The Fever Recap

Franklin Gibbs and his wife Flora arrive in Las Vegas after Flora wins an all-expense-paid trip in a contest. The manager, Mr. Henson, welcomes them and has the casino photographer Joe take a photo of them for their hometown paper. He assures them that they unlimited credit, but Franklin glowers at him and Henson quickly leaves.

Once they’re alone, Franklin expresses his displeasure over the gambling going on. He insists that it’s a waste of time but patronizingly says that he’s going along with what she wanted. A woman wins a jackpot at a slot machine and Flora goes over to watch. She goes over to another machine and starts to put in a nickel. Franklin stops her and complains about her wasting money. He points out that she’s throwing way money on an all-expense-paid trip, and Flora finally tells him she won’t pay just to shut him up. She notes that the nickel is already in and he allows her to pull the lever. There’s no payoff, and Franklin goes to his room. A drunk grabs him and invites him to try the machine he’s been losing at. He forces the dollar coin into Franklin’s hand, makes him put it in, and then goes to his wife. Flora nods encouragingly and Franklin hesitantly pulls the lever. The machine pays off at 10 to 1, and Flora comes over. Franklin says that now she’ll see how he handles wealth, and will stash the money away.

As the Gibbs go to the exit, the drunk comes over and plays a dollar, and gets nothing. Franklin hesitates when it sounds like the rattling coins are saying his name. Flora assures him that she didn’t say his name, and Franklin glances back at the slot machine. He then walks out and his wife follows him.

Later that night, Franklin lies on his bed, unable to sleep. He hears the slot machine’s voice again and glances over at the coins on the dresser. Franklin imagines the stack growling larger, glances at his sleeping wife, and then goes over and picks up the dollar coins. Flora wakes up and asks if something is the matter, and Franklin claims that he doesn’t like keeping immoral money. He tells her that he’s going to feed it into the machine and get rid of it.

Three hours later, Flora finds her husband compulsively feeding coins into the machine. When he runs out of coins, he tells Flora to make sure no one else uses the slot machine and goes over to the cashier to cash a check. When he comes back, Flora points out that it’s the third time he’s cashed a check. She suggests that he stop, and Franklin insists that he has to win back all of the money he loses. When she persists, Franklin yells at her that she’s a jinx and a shrew. He complains that the machine is taunting him into spending money, and continues losing.

Two hours later, Henson and the cashier watch Franklin as he continues losing and cashing more checks. He tells Flora that he’s almost got the slot machine licked and figures that it has to pay off eventually. Franklin plays through the next day and puts in his last dollar... and the lever jams. Swearing, he pounds on the machine and then knocks it over. The bouncers drag him away, kicking and screaming, and Henson puts an out-of-order sign on the machine.

Later, Franklin lies on his bed and tells Flora that the machine deliberately broke down rather than pay out. He hears the slot machine calling his name and motions Flora to be silent so he can find the source. Franklin opens the hotel room door and sees the machine advancing on him. He slams the door looks in the mirror, and the slot machine comes in, calling his name. Flora sees nothing, but the machine keeps chasing him. There’s no escape, and Franklin finally backs up against the window... and falls out to his death.

Later, the medic arrives and pronounces Franklin dead. Henson admits that nobody’s ever been hooked like Franklin was. As the crowd walks away, the machine appears and a single dollar coin rolls across the pavement to Franklin’s outstretched hand.

Written by Gadfly on Sep 19, 2015