Charles D’Antoni approaches the roulette table and tells the dealer to put it all on black. A bold move. Before the ball drops, he texts his new girlfriend and begs for a prayer: He just gambled every last dollar of his wife’s savings account.
The wheel spins. Reds and blacks blend together like a wave of nausea. It slows, the ball stumbles across the dividers and clicks into place.
“You’re the luckiest man alive,” his girlfriend says. They’re now laying together in a luxury penthouse fifty stories above the Vegas strip. “I love you, Chorles.”
He hates the way she pronounces his name, sounds like she’s trying to keep it from spilling out of her mouth. A sudden feeling of disgust washes over him. Thinks he misses his wife.
Nothing a Newport 100 can’t fix. He steps onto the balcony, looks down at the city and puffs his cigarette while the breeze tickles his naked ass.
He leans further onto the railing. He only then notices it’s rusted and loose.
Charles collides with the asphalt five-hundred and fifty feet below, the force of impact so great his body’s cellular structure becomes a gelatinous blob.
He doesn’t remember it. Only recalls the last lungful of smoke and then waking up in this metal cage.
It sits in the middle of a damp hallway that stretches for an imponderable distance in both directions. Condensation falls down the walls like sweat.
A chain and choker constrict his neck. He turns his head and sees his body now resembles that of a slug. Viscous slime oozes from his pores, leaves a trail behind him when he moves to the front of the cage.
From both ends of the hallway, a chorus of voices arises. A heavenly soprano to the left, a devilish alto on the right. They’re chanting something together. It’s…
It’s his name.