EXT. KING’S CASINO
The sun sits calmly on top of a windswept horizon. Darkened clouds leave the sky as grey as ever. A pebble flies into frame, followed by a pair of decade old sneakers. Mai (19), stands feet apart, staring at the gigantic lights flashing in succession one after the other against a large crown.
INT. KING’S CASINO
Mai walks through a field of fantastical slot machines, each one blaring louder than the last.
— A foot lands on a fresh carpet stain. A voice sounds from the shadows. In the corner sits Fritz (62), on a lone stool chewing a tooth pick watching as the organized chaos unfolds before him.
Mai stands smack dab in the middle of the room, roaming aimlessly deciding which game to choose.
You lost Sonny?
Mai’s eyes light up momentarily.
No. I can find my own way.
Alright, well, have at it.
I plan to.
A small crowd brews in front of a placid stage. The drums mimic Mai’s effervescent heartbeat. He sits at a slot machine in the far corner. Fritz watches him through narrow eyes. Mai contemplates the workings of the machine then reaches into his pocket, grabs a handful of coins, and inserts them into the coin slot. He watches intensely as the virtual slot spins and comes to a halt: a cherry and two sevens.
Didn’t think you were gonna get it on the first try did you?
Mai shrugs him off moves on to an adjacent machine, puts the coins in. He moves on to another, repeats the same action twice over. Fritz appears by his side, slams the side of the machine standing before him, yanks the handle, and watches the slots spin.
(Shuffles the toothpick to the other side of mouth)
Better luck next time baby face.
Quit while you’re not ahead old man. I’m not your type.
Mai moves right, one machine over.
I know your type.
(Glances at Fritz who looks dishevelled as ever)
Don’t get your fetish in a bunch.
(Returns gaze to machine)
I won’t be sticking around long.
Fritz cranks the lever.
(Mutters to self)
People lose their lives playing games. Gotta be careful, careful you don’t end up in the wrong grave.
Thanks for the warning Igor, but I’ve already got my own shovel.
Fritz turns slowly towards him.
Your naïveté is getting the best of you Sonny… like everyone before you who’s walked these floors. Like everyone before you who’s come in here looking to leave with more than they came in.
(Stares hypnotically at the animated word art: “PLAY ME” sprawled across the screen)
They don’t know when to get out before it gets in. This place, this place is a dungeon, shackled with cheap dreams and broken promises –
(Glances at the loose change sitting in his palm)
– I tried to warn them.
Sounds fascinating, but I’m not much for tall tales at this hour Wilhelm.
It’s never too early to gain some perspective.
(Tosses him a fiver)
Then lighten up. This one’s on me.
Fritz ignores the bill in his hands. Mai shrugs, shoves it back into his pocket.
Ever wonder why you lost everything; you, out of everyone else in this shitty establishment? Death has been knocking on your door for years. You ever thought you should answer it?
People who deserve the world don’t deserve to die.
Death doesn’t discriminate.
And what makes you so special?
I’m not you.
– Doesn’t make you unlucky.
I don’t need luck.
You are in the wrong place.
I’m quite comfortable actually.
Mai turns to the machine, stares at it quizzically for a moment.
I think this is broken.
Or maybe the universe decided that you weren’t meant to have it.
Mai rises from his seat, moves to another machine. It comes to life as the coins fall into the slot.
The universe doesn’t decide what people can or can’t have. People do.
Mai cranks the lever: two sevens and one cherry across the board.
You were saying?
(Waltzes behind him)
That’s the universe at work boyo, you see, the house always wins which means you won’t ever.
And you’ve lost your edge…
(Peers at name tag)
Fritz, is it?
Why don’t you be a big boy and accept that your life is fucked up. That you’ve cranked that lever one too many times and no matter how much sage you pour into the universe, you’ll never get back the years you’ve wasted. You might get a kick out of terrorizing others, but I won’t be in your cavalcade.
Mai turns around to face the machine, Fritz lingers in his peripheral.
Your reality is tinted boy. Can’t you see? Scratched, faded, and dull as ever. One day it’ll glow, then go dark and then you’ll have nowhere else to go.
I am trying to help you boy! Can’t you see?!
Impressionists only make impressions. Some are lasting, others are impermanent. It’s not my fault you never bothered to fetch yourself a new pair of lens…
It’s your own.
Mai cranks the lever for a final time: three sevens across the board. He disappears into the shadows.
Fritz cranks the lever again.