[This is a continuation of the first part of this story.]
Sally could feel her car keys dangling from her hand, and instinctually, her thumb rubbed the nails of her lucky rabbit foot and gave it a squeeze before she dropped it in her pocket. The soft fur of the foot was rubbed down to the skin in most places, but Sally felt the comfort of its presence like a wave through her body. Her father had bought the pink-colored rabbit’s foot for her as a celebration of winning a big payout from a game of blackjack, right before he left her life forever.
The open casino door blasted Sally with stale cigarette smoke. It reminded her of her father and the crackle of his fringed leather jacket. She breathed in deeply, her heart thumping. Sometimes, squeezing the foot was enough to give her a hint of that smell and she suspected that it brought her back to the casino. Sally wished for a wandering soul like her father’s. Although she thoroughly enjoyed the comforts of predictable work hours and her couch at the end of a long day, she was jealous of the drive that he felt to live freely and to abandon all normalcy of life, including his family.
First, she selected a path meandering through the clinking and clanking sounds of the penny slots deeper into the belly of machines and watched gamblers deep in concentration. She passed old ladies with oxygen carts smoking, cards hung around their necks and inserted into the machine like additional life support. She passed men, who may have been someone’s grandfather, scratching at their stumbled beards as the lights of the machine reflected on their faces. She made her way around the machines, letting her fingers slide along plastic buttons and chrome rivets until she was deep in the belly of the casino.
Her father said that if she thought about it enough and soaked up the luck around her, she could win at anything. He said that she must go in search of her own luck, but warned her that she would pay healthily to the gods that allowed it. She was getting ready to settle in and choose a table to start spending some of the stolen insurance company money.
But first, she needed the sparkle and bubbles of a gin and soda. She loved the citrus bitterness of the lime and sips that hid all of the alcohol behind them. The smell of the juniper berries, calmed her as she imagined walking in a forest covered in freshly fallen snow. She made her way to the cashiers near the bar and plunked down $1,000 to start. The cashier raised an eyebrow while counting the cash with her lacquered acrylic nails and shoved the chips in Sally’s direction.
It was time for her to focus on the roulette table; she wanted to ease her way toward the card playing games, which would be trickier. Roulette was more about chance and luck than anything. She reached for the rabbit’s foot in her right pocket to give it a squeeze before walking up to the table and her heart stopped. It wasn’t there. Her ever faithful lucky rabbit’s foot wasn’t in its usual resting spot. The room began to swirl around her and she heard the sound of her gin and soda crashing to the ground.