The swarthy man seemed surprised that we had the same laptop ("They are the same!") and maybe this was enough for him to persist through the difficulties in getting me connected. Maybe it was just professional pride - Free Internet – it said on the sign. On the office window too. Either way he pushed through with sweat running down from his scalp to the carpet. He looked very tired. Maybe the sweat made him look worse. His little girl – they showed up hand in hand, “Her mother is at the store,” his explanation - swiped a quarter off the dresser when she thought I wasn't looking. She seemed well-practiced.
After the rub and tug girl toweled off and checked the mirror for the last time, moving her pouty lips counter-clockwise for good luck, she left. Then I drew open the curtain. I shuffled the cards and settled in for a game of solitaire to pass the time. My eyes half on the asphalt and half on the swimming pool across the parking lot. No eye candy, just children jumping and splashing. Cheap thin walls mean I could hear every word. Children speak such nonsense.
I shuffled on while listening to the children. Eventually there came faces against the window. Not leering faces but hopeful greedy faces. Then knocks on the door. One man brought a table from his room and another some chairs. I popped one of the beers I'd iced earlier and sent a boy for whiskey and donuts. He asked to play but this was to be a man's game. I thought to laugh at his ignorance but did not. Ten bucks for the errand, kid, and you come out way ahead I told him. Believe me when I tell ya, you come out way the fuck ahead.
Sam from 104 had like ten pockets and pulled money out of all of them. He had a grave face and gambled like it. Lifeless, mechanical, run off and out from the first whiff of danger. Totally dead money. I raise, said Morris, a great low voice that almost rumbled. I raise. Again. Again. Morris, the aggressive guy, raise raise raise. Morris who liked hearing his own voice almost as much as I did. I would listen to him read the obituaries. Sweet Morris. You've got pocket two's I told him, the time he pushed all-in. You’ve got shit, I told him. Pay me to see, he said, the time his voice didn't rumble so much. Yes, I will pay.
After they all left and I had gone to bed there came a knock. It was the boy. He had sneaked out and so I let him in and we played gin rummy. I turned on the HBO so he could see some tits and listen to the fake moaning. I gave him some of the whiskey and a few cigarettes. I took all of his money and he owes me thirty more that he promised to steal today from his mother's purse. He left satisfied enough. Dumb fucking kid.