Donna got a job working in the Owl Club as a waitress and Alfred got a job in the casino. He wore a vest that was too tight and walked around the casino calling, “Keno, Keno.” People flagged him down and placed their bets. Every night he’d walk through the restaurant a few times, calling for bets and he and Donna would see each other and smile. After work they’d split Donna’s tips and sit in front of their respective favorite slot machines and gamble until Donna’s tips were gone. If they ever got to over a hundred dollars with their winnings, they’d stop and go home. It only happened every month or so and never on the same night.
They lived in a tiny singlewide trailer that backed up to Interstate 80. At night they were lulled to sleep by the sound of big rigs lumbering down the freeway. It was their own brand of white noise.
They were reasonably happy. They had no more or less than they’d had in Alabama. Donna had been a waitress there too and Alfred had worked construction—mostly shoveling gravel—but he’d hurt his back so he wasn’t able to work that job anymore. Donna still dreamed of going to Oregon sometimes. She had a cousin who lived there and she longed for the mild weather on bitterly cold days in the high desert. But the longer they stayed in Battle Mountain, the easier it was to keep staying there.