Linda put her hand on the lever and pulled it down. The slot machine came to life before her, the pictures rolling quickly in the three frames. She could dimly hear the Vegas noise behind her, but her eyes and ears were focused on the machine in front of her. The first picture stopped rolling and rested on a “7”. The second picture halted a moment later, “7” again. Linda felt her throat contract rigidly and her left hand flew up to rest on the face of the machine.
When the third roller stopped, she just sat staring at the double cherries. 7, 7, cherries. Her fingers felt numb as she pulled her gamer’s card out of the machine. Five thousand dollars. Lost. Linda wrapped the card’s lanyard chain around her hand and stood up.
The casino noises crashed down on her as she walked toward the exit. What was she going to tell her brother? Harvey had loaned her the money to get her out of debt, not further into it. She could no longer remember a time when she had not taken every dollar she earned to the casino. It had been two months since she had a regular job with a consistent paycheck—most employers didn’t want an addictive gambler as an employee. Every last one of them had considered her a security threat, like she had the money or the smarts to steal from them.