The Roulette Table (Final) .pdf
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The Roulette Table
Johnny guided me into the room and the first thing I noticed were the three sad sacks like
me sat at the small aluminium table, which was covered in suspicious looking stains, the little
fluorescent light that dangled from the ceiling barely illuminated the tiny room.
“Sit,” said Johnny, as he gestured towards a cheap folding chair at the table, between a fat,
sweating man and a small, skeletal looking woman. I gently sat down at the chair and began
to look at those sat around me, trying to figure out why they were here. At the end of the
day, I knew why they were here. They made a mistake. Like me. Except I made lots of
mistakes. We all made lots of mistakes. Johnny wasn’t a nice man. He looked like a nice
man, with that pearly white smile and that clean suit and that slicked back hair. Then you
looked closer and you saw the tobacco stains on his teeth and the fake labels in his suit and
the grease in his hair.
“Now,” he said, “You all know why you’re here. You all owe me a lot of money. I’m a
forgivin’ kinda guy, so we’re gonna play a lil’ game,” he revealed a holster hidden under his
suit jacket, and removed a large revolver, his over-compensator, “Now this here is a
wonderful little invention called the Smith and Wesson Model Five Hundred,” he began to
lick his lips, “One of the largest consumer grade handguns available, capable of carrying five
rounds without needing to reloaded, each one with enough stopping power to make an
elephant think twice,” he flicked the chamber open and shook the gun, as four of the bullets
dropped to the floor, before he clicked it the chamber back into place, and spinning the
barrel, “Roulette is an interesting game, it’s all chance.”
He wasn’t referring to the classic table game you could play in any casino from Atlantic City
to Vegas. He was talking about Russian roulette.
“The rules are simple,” He said, with that devilish smile of his, “You put the gun to your
head and you pull the trigger,” he began to laugh, “It’s THAT simple, so simple even Nicky
here will be able to win” he said throwing his arm around the fat man and pulling him close,
before shoving him away violently, “Fucking hell Nicky, ever heard of deodorant, you sweaty
fuck, sweet Jesus,”
“I’m sorry, Johnny,” the poor guy mumbled out,
“Ah shut up, it’s too late for your sorry. Now, I’m not an unfair man, so I’m gonna go first,
then I’ll pass it to Nicky here, then to the Old Timer here,” He pointed the gun towards an
older looking man sat opposite me, “Then Mary Meth-head, and finally to my boy Jack here,
and, somewhere along the way, one of you will, tragically, have the walls of this fine
establishment painted with your brains.”
As he spoke, the woman sat next to me, Mary, he called her, broke down into tears, which
prompted him to walk over to her and to press the barrel of the gun against her forehead.
She gave a small shriek, and her eyes widened, and Johnny leaned in, close to her face.
“Shut up,” he whispered, just loud enough for the rest of us to hear.
Johnny stood up and placed the gun against his head a pulled the trigger, which was followed
by a subtle click. “Well, it seems as if Lady Luck as smiled upon me. Now, Nicky, your turn,”
he said, flipping the gun and thrusting it, handle first in front of Nicky’s face. Nicky grabbed it
with a sweaty hand and just examined the gun for a second. He was a very large man, who I
had seen before, hanging at the poker tables in some of the local casinos. Poker was never
my game, but I couldn’t recall him ever winning. As he lifted the gun to the side of his head,
his sleeve unveiled a watch on his wrist, its face with a large crack running down it. I heard
once that only two kinds of men wear broken watches; the sentimental kind, and the poor
kind. And honestly, I don’t think Nicky was sentimental.
Nicky’s breathing got heavy and the sweat began to poor down his greasy skin as he placed
the gun against the side of his head. He held it there for a few moments before finally
accepting his fate and pulling the trigger. There was a subtle click and he dropped to the
table and began to violently sob.
“My God, a weeping fat man, what a horrifying sight,” Johnny peeled the gun from Nicky’s
sweaty palm and handed it to the older gentleman, “Come on old timer.”
“Fu-fuck you,” the old man said. His eyes were tired and were ringed with dark skin not
unlike a raccoon, and he barely had any teeth. I couldn’t fathom why he was here. I glanced
at his hand and noticed that he had his left hand flat on the table and I took note of his shiny
new wedding ring, like it’d be recently cleaned. Was he a newly-wed? No, he was too old.
Old men only get married to young pretty girls and young pretty girls only get married to
old men if they’re rich, and I could tell by the fact that he was sat in this room with Johnny
and I that he was not rich. But then why was his ring so clean? Then it hit me. I looked at his
eyes and I could see that they were a sort of subtle pink. In times like these, funerals can be
“Fuck me? Oh boy you got some stones ain’t ya old tim-” As Johnny spoke the old man spat
right in his face, prompting Johnny to pick up the gun and whacked the old man on the nose.
