainly didn't want to get thrown out in front of a group of people. How sad would that look?
'Oh!' My dad exclaimed. I turned back to the table to see the kid sweeping in some of his winnings. He smiled good-naturedly and shrugged his shoulders.
'Did we lose?' I asked. The kid's eyes met mine for a second and it was in that second that I realized why he looked so familiar. He was the kid that Mikey had talked to earlier.
Something unusual was going on.
'Another game?' The kid suggested.
'Sure why not,' Dad agreed. He was really getting into it. I thought about telling him to just take his winnings and leave because I didn't trust what was going on here but it was too late.
I kept a close eye on the game after that. Unfortunately I didn't fully understand the rules of Poker and I couldn't really tell if we were being duped or not.
The other players didn't seem to notice anything out of the ordinary and I tried to relax a little. It was probably just my overactive imagination. How cliche would it be if we got scammed in a casino? I almost laughed out loud.
'Oh DRAT!' My dad's sudden outburst made me jump. My dad had never sworn in his life and this was the closest he'd come to cursing but the way he said it made me realize instantly that he'd lost. They'd lost the game, all of the winnings. The kid threw a sympathetic look at my parents, once again shrugging his shoulders. The other players matched his expression, their eyes were full of pity.
'Sorry man, good game!' The kid stuck his hand out and my dad grudgingly accepted it. Mum patted his shoulder and began to lead him away. I lingered a few seconds longer, watching the kid. His face was completely impassive, nothing gave away that the game may have been a sham. Surely I was just being paranoid? The kid looked up and his eyes were once again full of pity. He smiled. I didn't smile back.
'Come on, let's go do something else.' Mum slipped her hand into my Dad's, something I hadn't seen her do in years. Dad was obviously feeling pretty down. He probably felt responsible for losing thousands of pounds in a game of Poker. I didn't blame him though. My instincts were telling me that something was wrong. My brain was telling me to let it go, to relax and have fun. The feeling in my stomach told me to go confront the kid though, to demand answers. If he thought he could scam my parents and get away with it he was dead wrong.
I went back into the casino and scanned the area for the kid. He wasn't anywhere to be found. I pushed past people, ignoring their glances and tried to find the guy that had just tricked us all. I headed off into the corner of the room, wondering if he was in one of the more secluded rooms. There was a separate room with a set of curtains at the entrance and I peeked behind one of them. Sure enough, there he was. He was counting the winnings and he no longer looked like the enthusiastic boy from earlier, he looked hungry. Hungry for the winnings. His eyes were wide and fixed and there was a slight sheen to his skin. I didn't know much about drugs but it didn't seem unlikely that he'd be a regular substance abuser.
'Hey!' I shouted out. He looked up, surprised.
'Oh hey kid,' he tried smiling again.
'What happened back there?' I jutted my chin forwards, trying to appear intimidating. It wasn't something I was used to though.
'What do you mean?'
'Back at the Poker game. Don't play dumb.' My heart was pounding and my mind was screaming at me to leave it. I didn't know what I was getting into.
'I won. Fair and square.' He looked baffled.
'What are you insinuating?' His tone had become almost offended and I told myself to not feel bad.
'You scammed us. I want the money back.'
His mouth fell open in an 'O' of shock and his eyes glistened slightly. Was he tearing up? Now I definitely felt bad. 'But I won in my own way. I don't scam!'
'Yeah and I bet your ways aren't honest are they?'
He had been about to say something else then before a heavily muscled guy entered the room. His greying hair was tied in a ponytail behind him.
'Is everything alright here gentlemen?'
All of my courage disappeared the moment he spoke. I suddenly didn't feel so confident anymore and realized how serious my accusations were. Even if the kid had cheated what proof did I have? Sure, there were CCTV cameras but was it really worth it? What if I was wrong? The kid stared at me, waiting for me to speak. Eventually I shook my head, hating myself for how cowardly I was. He was just a kid though, I was being stupid.
'No,' I sighed. 'No problem here.'
'He was accusing me of cheating!' The kid protested. The muscled guy looked at me.
'Is this true sir?'
'N-No I...' I stammered.
'Finn has an honest, reputable status in the casino. If these accusations are true I will have to look into it.' The guy's expression was completely serious and I crumbled.
'I take it back!'
'But why did you accuse me?' The kid was practically in tears now.
'Paranoia. I'm sorry.' I backed out before they could say anything else.
My parents were waiting for me outside.
'Joe! Where did you get to?'
'I just wanted to...' I paused. 'Just wanted to check the casino out again.'