Dylan likes to play blackjack, but he is not a savant or math genius. It seems like every story involving a person who gambles revolves around someone who is phenomenal at it and can beat the game if they just put their mind to it.
Not so with Dylan.
He finds the idea of counting cards as the nothing more than hubris. Man’s attempt to know the unknowable. As he sits at the table waiting for the next card to come out, the shoe is illuminated as if it were a door to a lighted room as seen by someone in a dark room on the other side.
Dylan recently had to move back home. He took great pains to move into the basement as opposed to the room he grew up in. That just seemed too sad. That room seemed like a museum of his childhood, as opposed to space in which a grown man now lives. Sacred. Not to be defiled by his adult presence.
Once cards are shuffled there is nothing and no one who can change the order in which they come out. He can count all he wants, but that next card is inexorable. It doesn’t care what time is it or if Dylan is winning or losing.
It is what it is and nothing can change it.
Dylan loves that about the next card.
He is forced on a semi-regular basis to climb the stairs of his home and pass by his old room on the way to shower. Sometimes he moves aside in order to let his younger self go barreling down the stairs. He does so exorably.
He was who he was.
So he sits at the table and waits for the dealer to draw the next card. Not knowing if he will get the card he wants or not. And that card will lead to another and another. Not knowing if the night will end with him up or down.
He loves the smell of his house. It’s like a scrapbook for his nose.
He loves the smell of the casino. One of the last places you can smell cigarette smoke. The green felt on the table has a smell. He found it helps to be caressing it as you inhale. You’d think that type of behavior would draw attention but he’s found people are too busy fiddling with their chips.
People who come and go all have their own smell. Caressing them as you inhale might get you noticed… and not in a good way.
He’s not a bad blackjack player but neither is he particularly good. Certainly not good enough to make a living at it. That despite all of the Youtube videos he watches on the topic of ‘beating the house.’
One night he turns to a guy who he has played with on a number of occasions and says “The Replacements have a song where Paul, the lead singer, sings “I used to live at home, now I stay at the house.” Do you think the guy he’s singing about moved out and then came back because of circumstances beyond his control or do you think he just never left?”
“Hard to say” the man replies. “The real question is, will it affect the next card that you’re dealt?”
Dylan thinks for a moment then says “Nope.”
“So it doesn’t really matter now, does it?”
Dylan does not say anything more on the topic.
A half dozen shoes later the man speaks again; “Did you just sniff me?”