Jackpot – A Flash Fiction Story in 488 Words

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“So how long have you been doing this?”  For just a moment, Gary’s eyes flicked to the flashing lights.  He couldn’t help it.  It was still his first week working on the Vegas strip and the novelty had not yet worn off.

“Almost a year,” came the soft response.  Every night this week he and Iona worked together and Gary looked forward to the moments where they could steal a moment or two to chat. 

“Oooooh, Olaf!” came the high pitched squeal as a little girl interrupted their conversation.  Gary stepped aside as he watched Iona kneel down and put an arm around the girl.  This wasn’t his ideal job, but he had it easy in the costume department.  Just a fake beard and baby.  His beer belly was all his own.  He couldn’t imagine what it would be like to sweat the hot Vegas nights away under pounds of plush and wire. 

Gary had only seen Iona without her costume head on a few times, but it was enough to know two things: 1) he didn’t ever want to have to wear something like that; and 2) she was a dark-haired, blue-eyed beauty. 

Iona straightened up after the girl’s father took a picture.  She watched as they went on their way, leaving nothing in her tip jar.  Gary came up beside her.   “They could have at least given you a dollar,” he muttered. 

Iona shrugged.  “The night’s still young.  We’re a drunk or a jackpot away from hitting it big.” 

Just then, a couple stumbled over to them.  “Oh my god, I love you!” cried the woman.  “Hon, take my picture with the Hangover guy!”

“Cheese,” Gary said as he pulled the woman closer.  Her boyfriend snapped a picture.  “Keep up the good work, man,” he slurred as he shoved a bill into his hands.  Gary looked down at it.  It was a twenty.  He waved it at Iona.  “Looks like you were right.”

Before they could say anything else, a car came to a screech as it pulled off almost onto the sidewalk in front of them.  The passenger door swung open.   A young man leaned his head out as a violent retching gave way to a torrent of vomit hitting the street.  Iona and Gary jumped back from the mess.  Around them loud cheering gave way to groans.  “Woohoo, jackpot!” came a voice from the crowd. 

One slam of a car door later, the young man was gone.  Gary still had the twenty-dollar bill in his hand.  “What was that you said?” he laughed.  “Looks like we got our drunk and jackpot.”  Iona laughed, too. 

“Come on,” Gary said, pulling her by the hand.  The laughter bolstered his confidence.  “Let’s move.  On the way you can tell me about your boyfriend.”

“I don’t have a boyfriend,” Iona replied.

Gary smiled.  He didn’t know if he had a chance with Iona, but he was all in.      

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