“Come on Bev, we’re going to be late”, said George.
“I’m coming, I’m coming, Geez! You’d think we’re going to a wedding or a ceremony or somewhere important. If only he could have gotten himself in this much of a fancy when Cathy was graduating college. After all she’s only our daughter”, Beverly mumbled to herself.
“OMG, you are the slowest woman in America. I could tell you that the President is coming and you’d still take years to get ready.”
“Hey, don’t mock me. At least I have my priorities straight. Our daughter’s graduation, you’re supposed to be on time for, the casino however, can wait.”
“OMG, that was one time. The one time that I was late for something and you never will shut up about it. The only reason you were on time is because you had enough good sense to get ready the night before. A whole day planning yourself and you still just barely made it. So there you go for priorities.”
“Oh, go get your lucky hat why don’t you.”
“I’m not kidding Bev, I will leave this house without you.”
“Yeah, yeah yeah.”
Beverly waved George off as she continued to pack for their big weekend down in Tunica, MS.
Beverly and George Austin are an older couple who have recently retired from their careers; Beverly as a school teacher and George as an insurance agent. They have lived a pretty good life and made a decent living for their family. The couple have a lovely 4 bedroom home in a well prestigious suburban area of Memphis, TN. They have three lovely children, who are now adults, working and living their own lives. The couple have been together for over 20 years, so now, that they have raised their family, and settled down in their careers; it was time to relax and the casinos was their way of enjoying the fruits of their labor. So now leaving their Cordova home from Memphis, TN, traveling 55 miles; the couple hit the highway with nothing to lose, or so they think.
Welcome to the emerald city, where high hopes and big dreams can be achieved! The lights are bright, and casino signs are lit, full of vibrate colors displaying their names, illuminating the hope of financial security and freedom that most people so richly desire. The trio as it is called, is a circle of three casinos that are connected, where people can walk through the side entrances to get from one to the other. The parking garage is connected to one of the biggest and most popular casinos within the trio. Of course it is used for customers from the other casinos as well. The parking garage is approximately four stories of parking space usually for customers who want to protect their vehicles under covered parking from weather and or who don’t want to hike it from the outside parking area. The trio is the second stop from highway 61 of Tunica’s strip of casinos.
The first stop was Harry’s formerly known as the Grand, which is now closed and was the largest of Crystal’s gaming entertainment. The second stop of trios encompasses; the Sliver Hook, the Boathouse and the Blue strike. The Sliver Hook and the Boathouse are the other two casinos that are part of Crystal’s gaming and entertainment. The total rewards players club allows gamers to enjoy benefits from all three of the casinos and hotels no matter which casino the gamer primarily prefer to gamble in. For instance a Harry’s gambler could use his players’ card and points to receive comps such as: free meals, complimentary hotel nights, gift shop purchases and etc…, from the Silver Hook or the Boathouse casinos and vice versa. It’s like a home away from home!
The luxury 63,000 square foot Sliver Hook hotel and casino happens to be the most popular of all the casinos in Tunica. The symbol of the shining sliver horse hoof leaves you with the impression of a down home good ole country lifestyle that you read about from the famous country singers in Nashville, TN. Its sister casino, the Boathouse, is shaped like a huge cabin or barn and has an old rustic charm like ranch feel to it; which fits perfectly with the Silver Hooks’ theme. Walking into the Silver Hook is like walking into Dolly Parton’s country manor or another famous country singer’s abode. You feel like luck is on your side because you are deep in the south, you maybe from the south and you haven’t sold out to the glitz and glamour of the Hollywood or Vegas lifestyle of luxury. The Sliver Hook casino is where the country folks call home and its family oriented environment says “we take care of home first”!
The Silver Hook happens to be George’s favorite casino in Tunica. You see, he has won numerous of jackpots of all different sizes in amounts. Beverly doesn’t do half bad either so together the two of them are an unstoppable force when it comes to winning. They pull up to the valet area of the casino.
“Welcome Back Mr. and Mrs. Austin, ready to get it started”, the valet attendant cheerfully said.
“Thank you, Thank you very much”, George said in his Elvis Presley’s impression.
“Oh dear, you’ve got him started”, replied Beverly.
The valet attendant just laughs at Mrs. Austin’s comical comment. Mr. Austin pulls out a ten dollar bill and tips the valet before he drives off to park their car.
“Thank you sir”, said the valet.
