Downstairs, the Devil-ettes, an adorable 14-gal cancan troupe with guns in their holsters and high-cards on their asses, are engaging enough to pull most of the gamblers from the tables. I slip over to Rat Roulette, place a $20 on the seven of hearts, and watch the wheel. Round and round she goes.
Molotov drops a dappled rat named Petey on the wheel. The rat runs and runs, nosing my number, but ducking his head into the ace of clubs hole. A loser. Three more times, then, remembering Mr. Lou's rule, I cut my losses and head over to the racetrack. Insecta and Beekeeper take bets and place the chargers at the starting gate. I put all my money on a large indigo emperor scorpion named Tinkerbell. She's a long shot, having lost every race of the night, but she does well by me, beating Cupcake by a pincer.
The giant Madagascar hissing cockroaches -- Pink Lipstick, Hold All Bets, and Belle Bestial -- look sodden, so I breeze over to the craps table. The craps crew is cutthroat, shouting, "Watch those hands!" in case the superstition about sevens and hand scuffs is true, and enacting the "Virgin Principle," in which virgin dice rollers are very hot players. After a warm streak, I'm up several grand. I think about cashing in my chips for junky trinkets (that may or may not have come from my own house), but decide to double down, instead. I lose it all.
I hit the bar hard.
Someone tells me, "It's Chicken's world and we all just live in it." I order a double. Somewhere in the night I end up married to "Stinky's" chief flesh-peddler Audra Angeli-Morse. She takes me for everything I've got -- or everything I've got left.