How I ended up in Blackbark, Idaho that night is because my kid brother and his wife are in The Casino Business. That’s what I always tell people. Sounds better than saying Nora is a waitress and Joey is a busboy.
Joey and Nora got started in poker rooms because of me, back when all three of us lived in Los Angeles. I had become a floorman the traditional way. First I was a professional poker player, then I went broke a few times so I became a poker dealer. I was very good at staying quiet when it mattered most, so they made me a floorman. That’s when my brother Joey started hanging around the poker room where I worked, and before I could save him, he got hooked on Omaha. And that’s where he met Nora. At an Omaha table.
They both gambled themselves broke, repeatedly, and one day Joey came up to me with a prepared speech.
Him: I want to be a dealer.
Me: No, you don’t.
Him: Yes, I do. And so does Nora.
Neither of them lasted long in the chair. Couldn’t take the heat. And by then they were too well connected and addicted to the scene to get out of it, so they took the next jobs they could get – waitress and busboy — as long as it was in a poker room.
Joey and Nora got married and they turned it into a cycle. First Nora got bored and had a fling. Then Joey started going to whores, even though he never did that kind of thing when he was single. Then came threats of divorce and it only took one called bluff before it was I’ll-see-you-in-court. Single again, they slimmed down and got to feeling good about themselves, attractive to everyone and especially each other. Then they were back in the sack and next thing you know they were going to movies and recommitting for life again. When Joey and Nora moved from LA to Blackbark a few years back, it was a big restart. New jobs, new town, new courthouse. A couple years later, Joey called me up:
“Hey Bo!” Joey always yells into the phone if he’s the one who called. “Me and Nora are splitting up again. Do you think you could come to town for a couple days and help out with some things?”
Here it was all these years gone by and it was still no different than when we were kids, Joey getting in a jam and me coming to the rescue. And now he needed me again. To help out. With some things. Translation: He needed my back to help with moving, he needed my mouth to help with lawyers, and he needed my wallet to help with everything. I went. And I helped. That was a year ago. Last week Joey called:
“Hey Brother! Pack your bags! Me and Nora are …