The King of Coins – Part One

I think I’ve totaled the amusement arcade. Oops. But I should have time to explain, so pay attention, I’ll have to work fast.

I suspect most people think that gambling is about winning, but you know what? It’s not. My name is Danny and I play the slot machines, the bandits or the fixed odds betting machines as those in the industry call them. Granted, playing the slots doesn’t have the kudos of roulette or even horse racing, but you see courting lady luck is not my thing. And here’s why, even if your romance lasts all night, or all year, she is eventually going to run out on you, and she will do it when you least expect it. She’s fickle like that.

I live in Stoke on Trent, a collection of small towns in the northwest of England. The Captain of the Titanic was born here, it figures, you can always rely on a Stokie to mess something up. I work at an electrical goods store. Not one of the big ones but the job is the same. There is a poster of a Red Lamborghini on my bedroom wall next to the window. Even Stoke lads have aspirations.

Now, I’m barred from three amusement arcades and have another three hanging in the balance. You see, if you keep winning (and I do) the arcade managers get upset and stop you going in. I don’t know whether this is legal or not, but I can’t be arsed to argue the toss with the geriatric security guards they have propping up the coffee machine. And here’s the simple secret. I won’t keep you in suspense, besides I don’t think time is on my side. I know the combinations of pretty much every machine that’s worth a payout, and the key to success is to turn every win into something bigger. If you drop a winning line and collect the prize, you haven’t won five quid you just lost fifty. Do you see? You could have gambled that little prize, the small offering from the machine, and walked away with the jackpot. If you collected the first drop that then you’re a mug, no better than some wanker off the street who comes into the arcade because it’s raining.

You can see guys like this in Casinos, crying because they just spunked the mortgage payment on black and it came up red. Amateurs. Losers.

So, that said, when the new machine was wheeled in to ‘Davey’s Locker Amusement Arcade’ I was there to see it arrive. I had been hitting the bandits at the ‘Locker’ for a good hundred or so quid per session and I suspected the manager was building up to giving me my marching orders. It was probably time to cool it for a while, but a new bandit is always a challenge.

I decided I’d drop by Davey’s to check out the machine after visiting the bank. I needed to get some cash out for the evening anyway as it was my girlfriend Jessie’s birthday on the coming Saturday and I’d told her I would take her out for a meal. You know, people say I have a nasty streak, but they are talking out of their arses. I’m one of the good ones. I treat my girl well and I’ll only kick off if you force me too. Reasonable yeah?

I called into the Locker at about six thirty; it’s always quiet at that time as the dossers and tossers on job seekers go home to watch the soaps. Sandra, one of the ladies on duty was busy polishing the plastic treasure chest (and its plastic treasure), which took up the far corner of the arcade. Two lads were playing on a quiz machine (mugs game to be honest) and Stan The Security Guard was half asleep, resting on the side of the change dispenser. The new machine perfectly filled the spot left by my old favourite, Mr Nudge. Its name, displayed in bold golden letters, flashed every couple of seconds.

The King Of Coins.

At first glance not much stood out about it. The artwork was poor. New machines have Transformers or Star Wars characters airbrushed onto the panels, but The King of Coins just featured some miserable looking monarch sitting on a throne and a weird looking character wearing a skintight suit of blue and yellow diamonds with one of those funny hats with bells on his head. I assumed he was some sort of jester or clown. This guy’s head appeared to be out of proportion to his stick-thin body but there was nothing comical about his face. This guy just looked… nasty. He reminded me of a Punch puppet. He had a gaunt face with thin, blood red lips, prominent against a powdered white face. His eyes were sunk into his skull. Ghoulish. Any other machine would be designed to attract you to it, hot girls, treasure, smiling hunks and pound and dollar signs everywhere. Play me! They shout out, you will WIN and you will feel GREAT. Yet this was practically the opposite of that. Drab colours. Ugly, miserable people. Yeah… Weird.