Bingo Hall

Sindy eyed the amazing raffle prize table on the first floor of The Ritzy, on opulent display by the plush Bingo Hall entrance next to the lounge bar.

It was Wednesday evening and she was meeting all her friends, even Granny would be coming; Sindy could only dream of what she would do with the top prize of one hundred pounds.

Suddenly a strangely familiar figure rudely barged past her and hovered by the office door.

It wasn’t long before the girls arrived, giggling and joking about the tempting prizes on display.

“Ooh, I’d love a lava lamp, they are so trendy.” Mindy exclaimed.

“What a sweet Teddy Bear.” Cousin June showed her age.

“Thats Granny’s favourite perfume.” commented Sindy, “I hope she wins it.”

Everyone had bought many strips in the hope of winning one of these glittering prizes, very soon the large hallway was crowded, all holding their tickets avidly awaiting the official draw.

Darius, the mysterious and very rich owner, would pick the number out of a hat at 6.50 ( just before the Bingo started)

It was all over very quickly with the top prize going to …. the strange ginger haired man with the big nose.

Sindy was sure she’d seen him before, she just couldn’t place where from.

As Darius handed over the huge cheque, Sindy’s dreams of a holiday at Morecambe were instantly dashed; soon the other prizes were dished out to the excited winners.

Poor Sindy, she never seemed to win anything, so fingers crossed for tonights Bingo games.

That man, it was really bugging her now, where had she seen him?

He marched heavily off down the hall towards the mens toilets, she was sure he was wearing a wig

‘No one has hair that colour!’ she thought.

The jolly Bingo caller was whipping the excited room up into a gaggle of laughter, comedy Ken was so funny, tonight he was dressed as a cowboy and put on a silly American Accent; everyone was in hysterics.

“Are y’all ready ?”

Yeah they shouted in reply.

“Then it’s EYES DOWN – a full house wins tonight prize.”

The hall cooed and gasped as Ken waved a handful of cash high up, flicking the crisp notes in front of the the averous players.

Drinks were downed and cigarettes extinguished ready for their full attention to the numbers.

Sindy glanced around the room excitedly while finishing off her snacks.

‘What! That man…it’s him.’ Sindy was sure now, she couldn’t mistake that brown leather jacket, its the same man from the Casino last week, the one that won all the games, its the SAME man who has only just won the raffle outside.

“Do you know who he is?” she whispered to Mindy.

“No, shh its just starting.” Mindy glanced over and shook her head.

Bingo caller Ken was still shouting out the numbers in a broad American accent and making the ladies laugh at his silly phrases.

“Danny La Rue has a poo number 52” …

“Red Raw back door number 64 – oooh Missus!”

“Sweet and keen, jelly bean just 15”

Sindy, Mindy and Granny were deep in concentration as they avidly waited to match up the numbers on their card.

The atmosphere in the room was electric as more and more balls rolled down and the numbers were called out.

“Dirty Gertie getting flirty number thirty.”

“HOUSE!”

Sindy glanced around for the winner…no way, she thought, I don’t believe it.

Bold as brass and practically the only man in the whole Bingo hall, there he stood in that familiar brown jacket, this time wearing a bowler hat but it was obviously the same fellow.

Sindy whispered her suspicions to Mindy as the rest of the hall grudgingly clapped the winner, he went up to collect that cash prize and seemed to be in a hurry to go; Ken kept him chatting.

“Congratulations….what’s your name?”

“Er…. Mr Cheque.” He mumbled awkwardly at being put on the spot.

“Well done Mr. Check, and what will you be spending your winnings on?”

The man was looking more and more uncomfortable at the attention and made a grab for the cash

“None of your business.”

“OOOOHHHHH” shrieked Ken in a highly camp way, “Hark at her.”

The crowd laughed and applauded, everyone loved Ken.

“You’ve got to tell someone he’s a fake.” Mindy egged Sindy and quickly called over to the rest of their table.

Granny told Dolly on the next table and within seconds the news spread like wild fire, everyone was furious, a Bingo cheat is the lowest of the low.

Sindy told them what she’d seen last week at the casino, there is nothing more scary than a wronged woman, except this was not just one, this was a whole room full!

“And that man was cheating.” Ken couldn’t believe it when Sindy told him.

“No one can cheat at Bingo dear,” He explained, too late the room was buzzing with angry voices.

As they all watched the drama unfold with startled gazes, not quite knowing what to do, it only took one very angry (and a little bit tipsy) woman to lead the mob into action.

Barbie staggered after the Bingo winner as he attempted to make his escape,

“Hey Mister…” she grabbed at his coat in the foyer.

“Get off me you ….” He turned angrily and tried to shake her off,

“I know you,” Barbie shouted accusingly, “You’re that dodgy model agency guy, I thought they locked you up…you should be ashamed of yourself.”

Sindy remembered that awful time she’d had dealing with him, Jimmy the Snap, she’d blanked that unfortunate episode from her memory.

It turned out that many ladies there had had bad experiences involving this man, one had all her wedding photos ruined when he forgot to put any film in his camera, another said he owed them money, one very angry lady said he’d made lewd suggestions to her grand daughter.

Within minutes the mob had got out of control and a full on bacchanalia was in progress, screaming frenzied women, kicking and pummelling as an array of bingo cards fell from his pocket.

“And that raffle was rigged.” someone screamed.

“Cheat”

“Fraud!”

“Faker.”

“Scumbag.”

He scarpered as fast as he could, out of the door and disappeared leaving his winnings where they fell.

As fast as it started, the red mist evaporated and calm descended to the slightly ruffled ladies in the hallway.

Lurking worriedly in the background, Darius slinked off quietly to his office. These people weren’t as stupid as he thought, he was concerned that his empire would collapse if it got out there was underhand dealings afoot so he never tried it on again.

It’s true crime does not pay and cheaters always get caught.

The next week Granny won the top prize and took everyone for a steak dinner in The Ritzy’s Penthouse à la carte restaurant.

©Juliette Dodd 2019

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