“Your welcome son, spread the wealth, that’s what I always say”, replied Mr. Austin.
“What wealth, please, and you better be careful George. Don’t forget we’re on a budget this weekend”, said Mrs. Austin.
“Shhh, Bev. You’re gonna jinx us with that nonsense.”
The other valets just sort of snicker while watching one of their favorite couples enter the hotel lobby.
“Please George and I mean it, no outrageous tipping or spending this weekend, ok.”
“Ugh, I swear, you really know how to suck the fun out of a weekend.”
Mrs. Austin just rolled up her eyes as they enter the hotel lobby. After check in and settling, Mr. and Mrs. Austin are ready to start their weekend.
Entering the gaming floor of several card tables, poker rooms, two bars, restaurants and hundreds of slot machines, the couple hit the ground running. Mrs. Austin started first with the Penny Frenzy! The Penny zone is a section of the casino located by the front entrance and encompasses about six to eight slot machines with the minimum bet of a penny. On the weekends the jackpot on those machines can get quite high, ranging anywhere from $3,500 to $38,000 per hit. The sweet thing about these machines is that you can actually jackpot on a penny, if you’re lucky. Of course the trick is you would most likely need to play all 10 lines at the minimum bet which makes your bet about 10 cents per spin.
However, there has rarely been a jackpot winner with only just a penny on the bet. Most people usually end of playing 2 to 3 bets per spin, making their total bet per spin on average between 45 and 90 cents per spin. Those pennies sure do add up. A person could spend hours on those machines and, if they’re smart, they will never really break their bank accounts. This is exactly what Mrs. Austin had in mind. Of course Mr. Austin has a different idea of striking gold for this evening.
“I’ll just be at the tables honey”, said Mr. Austin.
Mrs. Austin rolled up her eyes again annoyed at the idea of her husband going to the blackjack tables to bet 5 and 10 dollars per hand.
“Whatever George, just remember what I said about the money”, Mrs. Austin yelled.
Mr. Austin just gave his wife a casual wave as he galloped to the tables. The card tables are located straight down the middle of the casino and are roped off behind the dealers and the card gaming casino host. When standing off and looking at this setup, it reminds you of the red carpet, as this section is often the center of attention. The card tables are the best way to make fast money and a large sum of money at the casinos, however, the cruel trick to this particular gambling method is that most times the minimum bet is $5.00 per hand. Sometimes on rare occasions the casino might have a $2.00 per bet table. Either way you can see how fast your money goes with just a few bad hands. Of course this was not a concern for Mr. Austin as he have played these card tables before and have been successful at his efforts. So why should tonight be any different, was his final thought. Needless to say, he played his hand and he played it fiercely.
“Ok George, you’re up”, said the dealer.
Mr. Austin looked at his hand, “ummm, a 3 and a 7. That makes 10, so better draw”, as he reasoned with himself.
“I’ll draw please.”
“Here you go.” The dealer drew him a Jack.
“Woohoo!” A full 20 baby. I’m in business.
“Good hand Mr. Austin”, said the cocktail waitress.
“Thanks doll, hey, if you can, why don’t you stick around. I think your sexiness is bringing me luck sweetheart”, said Mr. Austin as he winked at the waitress.
The waitress blushes a little;
“Mr. Austin, you know I can’t do that.”
Mr. Austin just laughs at her shyness and his obvious flirting.
“Come on doll, I promise I won’t tell my wife. It’ll be a big tip in it for ya.”
Finally the waitress burst out into a laugh.
“Mr. Austin, please, you’re making me blush.”
George just smile and gave the waitress another wink. The other players were amused by his sense of humor.
So several hours go by now and Mr. Austin is lit. He has had three shots of Jack Daniels and two shots of Tequila. He decides to play one more hand before retiring for the evening.
“So what will it be George”, said the dealer.
George looks at the blurred cards in his hand and sees what looks like a 2 and an Ace. He takes another shot of his Tequila and slams it down.
“Hit me again Jack.”
He mumbles to another player, with Tequila on his breath, “I think I’m on a roll.”
“Hey, if I win this hand, I’ll give you a little something”, he slurs his words to the other player.
“Swooh, this guy is really loaded”, the other player mumbles to another player.
“I know, he reeks”, said the other player.
“Here you go George”, said the dealer.
He puts down a King on the table.
“Ay man, what’s this”, said Mr. Austin.
