The employee area in the casino sat quiet though littered with staff on break. Each stayed in their own bubble until the resident bartender and sometime funnyman entered.
“Ralphie!!!” The greeting sounded like an episode of Cheers.
“Hey guys…Larry, Jim.”
Ralphie grabbed a snack from the vending machine, then sat at a wood laminate table.
The employees circled around him.
“Whatcha got for us today?” It was hard to tell who asked due to the number of people.
“Oddest thing.” He paused to eat and swallow. “Five chicks walk into a bar.”
“Another classic joke, Ralphie?”
“Not this time, Jim. This actually happened. Like I was saying, five chicks walk into a bar. Well… not all at the same time. Anyway, they were all in wedding dresses.”
The audience looked at one another puzzled.
“So what were they doing in the bar,” Jim asked.
“Getting ready for the wedding night,” yelled a faceless voice.
The crowd laughed.
Ralphie held up his hand to hush the crowd.
”Lemme see. Chick number one sat at the bar crying her eyes out. Something about the groom dying from a freak accident at the strip club.”
Some side-eyed each other, but Ralphie continued as if not unusual.
“Chick number two found out she was about to marry a man on the run.”
“Like a fugitive?”
“Yeah, like a fugitive! Larry you kill me sometimes. Anyway, she saw him on one of those crime shows, and called the cops.”
“That had to hurt,” someone murmured.
”I’m not so sure she felt any pain after all the tequila shots.” He took a bite of food. “Then there’s the third chick. She’s what I call ‘the calm before the storm’.”
“Why is that,” Larry questioned.
“Well, she seemed ok at first. But after guzzling a bottle of whiskey she opened up… loudly. She blabbed about catching her man in bed…with one of the groomsmen.”
Several faces winced as if in pain.
“Chick number four complained about something or another. Oh yeah. The groom got cold feet following a discussion with his mommy.” Ralphie rubbed his eyes to mimic a baby. The employees snickered.
“So what about the last one?”
”Hers was a classic tale. Ex shows up to wedding. Ex objects. Groom dumps bride. Groom marries ex right there in front of her.”
The audience shook their heads in pity.
“So Ralphie, did the brides ever notice each other?”
“Yeah, they did. They talked for awhile…making a sisterhood-of-jilted-chicks pact and left. Didn’t see ‘em after that.”
The power of liquor and its side-effects wore off. The unhitched posse decided to try their luck in a different way – the casino.
After buying chips, they searched for what they hoped was a winning table. They found one with a sweet grandma-like dealer.
“Ladies, place your bets,” the dealer called.
After the first round they learned she was anything but sweet. It was time to take the gloves off. Bride Two won a couple of hands and so did Bride Three. The others see-sawed between winning and losing.
At the height of Bride Three’s success, an older gentleman approached the table. He observed each of the ladies before speaking. Bride Three kept a tight rein on her winnings in case he’s an opportunist.
“Why are five beautiful brides sitting around a card table? Surely your husbands are missing you,” his Spanish accent was thick.
Like a needle scratching a record, everything stopped. The women’s eyes shot daggers at him.
“My apologies, ladies. I meant no harm.”
The game resumed, but the morale had fallen. The older gentleman made small talk, working up to humorous banter. The brides showed their forgiveness through belly laughs and snorts. As time and rounds of cards passed, the brides swapped war stories. He listened with a sympathetic ear.
“I am so sorry you endured these tragedies. But look at it this way. You lost what was not to be found, and found what is to be treasured.”
The brides looked at each other not understanding the point. He caught on and explained.
“Those men did not see your value. If they did, you would be away in your honeymoon suites,” he said with a flair of his hand. “So it is their loss, not yours. But the beautiful thing is you ladies found each other. And quite frankly I thought you were sisters or at least close friends.”
The brides looked at each other – some smiling, others near tears. They were happy to have found each other. The makeshift support group helped take the sting away. But grieving the failed relationships was still imminent.
By the end of the night, the brides were broke and exhausted. They escorted each other to their rooms with their tails tucked between their legs. At each stop, the brides swapped phone numbers and emails promising to keep in touch. After hugs and a few tearful goodbyes, they were on their own.
In the days and weeks that followed, a stroke of good fortune showered the brides.
Bride One learned that she was the sole beneficiary of her fiancé’s insurance policy. She received a check for five hundred thousand dollars. Though she’d prefer her fiancé alive, she used the money to build the dream house they planned.
Bride Two spent her last five dollars playing slots. She won a brand new car. She took this as a sign to follow one of her bucket list items – drive cross-country.
The unexpected happened for Bride Three. She got married after all. Turned out the man she saw was her husband’s twin brother.
Bride Four collected the reward for turning in her fiancé. She still felt like a fool, but with two hundred thousand dollars she got over it quick.
At the front desk, Bride Five stood beside a handsome, athletically built man. They exchanged glances, trying not to seem obvious. She broke the ice with a smile – he with casual chitchat. Before Bride Five knew it, she was at lunch laughing with him over sandwiches and tea.
While the brides were fortunate in their outcomes, they never spoke again. The company of one another was a helpful distraction at a time when the pain was too much. Reconnecting would open wounds they wished to heal. None wanted to endure the cost. Internally each vowed, what happened in Vegas stays in Vegas.
Photo: Wedding Game Ideas