Bareword
Mr. Tokyo

Tokyo hated casinos.

This glittering palace of amusement, a treasure house of thrilling little games, to him was a cesspool. These places were not haunted by content spirits. All the dead personalities drawn to this place were permanent losers, their substance seasoned with tension and despair. They had come and lost, and lost again, and still come back, because by the end they had known nothing else, nowhere they could fit. And when their lives ended, they were still waiting for the big win.

His targets that evening were two Arab diplomats, known to be fond of gambling on their trips west. He watched them play from across the room. Flanked by immaculate young girls, discreetly provided by the house, their experience of the establishment was entirely different. They tossed high-denomination chips with a casual flick of the wrist. When they won, they shouted like children, and when they lost, they laughed it off. They could afford it.

Tokyo had a brick of money in each pocket and a headache. That afternoon a concrete-faced kid from Accounts had sat with him for three hours and made him memorise a table entitled PERFECT BLACKJACK STRATEGY. He still had a sense that he would be going back to the department with nothing: no data, and no money either.

He closed his eyes for a moment, breathed deeply, and stepped forward to the table.