“It’s called a bust”, said one of the other players. They all started to laugh.
“Sorry George, better luck next time”, said the dealer.
Mr. Austin takes another shot of his Tequila and stumbles off.
He gets back to the hotel room and was met by a disapproving glare from his wife.
“Oh, honey don’t start”, said George.
“So how much.”
“How much what honey?”
“How much money have you lost George.”
“Sweetie, I haven’t lost, well, just a little.”
“Exactly, so how much?”
George pulls out his wallet from his pocket to count the money.
He flips over an empty wallet.
“Ummm hmmm, so all of it”, said Beverly.
“No, no…I couldn’t lost all the money.”
“Yep, and looks like you are staying in for the next two days.”
“Bev, no, tomorrow will be better, I promise.”
“That sounds lovely dear, just one problem.”
“And what’s that Bev”?
“What will you be gambling with, since there is no money in your wallet?”
“Ah, come on honey, we have some in our bank account. I can just draw some out tomorrow.”
“George, no. We agreed that we will take out the money that we want to gamble with and no more. Remember?”
“Yes, dear, but I’m telling you I can beat this. It’s just a minor setback, that’s all.”
“Of course it is sweetie, except that you’ve already set us back 600 dollars.”
George just sighed and flopped down on the bed in their nice hotel suite. Beverly continued to read one of her mystery novels that she brought for the trip.
“Tomorrow dear, I promise”, said George.
Beverly just rolled up her eyes and continued reading her book.
Saturday is here and with it comes the joyous redemption of hope. Hope to get back what was lost and hope to climb ahead into a better future. That was the mindset of Mr. Austin as they proceeded downstairs to the gaming floor. Since the couple was down in funds due to Mr. Austin’s elaborate gambling, Mrs. Austin took a hundred dollar bill and proceeded to the penny zone. This time she decided to lower her bet out of cautiousness of their funds. Instead of the usual 4 to 5 coins bet line she lower it to 3 coins, making her total bet 27 cents per spin. Mr. Austin proceeded to the blackjack tables again and he was determine to show them whose boss. He started off with another $300 dollars and kept his bet the same as he did the night before. At five dollars a hand, Mr. Austin was on a role.
However, so was the dealer; within a couple of short hours, Mr. Austin was back broke and not very happy.
Determined to beat the house, he tirelessly goes to the ATM machine and draws out more money. At this point Mr. Austin has over spend the couple’s budget for this trip so now he is drawing from their savings that they had put up for a rainy day. One more try, was the thought that ran through his mind as he suspiciously sticks his bank card in the machine and enters his pin number. His palms are sweaty as he nervously looks around for his wife to make sure she was not watching. Thankfully she was not. As he snatched the cash out of the machine, he peeks toward the front of the casino to find his wife still peacefully sitting at the penny machine watching the monotonous spinning. He lets out a sigh of relief, wipe the sweat from his forehead and rushes back to the blackjack tables. He threw down a hundred dollar bill and told the dealer to hit him again!
An hour later that hundred was gone, another hour another hundred gone, another hour another hundred gone, another hour another hundred gone and etc… By this time Mr. Austin was ordering shots of alcohol back to back to calm his nerves. “What the hell is going on”, was the thoughts that ran through his mind. “It’s never been like this.” Seeing the frustration in Mr. Austin’s eyes, another player patted him on the back and said, “hey man…sometimes you win some and sometimes you lose some.” He graciously accepted the other player’s attempt at consolation and thought; “but not every freaking hand and not half of the entire funds that we got.” He decided to play one more hand and then call it a night.
Meanwhile Beverly had already retired for the evening and was back in the hotel room reading her book. She actually had a pretty good night in the penny frenzy zone. Beverly managed to walk away with 150.00 more than what she had and all from a 20 dollar bill. She felt pretty good about the night except for the fact that her husband went to the ATM five times and drew out a total of 5,000.00. She was so worried about their depleted finances and worried about George’s idea of entertainment. She plan to confront him when he got back to the hotel room, but as he entered the room, she felt a cold chill from his disappointment of tonight’s affair. So, she just decided to relax, read her novel and deal with it tomorrow.
Sunday is here and with it comes one final chance for George to redeem himself with the casino and his wife. Beverly, now seem a little concern because her husband was just not at himself. She never bothers him while he is gambling, she knows not to do such a thing for fear of jinxing his luck. However, she just couldn’t overlook the anxiousness and irritation in his mood. She went to ask him how it was going but when the words formed her lips, she saw that her husband was in no mood to talk about his gambling adventures. So she decided to just let him be and top off the last day with a little breakfast and some more penny frenzy.
