#itsartchallenge entry — Red

Twenty-one.

‘Third twelve. How considerate of you. And yes, I’m what most would call a regular. At least to the place. I prefer other tables.’

‘Red. That’s why I wasn’t sure. I could have sworn I’ve seen you here and there, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.’

Fourteen.

‘Odds. Second twelve. So how long have you been here?’

‘For… ah, shucks!’

Laughter erupted around the table, some heartfelt and sympathetic, some mocking.

Six.

‘Red. A few weeks. I keep saying I’m just passing by, but work seems scarce.’

‘Evens. Black. I know the feeling. Being left on ice eats away at you. Eventually, you feel like you’re spent for good.’

Eighteen.

‘Exactly. I’ve been in that hole before, I hope I don’t fall into it again.’

‘First column. Evens. And speaking of holes, there’s other tables here. Why do I never see you elsewhere?’

‘This table is nice. Has its drawbacks, what with the pot and such, but it’s out of the way.’

Twenty-six.

‘Red. The music is bearable this far away. I’d have gone deaf if I played near the center.’

‘Hah, this much is true. Second column. Fourth row. You really need an implant to stick around there. Just a quick flick and all that noise is filtered out.’

‘Probably, but those are rather expensive. The trustworthy ones, anyway. And I wouldn’t want to suddenly get ransomware in my ears, of all places.

Thirty-two.

‘Ten. Black. I can imagine that would be rather annoying. How about the traditional way? Stuff your ears silly? It’s not like you’re going to listen to anyone.

‘No thanks, I would indeed look silly. And besides, I don’t want to gimp myself. The way I see it, you never know when you’re going to need to hear things.’

‘Hmm, yes, you’re definitely quite new to here.’

Eight.

‘Red. Why do you say so?’

‘Second row. Odds. Third column. You’re too considerate for this place. Those who come here eventually throw caution to the wind. Try for that big buck. But early on, they always avoid tables like this.’

‘Oh? Why is that?’

Three.

‘Black. Second twelve. Concern.’

‘Concern?’

‘They’re worried these tables are insecure. That they’ll suck them dry without giving anything back.’

‘Sounds to me like they put a lot of trust into a face over a tie.’

‘Maybe.’

Twenty-six.

‘Red.’

‘Do you only bet red?’

‘Pardon me?’

‘Third twelve. Fifth row. I only see you betting red or skipping, aside from that fluke. Why is that?’

‘Oh. It’s a…force of habit. And a bit of a hunch.’

Sixteen.

‘Second column. Odds. This habit seems to be working.’

‘Tonight, at least.’

‘Or is it the hunch doing the work?’

‘You could say that, I guess. I don’t mind.’

Eleven.

‘Red. First column. Will you humor me?’

‘Perhaps. What would you have me do?’

‘Take my bet. It will play into your habit, in a way.’

‘How so?’

‘I bet you can’t guess the next three reds that come up. What do you say?’

‘I’m sorry.’

Thirty-one.

‘You won’t take the bet?’

‘Oh no, I meant that fluke with the number. I feel partly responsible.’

‘Second column. Red. It’s fine, I can take the loss. I wouldn’t be here if I couldn’t. What will it be?’

‘I’ll bite. I’m ahead tonight anyways. Count them down.’

Three fingers raised.

‘Splendid. Either way, drinks are on me. Got any preference?’

‘Yes. Sidecar, please. They have pretty good cognac here, surprisingly.’

‘Oh?’

Four.

‘Red. I didn’t expect much of it given the atmosphere, but yeah, best cognac on the station. Has the fancy bars beat, hands down.’

‘Third twelve. Odds. I never would have guessed. So you’re a connoisseur?

‘I have my preferences. I’m not certified, though.’

Nineteen.

Two fingers raised.

‘Red. But of the few things I know a lot about, cognac is such a thing.’

‘Second column. Red. I’ll keep that in mind.’

‘Oh, actually…’

Five.

One finger raised.

‘I didn’t ask about the stakes.’

‘Black. First twelve. No, you didn’t. Rookie mistake.’

‘Indeed. I guess I put my trust in the face above the tie.’

‘This is a necklace.’

‘Which can be considered a tie of pearls. It’s a beautiful piece, by the way.’

‘Thank you.’

Twenty-eight.

‘So what are the stakes?’

‘Black. Third column. Evens. If you lose, a commiseration drink. Another sidecar, perhaps.’

‘That’s generous, if disappointing. Are you sure?’

‘Yes. I did put you on the spot for my amusement, after all.’

‘And if I win?’

Thirteen.

‘First column. Black. I’d like to keep it a secret. I promise you won’t be disappointed.’

‘Sounds thrilling. I’m not sure I would have gone for it had I known beforehand, but I guess I’m committed.’

‘You don’t like your chances? You’re almost there.’

Six.

‘It’s nothing personal. Just… in my line of work, uncertainty is prime grounds for trouble. I like to avoid trouble.’

‘Black. One to eighteen. That’s understandable. You wouldn’t want trouble out there. There’s way too much vacuum around when your ship is flying between systems.’

‘Yep. Except I don’t recall mentioning I work ships.’

‘That was just my deduction. I’m a regular here, remember? I can tell a smuggler from a distance.’

‘I certainly did not mention that.

Twenty.

‘I also have some newfound concerns regarding that drink. Is it laced?’

‘Red. Evens. Maybe. Maybe not.’

‘That fifty-fifty is a bit more than I bargained for.’

‘You did also complain it was disappointing.’

‘And about trouble. Am I under arrest?’

‘Do you really think the police would go through all this trouble for an arrest?’

‘I suppose not.’

Two.

‘So what will it be?’

‘I suppose I am committed. And out of a job. Still rather concerned, though.’

‘That’s not quite an answer yet. Red.’

‘I know. Just biding my time. It pays to be patient.’

Seventeen.

‘Red.’

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