The Roaming Gambler

You’ve won the lottery, maybe an 18-fold footy accumulator. The point is it’s a shit load of cash money. Your first instinct no doubt would be to excitedly flock to the Trafford Centre, like the giddy little consumer you are. Maybe a new car? Deposit for a house? A Michael Kors something or other?

They’re usually the first port of call when we come into some form of monetary gain. But should they be? They’re all just things, things that we inevitably will pick up along the way. So why not use it to live? Make some memories? See the world?

Honestly, put the Louis Vuitton back on the shelf, compose yourself as you do. Quickly pack a bag and get yourself somewhere before Theresa May locks us all into a Britain based Big Brother, as Brexit looms.

(Nothing more than satirical exaggeration, I’m aware they’ll let us out occasionally)

You’ve got that career break, you’ve got the money in the bank. You’ve avoided the temptation to board the party flight to Ibiza, and blow the lot on Class A narcotics. So where do you go?

I get the first flight to NYC. The Big Apple. I’d wander down to Greenwich Village, have a coffee in a cup not corrupted with the financial entity that is Starbucks. Cafe Vivaldi, open mic night, hanging out in Bob Dylan’s old haunt watching the burgeoning musicians of the city do their thing. Hot dog from a stall on a random street corner, and a stroll through Central Park. Empire State Building? No, because I’m fucking terrified of heights, and shook uncontrollably as I climbed the ladder to my loft to grab the rucksack I’m currently taking on tour with me.

I head down to Chicago, another big fuck off hot dog, cause I’m in Chicago after all. Get suited up, hit the clubs, in Al Capone’s backyard. Meet some acquaintances who show me the town. Luckily for me American’s love a Yorkshire accent. Thank you very kindly Alex Turner. Rent a car, a good Ford F-150, and hit Route 66. Bruce Springsteen full whack, windows wound down, looking out onto what seems an infinite carpet of tarmac. Blue skies, looking out onto the eerily barren dust bowl. Breathe in the air. It’s time to lose myself.

Santa Monica Bay baby. Its charm, its beach, its pier. Again my dialect attracts those American girls in bikinis that provoke drooling. It’s amazing where a few accurate Jon Snow impressions can get you. Head to Los Angeles, the city of angels. Take a stroll down the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Grab a Coke, roller skate through the streets of Downtown L.A. I’m aware that I’ve never roller skated in my life but you see them doing it in all the shows and it just looks cool as fuck.

Back in the Ford. Cruising through good old Cali’. Bob Dylan full whack, windows wound down. Monterey Bay, the setting of John Steinbeck’s “Cannery Row”. John Steinbeck’s literary genius is integrated into my very mind and soul, so this is a big deal. Visit the old haunts where I’d hung out with Mac and the boys in my mind. Head to Salinas. The centre of the Steinbeck universe. Follow in the footsteps of the fictional characters that have guided me through my youth.

On to San Francisco, and it’s cable cars. Saunter like a tourist across the Golden Gate Bridge. Escape from the hustle, the rat race, and head over to Yosemite National Park. Spend some time and chill with mother nature, she’s neglected enough as it is. Take deep breaths as the breathtaking views remind me of the sobering fact that I’m merely an animal on a rotating, organic ball of water in a random solar system. Feel like I’ve found myself, connect with my surroundings…

It’s then I know it’s time for Vegas.

Get back in the Ford. Elvis Presley full whack, windows wound down. Viva Las Vegas. Sin City. The winnings are slowly evaporating now. The Ford doesn’t half guzzle fuel. So, one last blow out. I actually do the mature thing and book the flight home before booking a night at the Bellagio. 4 nights, in a suite. This actually reduces to 2 nights when reception kindly point out that I actually can only afford the two.

Whiskey on the rocks. $20. Iced water it is. Head out, take a wander. Head to Paris Las Vegas. Ride the High Roller, despite still being absolutely shit scared of heights. Somehow I get dragged on to the Stratosphere, again despite the extreme, intolerable Vertigo.

Pause for renowned snap with Las Vegas sign.

The final day is drawing to a close, as is the trip. It’s safe to say my bank account is also glad at the prospect of heading home, and weeping as it remains neglected. One more blowout, then trudge back to my 9-5, meal preps on a Sunday night, and Love Island.

So, the last night in Vegas. Has to be the MGM Grand, doesn’t it. Have a flutter, few cocktails, few very loosely dressed females. The last night, we’ll go out in style.

It’s 2:30 am. I’m clammy, I’m extremely red. My shirt is undone 4 buttons from the top. The last $1000 has quickly diminished to a solitary $200. It turns out I’m shite at Blackjack. I’m clutching to a half empty bottle of champagne, and those loosely dressed women have instead flocked to the actual ballers, instead of the young pretender in a Primark blazer.

Fuck this. I accept defeat, and with difficulty make my way across the floor, attempting to guzzle from an empty bottle of champagne. As I approach the lifts, and what seems like an incredibly questionable hen party, my right hand reminds me that I in fact still have a $200 chip in my pocket.

Ah, when in Rome. I plonk the champagne bottle down on a passing waiters tray and slump over to the roulette table.

“Bets are open”.

I look down at the 36 numbers before me, attempting to deduce where to put the last of my fortune. Got an idea. I toss the chip into the air like a coin, in the hope that fate, destiny, some bullshit like that, will guide me to the number that will secure me more untold riches. The dealer looked pissed off as the chip bounced and landed on the floor by his foot, so I hastily scramble to pick it up and place it on my lucky number, 27.

The 27th October 1993, the day mankind changed for the worse. The day I was brought into the world. The number 27 has subsequently haunted me for the better or worse throughout my rather mundane existence. So I had some intoxicated certainty that this was the way to go.

“No more bets please”, the dealer announced, as the ball began its erratic, hypnotic rotation of the wheel. I wasn’t really arsed, as I taxed a glass of champagne off a passing waiters tray. I half-heartedly turned away, as I began to examine the room. The hen party were now sporting devil ears, and rambunctiously attempting to seduce the barman. Had to be Brits.

I reflected on the people I’d met and the memories made during this short tour of American west. I celebrated the relief that temporary liberation of a mind usually chained in monotonous, day-to-day repetition, had brought. The stroke of luck gifted to me had allowed me to temporarily lose myself, nevertheless I now would have to return to that rather unrewarding way of life to obtain the funds necessary, to fund further spiritual freedom.

Completely forgetting I had staked the last of my travel funds, and that the result of the wager was still pending, I groggily sipped the last of my champagne, and turned to head to my room. Still had to pack.

“27 Red”

I froze, and span slowly on my heel. The dealer had a grin as he pushed $7,400 worth of chips towards me. It took me approximately 13 seconds, but I finally came too, and sheepishly headed back to the table. Someone up there was seriously looking down on me. I jokingly tossed a $200 chip at the dealers feet as I headed to cash my extended lease of life in.

Unlocked my phone.

 

“Siri – Flight to Thailand.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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