Waking up at seven in the morning a day after driving around for two days. Doing what? I’m not sure.
We were just driving around, five cities in two days; driving with a soundtrack of folk and indie music through town after town, so many places where people live, and those other places, where people shouldn’t live.
Before she got there I was taking notes by hand in new libraries and places where hometowns have been replaced by casinos. After, I was watching as she played the slots and talking to Betty Boots and Bartholomew Sanchez, only two names among tens of thousands of names. Standing and being dirty and out of place and under constant surveillance by men in baggy JC Penny suits who were really only this time last year, unemployed country boys starving for a chance. And now, well here’s your chance. Now, these people have jobs and eyes in sky with cameras and nice black dress shoes on while they’re taking down names for the business men who collect the money from plastic cards that’s loaded with the old money from those who don’t have anywhere else to spend it.
Smoking and debauchery not only allowed, but encouraged, and gambling given away for free for a second, and at first glance you would think holy smokes this aint a bad idea at all. You might even tell me to calm down man, because people are just having fun, unwinding; one big family of the future of the winning, and soon after, after the stakes vanish into the kaleidoscope of hoax, after you’re in the system and your name has been computerized again, well after that, you’re hooked.
Depression, the laughing at depression and why not, why not spend dollars like pennies because we’re all going to die anyway. Cops waiting for the drunkards who leave at four in the afternoon when the well is gone, when the drinks have loosened your mind up on just another Saturday afternoon. When the eyes are heavy and standing in the middle of the casino I was looking for Sarah but I couldn’t find her, everything looked the same, and I started to shake because looking at all of the lights, the video games for adults, the colors and the cha-ching, the slots, the dice, the respirators rolling and see-through glass ashtrays handed out with a free sampling of smokes; the girls in short skirts with saucers of beer and, “yeah I’ll take one” I said. “No, I better take two” I said.
“OK. two dollars” she said.
“OK, here’s a two dollar bill. How’s that for ya’, and some quarters…”
“NO”… comes laughing and sliding on heels, “On the house. Courtesy of The Winner Mitten Casino, a place where everybody wins”, where the rules of society have been dropped. And is any of this OK? I don’t think so, but who am I to say?
Michigan and apple season not too much further down the road. Winter thaw and the beach will be open again, and as light comes back to our side of the planet casinos are popping up like fields of corn in places where the savages have forgotten to care about the farms that are becoming (already are) romantic red rows of petrified wood like flashing lights signaling the end of traditional production.
Service with a damn smile is our motto. Fiberglass city and the smell of a mulched up history, the extravagantly tall white pillars, the hellos and never goodbyes. The only see you soon and laughing while pointing out the ones with addictions, and the doors open and close, and open open; the doors are always open for you.
All of the workers smiling and one after the other, five thousand screaming Americans (Michiganders and Midwest out of staters) turning wheels and flipping cards wondering who the cheater is.
Bing, bing, bing, no, no, no, yes, no, yes, and another dollar given and taken and five and twenty and fifty-NO! Make that one hundred dollars. And for what? For the chance to spend and make more more more…
And damn, the bank roll gets lower and lower, and Sarah said, “I really shouldn’t”…
“Maybe not” I said.
“One more time” she said.
“I like when you call me darling” she said.
“Alright darling, so it is” I said. “I’ll watch you do whatever you want.”
“We got a thirty dollar winner over here” Ms. Boots said, hovering off to the side of the machine with rolling eyes and smiling, always smiling.
Sarah doesn’t say much of anything, pulls lever down and presses button again and again as my hand slid down the back of her dark hair rubbing stiff and tense shoulder muscles while her eyes only get bigger.
“I want to sleep” I said.
“If I win I’ll get us a room”.
“No hotel yet” Betty Boots said, the waitress with her bosom burrowing out from what looked to be some kind of tight fitting and maroon colored tuxedo shirt, and this was her uniform.
“Not enough yet” she said, and I assume she was talking about profits. “Soon though. Soon we’ll be expanding and have new sorts of commodities for the people”.
“Strange” I said.
“You’re strange” Betty said, and the whole time Sarah wasn’t listening. Sun glasses on and falling down to the bottom of her long and narrow nose.
Play play play, press press and play again; the number counter on the machine gets lower, rising for a second, and then, lower and lower.
The building gets smaller and smaller as the minutes go by and into the system my name goes because they give tokens away for free, the players card as they call it. Sarah needed another chance, I didn’t want to play the games, because ha, life is enough of a gamble for men like me.
Drinks, some more watered down beers and everything is just too damn much. I have to sit down because I feel as if maybe I could have a panic attack at any moment, but nobody would understand the rising of my beating heart, you know, why that panic, that fear and that nervousness had perspired within my mind. They wouldn’t understand, this.
People would just say, “man, that boy has finally lost his mind.”
“How much longer” I said.
“How long you want to stay here”.
“We’ll leave soon” She said.
And I’m walking back and forth and in and out of bathrooms full of swine and savages, with heartbreak and love, with the men and outside the waiting in lines with just more of my kind brushing up and holding hands next to small town american girls; white people, so many white people, playing to win a chance, and a chance to do what?
To win. To make money. To lose money. To win money. To well, lose their mind, to forget about the bullshit, of money.
It’s all so circular and childish, but this is the new economy in Michigan. Waiting for your money, and so here’s a question: should it be allowed to go down like this?
Probably not, but it’s happening, and town after town, exit ramp after exit ramp these things are being built on Indian Grounds and hell nowadays, anywhere they want to build them, that is, as long as the tax payers, The Mericans say, “our young need jobs. GIVE US CASINOS.”
Who knows, but none of it feels right, but really, I’m just one mindless human among the many of savage. I don’t know much about nothing, and maybe this is because of the triggered vertigo, the dizziness of, this.
The winners and dreamers and The Winner Mitten Casino, bringing national acts to the locals, and it’s all about one thing, making them forget that they have been trapped.