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Best of Barney Vinson

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The Dunes

11 September 2005

My buddy Russ had set me up with a possible job at the Dunes Hotel in Vegas. All it would take was $500, which I would "loan" to a pit boss named Bill that Russ knew from his hometown. It was a risky move on my part, but sometimes you have to go out on a limb, especially when you're almost flat broke with no job in sight.

So that night I went into the Dunes for the first time in my life. The sign cost a million easy, plus there was this huge fake sultan standing out front that must've been 50 feet tall. Kind of like Vegas Vic downtown, only this one had class. It didn't holler "Howdy Pardner" or wave its tinfoil hand in the air. This one just stood there, hands on his hips, daring you to say anything. The inside of the Dunes was just as classy, with big chandeliers sparkling like diamonds, carpet that almost sank you to your ankles, and I even saw a customer with a tie on. Yep, it was classy all right.

I walked over to the dice pit and asked for Bill. Here came a guy about my size, wearing a dark suit, his hair slicked back, his face pasty under the lights. Later I found out his face was pasty all the time. I told him I was Russ's friend and he whispered, "Meet me in front of the men's room. Five minutes."

Well, hell, there were men's rooms all over the place, I found out. There was one by the casino cage, one by the showroom, and another one next to the coffee shop. I'd have to go from one to the other, then just hope I was in front of the right one when he showed up. On my third circle, I spotted Bill. He gave me a nod, then looked around furtively to make sure we weren't being watched. I felt like I was passing government secrets to a Russian agent. Instead, I was passing a complete stranger five hundred smackers, half of which was mine and half of which I still owed Russ. I knew I'd never get the money back, not in a million years, but if this was what it took to get a job I had to do it.

Bill counted the money, C note by C note, then carefully folded it and put it in his pocket. "Come in tomorrow night and I'll introduce you to Johnny," he said. That was it. He turned around and walked away, not even a thank you or a goodbye or a nice to meet you. Rotten bastard.

I was expecting a hard-nosed ex-con packing a rod, but Johnny turned out to be a halfway-decent-looking human being, just like me. Bill introduced us, telling Johnny I was a good friend and would be an asset to the place, then gave me an exaggerated wink before walking away.

Johnny asked me where I was working. I wasn't, I told him. He asked me where I used to work. I told him the Mint, never even mentioned the other dumps where I'd worked. He asked me how long I'd been at the Mint. I told him two whole years. He asked me when I could start. I told him yesterday. That made him smile.

He said he would call if there was an opening. I shook hands with him and walked out the door, knowing in my heart there was no way I would get the job, not to mention ever see that $500 again. Hell, now Russ would be on my back, wanting his money, and I didn't even have a goddam job!

(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