It was mid July and I was on the longest run of bad luck I could remember. It started just after Christmas. I started to notice that my usual sports bets didn't come in. Then my play at the poker table slipped away. The cards just laughed at me and sent me home night after night frustrated and praying for a little spark. The spark didn't come, but along came Melissa. And you guessed - she was blonde.
I was in the bar and I asked that same question I asked every day for months: "When will it end?" Not the world of course, just this shocking run of losing choices. That's when I noticed Melissa. For a single moment my bad-luck mindset disappeared and all I could see were those big blue eyes and never-ending legs. She perched perfectly on the stool and sat upright with perfect posture.
She looked me up and down and I thought, here it comes. My bad streak should afford me a few words, but based on how things have been going, they'd probably sound like, "What you looking at?" The silence seemed to last forever. Then it came: "Could I buy you a drink, sir?"
Now a girl who offers to buy a drink before any verbal exchange is a good bet in my books, but I was on the stinker run of all time. "I'm good thanks," I said. Well, I thought I might as well play hard to get. "You look like you could use a friend to talk to," she said.
Wow did my bad luck stench that bad? Had I not managed to hold my poker face to hide the truth? Well at the moment everybody could read me like a book so maybe it was as easy to see that I was just plain bottom lucked-out.
I looked again she smiled and I thought what the hell. "Let me get them miss. What would you like?"
"Malibu and Coke please."
Before the bartender brought the first drink, she started talking - and wow she could talk. She told me about her family, being from Long Island but moved to Florida then to Vegas. She was a teacher and moved from place to place for work. She didn't look like a teacher. Her mass of blonde hair was perfect. It swished from side to side as she talked and moved as if she was moving in slow motion. I said nothing; just listened I felt my luck was changing.
We talked for hours. Well not exactly we. She talked and listened. Here life story continued. She explained how she had been ill recently. And then it hit me. I was so taken by her stunning looks and lovely tones that I forgot about my bad luck streak. But I wasn't low enough that I couldn't spot a hustle. I thought I'd play along though. How long will it take for her to say her good 'ol mom needs a heart transplant but has no insurance? But that line never came.
We finished our drinks and I suggested we play a little roulette. I played, she watched. Wow things had changed. I was hot, couldn't lose.
We looked at the board and black had won seven straight times.
"How much are we up to?" Melissa asked.
I started with $50 and now we had $2,000.
"Put it all on red," she said. Now at the roulette table, I made the decisions. This was different. I stared into her eyes and I thought what does it matter. I'm having a great time. I got a stunner on my arm and money in my pocket.
"Put it all on 32," she said quickly. I pushed my chips over. I felt my heart rate shoot up. With my recent streak I was shaking inside. But on the outside I was cool as a cucumber.
The ball spun, slowed and bounced around the numbers. Melissa grabbed my hand. The ball slipped toward 20 black and for a second it hung there. But I took one last deep breath and the ball hovered and fell back.
32 Red! Melissa gripped my hand and screamed. Keep cool I thought don't give it away, that's the best result I have had in over seven months.
"Wow look at that, will ya," I said in the most sedate tone I could muster. A mountain of chips was pushed toward me. I looked at Melissa and thought she was the catalyst. She started my change of fortune. I must do something for her. What though? A drink? Too stingy. A show? Too organized? Jewellery? Oh yes. What girl doesn't like new jewellery?
"Hey Melissa," I said, "I'm just gonna pop to the gents. Play a few numbers for me."
As I walked off I turned and looked back at her. She was perfect in every way. "Just don't put it all on one number."
She tossed her hair back and laughed.
Really nice shops are easy to find in Vegas. I rushed into the first store that had lovely shiny displays. I pulled out my Visa. I can't tell you how much I spent but let's just say if you're supposed to spend a month's salary on an engagement ring. I just got engaged six times.
I got it gift wrapped and dropped a tip to the lovely young lady that served me.
As I got to the table I practiced my delivery.
I saw her from the back, that lovely blonde hair. I stroked her arm. "Hey M."
"Do I know you, sir?"
"Sorry wrong person," I said.
I looked round the table but nobody was there from before.
"Did anybody see a tall blonde with blue eyes with a huge stash of chips?"
One guy looked up and stared at me.
"Hell man, we're all looking for those women."
A few laughs, but everybody carried on. I looked at my hand. There was the box with the sparkly necklace snuggled in the purple velvet inside.
The teacher just taught me a valuable lesson about lying low during a losing streak. It seemed Melissa's mom would get that "operation" after all.
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