1 October 2012

Gambling in a Church

"Copyright Owen Jones 2012 (c)"

By: Owen Jones

Gambling in a Church

I used to drink in a bar called the Big Pink in Den Bosch, N. Brabant in the Netherlands. One of the landlords, Gren, had a beautiful 3 litre Mercedes and a penchant for gambling. One night he asked two of us, who were hoping for a stop-on, if we would like to go for a drive with him after the bar had closed.

He said that he intended to go to a private casino in Amsterdam, which was about 80 km north of us. Gren closed the bar dead on time, lit a joint and we were off at top speed. However, the roads were clear at 2 AM and he was a good driver.

We arrived in Amsterdam about 40 minutes later and parked by a canal in the Red Light District, which I knew vaguely from previous trips to Amsterdam with and without Gren, although I had never been to a casio there. In fact, I couldn't remember ever having seen one near where we parked up.

Gren lit another joint and after smoking it, we got out of the car. None of us was well-dressed, but Gren said that that didn't matter. After about ten yards, Gren ascended the steps of a church.

I had no idea what was going on, but Gren smiled, put his finger to his lips, said: "Have you ever been gambling in a church before?". and pushed a button.

I didn't know whether he wanted to pray for good luck or whether he had flipped on the strong hash that he liked.

A small shutter opened in the large oak door, which was opened too after a few seconds. "Hello, Gren. Nice to see, you sir. Those two with you?".

Gren smiled and waved us in, but the doorman was not quite as friendly with us. He gave us a thin, stern, but polite smile and closed the door behind us.

"It's a Devil-worshipping Church", said Gren to us under his breath. "I'm not joking, don't ake any jokes about the Devil in here".

Gren liked to joke, but I didn't think he was this time. He laughed out loud at nothing, but he often did that anyway.

The most noticable thing was that most people were oriental. Not all by any means, but clearly most. The best-dressed people were the security and the ladies. Most of the men were scruffy and looked as if they had just come from work or a night out, like we three had.

The security were big, Chinese men in dinner jackets and shoulder holsters, which hung with the gun's grip clearly showing. The waitresses were very pretty and smartly dressed in evening gowns. The female gamblers were well dressed too, but the men mostly wore jeans. Gren was a big man from Timor, West I think, but he was stateless with a pink passport.

The staff were all friendly and spoke English, Dutch (and presumably Chinese) very well. Gren knew that Gaffer, my friend, and I were only there for a drink, although Gren rarely drank alcohol, so he showed us to seats at the bar where we could see what was going on at the three small tables in the room.

As soon as we sat down, a waitress took our order of vodka and coke, for Gaffer, a beer for me and an orange juice for Gren. He also ordered a plate of sandwiches. I went to pay, but everything in the casino was free.

Gren sat at a table, but had to sit with his back to us, so that he couldn't use us to cheat for him. Gaffer went to the gents and a waitress picked up his drink. "No", I said, "he'll be back in a moment".

"I'll get him a fresh one when he returns", she said. And she did. As he came through the door she started and the drink was on the table before he sat down. One time we both went for a look around, but soon felt that it was better to stay where we had been placed. When we returned we had fresh drinks and a new plate of sanwiches.

Looking around, I could see pictures and artefacts of a 'devil-worshipping kind', not that I knew whether they were real, or just meant to fool the authorities. As the number of punters increased or diminished, tables were swung into walls and alters at the push of a hidden button. It really was something. Well-thumbed 'Devil bibles' lay here and there like in a Sunday school.

After we had been there for about four hours, Gaffer said rather too loudly: "Boring, innit? I want to go home. This place is crap".

One of the security appeared by my shoulder and wispered in my ear; "Tell your friend to be quiet or leave, but make sure that he understands that there are two ways of leaving. He can walk out right now, or we'll put him in a skip in the back alley", and he withdrew a few yards.

I told Gaffer the gist of what I had been told and he left immediately. I was quite happy there, but Gaffer had gotten too drunk.

Before we left an hour later, I watched a man play dice against the bank. He just walked in, was given a drink and a croupier caused a table to rotate out of the wall. It had six or eight, eight-sided die on it. The man lost $20,000 in less than 15 minutes and was cleaned out. The house bank lent him $10,000 more and he lost that.

He came to sit by me, but I was dumb-founded and only managed a nod of recognition. Seconds later, a croupier came up to him and gave him markers for $5,000 'on the house', I heard him say, 'with cmpliments' and the man took off to play roulette.

When we emerged at seven AM, it was daylight and Gaffer was asleep on the pavement leaning against the front wheel. Gren rolled another joint and drove us home .

"What did you think of the church?". he asked as he dropped me off.

by Owen Jones

Source: http://behind-the-smile.org/wordpress/
Owen Jones is a writer and self-publisher of a novel ('Behind The Smile ~ The Story of Lek, A Bar Girl In Pattaya'), 100+ ebooks, 150 web sites and well over 1,000 articles.

This story may not be copied in any way without the written permission of it's author, Owen Jones, but you may link to it, if you so desire.