“What You Pay” by Jameson Currier, from Chelsea Station Issue 4. Edited by Jameson Currier.
You know what I love most about this story? The main character is young. Now, I have nothing at all against “mature” characters. I certainly don’t have anything against mature characters written by this author, because they are always full of insights and interesting as all get-out. Still, the last three stories by him that I read overshadowed the first one in my mind. (Basically, I forgot about Teddy and Sam in July 2002.) Therefore it tickled me to no end to encounter a main character so unlike the more recent ones. What can I say? I’m geeky like that.
This is another story written in second person point of view. They’re getting almost common. As the main character, you’ve agreed to go to Atlantic City for the day with two friends, Keith and Peter. They’re an item. You are single. You are also a broke college student who can’t afford to go anywhere. Strangely, the bus ride is better than free. When you arrive at the casino, the driver hands you a roll of quarters. Ten bucks. (Since that’s the case, I wonder why I don’t begin donning disguises and riding the bus back and forth every day, reading Fitzgerald and collecting rent money.)
You are determined not to spend this found money. Of course, Keith and Peter are not nearly as disciplined as you are. They are not nearly as broke, either, or not when you first arrive, at any rate. Casinos have a way of parting fools and their money. Naturally, it all goes to hell in a hand basket. Did you expect anything less?
What I did not expect was the way the title of the piece gets folded back into the story near the end, in a scene that made my stomach drop. Until that happened I didn’t realize just how invested in the story events I had become.
He shoots, and scores, again. (See also #22, 43,142, and 280.)
The crowd goes wild.