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A Lolly Pop For Baby


"Aren't you the cutest thing? Coochi coochi coo!" exclaimed the old woman as
she knelt over the new born in the dark blue bassinet. Marylyn Wentworth was a single mom with a one month old baby. How had she come to this,
sitting in the park watching little old ladies coo over her baby?
Her husband had left her at first mention of the little bun in the oven and she had been struggling to keep herself above water for the last seven months.

Ya ya, she kept hearing her Mother saying "I told you so." That was not
what she needed right now. What she needed was cold hard green, something
to keep her and her new son Peter in formula and diapers. Welfare kept a
roof over they're heads but she couldn't live on white bread and "Go'ment Cheese"
for much longer. It didn't help matters that they lived in a town full of Polygomists and Evildoers. Las Vegas was a town separated by two classes of people, those who had everything and those who lost everything. It didn't matter
how you got yourself there either through gambling or just a 9 to 5 joke,
you either had it or you had nothing. She was definitely one of the had-nothings. Her ex-husband Bill was a big shot who was a had-everything,
unfortunately he could have anything and a pregnant showgirl wasn't his idea
of fun. Bill did have something special though. He had a kind of gift. He could
walk into a casino, walk up to a machine, drop in the max bet and that
machine would pay off every time. He didn't cheat, he somehow knew
which machine was ready to pay off. I used to say the machine knew when he
was around but that really was too kind as I am sure the machines would have hated him for the pig he was.
At first the casinos would just follow him around. They would watch his
every move, after a while they would stand at the door and tell him, "Come
right in!" They would take him to their finest suites and offer him food and
grog in abundance in the hope he would pass out and stay away from the
machines. Eventually one of the big ones, the Mirage, hired him to keep the
machines at bay. Since every machine had its payout percentage, he would be
there to collect the winnings. He got to keep a piece of the loot and the rest went
back to the casino. As a reward, he got his share of the good life, he got
nice cars and beautiful women. She had been one of those women, once a
showgirl, living the good life, then, she met Bill. Not the handsomest guy
with his slightly balding Kojack look going on, but certainly generous. She
thought it was the real thing. Such a successful guy it seemed though she
wasn't really sure exactly what he did at the time, but ever so generous. That was
until that day when she announced the good news. "I am pregnant!" she
exclaimed with such excitement, sure he would just fall to his knees and
weep with joy, but no weeping, no words at all. He looked at her, spit at the
ground and walked out of her life just like that. She couldn't touch him or
his money as he was so well protected by the "Clan of Mafioso" in this town.
So there she was, just trying to make it to the next
day, nothing but her and her beautiful son Peter. What was she going to do?

She followed her schedule that was so routine by now. Get up, feed the
baby, change the baby, bathe the baby, dress the baby, change the baby,
burp the baby, oops, change her blouse. Get some breakfast which was
usually just a cheese sandwich and some milk, and go out with the baby
trying to find work. This was no easy chore having to explain to the
perspective employer how she would be able to concentrate on her job and
take care of the baby at the same time. Why wouldn't anybody listen? She
could manage, she had managed so much so far, no one wanted to listen though.
She was now starting to despair, she looked at Peter's little withdrawn face
and wondered how long he could keep up his strength. Such a little trooper,
never crying, always smiling, as if he had something hidden just beneath the
surface just waiting to explode out, just waiting to save the day. He was such a
little trooper. She put her face in her hands and started to weep.

So, on this sunny day much like the last large number of uncountable days, she was walking
down what the outsiders called, "the Strip". We locals liked to call it
"the Drag" since it was such a drag to face the next day being so close to
the "American Dream" and only experiencing the "American Nightmare".

Thinking about that dollar she had in her pocket, she thought about the
possibilities. Just walk in, drop this dollar in the first slot she came to
and walk out a millionaire. What a great story that would be. She knew the
odds and knew that dollar was to cover the baby’s next bottle of
formula.
It is amazing what despair can do, cloud ones judgment, blind one to what is
important. For on this day, as she walked past the front door to the
Golden Nugget, she paused, then, without any real thought, turned in. She
was going to drop that dollar and dispel that nagging thought once and for
all. She was going to stop at the first machine she came to and drop that
dollar and prove to herself that life was the bucket of shit she had been
wading in for 23 years now.

