by Garrick Sherman
Bert’s hand landed in gum, but he simply reached farther, crushing his shoulders against the machine to gain ground. He heard snickering but was undeterred. Cheek pressed against the filthy floor, hindquarters raised high, he wiggled forward.
“Ahem.” Bert continued to plunder. He felt a tap on his shoulder. “Sir?” Reluctantly, Bert retracted his arm.
“Excuse me, sir, but you are disturbing the other guests,” said the well-dressed man standing before him. Bert glanced around at his fellow patrons, depositing coins and pulling levers.
“Right, well, it’s just that I dropped my last quarter and it rolled back behind the slot machine,” Bert replied. The man looked Bert up and down.
“I think it would be best you leave now, sir,” he said.
“Excuse me? Well, I’ll leave if you want me to but not without my quarter,” Bert asserted, turning back to his machine. Stooping to resume his hunt, Bert felt someone grasp his arm tightly: a larger well-dressed man stood beside the first.
“The casino appreciates your patronage,” said the smaller well-dressed man. The larger pulled Bert toward the door.
“This is theft. You owe me a quarter!” cried Bert to the first man. “You owe me a quarter!” he repeated, turning to the second. The guard shoved Bert out the door.
“Sir, if you re-enter the casino, we will be forced to call the police,” he said.
“Do you realize that you are stealing my quarter?” Bert appealed. The man turned and the door shut behind him.
Bert turned and walked down along the street. He shoved his hands in his pockets and looked defeated for a moment. Then, feeling something round, he removed a single quarter.
“Oh!” he exclaimed. “So I had another one after all.” He smiled and scampered into the nearest casino.