The couple rushed through their breakfast as George was nervously looking around and fidgeting with anything that he can get his hands on, just to calm his nerves. Finally, Beverly just couldn’t take it anymore. “George, honey, are you ok?”
“I’m fine.” he said in a very snappy and irritated tone.
George looked up at his wife and saw the concerned look in her eyes and let out a sigh.
“I just want to try one more time at the tables before we leave.”
Beverly wanted to ask her husband how much money have he lost already but again she was fearful of the respond and saw that he was just not in the mood to talk finances either.
“George, honey, maybe we should just go. I mean we have a whole day plan and besides if we leave now, we can make it home before Cathy and Brad get there. We be there in time to greet them. Wouldn’t that be lovely?”
“Bev, don’t start ok. I just need 30 minutes.”
“An hour, tops.”
Beverly just sighed and rushed through the rest of her breakfast and then they were off.
Back to the blackjack tables and this time George was on a mission. Operation win some money was the sole task of this morning’s activities. “I mean, I might not win all the money that I lost, but I can at least put what I took out of the savings back. Alright George focus”, was the pep talk that Mr. Austin gave himself. “Good morning Mr. Austin, back already. Somebody must have been lucky last night”, winked the dealer.
“No, Rick, actually I wasn’t. I lost a lot yesterday”, replied George.
“Aw, sorry to hear that Mr. Austin. Will you be betting your usual this morning?”
“Yeah, go ahead.”
George throws down a hundred dollar bill.
“One hundred, table 4”, yelled the dealer.
“Hey Rick, listen man, I really need a favor”, George lean over to whisper to the dealer.
“Uh, what seems to be the problem Mr. Austin?”
George pulls out a fifty dollar bill and tries to slide it to the dealer.
“Be a sport and try to tip the deck in my favor. Here’s a little something for your trouble. There’s more when I win”, said George.
The dealer shyly pulls back from the table and looks toward the casino host. Then he looks up toward the security cameras and then over toward the guards.
“Mr. Austin, you know I can’t do that. I will definitely lose my job and then he mouthed the words, THEY ARE WATCHING.”
“Rick please man, you’re killing me here. Look, (George points over to the bar where his wife is sitting) you see that lady sitting over there.”
“Yes, I see Mrs. Austin”, said the dealer.
“Well, I really messed up this weekend. I’m talking major screw up. I’m talking were nearly flat broke messed up. Please just cut me some slack here.”
At this point the casino host is starting to walk toward George’s table. George tries to quickly shove the fifty dollar bill down the dealer’s jacket pocket but it fell to the ground and just in time for the casino host to walk up and grab it.
“Excuse me, is this yours”, asked the casino host.
“Uh, yeah, wow, I’m so clumsy. Thank you”, replied George.
“You’re most welcome. Wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong impression and take what is not theirs”, replied the casino host.
He gave both George and the dealer a stern look and then pointed toward the ceiling.
“Oh, right, you are so right. Thank you so much. That is why I love this casino. I feel so safe here”, said George.
“Yeah well, good thing I was walking by. I should warn you sir, that whatever I don’t catch, you best believe the big eye in the sky does. So don’t you worry, nothing goes unnoticed, here.”
The casino host gives George a pat on the back and another stern look at the dealer and then walks off.
Several hours have went by and George had drained every cent from their bank account. Crushed, defeated and terrified at the mess that he has made from what was supposed to be a simple weekend of fun; he jumps up from the card table, curses the dealer and stormed over to his wife.
“Hey honey, uh, you ok”, asked Beverly.
“Let’s just go”, snapped George.
After two straight days of losing on the tables, Mr. Austin has had enough. Noticing the forceful tone in her husband voice, Beverly nervously hits the cash out button as her husband storms off towards the valet. The anger and disappointment in his demeanor must have made him move like lighting because before Beverly could get the ticket out of the machine and proceed to cash it out, her husband was halfway to the valet area. Beverly, now very concerned and afraid tries fiercely to catch up with her husband. She finally makes it to the cash machine to collect her winnings, only there are about five people ahead of her. She anxiously looks around for another cash machine, hopefully one that is free.
