Ed Johnson was as happy as any man who had just enjoyed a steak dinner for only four dollars and 99 cents, plus tax. Patting his swollen stomach, he paid the bill and shuffled down to the gaming floor, where his wife Helen was busy working the slots.
It seemed like only yesterday they had first vacationed at Chief Big Wampum's Casino and Resort. Ed fondly remembered piling Helen and the kids into the old Buick station wagon for the long drive from the city. Every summer, they would rent the same little cabin on Lake Teepee and play miniature golf until the moon rose high over the shimmering water. He sighed. The kids were grown up, and the Buick died years ago. But Helen was still with him, beautiful as ever.
Ed found her straddling a stool between two machines, where, for the last 12 hours, she had been plunking in nickels and pushing buttons, pausing only to reload every few minutes with a fresh Virginia Slims. When one of the machines began spewing coins, Ed sidled up to her.
"My gal's got the golden touch tonight," he said, gently squeezing her shoulder. Helen felt his rough, familiar hands and looked up, smiling. "Eddie," she said, "my legs are asleep and I gotta take a dump. Wanna help me up?"
"Of course, my sweetheart," Ed replied lovingly. "Of course."
Friday, January 18, 2008