When my homey Jaymz said LeRoi—the weird guy who stares at his shoes through thick glasses—could make stuff move with his mind, I didn’t believe him. I knew telekinesis ain’t real. But I got them into that street craps game, where everyone packs heat.
I believed after that. I joined them on a trip to a real casino in Louisiana, where we kept gold diggers from clawing their way into our growing stack of chips. But nothing—I mean, nothing—prepared us for the high-roller tables out in Vegas.
Sample of “Seven Out”
The whole Vegas thing started when my boy Jaymz came over for our usual Madden game before I went off to work.
There I was, my dreads tucked under the Chickenator restaurant ball cap, in a polo shirt the color of hot oil splashed out of the fryer. My name tag Gordon in the right spot and straight. On the TV, the team select screen had the Cowboys ready for his controller and everything. He really liked that one blue star.
Jaymz hurried in like he always did. Being on time was never his thing. But after we fist-bumped hello he ignored the bright glow of the TV. He angled his head up a couple of inches and his small eyes locked on mine. “Yo, G, I figured something out and I got to tell you.” For a shorter guy, and let’s be real, kinda pudgy too, Jaymz had a voice that could fill the room. “It’s my homey LeRoi. You know how shit get all weird when he be round, right?”
I had to nod at that. All the way back in elementary school, LeRoi sat alone with thick-ass glasses and no one talked to him. Until Big Tayshon called him a punk-ass for acting white and whomped on his head while the Teach for America becky kept pleading for him to stop.
Big T did stop, and later that day he stopped forever. Slipped off the top of the slide and broke his fat neck. His momma and her boyfriend sued the school district but didn’t get a penny. The school had maintenance records out the ass and some phone video of kids fatter than Big T going up the same ladder a minute before.
No one really believed LeRoi had made Big T die, but no one called him out for acting white ever again.
Not that he ever acted white. He just acted weird.
“I didn’t know LeRoi had any homeys,” I said.
“Hey, I mean, he a tough dude to get to know, but he all right. Especially when he showed me what he can do.”
“Tele-something. Not reading minds and shit. Making stuff move.”
Jaymz’ eyebrows lifted. Creases in his forehead seemed to reach halfway back his shaven scalp. “That’s a big-ass word, G. What you been doing, reading books or something?”
“Something. To know telekinesis ain’t real.”
He shook his head like he was faking a seizure. “I seen LeRoi do it. I rolled dice ten times and he made them come up sevens every damn time. You know what this means?”
“It means he got lucky.”
“Thousand-to-one? Million-to-one? That ain’t luck, G. That’s real.” He stared at me for a long moment.
“I still don’t believe you.” Jaymz had a knack for hustles going sideways.
“You don’t have to. Just set me up with Sestercius’ street game, aight?”
I’d played football in high school with Sestercius, until my Achilles snapped trying to make a tackle. After school, while I earned money frying chicken and waffles, he ran a street craps game. Three nights a week, moving from garage to garage around the neighborhood to keep out of sight of the vice squad and the Mexican gangs looking for a big robbery. Tough to get invited.
“He might let me in,” I said. “But he won’t let in you and LeRoi.”
“He will if you come with us.”
I rolled my eyes. “Come on, jones, I got better things to do than lose my money.” Like pay for an IT class at the community college.
“You won’t lose money. Just bet with LeRoi and me all the time.” He must have read something in my face. “G, if you walk out of there down—if you walk out of there less than a hundred dollars up—I’ll cover you.”
I snorted and said, “You didn’t even cover me half of last weekend’s pizza.”
“This is different. This is going to work. Just get us in that game, aight?”
A week later I parked the three of us on a street in the old neighborhood. Next to me, Jaymz pulled himself out by one hand on the top of the door frame. In the back seat, LeRoi didn’t stir.
In school, I never was mean to him. Momma always said people touched in the head were looked after by God, and whatever you do the least of Mine and all that. But after what Jaymz had said about Big T’s accident, I was especially polite. “LeRoi, you ready?”
He wore glasses so thick you could see bacteria through them. A reflected street light dazzled across them when he turned to me. “Yeah,” he said, in the world’s softest voice. “I could use some money.”
He and I climbed out into the humid night. Where Jaymz was pudgy, LeRoi was scrawny. His hair looked like his momma ran clippers over it. No fade, no style at all. No style to his clothes, either. Store brand jeans from Walmart and sneakers from China where they changed the number and angle of stripes so Adidas couldn’t sue. At least he left open the top button of his tucked-in polo shirt.
We walked the sidewalk between five cars and three houses. Jaymz whistled at a Cadillac with hubs sticking out like a war chariot in some old movie about ancient Rome. The Cadillac had a crack running two-thirds of the way across the lower part of the windshield. In a driveway, behind a fence and gate of steel poles, three Mexicans worked under the hood of a pickup truck while a radio played a man crooning in Spanish over the squeal of an accordions. One of the Mexicans squinted at us and hovered his hand near the tail of his shirt.
I nodded and said “Good evening” as we passed by.
We got to the address. The norm for the neighborhood, one story, dingy brick, burglar bars on the windows and a steel anti-kick plate on the front door. Garage door down. Bass thumped through the walls so loud the burglar bars rattled.
On the sidewalk, LeRoi sucked in a breath and froze. He squinted like he was getting a headache.
Jaymz looked alarmed. “You good?”
“Don’t like too much noise.”