“What’s with the 100,000?” asked Sam. “The bonus is 2K? It’s too much.”
“I have faith in myself and my abilities to beat the system,” Mark said.
“You just have to be patient.”
The cashier called out “Welcome back” and handed Mark a piece of paper.
Mark looked down in disappointment. It was a bill with his name on it. He
snapped the paper in disgust.
“Ohhhh,” Sam said, his voice almost comical even with the emotion. “I
guess your faith is a little misplaced. It’s a big promotion, I know.”
Sam stood to leave, “You’re right. It is. I just wish it was for the
system, so we can all get rich.”
“This is the system’s fault,” Mark said, pointing to the machine. “It’s
not fair. We can’t get away from the system, we can’t escape it, and we
can’t fight it. I’m tired of this game.” The machine began beeping, then
closing its glass doors began to release the room into total darkness. Mark
felt the cold metal against his palm.
He felt the urge to tell Samuel what the cashier had said to him earlier
and his reaction to it. Then Sam would know the reason Sam is so upset.
But, it didn’t feel right to put Sam in a position he’d rather not be in.
So he kept his mouth shut.
“If you were that upset by the cashier’s words, how would you feel when
she said, ‘This is the system’s fault.”
Sam was silent for the rest of his trip to work. Although, he doesn’t do
anything without a reason-if he was going to tell Mark of his reaction to
the cashier’s words, he would have told him last night about the game he was
playing, but he wasn’t to sure how Mark would react to that.
A year ago, Mark had been at the same club with his best friends. After
a drunken night, at Mark and Sam’s request, they walked out of the club to
a restaurant. They sat at a table, the waitress walked over, and her mouth
“Sam? What’s wrong?” asked Mark, looking at Sam with concern.
“I don’t know,” Mark said. “I wish we could fight the system.”
“You can’t fight the system,” Sam said simply, his face showing his
“I can’t fight it.” Mark’s words echoed his thought.
“There’s always a reason,” Sam said, his gaze still fixed on the
restaurant as he turned to Mark. “Look at me you idiot. Look at me,” he
reached out to touch Mark’s arm, and his eyes were sad. “It took me three
or four days to get that promotion. It wasn’t easy.”
“I don’t want to be stuck in this system. I don’t want to just sit
around in a constant state of panic. I want to help people.”
“Mark, my love, I care about you too. I care about you just as much as
the next guy, but I need you to be selfish. I need you to be kind. I need
you, Mark- the kindhearted you- to be a good friend to Sam and to me. I have
nothing to offer a real friend except my heart. The key to friendship is not
to be perfect, but to be there for a person when they’re in need. No person
in their right mind would be selfish- I’m telling you- they wouldn’t give a
second for another person- but when they need you, a person would be there.
Mark, you can’t be selfish, you need to be a good friend to someone who is
suffering or in need. You’re hurting, Sam,” Sam said, his voice trembling
with emotion. “I’m not the only one, I’m not an exception. I have friends
who are suffering every day, and I just can’t be there for them. I can’t
just be this side character, I need to be a good friend to all of my friends
and make their life better.”
Mark wasn’t sure what to say or do. He looked over at Sam and tried to
convince him through his eyes that he’s right about something.
“I have friends that are suffering every day, and I just can’t be
there for them,” Sam added, his eyes pleading with Mark to accept his
concern. “You’re my friend, Mark,” he said. “I’m your friend. My friend,
so I need you to be a friend to me.”
Sam’s eyes closed, and he took a deep breath. He smiled as his head fell
and his eyes were closed again. He leaned forward to Mark and whispered,
“I’m sorry, you’re right,” and with that, his eyes open, he looked at
Mark with compassion.
After a few minutes, Sam said, “Here’s your money,” as he handed Mark
“Thank you,” Mark said, looking at Sam.
Sam looked at Mark then turned to the cashier and asked, “How much did
I lose here last night?”
“Uh,” the cashier said, pointing to the blacked out slot machine.
Sam walked towards the slot machine and the casino manager followed him.
The manager asked, “Are you okay, Sam?”
Sam said, “Yeah, I’m okay. I’m fine.”
“Do you want to know what I heard from the casino manager?”