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Please Use Rear Exit’s 34th Chapter is presented by:

“Truth

in

Machines”


Please Use Rear Exit

CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR (( left center right ))

Mikhail let the dice roll around in his hand a little bit. With only two chips left, the third die chilled unattended near his shifting wrist. “Let’s go, CL Smooth. Center and Left, sucka,” Pastor Shakur said. “I got Pete Rock beats that you wouldn’t even believe! Make them dice rhyme C and L, don’t let me down, Mikhail! They reminisce over you!” “It’s about time you took an L,” Wood added. He wore a Louis Vuitton visor that probably only left the design room a few times. “But throw a Right in there too...get scary for me, R.L. Stine or some shit.” “If I throw snake-eyes, you guys are going to let me beat up Horry without stepping in, aight?” 524


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“You might be getting a little too darn comfortable here,” Woody said, sitting directly across from Mikhail. There was something of a tick to the snarl that came from beneath his cowboy hat. “You can’t be adding prop bets at the last minute like some rodeo clown. That just ain’t right or left, it’s just plain wrong.” “Woody, c’mon man, it’s not the worst of provisions,” Pastor Shakur said. “Ain’t no one have any chips left other than you two! I have to hope that you or Brother Brett get one just so you might be able to roll it my way and I have a chance of getting back into this darn game. Provisions sound like collusions.” 525


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“Chance is the game, Woody, just chill. Let him make this. If he rolls snake-eyes, we’ll just have to let Horry fend for himself,” the Pastor said, one emotion shy of relaxed. “Please, you have to see the humor in it, no?” Mikhail let the dice roll and they revealed a pair of dots. Woody shattered his empty glass against the wall and Pastor Shakur doubled over in laughter. Wood just stared in disbelief, while the Pillar rushed to find a dust pan. Whenever he got to Horry, it’d officially be a one-on-one contest. Mikhail repeated this silently a few times, in case the top-shelf Jameson kept pouring and he crossed over to black-out drunk land. He could feel his memory getting hazier with each sip. “I need this third dot like I need the third eye,” the Pastor said, further loosening the tie around his unbuttoned collar. Only one chip left, Shakur very specifically picked up the die Mikhail hadn’t rolled. Mikhail wondered if there was more on this game than just the $150 tossed into the pot. But ‘Pac was probably just that competitive, even for the comparatively low stakes. “No homo—but go ahead and dot me!” 526


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And Tupac was dotted and everyone celebrated. The Pillar came back around and topped off everyone’s drinks before sweeping up the rest of the glass. Mikhail pounded the table, so drunk he wasn’t sure what he was doing. A pair of dice was thrusted at him. He dropped one and picked up the other; it just felt better. “I know now what it’s like to get shot,” Mikhail said. “Mosey on out of here with that nonsense,” Woody said. “You ain’t never been shot just as I ain’t never been outside this bus or dunked a darn basketball.”

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“Not with a gun, no, but definitely by an eighttentacled bullet that bit and scraped and slimed unlike any gun I’ve ever encountered. Real talk.” “Walk it out like Ushurrr, if you say real talk than I prolly won’t truss ya, if you want to go to war, the guns, my pleasure,” Wood said, slurring even more than Three Stacks. “Besides, them bitches have eight arms and two tentacles, there’s a diff—” “Is this lying-ass Mikhail or the Mikhail that doesn’t give a what?” Pastor Shakur asked, interrupting Wood’s wouldbe lecture on cephalopods. It was like the conversation had finally caught up to him, but he was already bored with the superfluous details and ready for point of it all. “This happened tonight?” Mikhail opened his collar to reveal the long gash that snaked down his neck like the burn of a passing grenade. 528


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The table’s quiet surprise was enough to confirm their belief that he had indeed survived a squid attack. “Maybe you are the one They speak about. I’m not sure if that makes me trust you more or less, but I’m impressed— even if I know you haven’t gotten to that other thing we spoke about. There’s only an hour or so left on this bus, has your luck run dry? We’ll see, we’ll see. In fact, I might add an additional wager and won’t even ask you to put anything else up. I know that the last of your loot is already on the table,” Pastor Shakur said. He then turned to the Pillar who was leaning against a bar stool by the door. “Why don’t you bring out those shorties. They gotta blow on Mikhail’s dice before he rolls them. Let’s test that luck.” Ivan walked across the room and opened a door that Mikhail had assumed was spackled shut. It had certainly looked that way, but the Pillar was able to open it with ease—and not just because of his absurd size. Mikhail couldn’t see into the room, but two young women slid out at the door’s slightest crack, as if they had been intently listening, cupped ears on the thick plaster. They wore varying shades of pink and black in tube tops and skirts and high heels and one of them immediately looked familiar to 529


