Werewolf Casino Owner
My name is Rob Salizar, a native to Stigler, OK, and I know what it means to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps. My family is rich in history, and rich in misfortune, tracing their roots back 400 years, belonging to the Kiwigapaga Tribe, or the Kickapoo. I was born below the poverty line a few miles outside of town, where my parents were farmers, looking for better work. The land never seemed to yield anything without toil, and the earth itself seemed to laugh at our pitiful attempts at dominance. I often considered running away in when I was a kid, but for one voice. My grandfather, Jonas Salizar, spoke unendingly of the nobility and prowess of our family’s heritage, and of the spirits who would bless those who honored the land. I never really believed Gramps, but I understood that running away would be giving up on my home, and my pride wouldn’t allow that.
I got a job in a local factory, putting indecipherable bits into larger bits, and began to look towards the owners of the factory as mentors, but the factory closed not 3 years later, leaving me on the streets once more. Dad offered to pay me to come back to the farm, but it turned my stomach to think of taking money from my parents, work or not. I wandered the streets of Stigler, asking for work, until I ended up at city hall, applying for a mind-numbing clerk position. While waiting to be interviewed, I got an earful of seeming legal nonsense, but one thing stuck in my ear – federal grants for Native Americans. I knew that many of our people had forsaken their heritage, but – thanks to Gramps – I knew plenty well that we were of pure stock. I excitedly asked the clerk expecting my application how I, Rob Salizar, could acquire such a grant, only to receive a stack of papers taller than my old high school algebra book. Daunted but refusing to show weakness, I immediately sat down and began to read and fill out as much as I could, asking about what I couldn’t, until the clerk realized that I wasn’t going anywhere until the entire stack was filled. The clerk, seeing the fire in my eyes, decided to point at what was probably my best bet – a casino which was about to close. Securing the details of how to proceed, I filed for a federal grant to buy the casino on a mortgage, indebting myself at such financial risk that nowadays I sweat to think how else things might have gone.
I solicited the aid of my brother, Mom, and a few of my cousins, and staffed the casino in those years. A few neighbors came too, but I quickly found that family was where the most loyal help could be found. I also quickly found that, while running the business was hard, dealing with debt collectors and investors was harder. I scrambled to make ends meet, often going without eating, and, with a bit of fast-talking, was able to keep the casino afloat those first years. Dad, meanwhile, did pick up a few farm hands, and I was proud to be able to start sending money back to him instead of taking it. In that time I began to earn a reputation as a man of means and ability, who always maintained a strong face in adversity, and never let them see me sweat.
A great test came upon me, when I found myself close to evening my score with the bank. I’ve had great dreams about expanding the casino, and even opening another, but my choices were either refinancing the casino or waiting until my debt was paid. Hearing of my plight, my friend Diane, who owned the local diner, offered me an alternative. She pointed out that my business paid out slightly above the average compared to surrounding casinos in the region, and that I had built up a reputation for running a fair house, and that some of my wealthier out-of-town clientele came because of it. Diane said she knew a shady blackjack dealer with fast hands and an honest face who could run his high-stakes games for me. I realized right then and there that the only reason those customers came to me was because of my honor, and that Diane was suggesting that I spend my honor like so many chips. I spoke coldly, telling her that, while I didn’t care how she ran her restaurant, that my business reflected on my name, and that I wouldn’t ruin it for money.
Nevertheless, I did a lot of business with my neighbors, Diane included. The clouds rained on the just and the unjust – when they bothered to rain at all – and other people’s business was just that. I rented our conference room to local community groups and businesses, hosted start-up bands, and worked out mutual advertisement deals with the local shops. I made sure that any stakeholders who had a say in our business did business with me, including the local vice squad officer, whom I always greet personally with a friendly face and a firm handshake.
When I heard about the mauling of the rascally Phil, I thought I was going crazy. I mean, I thought I dreamed about him getting killed by a monster with my brother’s face, and then suddenly it was my brother with a monster’s face, and then he… I tried to get the bleeding to stop, but suddenly I wasn’t hurt anymore. I felt like I was running forever, and then I woke up in my bed. As far as nightmares go, it was a doozy, but I chalked it up to too much Scotch until I read the papers. I asked my brother about it, starting to really worry, but he eyed me suspiciously and said he didn’t know anything about it. At that point I got real anxious, and excused myself. The whole week, I felt like nothing made much sense to me, and it seemed like I couldn’t do anything right. Things started to be settling down, until one evening, when I was wrapping stuff up in my office. I looked out the window, and I saw the moon looming outside, and I said to myself, “Funny, the moon seems almost exactly half light, half shadow…” And that’s when I know I went crazy. The office exploded around me in a silent pop, and then I was on the floor, but there weren’t any people. That is, there weren’t any humans. The slots sure as hell weren’t sitting still and the tables were gambling with each other. I’d like to say that I screamed like a little girl and ran around in circles like a normal person, but, when one of the slots started making eyes at me, I growled back. No, I don’t mean that I hummed meanly, I mean I GROWLED. I felt like my skin was crawling, and my vision went psychedelic. Feeling a fight coming that I’m pretty sure I wasn’t going to win, I sent a silent prayer to Lady Luck that I didn’t end up in Diane’s dumpster at the end. Then, like a ghost, this charming woman was touching my arm, and asked if I’d show her around. I could tell by how she was looking at me that she already knew the place and was just being polite, but I nodded gallantly. It was weird, but while we were walking around, sometimes she was taller than me (she smelled nice, I won’t lie) or shorter than me (those slots backed off then!), until I was in the vestibule seeing her out the door. I asked her what fortune had brought her my way during such a hectic evening, and she giggled, “I’m just Lucky, I guess.” My eyes lingered, but when I turned back I was back in my office, feeling like I hadn’t slept for a week and had eaten nothing but stale mints. Naturally I passed out (first sane thing I did). The next morning , after a voracious breakfast, I spoke with my staff, asking how the night went. They told me, and asked where I’d been for the last TWO days. I sweated a little, and jokingly replied that I’d been showing a lady around. They rolled their eyes and left it alone. Shortly after, I called Gramps. I knew what happened had been real, and he was the only one who’d believe me.