So in she went, she walked past the doorman and the teller machine. Past
the cashiers where so many lives were constantly being destroyed. Past the
bartenders and nickel slots and an old lady in her nineties who had just won
100,000 thousand dollars and had about a year left to spend it. She walked
a little further, then, there they were, the dollar slots. This was it, she
was going to walk right up to that machine and drop it in and be done. She
would figure out how to get the babies formula. She still had a body, she
could still take up one profession if she had to.

So up she walked, there it was, the first slot she came to, the lucky
machine. She took the dollar out of her pocket and brought it up to the
machine. Just then little Peter went in to a crying fit. This startled her
so, that she dropped the dollar. It hit the ground and rolled to the right.
Peter continued to cry like she could not remember, something must be
desperately wrong. She found the dollar quickly then went to Peter. When
she looked at him he was no longer crying but was actually cheerful. In all
his one month on this planet, little Peter had not cried more than a
whimper.
As she looked at him, puzzled by the strange
behavior, she heard behind her the exclamation "Gon Damnit, my last dollar!"
She turned to see that another poor soul of a girl had dropped a
dollar into that slot machine and now might be on the way to the back alley
to try to earn it back.
She looked at little Peter and said quietly, "Thank you." Peter seemed to
smile.
She looked at the dollar in her hand, she thought about what she had done,
how she had almost cost little Peter his next meal.
She still could not figure why he had burst out like that, causing her to
drop the dollar and thus avoiding the fate of the other poor soul.
Then something hit her, hit her like the Sahara Casino hit the pavement when it was
torn down the year before. Something rushed through her like a bullet train
through a tunnel. She looked at little Peter, only one month old with no
idea of what or wherefore. Then it all came rushing in like a dam breaking
and spilling its contents in a belch of finality. 'Bill', she thought,
'this is Bill's son.' 'Oh my God' she said to herself.
She stood up and walked back over to the slot machine. With trembling
fingers she brought the dollar up to the slot. At that moment, little Peter
broke out in the worst screaming fit she had ever heard from his little
mouth. Instead of dropping the dollar, she brought her hand down.
The screaming stopped as abruptly as it started and she could hear little
giggles coming from him.
She quickly moved to the next machine and did the same, again the screaming
came and went with the motion of her hand. She moved on down the line,
again and again the same reaction.
Finally she came to the end of the row. At the end stood the largest slot
machine she had ever seen. It was so huge the handle could have been a
barbell that Mr. Olympia used to earn his trade. On the front of this huge
machine in big flashing neon letters it
read, "Jackpot One Billion Dollars, Pay outs- 0-"
Here was a huge machine that was threatening to pay out one billion dollars.
She was certain it had collected one billion dollars in the trying.
She looked at Peter, he was cooing and giggling softly. A tear came to her
eye as she thought of him, so strong and good natured, was this his destiny?
She slowly lifted the dollar, she was on pins and needles dreading that when
the dollar was in place, little peter would cry out, bidding her to move on, he did not.
As she brought the coin up to the slot a smile appeared on his face. Now when she
had gone to school, she had learned that babies could not smile until about 10 months old.
But there it was, plain as day, the silliest toothless smile you ever saw.
She would have laughed out loud if she had her wits about her.
She was too close to shitting her pants for that now.
"Here goes nothing." she said out loud as she dropped the coin into the slot.
As she started to pull the tremendous lever, she noticed a crowd had grown
around her.
She guessed everyone wanted to see someone lose a dollar. She pulled the big lever
and closed her eyes.
Ping Ping Ping went the machine. She couldn't watch, she didn't have to watch.
As the Pings pinged she could hear the crowd behind her. Ping "Ah", Ping "Ohhh Ahhhh" Ping.....
Not a sound, not a peep came from the crowd.
It was so stone deaf quiet you could have heard a pin drop but for little
Peter. He was cooing and giggling softly.
All of a sudden she jumped out of her socks as the crowd that had gathered
screamed at once. "Yahoo!" they screamed.
"Oh my God!" They exclaimed. She even thought she heard one person hit the floor.
As she opened her eyes, she might have dropped dead,
but I didn't. She knew, somehow she knew that this was it. There it was in big flashing neon letters, WINNER ONE BILLION DOLLARS.
As she stood there, thinking about her next move she looked at Peter. She thought
about the possibilities. She thought about Bill.
No way, no way she was going to let little Peter be like Bill. They had enough money
to last a life time and cure world famine. They were going away, as far away from that life as they could get.
Things were going to be better now.
Just then she heard someone yell, "Get that kid a lolly pop"
What the heck, get him a big one!




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