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Casino, Thief River Falls
By Ethan Johnson


“Ahhh…I love the smell of napalm in the morning,” Brett announces.

It is not morning. I don’t know what napalm smells like. I ask Brett if he knows what movie that’s from. He does not. I don’t either. We shrug our shoulders and proceed to the large building in front of us.

A haze of cigarette smoke slips outside as we open the doors. Bright, flashing lights and a variety of rings and dings assault us as we make our way through the casino. People are dispersed throughout the place, but it still feels empty.

“I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore,” a Wizard of Oz slot machine blurts out as we walk past.

“Sorry, Dorothy, not today.” Brett laughs at his own joke. Carl waves us over to the blackjack table, and we take a seat next to him.

“Well boys, ready to win some cash?”

I keep track of the money I’ve gambled. I guess budgeting is in my blood, with my mother being a finance administrator and my father a vice president of a bank and then a business owner. To date I have lost $136.28. I don’t write it down, but it is something I try to be aware of.
We nod and hand over our cash to the dealer. Cards are promptly dealt.

Two hours later, we exit the casino, defeated. Carl and Brett both lost their asses. I didn’t fare much better.

“I’m outta here. See you guys later.” Brett gets in his truck and takes off.

I exhale. “I think I’m heading out too.”

“Yeah, see ya.” Carl sits down on the curb and lights another cigarette.




Herberger’s, Bemidji

By Elisa Kay Boettcher


It is 9:58 p.m. and it is empty here. No one is filtering through the hundreds of racks of clothes to my right. No one is trying on shoes to my left. No one is in front of me, spraying large amounts of perfume that fill my head with so much scent that it hurts. There is no one here, except the people who are insane or stupid enough to work here.

There hasn’t been anyone here since 7:00 p.m., which makes being bored with nothing to do even more boring. The sound of change hitting change, in that way that money clinks, is filling the silent void. I am sitting, staring in no particular direction, waiting for the voice in the sky to tell me that I can leave.

Eye shadow, blush, and foundation are splattered about my once pristine white lab coat, making it Elisa’s technicolor “nightmare to wash” coat. My hands are stained with every shade of red and pink and auburn and nude, accented by the little tick-marks of faded eyeliner. If I’m lucky, they will come off in three or four days.

“Attention Herberger’s guests, our store is now closed. Thank you for shopping your Bemidji Herberger’s and have a wonderful evening,” says the voice above.

Nothing changes because no one is here. The other insane, bored ones and I shuffle to the back where we hand off our bags full of money and idly nod goodbye to one another. It is 10:15 p.m. and there is a glimmer of life in the air. We have been released into the darkness, where our Saturday night begins.



Wedding Dance, Twin Cities

By Kristy Romo


I can’t hear much of anything over the music. The song is current, whatever it is, and I can feel the bass line pounding out the beat, though whether it’s coming up through my feet via the floor or the sound waves are just hitting me that hard, I’m not sure.

My mother is discussing something with my aunt. I can see their mouths moving from my chair next to them, but beyond a slight murmur, I can’t hear them over the music.

My cousin walks toward me from across the room, and I can tell by the wild look in her eyes and wide smile that she just came from the dance floor. I have yet to go near it. It almost seems silly to walk all the way over there to dance when I can hear the music just fine where I am. And besides, I don’t like dancing much. I more or less end up feeling like a dork who has no idea what she’s doing unless it’s one of those songs where there’s a precise way of dancing to it. Like the Macarena. Why couldn’t they play something like that? Isn’t it a rule to play that at wedding dances? I know how to dance to that.

I know what she is going to say before she is even halfway to our table. I’ve had plenty of other people push me to go dancing. But she is my cousin and she is younger than I am. I’m expected to be nice to her.

“Come dancing!” she yells. I don’t think I could have heard her over the music otherwise.

“I don’t want to!” I yell back. Like that will make any difference.

Surprisingly enough, she gives up pretty quickly. I guess my mom and aunt start pushing me to go out and dance, but I can’t quite hear them over the pounding music. I have successfully avoided going out on to the dance floor yet again. Half an hour down, only two more hours to go. I tell myself I can do it, I can avoid being dragged out there.

My resolve breaks less than fifteen minutes later.

Ethan Johnson is an undergraduate student at BSU, sports enthusiast, reality television junkie, video game addict, and self-diagnosed insomniac. Elisa Kay Boettcher is a senior mass communications and creative and professional writing major at BSU; after graduation she plans on moving to Fargo to pursue a career as a PR representative for the Fargo Force hockey team. Kristy Romo is an undergraduate student at BSU and plans to graduate in Fall 2013 with a major in creative and professional writing.