You could hear the load crack as the metal of the gun shattered the old man’s nose in two.
The old man fell to the floor in a bundle of fragile old bones held together with saggy
leather-like skin, followed by a loud clatter as the chair tipped over.
“Get the fuck up and play my damn game!” Johnny yelled as he pointed the gun at the old
man. The old man stayed on the floor for a moment, before shakily collecting himself,
picking up the chair and carefully sitting down. “My God old man I swear if you pull that shit,
if ANY of you pull that shit I will just shoot you no questions asked.” Johnny dropped the
gun into the old man’s lap and picked up and immediately pressed it against his temple and
pulled the trigger.
I first heard of Johnny by his nickname, “Tommy-Gun”. He was one of those people with
names that’d ring in your ears. “Johnny Tommy-Gun, Johnny Tommy-Gun. How’d he get
that name?” I’d ask.
“We don’t know,” They’d reply. “But he’s the guy you go to when you need help.”
I didn’t know what that meant at first. What kind of help could a guy like that offer you? But
then things took a turn for the worst. You see, my wife, my beautiful wife, was a lovely
woman, with one problem; she liked her shinies. I remember I polished her engagement ring
every day for a good month before I proposed and boy did her eyes light up when she
slipped it on her finger. But it never stopped there. More rings, more necklaces, more
bracelets. Each one sterling silver or 24 karat gold, embedded with enough diamonds to
upset the economy of a small nation. But my pockets weren’t that deep. But I had to keep
So, I gambled. I took to Blackjack like a duck to water and I won. And I won a lot. Then he
came over. Johnny. He put his arm around my shoulder and he hissed in my ear “Hey,
wanna play at the big boys table?” and of course I said yes. I sat down with Johnny and a few
of his guys at a table in the back room of the casino. But I didn’t know that they were his
guys. I thought they were guys like me, and that’s where I went wrong. Because the game
was rigged from the start. I won enough to get myself addicted and then they turned the
tables on me. Everything I’d won, I lost. Thousands of dollars gone faster than I could
imagine. Then Johnny put his arm around me again and he said “Don’t worry, I’ll help you,”
and I finally understood what people meant. He gave me a wad of cash but it was already
too late. I’d lost it all in a blink of an eye, and that’ why I was here. That’s why we’re all
The old man put the gun back on the table and stared Johnny straight in the eyes “You don’t
scare me, son, with your cheap suit and your big gun, I’ve seen far worse, I’ve got nothing to
Johnny began to laugh “Old man you have a lot to lose. We get it, your old and your wife is
dead, what’ left?”
“Fuck you!” the Old Man shouted, “Don’t you dare bring up my wife,”
Johnny leaned in “Why not? Why don’t you tell the lovely people here how she died?”
The old man began to clench his fists and you could see his breathing get quicker like he was
a bull about to charge.
Johnny leaned out and turned to us and said “See, poor Carter here, that’s his name in case
you were wondering, had a wife, as do many old men, and she got cancer. Unfortunately,
care for an old woman with cancer gets pretty pricey and no bank would give out a loan to
an old man with no kids and a dying wife. Well, luckily for him I’m not a bank.”
As he spoke Carter’s face got redder and redder and he shot up from his seat and squared
up to Johnny, “I am not playing this sick game of yours anymore, I’m leaving!” and stormed
out of the room. Johnny stood there for a moment, and checked his watch. The next thing
we heard was a loud bang, like a gun shot, before Johnny took a deep breath and said “Well,
glad that’s over. But it appears we still have a game to play.”
“What about the old man?” Nicky asked.
“Fuck him, he was rude anyway. Mary, I believe it’s your turn,” Johnny slid the gun over to
the woman next to me. She was the shambling skeletal frame of a woman, covered in sores
and her eyes were sunken into her head. She could barely lift the gun. This is where my
heart began to beat rapidly. If she dies, I live. If she lives, I die. My chest began to tighten and
I went cold. Was I really hoping for the death of someone I didn’t know? What was she
even doing here? This isn’t the place for a woman. He called her meth head. Was she a drug
addict? They’re bad people, so she deserves to die. Yeah, she deserves it. What am I saying?
No one deserves to die. Johnny does.
That’s when it hit me. If she lives, I’ll shoot him. He doesn’t scare me, not anymore. Then
came the click, and my heart sank. Her arm dropped and before I knew it Johnny had the
gun. He began to laugh, again, but this time his laugh was tainted with evil. It was this deep
maniacal laugh, like something from a bad movie. My lip began to quiver and I looked up and
all I saw were Johnny’s dead cold eyes.
He pressed the gun against my temple.
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