The Big Score for Charlie was his way out of Paradise and back into his entitled position as a Wall Street Wolf. It’s a plan. Not a good plan. But it is a plan. It’s Charlie, though. So it went about the way you would expect.
Because Charlie belonged in his bugout shelter on his farm in Goochland. He is entitled to his Airsoft gun collection and TactiKool accessories in his gun safe. It is his birthright to a killer gaming setup in the living room of the shelter. These are things that Charlie should have. Right now? He has none of that.
What Charlie has is more debt than he can handle. Charlie’s kryptonite is Texas Hold Em. He thinks he’s better than Mike Sexton of the World Poker Tour. He isn’t. Charlie also thinks he’s got more money than Elon Musk. But he’s a pot washer at a casino in Paradise Valley, NV owned by Saito-san.
Not the Big Score for Charlie
I don’t care about Charlie. Well, maybe I care a little. He makes good content. This is the second time I’ve written this story. The first one got lost in all the trouble I’ve had moving back to Network Solutions as my hosting provider. Maybe I don’t need to tell it again. I got through the trouble he caused me and moved on to new troubles. Maybe I do. May 11th, 2022 I’m in West Virginia at a Flying J Travel Center out of gas.
I’d picked up a passenger headed home after completing rehab. There was gas money on my card. I went to McDonald’s and had dinner after dropping off the passenger. Then went to a BP station nearby to fill up. No bueno. ?? Ok, well maybe the BP gas pump had a weird card reader. So I headed south to Winchester and the Flying J. I tried again to get gas and the cashier told me my card had a fraud alert on it. WTF?
My son came through in a clutch. He sent me gas money and I made my way home. After some sleep, I found I had a bunch of concerned voice mails from the bank. It seems that someone had emptied out my account. Did I know someone named Charlie? Oh Dios mío! That motherf*cker.
The Big Score for Charlie Identified
So this asshat stole my identity. Last May the debit card from Lyft was my way of getting paid. I didn’t have another means of banking. It never has much money on it because I have my own bad habits with money. This is what I learned about The Big Score for Charlie. He wanted out of Saito-san’s grip.
His plan isn’t original. He just wanted table stakes so he could play high-limit poker and win his way back to respectability. It can’t be that hard to bank $250,000.00, can it? Maybe for a good player. Charlie thinks he is a great player and that’s the problem. He’s pot washing because of his opinion of himself. His plan was to steal some money (done) and gamble his way out of trouble.
It started out great. My pay for the trip to West Virginia got him enough chips to start at one of the low-limit blackjack tables. The dealer let him play. Casino Security saw him at the table. Calls were made and Saito greenlighted Charlie’s play. Nothing like more debt to guarantee longer forced servitude.
It didn’t take long for Saito’s staff to generate a hotel card and deliver it to the table. Charlie was comped for a package that included a nice room, all his meals, and his bar tab. Anywhere else and you can trust the casino and its dealers to play straight. Not here. Saito-san is a retired Yakuza and your luck at the table depends a lot on who you are to him.
Charlie was up and trending for the early part of the night. This was the casino’s plan. Any regular gambler will have stories of continuing to gamble with a nice pile of chips thinking it can only get better. Then all those chips are given back in a string of losses. Odds favored Saito-san’s 楽園の宮殿 to come out the winner. So letting Charlie feel like a whale was good business.
Oh What a Night.
Charlie did have the sense to get up from the table to eat. He’d been playing blackjack for a few hours and wanted dinner and some drinks. Rakuen no kyūden has a number of restaurants. One of them is 88 Hot Pot (老爹台灣火鍋). This was Charlie’s third choice. His first choice was a buffet that served steak sushi. The same buffet had 16oz. Prime Rib and lobster tails.
But . . . first the bar girls and later Casino Security made it clear that his cash card wouldn’t work anywhere else. It’s just smart business. A couple things about 88 Hot Pot and hot pot in general. First, a lone diner is missing out. Don’t go by yourself. Also don’t just take your significant other. Hot pot works best with a full table. In Asia this is no problem. You seldom see one person or a couple dining by themselves. In Korea this means that a guy asking for a table of one won’t get it. He’ll get a seat at a table and one or more wait staff will join him. There is no refusing this. Declining is rude.
So Charlie gained an entourage. Tagging along were a number of bar girls. Dinner was long. The bar girls rarely get to eat at 88 Hot Pot or drink beers. Most of the time they are with whales in one of the tonier bars doing bottle service. Things shifted from Charlie eating dinner to the girls having their fill and yacking. First was the shellfish—shrimp, soft-shell crab, and green mussels. The girls ate and offered some to Charlie who tried to decline but he was outnumbered. The first round of San Miguel Pale Pilsen was gone.
Next into the pot were fish balls, fried tofu, baby bok choy, Napa cabbage, carrots, and corn cobs. No beer this round. Someone ordered a bottle of sake on Charlie’s tab. So shots of sake for the whole table except Charlie. He wanted moonshine. The girls ignored him and insisted he do a shot of sake with them. Then another and another and another and pretty soon he didn’t care anymore.
And so it went until late/early morning. One of the bar girls said maybe since his luck was so good he should play poker like he’d been talking about. You and I might head to our room and get some sleep before starting work. Charlie found an open seat at a Texas Hold-Em table with a $1,000.00 minimum bet. In thirty minutes his luck earlier yesterday disappeared with a bad set of hands. He tried to get an increase to his marker but the pit boss said he had to buy in with cash. It was 3:30am and he was on the schedule in a half-hour. The girl walked him to his room and helped him to bed.
No Hangover Cure
4 am. Breakfast opens at 6:00am. Prep starts at 5:00 am. Most of the prep is done the night before by the closing shift. The baker comes in at 3 am and works until noon. Charlie’s alarm clock was a very pissed sous chef who wanted to know why his pot washer was still sleeping and hungover. The girl was still there. She got up, made coffee and fried rice with bacon and scrambled eggs. Both of them ate in silence. As Charlie walked to his station in the buffet he was stopped by a couple of U.S. Marshalls.
By 10am Charlie was in a holding cell inside Rakuen no kyūden. My bank’s fraud department called Nevada State Police who in turn contacted Casino Security. Saito-san can make some cases go away. Not this one. Charlie was upside down enough that he is charged with Intent to Defraud and Identity Fraud. His tab for last night was added to his marker. Eight bar girls eating and drinking on a whale’s tab until 3 am isn’t cheap.
Saito-san bailed him out. A restaurant can’t run without dishwashers and pot washers. But it is far from over for Charlie.
Postlude to The Big Score for Charlie
It’s September 2022 as I do this rewrite. The girl that stayed with Charlie that night asked Saito-san if she could look after him and he agreed. She decided she can boss him around. He gets home-cooked meals and maid service from her. Also, he’s no longer a virgin because of her. She wants a green card and an exit from Rakuen no kyūden. Rather transactional of them but so far it’s working well enough. Yes, they live together. The girl is Pinay. One change she made is that Charlie gets a small stipend from her. The rest of his money is controlled by her and Saito-san. This is a mixed bag for Charlie. So Charlie is somewhat unhappy about this but too much of a limp sausage to complain?.