Cold Slots


buck_icon.gif rocket_icon.gif tuck2_icon.gif

Scene Title Cold Slots
Synopsis Buck's just minding his own business, having a drink at the casino bar with no bets on the table or anything of the like, when somebody else's family drama abruptly firehose erupts on his face.
Date October 23, 2009

Brooklyn — Speakeasy Hotel - Casino

The interior of the casino has that curious, old smell. Stale beer has been absorbed into the thick red-patterned carpet and absorbed through the walls over the years. There is brass railing, permanently dulled from a hundred thousand touches and countless layers of dirt. The lighting is poor and low. The brightest illumination in the entire establishment comes from the row of new video slot and poker machines that fill up a whole corner. There's twenty or so machines in total, many with different themes and with varying costs and payout.

The Speakeasy used to be one at one time. Its jazz influences can be seen in the colour scheme and a large chandelier hanging over the old wooden billiard table. Both the table and the chandelier are decidedly art deco in appearance. The class of the place is decidedly faded around the edges. It has the feel of a place that is far past its prime, and the previous owners tried to keep the look updated, but either ran out of money or desire to. The place does not serve food, though there are bowls of peanuts on the bars and tables and vending machines that pop out chips and candy.

The drinks are cheap, but seating is limited to three tables and the stools along the bar. Clearly the establishment encourages gaming over drinking and socializing. Along the side of the bar are a bank of five TVs that usually show different sporting events when the season is high, or all the same one if there's a big game on. One monitor displays the current odds for betting on various sporting events and bets can be placed with a bookie on-duty during high times or with the bartender when things are quiet.

Twice a week, there is a poker game. The game on Tuesdays is low stake with a hundred dollar buy-in. The Sunday night game is higher stakes, with a five hundred minimum. On Saturday nights, there's two blackjack tables and a roulette table with dealers and chips.

The Speakeasy is not the most hopping of places this evening. Every video poker/slot machine along the wall is occupied, but considering there's a little over a dozen machines, that's not a tremendous amount of people. A few more people watch the row of monitors, at horse races, football and hockey games. They curse or cheer as results come in and either shuffle out or towards the bookie at the end of the bar to place another bet. Tuck himself is behind the bar. The manager doesn't usually sling drinks - especially considering he's a recovering alcoholic, but the bartender needed a dinner break.

So Buck's had quite a day. And there's nothing for unwinding after one of those like visiting a strange bar. It may be a casino, but Buck's not the type to be shy about a drinking establishment's theme. He heads right over to one of those bar stools, leaning his hips against it while he looks up at a football-game on one of the monitors. He requests a Jack and Coke.

Tuck's cleaned up from his pawnie days. He wears contacts more often than glasses, and wears a neat, but inexpensive suit most nights. Hey, the carpet might be fading, the decor might be out of style, but he can at least give the illusion that this place has some class. He mixes up Buck's drink and sets it on the bartop. "So, you came here for a game, or just looking for cheap booze?"

Buck turns from looking at the screen to look at Tuck, and his usual grin surfaces. "Well, hi," he says, shaking his head a little. "I dunno. Don't got a /whole/ lot of money, but…how much the games around here run?" He turns sideways so that he can see more of the establishment.

The sun is— set, the birds are— not singing. Red Hook feels like the Rookery if the Rookery would've slapped on some cheap perfume and a polyester knockoff of a brand someone would actually recognize, which is probably why Rocket and the other rats are here tonight, checking stuff out, checking the people out, palming wallets on the sidewalks and diligently carousing between dive bars, harrassing the men and women posted at street corners, going through fake IDs one by one. Rocket actually drove them here.

He's due to drive again, which is why he isn't scavenging for booze, himself. There's a girl on his shoulder who's a few sheets to the wind, though, and there's is a heated exchange behind the row of slot machines. You're not my dad, she's arguing, a slight edge of hysteria entering her tinny voice. She sets her hand son her hips, her elbow protruding into Buck's field of view. Rocket isn't sure how to debate that point. No; if he was her dad, he probably— wouldn't have got her drunk or find the prospect of her passed out and shut up less attractive than the former.

