December 20th, 2013
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the casino not a creature was betting, not even in Reno. The stockings were hung by the poker tables with care, in hopes that heavy jackpots soon would be there.
The dealers were nestled all snug in their beds, while visions of playing cards danced in their heads . And Mama with her bankroll, and I with my stack, had just settled in for a game of Blackjack.
The moon on the breast of the Las Vegas strip gave the lustre of midday to objects below, when, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but a miniature sleigh and eight tiny reindeer.
With a little old driver, so lucky with Keno, I knew in a moment it must be St. Bernadino. More rapid than eagles, his coursers they came, and he whistled and shouted and called them by name:
"Now Banker! Now Gambler! Now, Rambler and Ante! On, Lucky! On, Spinner! On, Diamonds and Spades! To the top of the penthouse! To the top of the bar! Now dash away! Dash away! Dash away all!"
As dry martinis that before the wild Craps dice fly, when they meet with snake eyes, mount to the high rollers club the coursers they flew, with the sleigh full of Slots, and St. Bernadino too.
And then, in a twinkling, I heard on the roof the prancing and pawing of each little hoof. As I drew in my head and was turning around, down to the casino floor St. Bernadino came with a bound.
He was decked out in gold, from his head to his foot, and his clothes were fresh pressed and well put. A bundle of money he had flung on his back, and he looked like a peddler just opening his pack.
His rings--how they twinkled! His Rolex, how shiny! His face was clean shaven, as soft as a hiney. His droll little mouth was drawn up like a velvet rope, and he smelled of hotel soap.
The Cuban cigar he held tight in his fingers, and the smoke it encircled his head like a winner. He had a broad face and a grin of guilt, that split when he laughed, like a man on tilt.
He was chubby and plump, a jolly old pitboss, and I laughed when I saw him, in spite of my loss. A wink of his eye and a flip of his chip soon gave me to know I had no reason to tip.
He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work, and filled all the chip treys, then turned with a jerk. And laying his finger aside of his nose, and giving a nod, up the elevator he rose.
He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim, as he drove out of sight,
"Happy Christmas to all, and to all a Lucky New Year!"
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