Zero

Honza was staring at the ball. He was willing it to fall in any number apart from 34. There were plenty of others. He watched as the ball slowed down, he called ‘no more bets’, looking at Tom and the £2000 bet he had on 34, the table maximum with a total payout out of £72,000. Honza was gambling his job and it felt like the biggest rush he had ever known.

He glared at the ball as it dribbled towards 34. Honza was already relieved, he knew from experience that the ball was going to go past the dangerous number. He realised in that moment why he had been trained to call ‘no more bets’ while the ball was still spinning; when you’ve seen enough spins you can spot the winning number a fraction of a second before the ball finds it’s rest.

The ball dropped at last into the glorious, green Zero. Honza could not keep the joy out of his voice as he called the winning number. He placed his marker and turned to collect Tom’s losing bet; the stack of chips was gone.

Fear surged through Honza as Tom smiled at him calmly. Tom had cheated, blatantly, and Honza was his accomplice; at least that is how the casino would see it. Honza’s mouth gaped, the man had given him the £500 chip to silence him before and after the spin. Honza’s world slowed down, he had been fooled by this man's apparant desperation. He should have announced the maximum bet, he should have announced the massive tip, he shouldn’t be in this situation.

“Imagine,” Tom was speaking very quietly, “imagine the tip I would give from £70,000 if I give £500 from £3500.” Honza blinked, his inference tallied with Tom’s implication. If Honza hit him a couple of times at those stakes, Honza wouldn’t have to worry about having a job for a couple of years. He could buy a flat in his native Czech Republic with 25,000 English, all he had to do was let this gambler keep his losing bets. The guy was good at it, Honza hadn’t seen a thing on that spin, and he was known for spotting cheats.

And now he was one.

“Honza,” a hissing female voice sliced his thoughts, his inspector Jenny was giving him the evil eye. “Are you spinning that friggin ball or not? I’ve got a trainee spewing money off AR2, do I need to keep my eye on you instead now? You got one crappy little punter! Spin the damn ball!” She angrily turned her back on him. He spun the ball immediately.

Tom pushed his £2000 stack onto number 32. Again, Honza failed to announce the bet. They both watched the ball intently as it dribbled into number 32. Honza’s mouth went dry. He silently and speedily organised seven £10,000 chips. He pushed them out to Tom, who, with the dexterity of a croupier, flipped two back at him. Honza felt sick, but he couldn’t stop himself tucking the chips in his pocket. He spun the ball again quickly, Tom did not place a bet, he was looking past Honza.

Suddenly Honza was tapped roughly on the shoulder. He froze.

“New dealer.” Spoke the gruff voice of Lester, his replacement. Honza showed his hands and gently shrugged his shoulders at Tom, thanking the gods of gambling that it was his turn for a break.

“I’ll see you later Honza.” said Tom with a nod. Honza hated his name badge. He had £20,500 in his pocket. He needed to get out.

Honza crossed the gaming floor to the cashier who would change his chips. He pushed the chips through the desk to Jeanette, who was on the phone. She counted out the money without raising an eyebrow, cashiers see far too much money to care about £20,000. Jeanette handed over four £5000 bundles of £100 notes and £500 in fifties.

Honza held the money close as he walked as inconspicuously as he could to the staff toilets. Once safely inside a cubicle, he looked at the money. It was beautiful. He could stay in the toilet for his break, but then he had to go back out. He had to face the pit bosses, he had to face Tom, he had to face himself.

Or, he had to get out. Immediately.

The End

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