It was a grey day in Michigan. Not just the small part of the southeastern area, but the whole state seemed to be covered with heavy clouds.
We drove towards the northern suburbs away from the once great city of Detroit, looking like a shell of what it used to be. A city that once was the home to right around two million now with less than 500,000 people. We drove past some of the old shuttered automotive factories and some still spewing their pollution as we were hit by a sudden downpour. There was an almost instantaneous feeling of gloom that overtook me.
“Hey Peggy, how about we stop at the next casino and see if we can win a million dollars?” I said. “I’m getting bored”
My girlfriend, who was watching cars splash by, turned to me and said “I need some money to gamble, will you give me some”
“Why should I give you money?” I said “Did you blow yours on booze?”
“Yes, because I have to be drunk, to be with you” she shot back.
The casino was about 20 minutes away and the rain lasted all of that time. I rushed to get to the parking garage. We stepped over drunken homeless people as we made our way inside. I saw a man drink from a bottle of Jim Beam and light a cigarette as we entered the brightly lit gambling hall, cigarette smoke and aroma from cheap perfume filled the air. We witnessed people cursing and fighting but no one was doing anything to stop this anarchy. We made our way to the slot machines, my girlfriend on one side of an aisle, me on the other. I saw her flirting with other guys as she played the one armed bandit. She grabbed one guy as he walked by her.
For my part I was getting excited, not only from gambling but from some women grabbing my crotch and kissing my ear. They shocked me with talk of wanting to do things with me I thought only men thought of. Although I was having fun, eventually my covetous got the best of me. I got up and approached my girlfriend shouting “What the hell are you doing?”
This shocked even me as I had no control over my overwhelming and intolerant rage.
“You don’t own me “My girlfriend yelled “Go back to playing your stupid machine”
As I walked away I noticed that I was now part of this envious, raging mob that was everywhere. If this wasn’t of biblical proportions it was getting close. Sodom and Gomorrah crossed my mind. Men and women were embracing one another and only some kept their clothes on. The ones gambling were cussing at the machines or the card dealers and roulette bosses. Fights were breaking out from dining areas to slot machines to restrooms and the dance floor. The few calm people were silent and looked like they were in prayer. Then there were those talking to each other with a genuine look of sincerity. Mostly the calm sincere people were leaving though, and it became obvious there was a great divide in the people’s actions.
We were being controlled by a force that our society had worshipped for so many years. We worshipped money, sex and power and a force of instant gratification and darkness that we had invited into our lives. We stopped thinking of people as good and thinking of them as commodities or a toy to be used at our convenience. It wasn’t by coincidence that we were in this position. Now the force was so great it permeated every part of our lives. Although the force was invisible it was causing a very visible part to our daily lives. What we once thought of as sacred was common. What we thought of as private was public and what we once thought of as secretive was open for the world to see. A society where you could do whatever you wanted with no repercussions is what we wanted yet this is what we devolved into. Hospitals full of people with sickness and injuries. The people that didn’t quit their jobs got fired and those who were working at an honest job were wary from being overworked. Our streets were full of homeless people who lost all or most of their money on gambling, while the owners and government officials lined their pockets with abundant cash. The politicians had become more crooked since they had many unscrupulous donors of ill repute.
I decided to go outside for a while to get away from the choking thick cigar and cigarette smoke and smell. The cars were backed up for as far as I could see on the close highway. Parking was very hectic for the valet. Just as many people were coming, as leaving. There were a lot of angry looking Parking Valets rushing in and out of the casino. Just as soon as one would take a key from the casino valet key compartment, another valet would put one in.
The crowd outside was not much different than the crowd inside. Angry, envious, aggressive people of all races in a hurry to put money in the slots or give it to a card dealer. For some their life savings would be gone in minutes. Some people off to the side were praying for the people as they went by. The rain continued to fall and umbrellas were out in full force. This was the fifth day of rain and people were getting rain fatigue.
Peggy surprised me and came up from behind me. I could feel her presence of anger and frustration. It made me turn around to see her standing there.
“You’re not going to leave without me, are you?” She yelled.
As much as a felt like I wanted to leave. I turned around to say just that and then I saw those brown sorrowful and painful eyes and said “No”
Having an epiphany as the sun finally came out and produced a full rainbow I said “It’s time to leave” And at that moment her eyes became bright and joyful “yes. It’s time to leave” she said
And just like that, we were back in the car heading toward our suburban home driving into a bright but fading sun.