Reno, they say, is the Biggest Little City in the World.
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Haven for small time gamblers and lower-middle class families.
A broken key fits the door to a room that smells like cigarettes.
Our neighbors next door are very noisy, drunk, and horny.
Mother, with her bleached out naturally gray hair, finds it comforting.
She is bottled youth from a small time supermarket chain -
The same chain she has worked at for the last 20 years.
For her, this place reeks of familiarity.
Father is trying to shower us with a luxury vacation.
He eats failure for dinner as we order food at Wendy’s.
I am a preteen, trying to be sophisticated and attractive.
I am failing miserably with clothes that my grandmother bought me.
Mother and Father spend money they don’t have on the slot machines.
Mother says she’ll “Hit it big” and buy me a pony and a ranch.
I am placated with a half roll of quarters and a flat Pepsi-
The next 4 hours of my life are spent in the casino arcade.
I am collected by Father when it gets dark outside.
His fatigue comes from the financial strain this tawdry holiday will bring.
Proven when we meet Mother, who has lost all her money.
She silently begs Father for a little more to play out the night.
“I have that one all set up! The odds are all for me.”
An old lady sits at her machine.
Pineapple. . . Pineapple. . . . . .Pineapple. “DING DING DING.”
The green light next to “Please wait for attendant” flashes.
At that moment, a man comes, and he snaps a picture.
Mother, with buggy eyes and an open mouth.
Father, with his hands on his forehead.
Me, smiling for this unexpected chance to shine.