Ripple Nevada is made up of a few homes, some shabby apartment buildings, a road here and there, mostly unpaved. A main Street just barely wide enough for two cars to pass without touching, rutted and lined with a few stores on one side and a couple of taverns on the other. At the far end of town, just before the relentlessness of desert and cactus begins, a rundown Chevron station sits in an unending wait for one final customer.
Elegant Casino and the Bedraggled Little Man
The town of Ripple has no mayor or law, there are no ordinances to be adhered to, and any pretense of being a recognized township, if such pretense had ever existed, was long gone. Not even the presence of an immense gambling palace a short distance down the road allows the shambles that is Ripple a hint of validation.
Separated by a few miles of totally worthless earth, Ripplestein’s and the town of Ripple present a remarkable contrast…like comparing orchestral perfection to a cacophony of industrial machines, like comparing the contrast of frailty of one human’s character and the unquestionable sacrifice and courage of another’s.
The short distance from Ripple to Ripplestein’s Palace of Magic is traversed on a dusty road. But the spectacle awaiting the traveler makes the journey worthwhile. Once achieved, his destination offers an edifice of incredible splendor, a majestic castle rising from the desert floor. The magic of a two hundred million dollar casino replete with spires almost touching the lowest of clouds, a magical multi-colored cascade of water falling from the full height of the casino over smiling naked marble cherubs frolicking in animated form, peeking mischievously through the rush of descending water.
At night hues of a hundred colors wash over the desert miracle called Ripplestein’s Palace of Magic, with colored lights flashing brilliantly off the spires, colors that waft and careen, colors that explode and caress, lighting the sky more brilliantly than anyone could imagine! Acres and acres of blacktop support RV’s and countless luxury cars with a few Lear jets sprinkled around the perimeter.
Ripplestein’s, unlike the town of Ripple, is a monument to capitalistic success. In total conflict with the rundown collection of buildings loosely referred to as a town, Ripplestein’s Palace of Magic provides a spiraling mountain of profit for it’s mysterious ownership. Mysterious because all changes in the management of the colossal casino are implemented by directives received weekly by mail. No one complains. All management and staff are well paid, and the directives only occasionally suggest a departure from previous procedure.
New experience is essential to a healthy society. Change was coming to both Ripplestein’s and the slipshod rubble of Ripple in the form of a bedraggled, small, physically challenged man.
Suddenly, one day he was there. A small, taciturn man, traversing the casino floor, dragging a grotesquely bent right leg, hobbling from slot machine to slot machine, from Blackjack table to Blackjack table. The baggy suit jacket he wore didn’t match his wrinkled trousers and the trouser material at the bottom of his right leg, unused because of the shorter limb, was pulled along the floor as he laboriously made his way around the huge casino.
The small, unkempt man was a problem for the management of the casino, specifically for Duke Amherst, the general manager of Ripplestein’s. One of Amherst’s major responsibilities was to continually upgrade the value of the average customer at Ripplestein’s, value usually being defined as the ability and willingness to make large wagers. In the case of the small, disheveled man with the lame leg it wasn’t the size or frequency of his bets that caused the Ripplestein’s executive concern; it was his appearance. He was playing next to people of immense wealth and position, and it was apparent that many of these socially and financially elite players were made ill at ease around the small man’s somewhat odiferous presence.