"Fine!" he exclaims, tossing his hands up. "Fine, I'll go get you another beer. Jeez. Jeeeeez Louise."

Even though they've been estranged for years, Tuck would still know the pitch of his son's voice anywhere. He opens his mouth to say something to Buck, but then that voice draws his complete attention. He moves down the bar, towards the voice. "…Rocket?" There's a hopeful note to his voice. But he knows that it's just as likely that the teenager will head the other way the moment he spots his dear old dad.

Buck looks over at the irritating girl's voice, and then Tuck seems to be looking in the same direction. Baffled, the cowboy looks between father, son, and questionable female companion. Then he decides to stay out of it, picking up his drink and having a swallow.

Girls distract Rocket sometimes. This girl is particularly distracting. He doesn't hear his old man's voice emanating from over the blocky barrier of the slot machines, draws himself up to his weedy full height, instead, huffing and blustering surfeit irritation that he's been driiiving people around aaaall night, hoping to get into this girl's skivvies, and she just wants to get wasted. How are they going to have sensitive conversations if she's passed out or puking?

He comes stomping around and into view of those at the bar, grinding an angry shoeprint in the carpet with every step he takes. His curly crop doesn't bear all that much similarity to the black thatch on top of Tuck's head, and nor do their other physical shapes have much in common. Still, about seven strides in, a certain family resemblence becomes clear when Rocket stops, stiffens, his eyes big in his head as he stares at Tucker from across the bar and the floor.

At first, Tucker only has tunnel vision. He doesn't see the drunk girl on his son's shoulder or register the fact that he's in a bar at sixteen. He just sees him, and he hasn't seen him in months. So the fact that the teenager is whole and in one piece is enough to make the casino owner smile. But then like a camera zooming back, he starts to see the whole picture. He steps out from behind the bar and starts to slowly approach his son. He glances briefly back to Buck, but any chatty bartender/client stuff will have to wait for the moment.

Buck just blinks back at Tucker, apparently worried that he might be expected to do something about this situation. Fortunately, Tucker doesn't say anything, so Buck can just tilt his head down and hide behind his drink.

The boy's face clouds with accusation. Not immediately— it takes about two, three seconds. His dark eyes squint to razor edges, the wide frog proportions of his mouth clamping down to grieving discontent.

"C'mon, Min," he says, suddenly, closing his fingers tight on the girl's wrist. Even drunk, her upbringing and lifestyle lends itself well to knowing when to retreat. Parsing signs of urgency. Rocket Tucker suddenly getting all physical on a girl is a sign of urgency, particularly with a big stranger approaching from around a bar. "We're going home." The emphases in his voice have an ugly bite of acid in them. He tugs. There's no cruelty in the force he exerts, but the girl rather literally falls into step with him, her shabby skirt swinging.

She tosses Tuck a backward frown, before sliding Buck a curious glance, her features softening slightly. He's hiding behind his drink, she wishes she had a drink to hide behind. That's like having something in common.

"Rocket, please. You haven't talked to me for months. Give me five minutes. Tell me how you're doing." Tuck's suddenly pleading with the teenager, regardless of who overhears, who witnesses. His whole staff of his brand new establishment can see, if not hear him. "If you're not going to let me try and make anything up to you, at least tell me you're okay. Do you need money? This is my place now. I got off Staten. Still don't touch the booze. Going kind of legit. If you ever need a place to stay, a room…" he rocks a half step forward. "…you won't even have to talk to me. I'd give you a key and you could come and go as you wanted. Please. I'm still your father, for fuck's sake." It isn't a cruel curse. Instead, it sounds desperate.

Buck tries not to look at the father and son reunion situation happening…pretty much right in front of him. As his eyes skip away, they land on the girl, who he finds is looking right at him. He blinks and lifts his eyebrows. Still got that glass up there, though.

Min isn't at her most subtle right now, but fortunately, the two Tucker men are kind of too busy making faces at each other to notice her tactlessly shrugging at the cowboy stranger. 'I dunno, man. But I wish I had a drink.'

