He smiled as we released our hands, and gestured for us to sit.
“Kurt, you don’t know me, though your brother-in-law does. I am Beverly George Wilder. The proprietor of this casino. And I’ve asked you both here for a couple of reasons.” He looked at Karl, “I want the money you owe me.” He looked at me, “And I want to get to know you.”
At this point I wasn’t feeling as fearful as I had been, though I held no doubt this man could make us disappear, or cause us unimaginable pain, if he wanted to.
“How much does he owe you?” I asked.
Bev smirked, “Three hundred fifty thousand.”
My heart sank. Even if I sold the house, we couldn’t cover a debt like that, and I knew he’d come for Catherine. My eye was drawn to Karl. While I felt like my heart was sinking, Karl clutched his bucket of chips tighter.
I glared at Karl. “How much do you have there?”
“Enough,” he whined.
“Give me the bucket,” I ordered in a calm voice.
He shook his head.
“Give. Me. The bucket,” I ordered more forcefully.
Again he shook his head, not looking at me.
“NOW!” I shouted.
The door to the room opened and in rushed the two goons, as Karl placed the bucket on the table.
Bev watched the exchange with a little smirk on his face. He looked at the goons and said, “Bring a chip sorter please.”
They nodded and left, as I collected the bucket, passing it to Bev. “Assuming there is enough, we’re done?”
Bev smiled, and no one would mistake his smile for one of a good person. His smile dripped evil, yet he nodded. “If the bucket covers his debts, then the debts are clear.”
I released a breath I didn’t realise I was holding.
“So, we can go?” I asked.
“Not quite yet. I still want to get to know you better.”
Confusion, and not a little bit of fear washed over me again. “What do you want to know about me?” I asked.
Bev leaned back in his chair, and steepled his fingers in front of his face. “Actually there is quite a bit about you that I want to know. You see, after you killed that idiot I employed, I did my research on you. Always doing well in class and on the field. Going to school for Environment & Resource Management. You’re an avid hunter. Loves your family–” he glared at Karl before continuing, “–well your sister anyway.” He turned back to me, and lowered his hands. “Learning all of that, only made me want to get to know you better. You’re an interesting man, Kurt Jaeger.”
I didn’t know what to make of Bev Wilder. Everything about this man bespoke evil, or at least corrupt businessman, but at the same time, he was being polite and even conversational with me.
Before I could reply, the goons knocked and opened the door again. The one who spoke earlier rolled in a cart. He plugged the machine in. He stood to the side patiently.
Bev stood and dumped the bucket of chips into the top of the machine, and pushed the button on the front.
The machine started to rumble, and the different coloured chips fell into stacks along the front of the machine. The digital readout kept climbing higher and higher.
I let out a breath when the readout climbed over the magic number of three hundred fifty thousand. Bev smiled at me, hearing my exhale.