Approaches to the World's Largest Casino

by Jonathan Muzzall 

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ONE

            Dust blows in your eyes as you approach the World's Largest Casino. You begin to think it's not the World's Largest Casino you're coming to, but instead the Great Pyramid of Giza, the only Ancient Wonder of the World that remains.

            The sun beats down on you. Your throat is dry. Awestruck by the funereal grandeur of the Great Pyramid, you stumble toward it.

            Before you know it, a man is grabbing you and saying, "This way to the quarry, slave!" and you're dragged off to slavery.

 

TWO

            When it's raining, you approach Camelot, home of King Arthur and his illustrious knights. What an honor it will be to meet King Arthur and Sir Lancelot and all the rest. Maybe they'll let you try on a suit of armor with silken tights underneath. Maybe you'll get some time alone with Guinevere—just to talk.

            As you begin crossing the drawbridge, a knight on the parapet orders you to halt. Which one could it be? It's so exciting!

            Whoever it is, he lifts his visor and says, "You don't look anything like your photo. You go right back to your employer and tell him we know what we ordered, and you ain't it. No offense."

            "What!" you answer. The moat smells terrible. You probably shouldn't go so long between haircuts.

            "No offense."

 

THREE

            During winter, the World's Largest Casino appears as a stately and majestic palace atop a snow-covered mountain, and inside that palace is a great hall adorned with fine paintings and carpets. The worthy dead murmur and point as they make way.

            You find yourself before Odin, who says, "Thank goodness you're here. I'm starving." That might not be so bad, except Valhalla has grown very quiet. You can hear the burble-burble of boiling water—a lot of it—coming from some unseen room.

            The place where you are is large, but it doesn't seem large enough to be the World's Largest Casino. In your mind's eye, exits 81A and 81B loom over you: whichever one you took was wrong.

 

FOUR

            At night, the World's Largest Casino is a sparkling jewel deep in the void, the most beautiful star in all the universe. But because the universe is expanding at an ever-increasing rate, the star withdraws farther and farther into the distance even as you hurry more and more. Although innumerable others play there every day, you'll never be able to join in.

            It's just as well. It's not as much fun as it looks, and the house really does always win.

 

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Jonathan Muzzall's stories have appeared in several literary magazines, including Whitefish Review, Glimmer Train Stories, Outlook Springs, New Ohio Review, and Beloit Fiction Journal. Four More Nights, a chapbook, is forthcoming from Urban Farmhouse Press. Learn more at jonathanmuzzall.com.