The poker room is a shallow flight of steps from the Las Vegas Boulevard doors, outside of which pickets with placards march at a commendable clip in the 108F temperatures.
Senior VP Noah Acres wanders out and is met with cries of "shirt, shirt, shirt..." (isn't "suit" more standard?) and the assertion that something is unfair. Brief pangs of guilt since I am instinctively pro-union. Maybe if I played blackjack for a bit and counted cards it'd be showing solidarity with the strikers?
Then The Ball appears.
It is hard for The Ball to look anything other than cheerful thanks to the beautifully stylized fifties grin stretched from arm to arm, and on its arrival even the gloomiest of grinders at the table briefly look less miserable. The Ball ambles around the blackjack pit waving at the punters, then pulls up short at the bottom of the steps to the main doors, apparently transfixed by the striking casino employees.
It is about this time that the gentleman to my left slams his fist onto the felt. I had lost track of the hand, being more interested in The Ball, but based on the board it seems Tony Soprano just got outdrawn. As the cards for the next hand fly around the table a vein starts to pound in his neck. Everyone has become very quiet. I can hear his dental enamel delaminate and think of Scrabble. The future victim of a massive coronary folds flamboyantly out of turn and storms off.
I glance at Steve who is watching the receding broad back of the unhappy customer. Then he leans over the table to read his name from the Bravo system.
"Jeremy!? He can't be a Jeremy. Maybe a Butch."
"Or a Vinny," I suggest.
"Yeah, but not a Jeremy," says Steve. "'Raging Jeremy?' It just won't do."
"He seems to have issues."
As does The Ball.
It's not entirely clear how The Ball got outside because the doors are not wide and The Ball is, but get outside it did. And according to a player to my right who had responsibility for watching The Ball rather than Raging Jeremy, it seems The Ball said something out-of-line to the strikers. And this is why three or four of them are now taking shots at The Ball with their placards.
The Ball doesn't care! The Ball is bad ass! The Ball wanders outside in 108F ambient (135F track?) and starts opining on industrial relations with Local 495. And sticks and stones are having no affect on The Ball thanks to the considerable padding.
Then even from my vantage point directly above a pair of fives I notice that The Ball has realized its own weakness. And as the anti-Ball contingent concentrate their attack on its north side, it has dawned on The Ball that it is a 4.3 mile roll down Las Vegas Boulevard to the Luxor where the ground finally levels out.
"On you Kat!"
I apologize, realize the open-raise from Clem-the-Rock ranges him [QQ+, AKs, AKo?] on a loose day and that he's short-stacking. I pitch my fives.
"Where's The Ball?" I say, looking up and only seeing strikers marching with their placards.
"Just passing Peppermill," says Steve as he folds and picks up his phone.