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Best of Barney Vinson

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Recuperating

2 May 2005

An appendicitis attack had sent me to the hospital, and now I was home: appendix-free. I recuperated for two weeks. There was nothing to do but watch TV, watch the girls out by the pool, watch the neon marquee at the Sands every night, which I could see from my apartment window. Sinatra was playing there, and for me it was like rubbing shoulders with royalty. The Sands couldn't have been more than 300 yards away; Sinatra and I were practically breathing the same air. When I was back in Texas, I used to listen to Sinatra albums all the time. Now here I was, living 300 yards from the man. What a life.

With so much free time on my hands, I decided not to postpone the inevitable any longer. It was time to write my dad, who was in the hospital with cancer, and it was a hard letter to write. "Dear Dad," I started. "How are you?" I wadded up the paper and started over. "Dear Dad. How is everything?" I started over. "Dear Dad. What's new?" I started over.

"Dear Dad. Uncle Harry told me you've been sick, and I hope you're feeling better by now. I just got out of the hospital myself. My appendix ruptured and they had to take it out. I thought appendicitis was something only kids got. So I must be going through my second childhood. Ha ha. As soon as you're feeling better, I would like to come see you. Please tell everyone hello for me. I love you."

I know, it doesn't sound like a very long letter, but I told him some other things, things I'd gone through for the past four months. About my job in the casino, and about the free food, and about my friends from Texas who'd moved out here, once I landed on my feet and they knew they had a free place to stay and free beer in the refrigerator. It was like being in the war. I hit the beach first, then they came along after me and mopped everything up.

There was Vic, who I hadn't laid eyes on since he moved in with his girlfriend. There was Larry and his 60-pound Doberman named Gretchen. They were gone, too. He got a television job in Fresno, and she's probably patrolling a junk yard somewhere on the West Coast, biting any hand that tries to feed her. There was Warren, who moved back to Texas and last I heard he was selling used cars in Kerrville. Tim was the only one left, and now he was thinking about becoming a dealer himself. I tried to talk him out of it, but he saw all the money I was making, and he wanted some of it, too. You couldn't blame him. Living from paycheck to paycheck is hard sometimes. I know how it was in Texas, when I was making $150 a week and spending $160 a week. One time I bought a little black and white TV set and had to make payments on it like a car, and it only cost $175.

Now here I was, paying cold cash for everything I bought, and I'd even opened a savings account. Two thousand dollars, just sitting there, collecting interest. I couldn't have saved that much in Texas if they gave me a 100-year deadline.

When I got back to work at the Mint, the shift boss actually smiled at me. Then he actually shook my hand. Not only that, but he took that horrible "student dealer" stigma off my time card. It now read "Dealer." I'd made it. I was a real dealer at last, making 25 big ones, each and every day, and tokes besides.

If my dad wasn't so sick, and if I didn't have that big scar on my stomach where my appendix used to be, I'd have been on top of the world.

(To be continued)

Barney Vinson

Barney Vinson is one of the most popular and best-selling gaming authors of all time. He is the author of Ask Barney, Las Vegas: Behind the Tables, Casino Secrets, Las Vegas Behind the Tables Part II, and Chip-Wrecked in Las Vegas. His newest book, a novel, is The Vegas Kid.

Books by Barney Vinson:

> More Books By Barney Vinson

Barney Vinson
Barney Vinson is one of the most popular and best-selling gaming authors of all time. He is the author of Ask Barney, Las Vegas: Behind the Tables, Casino Secrets, Las Vegas Behind the Tables Part II, and Chip-Wrecked in Las Vegas. His newest book, a novel, is The Vegas Kid.

Books by Barney Vinson:

> More Books By Barney Vinson