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Mikhail. This wasn’t an additional good deed wager, this was a potential game changer. Either way, Mikhail had to keep playing. He held up his pair of dice, jangling his hand, and waited with a flutter in his pulse for Bridget to blow on his fist. “I wasn’t good luck when your ex was around, what makes you think I’m lucky now?” Her earrings still dangled, even as her outfit had changed. Pastor Shakur, The Pillar, Brother Bret, the other girl, Woody and Wood...they all took a back seat to her dangles. The line between Bridget’s neck and shoulders was devastatingly naked without losing a touch of her dignity. Then she gently blew on Mikhail’s fist and it all started to melt away. Pastor Shakur started talking again, but his spiel quickly turned into a throw away track, one of those songs that was probably the fourth or fifth of the day’s studio session. 530


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His banter about bitches began to blend in with the beat—an instrumental that started sounding especially C-grade. There was still the probability of a gem lying in the mix, but Bridget’s presence was too much of a distraction for any of the necessary concentration to pierce the meaning of Pastor Shakur’s current song. Whatever was special about his highlights, suddenly became very middling...or maybe he was just outshined by the track’s surprise guest. It was probably the booze pushing his buttons, but Mikhail had to bite his tongue to keep it from declaring his love for Bridget. The night had kept on spinning, but his heart had stopped, letting it all rotate around each nonexistent beat. Her words from earlier in the night kept ringing through his head—“you’ll have to be real charming the next time around”—and the pressure behind his response under this new stroke of luck started to build up. With the ticking of each millisecond, he was getting more 531


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and more afraid that his tongue would out-wrestle his teeth and say what it so absurdly wanted to utter. He frantically searched his mind for that time, seemingly months ago, when their back-and-forth was infectiously flirtatious. One minute prior, he had felt in control, a bad ass revealing war wounds, but just then he could only hope she had heard what was quickly dispersing into nothingness. 532


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“It’s nice to see that we both changed outfits for the occasion,” he jested. “Let’s see how lucky you are or aren’t.” Mikhail tossed his pair of dice right as Pastor Shakur shouted “LL Cool J!” The Pastor was only half right, as Mikhail’s roll revealed an L and a dot. He got to keep a chip, but Shakur got the other. The reception was still rowdy, but a little less so. Bridget then stole Mikhail’s Dipset scully and placed it over her tantalizing curls. The action stole some of the table’s wind, especially once she started running her fingers through Mikhail’s now-exposed hair. Pastor Shakur noticed the swinging momentum and picked up two dice that represented his two chips and quickly tossed them against the table’s green felt. “Railroad motherfucker!” Mikhail gasped as the dice were still spinning. When it all settled, R and R were all that showed. “If that ain’t Rest and Relaxation, gentleman, I don’t know what is,” Mikhail shouted, barely audible over the eruption of cursing, laughing and stomping that resulted from Pastor Shakur’s errant throw. He stopped trying to be heard once Bridget kissed him on the cheek, so close 533


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to his mouth that it hurt. The kiss of a pretty girl and the sweet sex of $150, his squid attack started to feel like a victory. Even his run-in with Robert Horry turned from a total affront to a sign that he and Saffy were not meant to be together. After their general hysteria died down and the laughter subsided, when Wood and Woody’s bitching went quiet, Pastor Shakur placed his hand on Mikhail’s shoulder. “In all my years playing LCR, this is the first time I’ve ever seen someone end an epic game with all three chips. Maybe you do got some of that chosen one in you,” he said, still shaking his head in disbelief. “But just because you got cash in your pocket, doesn’t mean you’ve paid off your debt. The house is still on-top and I’m the bank that owns your mortgage.” “Me and my girl got Mikhail,” Bridget suddenly said. The table was slightly more aghast at her statement than Mikhail’s WIN, but no one said anything. “I don’t know about his payments, but there’s just something about him that makes me feel like he needs to be taken care of. And besides all that, his ex needs to be served.” “Well, I’ll be damned. Why do I feel like giving you this easy lease on life was worse than if I had wagered the 534


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keys to my crib or secrets from my campaign files?” Pastor Shakur slowly shook his head, still managing to pierce Mikhail with intense eye contact: “You just better close the deal. Repo can be worse than the po-po, and you know this bank doesn’t mess around.” “Agreed. So you don’t mind if I steal Dangles and her friend? It’s getting late and the night can only be young for so long,” Mikhail said. “I mean, only if they want to go grab a drink elsewhere. Their choice, your choice, I’m just suggesting it.” “I think you deserve it and what’s-her-name is certainly trying to serve it,” Pastor Shakur said. “Just remember that I’m paying attention, and not just Twitter feeds or Facebook updates. I’ll give you 50 feet. Defeat might not be your destiny, I’ll release you to the streets. And keep whatever’s left of thee. Jealousy is misery, suffering is grief. Better be prepared when the cowards fuck with me.”

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Ch. 34 : Left Center Right  

A simple game of dice can go a long way.

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