SUC- FAILED] “Not in front of the customers, Swank.”
SUC- FAILED] “Not in front of the customers, Swank.”
“ She’s dimmer than a Nuka Cola Classic. She’s easy, yes. I got her in bed easily, yes. The chances of her outsmarting a lemming are one in a million. She annoyed me to the point where I would wanted to shoot her as she walked out of my hut. She mistook a simple phrase and made it out to be using her as an experiment. If I wanted to do that, I’d have just shot her and studied how long it took her to bleed out.
The problem is that the bitch is crazy.
I’m sure you’ve had your share of — .. yeah, cards. Some kind of dueling card. Herpe ladies or some shit. “
“Yeah… yep… everything sounds like it’s adding up so far. — Whoa! Easy on the graphic mental imagery there. Talk too loud about all that twisted junk and you’ll never get another woman on her back except by puttin’ a slug in her. Anyway, I don’t see what blame I got in any of this. All I did was hand you the keys; you’re the one who chose the lock. Can’t help that one, baby.
… Yeah, well, there’s worse things in the world than a batty broad. Say, you never know, sometimes they’re the most inventive. I tell you, I met a dame once who— come again? … You’re not talking about Mai Valentine, are you? Curvy little number with the wavy locks? Boy, she looked pretty ring a ding to me. I was thinkin’ of hiring her as a dealer.
Guess you two’ll be old friends.”
“ Turns out blondes are true to the stereotype. At least, this one was. Stupid, annoying, and got in the sack too easily. Then she mistook something I said, flipped out, and if I see her again, I’m going to shoot her. Last thing I want is a psychotic blonde throwing cards at me and drawing attention to me.
We’re from the same world. Attention is often not a good thing for us. “
“… Right, so let me get this straight. You got a blonde. You got an easy blonde. You got an easy blonde in bed. She ain’t the brightest Nuka Cola Quartz in the case so you don’t gotta worry about her gears spinning too fast for you, and she annoys the living daylights out of you, but you say something that sends her storming off into the horizon anyway.
Am I the only one who doesn’t see the problem here…?
… Hold on a second — what’s that about cards?”
“ By the way, Benny. Your advice worked.
It worked too well.
The bitch was also crazy.
I’m sending her your way. “
p.s.: you’re a dick.
“Was there ever any doubt? Baby, you follow my advice, it’s nothing but smooth sailing between the sheets from hear on out. Or not between the sheets, if that’s your game!
… Hold the phone, there. What now? Hey, you never told me the broad was dingy. You just said you needed a little extra spark. What’s the story, here? Feel like I’ve been out of the loop.”
Why look! It’s … well, he can’t remember their names right now — but, Benny’s body guards!
“Boys! You still got a pulse? I heard the courier made quick work of you, but I guess I ain’t the only one with a little bad luck when it comes to people staying dead. Good to— yeah, I— yeah, I’m right here— I— w—”
… Suddenly crucifixion doesn’t sound so bad.
There were happy drunks, and there were weepy drunks; there were gregarious drunks, and there were brooding drunks. Benny had seen them all, and while he was known as a great enthusiast of all things alcoholic, and tended to hit the bottle just hard enough to keep it from falling off the bar, it was unusual for him to get downright sloppy. Sure, he got oiled now and then, enough to give his words an extra edge for his tongue to trip on, but as a general rule, Benny liked to have his wits about him, and could shun the temptress called alcohol from getting him too tightly wrapped around her vomit-inducing finger. But then, some things just warranted absolutely letting loose. Things like the grand opening of the new Tops casino in Arcadios. And Benny had done just that. The problem, however, was that past a certain point, Benny became neither a happy drunk, nor a weepy drunk, nor a brooding drunk — but a mean drunk, or, at the very least, a pushy one. Usually, there was Swank to monitor him, and peel him off the bar-stool once he started getting rowdy, keep him from heckling the Aces performers or, worse, accosting the microphone himself.
Here, there was nothing but a sea of his own employees to harass, which left the proud owner grilling the greeter like an overcooked steak in the foyer, with one irritated patron waiting to be patted down for the fourth time. “Buddy, I don’t care if you gotta stick your hand down his pants an’ tickle the hardware, I don’t want nothin’ funny strollin’ into my — into my casino,” drilled Benny, nailing a finger against the other’s chest, ignoring the milling patrons allowed to slip inside uninspected. “Pat ‘im again.” The patron made an outraged comment. Benny tapped ashes onto the rug. “You better shut up, pal. This’s my little slice of heaven, ‘n I call the shots, dig?”
A brief altercation occurred, the result of which found Benny stalking the now ex-patron half a block down the street, to make sure he understood his ‘patronage was not wanted here’ — and that he could shove that tacky excuse for a get up up his ass. It felt sort of good, in a very aggravating way, to head someone off. It’d been a while since he’d had to do it himself. The boys usually did that for him. Then again, the boys back home probably wouldn’t have gotten that far into it. Well, fuck the boys. This was his show, but — where the fuck had his cigarette wandered off to? Benny reeled in a circle to pick his way back to the tops, finding it difficult to balance with his hands in his pockets. Damn, it was getting hard to walk a straight line. And who the fuck decided on cobblestone? So goddamn uneven, you’d wind up eating shit if you weren’t careful.