"Yeah!" Rocket barks, apparently as careless about the public scene he's making as his old man is. "I noticed you left! Your shop's fuckin' empty! People said you were dead!" Granted, that's the default answer for anybody who no-shows at the Rookery for a couple weeks, as often reliable as not, but one would suppose that after the Bomb and subsequent spectacles of people on fire and their house standing empty and unglassed in the suburbs, the reminder was not taken kindly. "I'm fi—ne."

The last word winds up broken, interrupted and disjoint, when Rocket stumbles to a halt in front of a bouncer who just stepped forward. The burly man looks up at Tuck queryingly, professional stoicism hiding whatever internalized awkwardness he might feel about intervening in this situation. Guy's just trying to do his job.

"If I was dead, would I have been able to put a 'closed, thank you for your business' sign on the door?" Tuck waves his hands in the air to indicate a vaguely ghost-like hand gesture. Like he came back from the grave to display signage. "Fuck. Staten never gets rumours right when it counts. I thought everyone knew I was moving here. I had no way to contact you, Rocket! You do a damn good job of avoiding me completely. How was I supposed to let you know I was coming here?"

Tuck steps forward and pinches the bridge of his nose. He folds his arms over his chest. The bouncer is eyed, then he waves a dismissive hand. He's not going to force Rocket to stay, because he knows that will do no good. Well, he imagines it won't, imagines it would only cause resentment to grow. His voice drops and he says quietly, "I'm glad you're all right. You could go by the shop to see if I was okay, but I have no way of keeping tabs on you. You could have been dead all this time and I wouldn't have known."

The bartender that was on dinner break returns to the bar, eyes the commotion and then thumbs towards the Tuckers. He asks Buck, "What's going on here?"

Buck looks over at the bartender, expression quietly horrified by the scene that's taking place on the casino floor. He's glad for an excuse to turn back to the bar. "Uh…I don't…I don't really know. Guess the skinny guy's the other guy's son and they ain't seen each other for awhile," he murmurs. "I'm…tryin' not to get involved." A suffering smile is bestowed upon the bartender and Buck finishes up the drink. "Lemme get another Jack and Coke?"

It's probably good for everyone, that the bouncer in question subsides. The kid doesn't relax, exactly, but enough tension goes out of his lanky spine that he no longer looks like he's about to clench up into a tiny circle and pop a vertebrate out in some kind of defensive projectile maneuver before running away. "You weren't supposed to leave."

It's probably the loudest Min's ever heard the boy be, judging from the wince of her features— or else that might actually be some form of sympathy for the older Tucker. Fingers tangled into a secure knot, the Staten rats proceed to flee, in tandem, whisking around the bouncer's burly frame and dissipating into the evening. Somewhere in the recesses of the casino, a half-dozen relatively polite patrons allow their eyeballs to swivel out of averted position, clear throats, proceed again to pull levers and converse.

The bartender is a man in his forties with dark hair that's graying a bit at the temples. He grabs up a glass and starts to mix up Buck's drink. "The 'other guy' owns this place. And I heard his kid won't talk to him. That's him, huh?" He cranes his neck, then shrugs. He sets the drink in front of Buck.

Meanwhile, Tuck is left staring at his kid with a baffled expression. Teenagers are hard enough to figure out when they're not the estranged street rat son of gangsters and lowlifes born of an awkward and unfulfilling relationship. "I wasn't supposed to…? What was I supposed to do, sit there and wait til the day the cops decided to take back Staten and let myself be arrested? This is better. Safer." But Rocket hasn't heard him out yet. He doesn't hold out hopes that this will be any different. He makes no effort to get Rocket or any of his friends to stay. In fact, the elder Tucker seems to deflate visibly.

Buck looks over his shoulder as the teens flee. He first looks sympathetic, but then quickly forces his expression into stoic neutrality. "Hey, buddy," he addresses Tuck, "I know you own this place an' everything, but how 'bout you let me buy you a drink?"

Tuck stands at the doorway until it's obvious Rocket ain't coming back. Then he moves to the end of the bar and drops down onto the stool. He rubs his neck and stares at a brightly coloured collection of little plastic cocktail swords. He looks down the bar towards Buck and murmurs, "Thanks," a beat, "…but I don't drink. Not anymore."

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License