Due to light traffic, I pulled into Red Hawk Casino’s grand entrance early. I planned to meet girlfriends for dinner and some fun. As I entered the brightly lit casino, I was confronted with deafening noise and a wall of stink. Cigarette smoke caused my eyes and nose to water––unusual to cry before the gambling even started. The blackened doors closed behind me, locking out the fresh air and sunlight I’d just left.
As far as I could see, metal soldiers stood on parade in perfect lines. Bright colors pulsed and blinked, while bells and whistles clamored for my attention.
Slot machines were created to lure and seduce humans. Many paid dearly to be teased to the brink of climax and then left unfulfilled. Some deposited even greater sums, hoping for a rare glimpse of the reclusive Lady Luck.
This sucker planted herself in front of a talking lime-green frog who wore black shades. It sipped a tall cool drink through an oversized straw.
One aisle up and to my right, I noticed a woman staring at me. I did not know her. I smiled and nodded, and resumed my romance with the hip frog who moved to the beat of island music.
As if teleported, the woman was suddenly leaning against my machine.
“Oh . . . hello,” I stammered.
She flashed white teeth, and her skin was the color of my favorite Starbuck’s Mocha. I guessed she was fifty-five to sixty because of the gray strands woven into her dark combed-backed hair. She wore a simple Army-green dress and her hands rested under her bosom. She reminded me of the Jehova’s Witnesses’ who canvassed my neighborhood.
She finally spoke. “You are a beautiful woman.”
Those were not the words I expected. “That’s . . . a . . . kind of you to say.”
She continued to stare, and made no move to leave. Unease gripped my gut.
“Your hair is stunning. I wish I had your color.” She touched her head.
Who wants gray hair? Does she think it’s blonde? “Thank you,” I said.
The encounter edged past awkward. I pushed the button on my machine, but my frog-friend didn’t care about my situation.
“I’m used to noticing people. I lived in Japan when I was young; I’d never seen a Japanese person before. My dad was in the military, so I had to go. I didn’t like living there.”
“I’m sorry you didn’t like the experience.”
She nodded. “We have a house full of things from that time.”
“Do you mean memorabilia from Japan?”
“Yes.” The woman gazed at me adoringly. “You sure are one pretty lady. Do you know . . . all kinds of people are going to walk up and start talking to you. They will be drawn.”
Her words hinted at prophecy, and my unease grew. “No, I didn’t know that,” I said.
The lady grinned, as if she knew something I did not.
I pretended interest in the spinning reels, and willed the lime-green frog to create a distraction. It remained silent. It had abandoned me.
This situation was getting to be too much. I stood. “Mr. Froggy here is not being nice. I need to find a friendlier machine. It was nice talking to you.”
The woman bowed her head. “It sure was.”
Dodging gamblers, I headed for the opposite side of the casino. I pulled my cell phone from my purse and discovered a text from my friends saying they had arrived and were waiting.
As I made my way to them, I went over my “strange encounter of the third kind.” I’d never experienced anything like it before. I hadn’t got the impression I was being hit on––I was familiar with that scenario, and this wasn’t that. The exchange was simply odd.
When I found my girlfriends, I said, “You won’t believe what just happened.”
Two days later, I stopped for gas. I inserted the nozzle and began to pump. I noticed a car in front of mine, but no one was near the vehicle. A moment later, the driver emerged from the car. A woman, older than myself, with dyed black hair surveyed her surroundings. Her sunglasses pointed in my direction and she beelined toward me.
I was on guard. Was she going to ask for money? The woman drew near invading my space.
I couldn’t see her eyes, so I focused on her shiny red lips. The same red warpaint was smudged across her chin. She spoke in a husky whisper. “Have you ever heard that real women don’t pump gas, and real men don’t eat quiche?”
I laughed in relief. “I haven’t heard that for a long time. And yet, here I am pumping gas.”
Throaty giggles escaped her scarlet lips, as she disappeared into the gas station store.
A bell rang; the casino lady’s prediction stood front and center: People will begin to walk up and talk to you. They will be drawn. Was it starting?
Written By Erin G. Burrell
Author of: That’s Why You’re Here