No sooner had the thought crossed his mind, than he felt the toe of his wingtip shoe dip down and catch the edge. “Fuck—” it was one of those building trips, that started with a sort of stumble, and pitched him just enough off balance to keep his legs from ever regaining their proper stability. He made a grab for a light post and ended up performing something of a clumsy ricochet as he prepared to kiss the pavement. ‘Here’s hoping I don’t knock out any teeth,’ he thought dazedly, as he pitched forward. It would have hurt like a bitch, he imagined, had he not found himself plowing right into an oncoming figure instead, a sort of sloppy headbutt-to-the-chest on his part. Staggered, he clutched for the nearest wall and managed, just barely, to keep from busting ass on the road, slouched against his support. “Hey, watch where you’re goin’, why don’tcha —” and then he noticed. A snort, lazy, drunken grin weaving its crooked way across his lips. “Oh, ‘s you. Don’t get the wrong idea, doc.”
A flash of neon against the Polis skyline. A fresh coat of paint on a renovated building. Lines of tiny, salvaged light bulbs – some mismatched, one or two already flickering, but fighting the good fight before their dying blaze – arranged to spell out two bright words: THE TOPS.
Being a nobody didn’t sit well with Benny. So, he remedied the problem. Here was his own little slice of the Mojave, right here in the heart of Polis.
Night one, and the Tops casino – the hot off the presses, brand spanking new, part duex Tops casino – was in the red. Though, not as in the red as it could have been, had Benny not brushed up a few slick little bargaining tricks, he reminded himself. The Charities had been regular peaches once he’d figured out he could use them, but after laying foundation, knocking out and constructing walls, carpeting the place, painting, hanging signs, and hooking up the electric, Benny had found that even the mute and ever-helpful caretakers of Arcadios had their limits. And, not one to take kindly to the thought of rolling his own red ropes, he’d been forced to hire elsewhere for further embellishment. He’d thrown in here and there, sure – maybe pinched a couple of wires together, hammered some nails – but as far as he was concerned, it was his job to run the joint, not to build it. So, with little money in his pockets and a grin on his face, he had finessed and finagled his way into a functioning casino (rudimentary, nothing like the several-stories-tall Tops in Vegas, but functioning) on the promises of riches and success to come.
And, leaning alongside the cage, legs crossed at the ankles, looking nonchalantly over the pit, Benny wasn’t feeling too nervous. In fact, he was feeling pretty good. It was a basic set up, sure, but the place had that good-times vibe about it that made him tap his foot, and things were already starting to swing. Benny rubbed his palms. He couldn’t take Vegas, but Arcadios had dealt him a fresh hand, and he was feeling lucky. Silently, he took stock. He could use a few more slots (he’d managed to dig up only one or two from the wreckage at Lipara) and something that played music. Or better yet — a little live entertainment. The dealers were doing their jobs well enough, it seemed — a couple of them were gems, but the others, fairly replaceable — and so far the cage cashier hadn’t tried to pad his pockets, so that was a good sign. Security was a little lighter than he was used to, sure, but at this scale, there wasn’t need for four personal bodyguards and a slew of locked-and-loaded chairmen patrolling the place. Yet. The weapons-checker at the door, he’d caught half-assing a couple of times, which was slightly irritating, but not irritating enough for Benny to take his job over for him. Frisking other guys wasn’t his bag.
Polis seemed less likely to erupt into spontaneous gunfire if left to itself than New Vegas, anyhow.
So, Benny opted instead for proudly surveying his new labor of love, proud as a cock among hens. Winding up in Arcadios had been a rough shake. It had given him a bit of a neck-wrenching, to be sure, but tonight, surrounded by the familiar clatter of dice, whisper of cards, smell of liquor, and buzz of electric lights, Benny found himself sliding into a pocket of languid, easy confidence. Nothing left to do but sit back and let the cards fall as they may — with a little push here and there, of course. Taking a stroll about the perimeter of the pit, he gave the occasional patron a wink and pat on the shoulder.
“Welcome to the Tops, baby. Let the good times roll.”
Mondays were beginning to feel like a fun little challenge, a miniature game of survival, which Benny had once again surpassed. It was almost over. Ten more minutes and the hordes of obnoxious gray-faced figures would recede into the distance like a passing dream, like ghosts along a forgotten highway. For now, it was time to wind down, crack open a fresh pack, have a smoke, and watch the secondhand. He half expected an anonymous tormentor when his shoulder was tapped. A half-glance over the shoulder told him otherwise.
“Oh, it’s you. What’s up, doc?” A chuckle. “Wondering if what, I had any bones needing fixing? Thanks, specs, but I—”
Lips. It took him a moment. Because no way in hell had blondie here just spun him around and kissed him, right? Wrong.
A sputter. Even when he realized what was going on, he still wasn’t sure it was happening. He was also in the halfway through a deep drag, which resulted in an awkward, undignified exhale-inhale of second hand smoke against Arcade’s lips, and then a fit of coughing as he shoved Arcade away sharply with both hands. “— The fuck off me! Paws off! Christ! Keep me outta your little girl’s club, you—” Between hacking up a lung, a very agitated Benny stormed to get a distance. Tight-lipped, he spat once, rudely, with emphasis. “Oughta take a goddamn swing at you for that one. I ain’t above hitting a guy with less than 20-20.” He wiped his lips against his palm, indelicately, and looked at it, as though he expected visible infection.
The chiming of a clock somewhere caught his attention. Midnight. Monday was over. “Goddamn…” And as he himself had said to the Freeside physician earlier, crazy things happened on Monday. Even Benny had to relent. Or, at least, rethink. Maybe someone had set it up to him. It wasn’t beyond them, the annoying little gray-faced pricks. So, with a taut, wiry smile, Benny backed and tested a tongue against his lips, folding his arms.
“… All I can say is, you better hope there’s no Strip Germ, doc. ‘Cause if there is, you got it.
… And you owe me a fresh smoke.”
What a way to round out a Monday.