In the fall of 2003, I flew to Las Vegas with some of my cousins and uncles. There were two uncles, both brothers, and seven cousins in total; four brothers, two brothers, and me, all between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-eight. I believe we stayed somewhere on Fremont Street. Many trips were made to Binion’s casino, although, I don’t think we stayed there. I do remember someone suggesting there was a place nearby where we could sell blood or plasma. It was that sort of place. The first night we were there cousin #3 and I did pretty well playing craps and betting with the guy who was rolling the dice. That weekend, in Vegas, there were a lot of memorable moments: playing blackjack with a friendly dealer named Satowat, getting fleeced by another blackjack dealer named Falch; there hadn’t been anyone at Falch’s table, and cousin #1 had said: “I like the cut of this guy’s jib.” He sat down and proceeded to lose a few hands in a row to which Falch said with a monotone delivery “Oh, well.” All of us also made sure to pay homage to Gamblor, the demon who possessed Marge Simpson, when a casino had been erected in Springfield. However, the big winner that weekend was cousin # 6 who entered a poker tournament at Binion’s. I did not enter the tournament; partially since poker is not my game, but also because I subscribe to Coach Bobby Finstock’s creed from Teen Wolf of never playing cards with a guy whose first name is also a city. Cousin #6 is not a card player by any stretch, but he had enough sense to play conservatively. He had also been dealt good cards for most of the evening and was able to buy additional chips at the midway point. All of us left him to continue to play while we had dinner. We finished, and he was still going; in fact, he had reached the final table. I don’t remember any of the other players at the final table with him wearing ten-gallon hats, but I do remember one of them had long hair in a ponytail and when he knocked someone out, he did a fist pump and said “Smoking Joe Fish!” Whether that was his given name remained to be seen. Perhaps Coach Finstock needs to amend his list. Anyway, cousin #6 might have gotten as high as third place, but I remember he wasn’t in the final two nor was he among the first few eliminated. He probably won a little over a thousand dollars which they paid him in hundreds. For the rest of the evening, he would offer all of us money for a dare. Without much prompting, I said I would shave my head into a mohawk for one hundred dollars. I had had one briefly during wrestling season when I was in high school, so this would not be new territory. I had also drunk a plastic football full of beer earlier in the evening, so I didn’t have much inhibition. He immediately agreed, and before I could change my mind the terms were set. Cousin #1 had an electric razor and agreed to act as the barber. For at least an hour, I would be required to stay on the casino floor. I don’t believe it bothered me at all until the next morning when I tried to create a combover using my mohawk. I stood hungover in front of the mirror trying to part the hair in the middle. That’s when I heard the laughter. It wasn’t maniacal, but it was close. Cousin #5, who was still in bed, had been watching my attempt. He stopped laughing and said in a sing-song voice “That’s not going to work.” I wish I could tell you I invested the $100 wisely in a promising tech stock, tithed, or that I could even have a mohawk these days if I wanted to, but sadly male pattern baldness has robbed me of that ability. Gamblor is vengeful if nothing else.
Andrew Davie received an MFA in creative writing from Adelphi University. He taught English in Macau on a Fulbright Grant. In June of 2018, he survived a ruptured brain aneurysm and subarachnoid hemorrhage. His other work can be found in links on his website: asdavie.wordpress.com