She sits wreathed in smoke, her own personal fog machine, like some depressing variation on Caroll's Caterpillar. To inhale beside her is to breathe menthol and tar; to listen to hear voice is to hear cancer having a party.
She's been sitting--no, hunching--there so Goddamn long I wonder if she's got a catheter hidden somewhere under her dress. If you can call it a dress; it seems too shabby for that, as old and fake and gaudy as the fading hotels at the extreme ends of the Strip. Her face is a mass of unpleasantness and lines (frown-lines, never smile-lines). She busts, she scowls; she hits a natural blackjack, she scowls; she loses her entire stack, she pulls out another bill and scowls.
All around me, The Stratosphere radiates joy, happy place vibes, the dingdingding! of slot machine victory.
This blackjack table is the Truth of Vegas: old. Ugly. Cold.
I back away, hearing cheers from the craps table.
I think I prefer the Dream to the Reality.