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The hidden years in Canada 56, the slot machine

Door San-Daniel gepubliceerd op Thursday 11 June 17:03


The jackpot machine

The truck was parked in the yard of the drywall corporation and Monday would be loaded up again and waiting for us. We punched out and walked to the old Pontiac. It had been a long day. Obediently the motor started at the first touch, the deep rumble of the exhaust gave joy again, the old American had been raised to life again .. Richard turned the chrome button on the radio, we heard just the announcement from CKXl .. stickmen and we knew Satus Quo was being plugged again with pictures or matchstickmen. ‘We're back,’ Richard, ‘laughed amongst ordinary people. Do we go right to POPs, ‘said Richard? ‘Oh no,’ I, ‘replied we'll go there tomorrow morning when we meet Don and Bev. They are right that they do not go out, they are saving their money for the Stampede and now they are working together on a project. ‘

Rico walked back from the pay phone in Norma Jeanne's, ‘I spoke with Don,’ he had announced, ‘and they can not leave, nearly exam time eh. But tomorrow is okay. ‘ ‘You talked to the moon man,’ Norma Jeanne wanted to know? Richard looked at her puzzled. ‘I explained, you were going to say hello to Neil Armstrong on behalf of Norma Jeanne and her village.’ ‘Oh,’ said Rico quasi surprised. ‘Did you get through?’ ‘No,’ said my friend, Hillbilly Rico, ‘he was not at home.’ ‘Better luck next time,’ said Norma Jeanne and slipped our quarters for the coffee in her apron pocket.

‘Our life is pretty empty,’ I said, ‘if we didn’t have Bev and Don then we had no more lifeline to the city and then we would just be drifters. We work, meet people in coffee stops, if you keep to the same stops, after a while they know you and greet you, but the rest does not matter. You drink with your friends, who are actually colleagues, is this the life Richard Young? ‘ ‘I'm afraid so,’ said Rico, 'but we can always wash and shave, and then go to the Queen's. Maybe there are some boys from our work and some lovely ladies. ‘


At the Queen's door we were greeted by the doorman who held his hand out. ‘You are early men, it's not a ladies night but the Stampede ensures that there is good business, the females come in droves.’ In passing we put a few coins in his hand. ‘Have a nice evening, gentlemen, 'laughed the bouncer’ and you know it, huh? It goes as it stands. ‘ ‘You know,’ I said, ‘I've almost reached saturation point. Women, beers, or work, women and beers. ‘ ‘You're in a strange mood,’ Richard said as he looked at me sideways. '' The meaning of life is life and if it is more fun than that, it's a nice bonus. That near miss has really gotten to you' and that was true. It had thrown me back to my roots. I had a growing sense that I was a passerby, I was working in the crude raw hide world but I would not stay there. It was not a feeling of dissatisfaction more of instability.

When we stepped inside the heavy thoughts had disappeared as if magic. Big John sat alone behind two pints of beer. He sat behind our ‘Thursday’ table, the Indians fight table. ‘Hey John,’ we shouted and waved to him. The waiter came over and a bit later Richard and I sat behind two pints of beer and Big John behind four. That's what happens when the minimum order is two pints. John drank without too much talking and a cowboy band began to play. Ride captain ride, what a relief, they played a soft rock cover. There were some nearly Nashville tunes but it promised to be a pleasant evening. ‘What are you looking at  Big John,’  asked Rico and I noticed that John looked fixated in a certain direction.

'Indians I asked? Women? ‘ ‘No better than all them together,’ chuckled John and I found to my consternation that he had just put a wad of chewing tobacco in his mouth while he took a swig of beer. Boy, I had seen primitive figures but this beat everything that must have had a terrible taste. ‘Better than females and Indians,’ Rico asked as if there was nothing more in the world? ‘Yep,’ said John. I followed his gaze and saw a cowboy throwing money into a slot machine. A new one had been installed, still with a handle on the side, but also connected electrically, so that lights flashed accompanied by all sorts of stupid noises while the fruit discs turned, spoiling your ears.

‘The one armed bandit,’ I asked? ‘Don’t do it John man, you throw more in than comes out, it works 60 to 40.’ ‘What do you mean 60 to 40,’ said John. ‘The machine picks up out every $ 100 bucks, $ 60 and returns only 40. '' Yes, ‘said John,’ and? ‘ ‘The chance that you’ll get the 40% is small.’ ‘That's not so bad said,’ John, ‘I’ll sit here for a while and then I’ll go there and throw something in,’ Rico came to my aid, ‘John sometimes they are adjusted to 70 to 30.’ ‘Does not matter to me,’ John said, ‘What I put in, I'll get out.’ ‘Then you have to know for  yourself, 'I thought. John got up and the muscles on his muscles rippled when he put his hand into his pocket and pulled out a handful of dollars. He walked over to the machine and grabbed with his other hand, the cowboy who was playing from behind the machine. We grabbed our beers and sat at the bar near him as to not miss anything.

