How did it come to this? What strange chain of events brought be here? This was supposed to be a quick operation. MarCon is a Sci-Fi con and I have attended it every year for something like 18 years. It's big, but not the biggest. Last year a paperwork cock-up meant we couldn't merchant there. THAT shit was fixed ASAP and we were back in business this weekend. But not everything was as it should be. How did I come to be in this smoke filled room, with these people all looking at me as I shoved four large stacks of poker chips into the middle of the table and sipped a Dry Martini and took a puff of a cigar?
This event was not the typical affair. Most importantly, my wife was not with me. She was helping her father with his adjustment to living at the retirement community, a truly thankless job. Instead, our chief evil minion Lindsey came along into this den of evil and villainy.
Selling corsets is only half the battle here. I've got 18 years of casual con acquaintances to meet up with. I need to find out that they're up to. Are they in good health? Still married? No? New wife or girlfriend? Eeeeeeeexcellent. Here, try this on. Don't look at me like that dear reader. They came to me. I give a good discound to old friends. And the money did flow. And it was good.
But when the dealers room closes there is another world, a darker world few know even exists. Many years ago I was the biggest of Trek geeks. And even though Paramount as spent the last five years crapping in my eyes with their awful Voyager and awefuller Enterprise I still consider myself a Trekker. It's pathetic, I'm like an abused spouse. I just keep coming back.
But something happened as we all grew up, a certain portion of us discovered women, booze and several other vices. These people combined their love of Trek with a desire to have adult type fun. Thus was the U.B.S. Casual and Barfleet created. Make no mistake, these are hard core geeks. But they are geeks who will not be going to their graves virgins.
The pinnacle of their depravity of the Barfleet party, an epic creation combining the seven deadly sins into a blender with ice and large shot of Jack Daniels. Mix thoroughly and apply to everyone in the room. Half of the fifth floor was taken up with their bacchanalian exploits. 6 suites and a staff of 20 or so. These people know how to party and are not to be trifled with. Thanks to my connections with this group Lindsey and I obtained 2 special VIP passes. These granted access to the private suite where I started this rant. Here, there is no crush of sweaty bodies. There is booze but it is not served from the great plastic barrels that the common geek folk must drink from. No, here ones every whim and wish is catered to. Of course, I had to work my way down the hall, fighting my way through several other suites like Homer in the Oddesey before I arrived at the gates of Nirvana. These rooms tested me, like I was a Shaolin Monk. Each room tried its best to destroy me, but my years have brought me wisdom. I kept an eye on Lindsey as best I could. This large a party has a strong current, a riptide that can suck you under and drown you in a vortex of Red Bull and Vodka. She disappeared a few times, spirited away by a friends girlfriend. What happened on these excursions I do not know. But when we had passed through the last of the gates, brushed off the hangers on and foiled the advances of wickedly inebriated women we came to the Holiest of Holies. The VIP suite.
And that is where I found myself seated at a table with people bent on breaking me. At first everything was pleasant and mellow. The air was cool and clearer and I could hear myself think. I ordered something from the bar and decided to sit down. Lindsey dissapeared again but I let her go. I chatted a little with some friends. The bar maid was proudly wearing one of our products. A Classic Victorian in Blue Gunmetal with Black satin sides. Dress size 10 I believe but I couldn't be sure. There was motion, waving from the large round table in the center of the suite. I was being called over. I flopped down into a chair and rubbed my eyes. How much sleep had I gotten here so far since Friday? Five hours? Six? Fun is fun, but we still had a Sunday to do. My eyes were heavy.
"Are you in?" someone asked.
I wasn't sure what he was referring to. But I like to think of myself as having an open mind. There are often strange yet stimulating games to be had at Barfleet parties. Like bobbing for trout and body shots. I smiled.
"Let's see your green."
Having had a fairly successful day my walled bulged slightly. Though most of my sales are by credit card we still managed to get a few cash sales each show. I tossed a folded wad on the table. There was some low whistling.
"I see you came to play!"
A stack of chips was shoved my way and through the haze of the room I could see the dark green vizor of a dealer. Beneath it two cool and impassionate eyes regarded me in my semi-stupor.
"What's the game lads?" I asked, praying it was something I knew. What I don't know about gambling could fill a large book.
"You're the big spender, you name the game."
"Blackjack!" I cried. Some at the table looked at me askance. "This shouldn't take long, I'm terrible." I smiled but few smiled back. A Commadore took up a chair and nodded at me. In all there were five players and the dealer.
And then my mind went somewhere else. It left my body. I'd like to think that it was dwelling on sweet thoughts of my beloved whom I would see soon, but I can't be sure. I remmember looking over and seeing Gene Roddenbery's son chatting with some pretty thing near the bar. But her corset was aweful. I considered giving her my card.
My stack of chips rose and fell like the tide and no one player dominated the game. A ciggarette girl came by and I requested a small cigar. They are a great prop and I continued the gambler theme by ordering a Vodka Martini (shaken not stirred). This is a drink that tastes old. My step father would drink something like this with 'the guys' after a day at the office. I managed to choke some of it down. The smoke was thick now, and larger and larger bets were being made. A watch was thrown in. A Mark II phaser (Old series). A necklace and what might have been panties. Were we playing a stripping game? My eyelids were heavy and I shook my head to clear the cobwebs in it. I looked down at the table and my pile was down. I had to get out of here. I am NOT a gambling man. I had passed through Vegas with a loss of maybe $80 and that through nickel slots for gods sake. Gambling losses are not an itemisable deduction.
Someone was laughing. A harsh, smokers laugh. I gazed over at the dealer. Were they laughing at me? With my last hand I was down, what, two hundred? There was grumbling at the outter rim of the table. People wanted to play Texas Hold 'Em. It was time to leave. But one just does not walk away from the table like a kicked dog. I shoved my entire pile of chips to the fore. "I don't have time to take your money in drips and draps. I'm all in, how about you all?"
"That is a pretty stupid bet" the dealer said. He eyed me the way the way some people eye the retarded.
"Fortune favors the bold. Are you pussies going big or going home?" One by one the piles came forward. There was a lot of chips on the table and I think some kind of pit boss was consulted.
"Very well, last hand." A quick bust, an 18, a 19, another bust and me. A nine and a five. I was hoping for something grander. I took a hit. a four. Crap. Leaving the table like a kicked dog was looking like a better option now, but that ship had sailed. I tapped the table for a hit and the gods smiled on me. 21.
There was general disbelief, even from me. But it was over now. I scooped up my winnings and threw the dealer a white chip. Lindsey appeared and after disposing of the chips we decided it might be a good idea to take our leave and clear our heads. We left the con suite and withdrew to the Hotel lounge on the second floor. Things had gotten wierd there for a moment. A few people dropped by our table and a heated discussion about the latest Harry Potted book ensued. I smiled. All was right with the world. I was with my people.