It was the climate difference that he always noticed most. The air was dry and warm. Warm, it was downright hot. He had immediately broken out what his wife called his "Hawaiian Look" wardrobe. The shorts did little to conceal his knobby knees and the shirt was just a canvas pulled taut over his belly. Before he had left home, he had gone to his bureau drawer and removed the flashy chip with the empty space where the name of the casino it chose to play at would go. He held it in his hand and casually flipped it skyward with the confidant air of a winner. Humphries, his diminutive traveling companion and bank keeper was dressed impeccably in a tailored pinstripe suit and highly polished Italian made shoes. He wrinkled his nose in the general direction of his boss. His boss looked at the expression on his face and said, "tacky is as tacky does, Humphries. Now be a good sport and stop casting aspersions on my outerwear." He picked up his golf hat, motioned for Humphries to take the briefcase lying on the end of the bed and they were off.
After they had arrived in Vegas, Nick and Humpries took some time to explore the various offerings of Vegas. Nick held the lucky chip in his hand and as they drove down Vegas Blvd, waited to see which would be the hotel of choice. The tingle began as they approached the Bellagio Casino and Hotel. "This is the one," Nick told Humphries. Humphries leaned forward and got the driver's attention. "We'll stop at the Bellagio, driver," he said.
"Yes, sir!" the driver answered, whipping into the hotel drive and pulling up to the front of the hotel. Like magic the Bellmen appeared out of nowhere and began to load Nick and Humphries bags onto the luggage trolley. "Follow me sirs, right this way," were tossed out as Nick paid the cabby, giving him a healthy tip in addition to the fare. "THANK YOU, SIR!" he called out to Nick's retreating back. "Nice Gentleman," he murmured, "nice Gentleman." He waved as he drove away to collect another fare.
Nick and Humphries approached the desk, deep in discussion. Humphries was still on about Nick's clothing, but Nick quickly pointed out that the shirt was silk the shorts linen and offered to let his young employee guess what it had cost. "The earth, I'm sure sir," smirked Humphries, " but it's not the cost, it's the appearance." Removing the expensive pair of sunglasses he had needed to block the burning rays of the sun from his eyes, Nick brushed him off as they arrived at check in. The clerk behind the desk was all smiles and very polite as he asked for the name the registration would be under. Nick still held on tight to his one chip, a smile teasing his lips.
"Snow, Nick Snow," he smiled to the clerk. The clerk glanced up and down the list of expected visitors on the computer screen. Looking up over the rim of his reading glasses, he spoke softly. "I'm sorry sir, I don't see your name registered here." The chip grew warm in Nick's hand. "Check again, son...it's there, " Nick replied. The clerk, eyes running down the list saw it immediately.
"I don't know how I missed it the first time, Sir. I do beg your pardon Mr. Snow. And I see you've been with us before, I'm terribly sorry for any inconvenience." He began to ring the bell sharply, to get a bellman to take the luggage and guests to Nick's suite. Nick waved away any mention that he was upset and he and Humphries approached the elevator with the bellman.
The two bedroom suite was luxurious, no doubt. Not that Nick would be spending much time inside it. He intended to lie down and take a nap, call his wife Gloria and let her know that he had arrived and then grab a shower. He would dress for dinner and the nights play at the roulette wheel. He sat down on the side of the satin topped bed and took out his cell phone. It burbled twice and suddenly his beloved Gloria was on the line. "Hello Darling, " she trilled. "I see you arrived all in one piece. No problem with the flight?"
"No, Sweets, no problem at all. We have the conveyance parked and everything in hand. We'll be going down to dinner shortly and then after that, I'll be at play in the Casino." He took the chip and turned it over and saw the word "Bellagio" emblazoned on the front. He smiled. "Yes, playtime will start soon. I wish you would come with me sometime, they have some excellent shops."
She giggled sweetly. "What need have I of shops?" she said. "You behave and don't be to sharp with Humphries. I don't think he quite approves of your play clothes."
