THE ELEMENT GAMES
1-Help from a stranger
My name is Kenneth Kelley, but people call me Ken. I’m 24. I say people because, well, I don’t really have what you call friends... I say that, not to make you feel pity or similar, but because it’s true. You see, I am what you call the bottom of the pit of society.
I was born in London, the UK, but my family moved to Canberra, Australia, soon after I turned 5. My parents died, my mother when I was 12 and my father when I was 15, both due to a heart attack. They had me and my brother, Jack, at an older age then most people, so it was not surprising when they died.
My brother Jack was 5 years older then me, he died in a car accident he caused because he got drunk... Ever since my brother died at a young age of 22 I never drank alcohol again.
I started gambling at a very young age... 13, to be precise... It was because my brother often dragged me with his friends while he was taking care of me, and they always went to casinos...
When I was younger I remember seeing a movie, I don’t recall what it was called (sorry about that), but I do remember what it was about: the life of a man who slowly, but surely, lost his life to gambling and such things... Now I don’t mean that he lost his life in the meaning of dying, but in the meaning that he stopped taking care of himself and those around him, and became agressive to those around him.
Long story short: the man died poor, alone and without anyone who cared about him anymore. I expected my life to end in the same way. I’ll admit it, I’m a gambling addict. I go to casinos every day after my part-time job and I spend all my money playing poker, slot-machines and roulette...
Needless to say, I rarely win. That being said, tho, I do have at least a bit of luck, since I do win here and there. The wins aren’t nearly as big as my losses, but I did win a couple hundred australian dollars a few times.
My biggest win was 10 000 AUD from a slot-machine. The feeling I had when I won that money, oh I remember that feeling of joy, that happiness... It was the best moment of life! I should’ve stopped gambling right then and there, since that victory made up for most of my losses back then, but, you see, that’s my biggest problem... I CAN’T STOP!! I just... can’t... stop... gambling... That win happened almost 2 years ago...
Since then I won a total of 5 times, 3 of which were wins of 15-20 dollars only... If you assumed I were in big dept you would be right! I live in a very small appartment that I’m 9 rents behind. The landlord, a fat money shark called Noah Bailey, famous for cutting fingers of those who do not pay their debt after they borrow money from him, will kick me out soon, or maybe even cut my fingers, if I don’t pay him the rent in a week or so.
„I’ll become homeless“, I thought, since my total rent debt was a bit over 5 000 dollars, without counting the next week, and my bank account had only the last week’s paycheck of 540 dollars. That might sound like little, but I work part-time in a shady store run by, you guessed it, another money shark called Mike. He looks skinny and has that hairstyle that looks like cows lick him. He always wears expensive branded clothes and sunglasses (EVEN when it’s dark outside). I don’t know his last name, nor am I interested in it.
I know that I’m a pathetic gambling junkie. I’m ashamed of myself and I wish I stopped when I had the chance to stop...
It was a Saturday afternoon, and I went outside to the nearest ATM and I took all the money I had, went to a vending machine, bought some chips and cola and I headed to the nearest casino.
„If I put 500 dollars on red and win, I can risk the won amount on the first column. If I win I’ll be left with 2 000 dollars.“, I thought. „I just need to win the first bet or I won’t have any money left!“
I entered the casino and went to a roulette table. There were 7 other people playing when I got there.
„Come on, I need the Basket! Come on, 0, 1, 2 or 3!“, said a man who looked like me, that is he looked like a gambling junkie. „How much did you bet?“, I asked him.
„2 grand.“, he said. Wow, 2 grand on Basket! Maybe he isn’t a gambling junkie afterall, since he puts that much money on something that has around 12 percent success rate!
„You must be full of cash!“, I said, „Lucky you! I wish you good luck.“
„Oh, man, I wish I was rich as hell! If I was I wouldn’t put all my savings on the damn Basket!“
Did he just say that he put all his savings into Basket?? He must be desperate if he bets on the Basket. Even I never did that on roulette! If he wins he will get payed 8 times the amount he bet, but still...
The ball started to slow down. It moved slower and slower. „Come on! COME ON!!“, screamed that guy. When I looked closer I saw that he was wearing an old, torn, green jacket. Even I have better clothes. It was stupid of me to, even for a second, think that this guy is full of cash...
„It will stop on black“, said an older looking man who smoked a Cigar, „not on number 2, tho... I’m sorry, but you just lost 2 grand, mate!“
„Oh, don’t say that!“, said the green-jacket-guy.
The ball stopped... It landed on 13. Black, just like the old man said, but not 2.
„No... NO!“, the guy in the green jacket screamed. „I’m done for! I’m done! I’m broke and, now, homeless!! I had a 4 month rent dept AND a 5 000 dollar debt I have to pay to a money shark! I may even be dead now that I lost EVERYTHING!!“
He started crying. I sympathised with him, but I couldn’t do anything. I had a debt of my own to pay! Still, it was painful to watch this guy break down and cry. I knew that feeling too good...
At least I was smart enough not to borrow any money from money sharks such as Mike or Noah... This guy must’ve been tricked into borrowing a few grand, and now he has to pay double or triple the money he borrowed... Well, what can I do? The next round is starting and I’ll go with my plan!