“Come on, there’s got to be at least one machine free. I mean everyone can’t be cashing out at the same damn time”, she frantically said to herself.
“Ah, here we go, a free machine.”
She sticks here ticket through the feeder but it didn’t take. She tries it again and again it didn’t take.
“What the hell”, she angrily said to herself.
Meanwhile the casino host was doing his usual rounds and happen to notice Mrs. Austin at the cash machine hitting and cursing. He walks over to her.
“Excuse me ma’am. Can I help you?”
“Yes, this awful contraction you got here doesn’t want to take my ticket.”
“I’m so sorry about that ma’am. Here let me try.”
The casino host takes the ticket and tries to send it through the feeder.
“So, great win huh? And it’s a beautiful day for it. You have any plans for the day?”
“Look sir, I’m in a hurry, my husband is ready to go and is probably already in the car by now. Please I just want to cash out my ticket and leave. Can you help me?”
At this point Beverly was more panic than ever as it has been at least 30 minutes since her husband told her he was ready to leave and then storms off in a fit of rage.
“Oh, I’m so sorry ma’am. The machine seems to be out of order. Why don’t we cash the ticket out at the window.”
“But it’s a very long line, sir, please”, Beverly pleaded.
“Not to worry, I’ll push you to the front of the line”, replied the host.
“Thank you sir, thank you so much.”
The casino host saw the desperation on Mrs. Austin’s face and saw how very much she wanted to catch her husband.
“Not to worry ma’am, you’re in good hands.”
He walks Beverly over to the cashiers.
“Wait here”, he instructed her.
So Mrs. Austin is waiting patiently in the spot where the host directed her to. Suddenly she sees about three or four guards rush pass her toward the back entrance of the casino. She wonders what could be going on but dismisses it and focuses back on the host with her ticket. Five minutes later, two more guards rush pass her and this time one of them shouts on his radio, COLD RED! “I wonder what that could be about”, Beverly said to herself. She looks up toward the window and saw the host’s face after listening to a message from his radio and he seem terrified. He rushes from behind the window toward the back entrance of the casino with the rest of the guards.
“Ummm, sir, I hate to bother…”, Beverly tried to say to the host but he just flew right by her. Then one of the valet guys spotted Mrs. Austin and rushed over to her.
“Mrs. Austin, please Mrs. Austin”, the valet shouted.
“What on earth is going on”, she called back.
“Please ma’am come with me.”
The valet grabs Mrs. Austin by her hand and quickly leads her to the back entrance of the casino toward the parking garage where the commotion was at.
“Why, where are we, what is going on”, demanded Mrs. Austin.
“I’m so sorry, we had no idea. I’m so very, very sorry ma’am”, replied the valet.
“Sorry about what? What is it?”
They are now on the elevator going to the fourth level of the parking garage. The elevator door opens.
“Follow me ma’am”, said the valet.
“Now, wait a damn minute. Just what in the hell is going on”, demanded Mrs. Austin.
Suddenly there were screams and sounds of sirens from an ambulance. Mrs. Austin turns and looks at the valet. Her face was full of anguish and fear.
“Ma’am, I’m so sorry.”
Beverly screams as tears ran down her face.
“Noooooooo”, she shouted
She rushed over to her husband who was now laying on the stretcher. There was so much blood. It was all on the concrete and in their car.
“How did this, who did this”, shouted Beverly.
“Block this floor off now”, shouted the host to one of the guards.
Beverly runs over to the host and starts hitting him on the chest.
“Tell me who did this. I demand answers NOW”, she shouted.
“Ma’am, calm down. Someone please calm her down. I can’t, I have to go deal with this”, said the host. He leaves Beverly and rushes off.
One of the guards rushed over to calm Mrs. Austin down. She just cried into the guard’s chest.
“What happened”, asked Beverly.
“I don’t know ma’am”, replied the guard.
The valet who brought Mrs. Austin to the parking garage walked over to try and comfort her.
“Do you know what happened”, she asked the valet.
“It would appear that Mr. Austin, your husband, shot himself.
“But I don’t understand”, cried Mrs. Austin
“Why would he….” She looked down and saw a thin white slip of paper on the ground. It looked like a receipt of some sort. So she reach down to pick it up. She unfolded the slip and it was an ATM receipt. On it was a negative balance of $2,500.00 with a last withdrawal amount of $8,000.00. Mr. Austin had lost a total of $14,000.00 over the entire weekend.