Nick laughed out loud and the room trembled. "I'll knock his socks off tonight, my dear. I've brought my tux." A warm glow enveloped Gloria Snow as she imagined her Nick in his tux...he was a totally different man in that suit. "Good night Darling...I'll be seeing you soon?" Nick, imagining her dressed in her flowing silk nightgown, whispered to her. "Sooner than you may expect my Angel. Keep the candle in the window."
Dinner was superb. Nick enjoyed the tender sweetness of the fillet Mignon, the avocado salad was pure heaven. Humphries had enjoyed Trout Almondine and a green salad and now they were both awaiting a dessert that they had never had. The description read "Try the chocolate raspberry Decadence, a flourless chocolate raspberry cake served on top of two Florentine cookies and filled with raspberry mousse. The dome-shaped cake is rich and fudgy, while the lattice cookies and fluffy raspberry mousse are gentle by comparison." Nick took a good healthy drink of water to cleanse his palate and leaning back in his chair, looked at Humphries. "What, no harsh words about my evening attire, Humphries?" Humphries, himself dressed in a smaller version of Nick's tux, had the good grace to blush. Looking at his employer, dressed in a very classy black tux, the cumberbund a deep rose yellow and the tie the same color, Humphries looked appropriately impressed.
"You look quite dashing, Sir. I'm sure Mrs. Snow would approve." Nick laughed to himself, and the look on his face was blatant, causing Humphries to flush red. "Ahemmm," he said, clearing his throat, "I believe dessert is arriving." Dessert had indeed arrived and lived up to the high praise on the menu. Not the simple fare of milk and cookies he had become accustomed to, it was pure heart attack on a plate. Finishing up, Humphries took care of the bill while Nick excused himself and started towards the Casino and the Roulette Wheel.
The chip was so hot it nearly burned Nick's hand. He place the chip on 20 red and stood back as the Croupier valued the chip at 1000 dollars. He watched in fascination as the ball went one way and the wheel the other. It began to slow and the ball landed in 10 black then hopped out, jumped around trying to find a stopping point and landed on 20 red. "Well done, Sir ," said the Croupier and he pushed a pile of chips in front of Nick. "Let it ride," said Nick softly.
As the earned chips piled up in front of him, Humphries would remove half the stacks and take them to the window to be cashed in. He had all the paper work he needed in the briefcase. In several hours, the play went on and the eyes in the sky were trying to figure out how the well dressed gentleman at the Roulette table was cheating. Nick had managed to amass over a half million dollars. He had attracted a crowd and people were muttering amongst themselves and wondering why the Man in Charge hadn't shut the table down. Finally, at one Million dollars, he did just that. Mr. Big wanted his people to talk to this wizard of the Roulette Wheel but when they turned to talk to him, they discovered that Nick Snow was no where to be found.
Nick tucked the now cooling chip into his breast pocket and then tucked the silk kerchief back in the pocket. Humphries had gone up to the room and packed their bags. He stood at the waiting taxi, door open and nodded to Nick as he stooped to get in the back seat. "All taken care of Mr. Snow, " Humphries smiled.
"Excellent, Humphries, excellent." He gave the cabby an address out near the airport and they were off. "How much did we make, Humphries?" Nick asked.
Well over a million, Sir. We're well in the black and there should be no problems with supply this year or the next. We've done well, and the orders are in and they only await our return."
The cabby pulled into an alleyway, let the two gentlemen out and was pleased with the hefty tip he had received. He tried hard not to stare at the little gentleman's ears. They had a Mr. Spock look, sharply pointed. Funny, he didn't remember them being that way when they had entered the cab. "Thank you sirs, this tip will come in handy, this time of year. I was wondering what I was going to do about my kids. Christmas seems to get tighter every year."
Nick cocked his head and smiled warmly at the driver. "Don't you worry, John. Their wishes will be taken into account. I can promise you that." For some reason John the cabby didn't wonder how the handsome older Gentleman had known his name. He thought he already knew. He turned back to the wheel and as he drove off heard the bells of a sleigh. And smiled