„I bet 350 on 19-20 split!“, said a muscular bald guy next to me.
„I’m out.“, said some teenager. I hope he doesn’t become an addict like myself and that green-jacket-guy...
„I bet 500 on red!“, I said. It was black now, so it should be red. I have a good feeling about this.
„Hehe, I wouldn’t bet on red this round.“, said the old man with a Cigar.
„Why?“, I asked him. I didn’t like the look on his face.
„I just got a feeling... 3 grand on 7-8-10-11 Corner!“
Wooooow, now this guy is full of cash! Holy shit that’s a lot of money... And this guy risks it to win big! If it lands there he’ll win, what, 22, no, 24 grand!!
„W-What’s your name?“, the green jacket asked me.
„Kenneth, but call me Ken.“
„M-My name is Josh... Josh Kahlon. Listen, man... I’m already done, but you don’t have to be. I can see you’re an addict just like I am... Listen to that old guy over there. I was here the past 20 minutes and he kept winning, man! I think he workes for the casino or something, whatever it is, just listen to him! I should’ve done that too, but... But I just had to go with my stupid guess! AAAURRGGHH!“, then green ja-I mean Josh- started crying again. „I’m out.“, he said after a minute.
Others put their bets and the game was about to start. „I change my mind!“, I said in the last second and I moved my 500 dollar bet on black. I don’t know why I did that but I just did. I regreted it in the same moment. What if this old guy was just lucky until I came here! If it’s actually red now I’m going to kill him!
Well... not really, since I don’t have the guts to kill someone, and he probably has some guys who will beat the shit out of me if I even touch him, soooo... Anyway the ball started rolling...
It rolled and rolled. I started sweating. I’ll be in the same shithole as Josh if I lose this money!
„Hehehe“, the old man laughed. It looks like he thinks gambling is a joke. Or maybe for him it is, since he can afford to lose...
Spin spin, roll roll, the ball rolled and the roulette spinned. I was praying to win. The ball was slowing down... 36... 11... 30... 8... the ball almost stopped... 23... and...
The ball stopped. The number it stopped was...
„TEN!“, I screamed. „YES!! I WON!!“
„Crap!“, said the bald guy. „I’m out!“
„I’m out, too.“, said someone next to him who bet 270 on red. After the two left I looked around me. That’s when I noticed it... The ball landed on 10. Before that it almost landed on 11 and 8, all of which are black numbers that the old man bet on! He won 24 000 dollars!! I was amazed by his luck, especially since Josh told me that the old guy already won several times before I arrived at the casino.
„Ken, was it? I like the aura you emit... let me tell you, bet everything on the third column...“, told me the old man.
He didn’t speak very loud, so nobody other then me heard him. Should I trust this guy? I mean he told me to change to black, but it was a 1 in 2 chance that I got the colour right. But this... this was now a 1 in 3... I don’t know if I’m willing to risk 1 grand on a 33 percent win.
„I don’t kno-“, I started, but everyone already placed their bets, so I didn’t have time to think this through...
My arm worked faster then my head... I moved all of my chips to the third column... „Damn...“, I said to myself quietly.
The roulette started spinning. I felt the adrenaline rush through my veins! I felt so alive at that moment, when I risked those 1 000 dollars. 1 000 dollars is, to some, a small amount, a pocket change, but for me it was everything. Losing it meant losing my appartment, and possibly my job (since nobody wants stinky homeless gambling addicts working for them, gambling addicts are okay as long as they shower and have a place to sleep).
It spinned for, what felt like hours until it started slowing down. „33... 1... 20... 14...“, I said quietly as the roulette was stopping. „31...“
It stopped. It stopped on-
„NINE!“, someone screamed. „I WON BACK MY 800 DOLLARS!!“, he placed a 100 dollar bet on a 5-6-8-9 Corner. But that’s not important, the important thing is that NINE IS IN THE THIRD COLUMN!! I WON!! I JUST WON 2 000 DOLLARS!! „T-Thank you, umm... may I know your name, sir?“, I asked the old man, the stranger who has helped me climb near the top of this debt mountain, who has helped me collect more then half the money I need!
„Hehe...“, he smiled-a bit creepy if you ask me- and said: „You can call me Mr. G..“
„I can’t thank you enough for helping me, Mister G-“
„Hahah! You don’t have to thank me. You know, Ken, you look like an interesting person... Tell me, how much is your debt?“
How did he know I was in debt? Ok, now that I think of it, I do look like a person who’s in big debt... „Over 5 000 dollars, but if I count the next week it’s more like 5.5 grand...“
„I see...“, after a bit he added: „Come with me outside. You can bring your friend, too...“
Oh, he means Josh. Wait, why would he want to meet me and Josh in private?? As I asked myself that, the old man left the casino.
With that question in mind I looked at Josh and asked him what he thinks about this. „I don’t know, man... If it has to do with earning money, then... I’ll go... I don’t have a choice...“, he said as he looked back at me. We stood there, not speaking a word, and after a few minutes we decided to go out.
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