"Be a sweetheart, will you, Angel? Dance my final set for me? I have a date."

"You must be joking; no one's tipping out there. Couldn't you ask Cindy?"

"She's on now."

"Leanne, then?"

"Leanne's already left. Please, Angel? Here, I'll even pay you."

She offers Angel her entire wad of tips. Angel shoves it away.

"God, he must be some date. Who?"


"The dealer? No shit! How'd you ever wrangle a date with him? And why bother?"

"Whadaya mean, 'why bother'?"

"LeanneŚmaybe she's wrongŚclaims he's a fag."

Michelle cocks her head.

"And why, do you suppose, she made such a claim?"

"Prob'bly  because he turned her down; what else? Have fun."

"Thanks, Angel. Thanks a million!"

Angel exits; Cindy enters. Michelle, with shaky hands, applies her make-up. (Nothing flashy; keep it simple. One long, loving night is all I ask.) 



When Michelle, at length, emerges, the pit is dark. Has he left already? Anxiously, Michelle surveys the sceneŚleaning against the bar, braced against disappointment... then spots him in the dimness, putting up chairs. Hope revived, she settles onto a barstool.

"Buy you a drink, Michelle?"

It is Steve.

"No, thank you."

"Morgan's got the jitters worse than you."

"I beg your pardon?"

"Skip it... Why not have that drink? He'll be a while. Looks like you could use one."

"Why; do I look bad?"

Steve smiles, scans her up and down.

"If you were stepping out with me, I'd have a heart attack. Meaning you look terrific. Fresh as an unpicked daisy; Morgan will approve."

"Sounds like you know Morgan pretty good."

Steve sips his beer.

"We've talked."

"About me?"

"Come on, have a nightcap. Liquor loosens the lips and warms the tongue." Michelle keeps glancing at Morgan as he brushes down the blackjack table. "Don't worry, he's not likely to leave this dump without you."

"How would you know?"

Steve lifts his hands, apologetically, retracting any offense.

"A guess, is all."

He takes another sip of his last-call beer. A trace of foam adheres to his upper lip. Michelle, although on guard, succumbs to curiosity.

"So, you and he talk?"

"From time to time."

"Tonight, for instance?"


"And Morgan said he was going out with me?"

"In passing."

"And? Anything else?"

Steve finishes his beer, casually.

"He asked me what I thought your motive might be."

"He what? You don't even know me."

"Absolutely true. But neither does he."

Michelle, on full alert, decides to button up. Morgan joins them.


More than ready, Michelle accepts his arm.

"'Night, Steve."

"'Night, Morgan. Goodnight, Michelle."

Steve licks off the foam, as the couple leaves.




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