‘You're finished playing,’ we heard John condemn the unfortunate cowboy, who tomorrow would have a blue arm where John had grabbed him. The cowboy looked at the gigantic guy and chose eggs for money. ‘Yes sir,’ he said and tipped his hat. John threw a coin into the slot and pulled the lever. The three discs went flying around along the screen and the lights and sounds took away your sensible mind. Nothing! Well, well, growled John, and he put again a coin in the slot. This time he worked the arm more carefully and when the discs stopped, John swore loudly. A bell with a pear and cherry. ‘Well the Damn Damn,’ shouted John, ‘that could have been 4 beers’. The owner who was drying glasses behind the bar looked in our direction and we stepped away from John.


When John was almost through his change and frustration ran high he spat a brown ray of  chewing tobacco against the wall and the machine rang. Horns drew attention, lights flashed on. Proudly John looked around. He counted, ‘ha ha,’ he said to Rico, ‘I have thrown in $ 12 and I’ve recovered 10,’. 'Good man,' I said, 'come let other people play, you are only two dollars out, we'll have a beer. ‘ He shook me off with a feverish look. ‘Those two will come out, as well.’ ‘What a simple one,’ said Rico, but soft enough so that John would not hear him, and fold him over the bar.

This does not make me happy, not Haaaapppy..,’ roared John when he put in his last two coins. The last coin went in and I caught myself thinking, that I really hoped he would get a jackpot because I foresaw major problems. He stood there and his muscles rolled and tensing them and flexing them together. The discs came to a standstill. Cickety click and there was the result.


Nothing,’ roared John, ‘how is it possible’ and he spat his wad now against the bar that caused a big splash spot. He walked over to the machine and embraced it, or so it looked. He flexed his muscles and dropped slightly through the knees and then with an effort that made his face turn red, he lifted the machine off the ground while he walked away from the wall. The safety screws were jerked from the wall. The electrical wiring crackled and sparked a blue rainbow and then made a short circuit. Our part of the bar was immediately enveloped in darkness, the fuse had done his work. There was a bang and a sigh and then wood being splintered, when the lights came on again the bouncer was on the floor with a bleeding head wound and the door behind him was hanging off its hinges.

We ran to the door and saw the silhouette of Big John who was wrapped in a macabre dance moving towards his pickup truck. I saw the figure in the distance lift the machine over his head and slam it into the trunk. Even where we were you could hear the clink of glass and coins. ‘What a bully of a man,’ Rico said upset. ‘Here comes trouble, I said we’ll sit down, drink our beers and go home.’ That would take some time because while the band started a tune again, a real tear jerker, patches, we drank our glass and ordered another round we were just sort of forgetting what had happened when Rico was tapped on the shoulder by the barman and there was a policeman beside him. ‘This is one of them,’ said the bartender.

‘One of what,’ I asked? ‘the Neanderthalers,’ said the bartender in an evil way. 'What is this about,' I asked? ‘It is not difficult,’ said the RCMP officer, ‘I ask questions and you give short answers. If that is too difficult for you then you can come along to the station. Who was this man who walked through the closed door with the fruit machine?‘ ‘That was John,’ Sir, I said. ‘ Big John, ‘chimed in Rico. ‘Have I spoken to you,’ asked the cop? ‘Sorry sir,’ Rico said. ‘Tell me what you saw,’ said the agent. ‘I have not seen anything,’ I said. ‘The light was out.’ ‘Why then,’ he said ‘ did you call the man that walked out with the fruit machine, John?’ ‘I assumed it was him, the machine was gone, and John as well, and the lights went out, and I’d seen him put money in.’

‘Exactly,’ said the policeman, ‘still anything to add.’ he asked Rico? ‘No, Rico said,’that is how it went. ‘ ‘What is this man’s surname,’ said the agent. ‘I do not know,’ I said, ‘We know him as John.’ ‘Where do you know him from,’ he asked? ‘I know him from building,’ I said, ‘we have worked together at Place Concorde.’ ‘A colleague then?’ ‘Yes,’ I nodded. ‘You don’t know the name of your colleague ?’ I nodded, yes that is right.‘ ‘Where does this man live, 'was the next question? 'I really do not know. They employs hundreds of people there, I was not in his team. ‘ ‘Who's the foreman there,’ said the policeman now somewhat friendlier. ‘The lip,’ I said. ‘We know him as the lip.’ ‘Do you know something more,’ said the policeman Rico? ‘Louis the lip, sir, for the rest I do not know where he lives, I get paid by the hour, like my mate.’ ‘So John and mr Lip are working at the Concorde towers.’

‘Will he be there on Monday so,’ said the oficer? ‘Yes I think so,’ I said. ‘Nice may I see you ID.’ He wrote some data down. ‘So,’ he said, ‘you're a young lorry driver. ' I nodded. ‘There's only one problem,’ the man said, ‘You are under the drinking age.’ We knew we’d get a hefty fine. ‘I was young,’ the policeman said, ‘don’t touch your beer and go home now and there is no fine. If the data is not correct and we can’t get this mr Lip nor John at Concorde’s then you’ll go to court, is that clear? ‘ We nodded and so we left the big man's world.


San Daniel 2015

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Je mag wel de verantwoordelijkheid dragen om een grote truck te rijden maar je mag geen biertje drinken?
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