A Risk Worth Taking (Short Story)

A Risk Worth Taking

               The dice rolled on the table. It was snake eyes. The player lost his chips this night. Richard watched as the gambler walked away disappointed at his loss. Richard wasn’t surprised in the least. There was no reason to be. He had worked in the casino for over two years and not once did he ever see someone beat the house. Richard never understood the thrill of gambling. Richard was never known to be a man who took risks. Playing it safe was how he lived. Life may have seemed more boring, butat least it was peaceful as far as Richard was concerned. Whenever Richard saw someone squander their money in the casino, he just shook his head in shame and was glad not to be a compulsive gambler.

              Richard walked outside for a smoke break. He lit the cigarette and took it all in, feeling the rush of nicotine going down his lungs. Richard needed this. The long nights at the casino were getting to him. Richard would lose sleep constantly. Richard felt he needed a vacation desperately. Richard stared into the distance of the ocean waves just outside the casino as he leaned forward on the wooden stand. For a moment, the beach’s surreal scenery took Richard away from the mundane. Richard was able to forget work for a moment whenever he watched the waves crash onto the sand. The moment was gone as quickly as it came as soon as he realized his cigarette was finished. Richard didn’t want to go back in, but he had no choice. Getting fired was not the way he wanted to end tonight.

                   As Richard began to turn around to make his way back, he stopped in his tracks. In front of him stood at all brunette woman wearing a black dress. She held a cigarette of her own in between two fingers. She stared at Richard with a smile on her face. The woman’s presence was powerful. She was unlike any woman Richard had ever seen before. Her eyes hypnotized him. The woman’s hair flowed with the winds of the summer air. She then spoke to Richard, breaking the silence.

                “Do you have a light,” the woman asked, her voice dominating, yet alluring to Richard’s ear.

             “Oh. Yeah. Sure, I have one. Here you go, miss,” Richard responded nervously while lighting her cigarette.

         “So, what’s a guy like you doing out here all alone in a night like this,” the woman questioned Richard, approachingcloser to the nervous man.

               “I’m actually getting off my break. I really need to go now. It was nice meeting you, miss,” Richard explained, trying to end the conversation while walking past her.

           Do you really have to? Or are you just choosing to go back?

         “Miss, you know I can’t just stop working.

             “Why not? No one’s chained you to the door.”

            “I don’t think it’s a good idea to just walk out of work. I seriously can’t afford to get fired.”

           “What if I make it worth your while? Do you really want to go back to that boring casino or are you just afraid of your boss? You know life is too short to be afraid of anything.”

         “You’re not exactly paying my bills, so I don’t know how you’d be able to top keeping a roof over your head as a motivating factor.”

           “I might, but you’ll never know if you don’t come with me. Just take my hand and we can go.”

             “I can’t. It’s not worth it.”

                   “Your call, buddy. If you go back in there, that casino will ruin what little of a life you have. A job isn’t everything. It’s already sucking your soul dry. I can see it in your face. If you’re too afraid to take a risk every now and again, your life willbe gone before you know it. Don’t waste what little time you have on a job youhate. Take my hand.”

               Richard started to head back knowing that if he stayed any longer, he would be back late from break and his boss would give him the third degree. Richard didn’t want to go back. Every step he took felt more depressing than the last. The woman behind him with herhand out was beautiful. Richard had never seen anyone like her in his life.Richard was afraid. He didn’t want to lose his chance with either the woman orhis job, but he knew he could only make one choice. He could either go back toa job he hated doing the same thing for the rest of his life and possibly nevermeeting anyone interesting again, or he could grab her hand, risk his job, andpossibly have a night of bliss with the most beautiful woman he had ever known.His hands trembled. He stood motionless. Richard’s mind was stuck.

                Richard then opened his eyes and said, “No risk. No reward,” He then took the woman’s hand and they left the casino together.

               They ended up back in Richard’s apartment where they drank wine. The pair exchanged jokes while watching late-night television. What would’ve been a boring workday turned into a romantic night of bliss for Richard. The freedom he felt with his new companion was worth the risk of losing a job he detested. He knew there would be consequences in the morning, but for tonight, Richard let passion take over as the pair made love in the living room. Richard then fell asleep with the woman, whose name he never got, lying next to him.

                Richard awoke the next morning with a slight hangover. He soon discovered his mystery partner was gone. He looked for her in the bathroom, but there was no trace of her in any area of his apartment. The woman seemed to have vanished without a trace. Richard had a feeling he would never see her again. It also occurred to him that he simply walked out of his shift without notifying anyone. Richard was scared. He didn’t know what he’d say to his boss. There were no excuses. He walked out and wassure the cameras caught him.

                   Richard’s cell phone rang without warning. The ringtone indicated it was his employer. Richard grabbed the phone. He let it ring a few times, hesitating to answer. Richard then answered the phone. He heard his boss’s voice. It was over. There was nothing he could do now except to accept the consequences of his actions.

              “Richard, are you there?”

             “Yes sir. I’m here.”

           “Where the hell were you last night?”

            “Sir, please allow me to explain…”

            “You don’t have to explain anything. I’m just glad you’re safe. I don’t know where you were, but you’re one lucky guy. The casino. Everyone. I don’t know what happened. It’s hard for me to even say anything.”

           “Wait. What’s going on””

          “Richard, the casino burnt down last night. A lot of people were killed last night. They’re still trying to figure out what caused the fire, but what I do know is all the employees on your floor died shortly after your smoke break. It was terrible, Richard. I don’t know what to do. Just take the rest of the week off until I figure this out. I’ll make sure you still get paid like you were working, okay. I’m just glad you’re okay.”

                     Richard’s boss hung up the phone. Richard stood still in utter shock. Words could not describe the wave of emotions that ran through Richard’s head. No matter how many times he mentally went through everything that transpired last night, he still could not contemplate his good fortune. Richard had the night of his life with who he described as the most beautiful woman he’d ever laid eyes upon. Richard also understood that he would never see her again. This stranger was also partly responsible for his life being spared from the fire that spread into the casino. Had Richard not taken her hand, he would’ve very likely ended up among the dead.The woman was more correct than she could’ve ever guessed when she told himthat the casino would’ve ruined his life if he went back. As Richard opened thewindow to meet the morning’s rising sun, he understood the value of taking achance. Richard knew despite the many losses, despite the risk, that today, hecould reap the simple reward of being alive. He understood he was only alivebecause he took a risk for once in his life and immediately shut the drapes onhis window going back to his bed to return to sleep.

Until the next daydream……..

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