The Confessions of a Singaporean Gangster in London – Chapter 30 “La Grande Casino.”
Posted by inspir3d on February 20, 2005
To enter the Grande Casino was to imagine words like chiaroscuro and destiny. It was a much smaller version of a full sized casino minus the razzmatazz one seldom comes across these days, slightly shabbier and worn around the edges, relying more on the patrons to supply “la atmosphere.”
The type of place one typically comes across in dingy side lanes in Paris, New York and London where from time to time, the rich would simply indulge in a spot of slumming.
Much too small for a full sized orchestra with only a lone singer with a husky voice and a shimmering gown who leans sinuously belting out jazz evergreens over a grand piano while the rest of the floor remains perpetually flooded in twilight: that was the Grande Casino.
A place where men and women would look you up and down discreetly in the lobby area, where women dressed in long flowing gowns holding on to ivory cigarette holders sashayed by while leaving a lingering aroma of exotic perfume. While men walked around with a double scotch and serenaded older women. I’d seen it all in the movies, and I knew how it was supposed to look and feel – worn mahogany, and old velvet, that was the Grande casino a place that only came alive only after eleven.
According to the man who once beat me up, this was the place where I would find the third wife that evening – she had taken to a spot of gambling recently. I imagine it was her way to while away the evenings.
The Casino was on the second floor with a rigged roulette table from where I stood, I could just hear the muffled sounds of an ivory ball bouncing away – so the man who once beat me up said, he had even given me a few complimentary chips with the words,
“It’s nothing much, but that’s the least I can do to square the accounts.”
He said he knew some people there like the Russian émigré who whispered,
“Place your bets gentlemen.”
In an oily foreign accent who oversaw the roulette table.
“Put it on 18 as many times as you like. Like I said, I do what I can to square the accounts.” The man who once beat me up had said.
When I asked whether the third wife could enlighten me, the man who once beat me up simply shrugged his shoulders.
I want to share this with you this, the human mind is a strange thing, on one level, you could say. I am a very practical man, I needed money for both me and Jeannie. Emigrating isn’t cheap, there is a whole lot of stuff that needs money and now that someone had placed a price tag on how I winch and limped, I wasn’t about to let it simply past by without at least cashing in on my chips. Remember, I am a Singaporean gangster in London and gangsters are the most practical people on the face of this planet, that’s why they choose to do the things they do. It’s business. It’s nothing personal.
But I knew, the reason why, I went to the Grande Casino that night was because I was drawn to the notion of meeting her again – the third wife. It’s a tractor beam thing (someday, I may try my hand at writing sci-fi to explain further) but if I am pressed to explain. I would simply say, I was a moth and she was a flickering flame.
A moth doesn’t have anything resembling such a thing as a choice, it’s fate is predetermined, it has no other choice but to fly around in ever decreasing circles around the flickering flame, each circle drawing tighter, each circle bringing it one step closer to it’s source of fascination and fear only to eventually charge into the very source of it’s allure.
By the seventh round I had amassed quite a sum, it was time to cash it all in – and then it happened, from the corner of my eye, I saw her and though she registered a slight look of surprised, I realized she was had been there quite a while, staring at me – it was the third wife of the old man – who looked at me as if she knew I was simply meant to be there that evening –it was the overpowering sense of calm that enveloped her, the radiant silence burning within – one which spoke of her desire for me.
I am Yu Huan Guan, the Singaporean gangster in London.
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