Mr. Lucky

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Book: Mr. Lucky by James Swain Read Free Book Online
Authors: James Swain
For years, people swore that the casinos pumped extra oxygen through the air vents to keep players going, but it wasn’t true. The games kept people going.
    He caught the eye of a cute change girl, and learned the poker tournament was on the second floor. He made his way to a bank of elevators. Down in Key West, his father had given him a videotape of Ricky Smith’s winning streak, and he’d watched it with Yolanda. Ricky Smith had played poker with Tex Snyder for twenty minutes and won two hundred grand. He’d made Snyder look like a chump. Surely Snyder would have some interesting thoughts on what happened. The challenge would be making him open up.
    Gerry got on a crowded elevator. On the way up, he found himself checking out the other haircuts. He fit right in. Great.

    The poker tournament was in the casino’s card room and was being filmed by a cable station for a later showing. Tournament poker was the rage on TV and, according to his father, was creating a whole new legion of suckers. Anyone could enter, and as Gerry started to walk in, he noticed the guy by the entrance. Black, six-two, a soul patch on his chin, his black shirt hanging outside his pants, disguising his massive girth. Stepping forward, he placed his forefinger on Gerry’s shoulder. It was as big as a blood sausage.
    “Your name Gerry Valentine?” he asked.
    “That’s me,” Gerry said.
    “My name’s Lamar Biggs. I run the casino’s security. You’re not wanted here. I’m going to show you out. If you try to resist, I’ll hurt you.”
    Gerry flashed Lamar his best smile. “Au contraire. That’s been cleared up. If you call Bill Higgins at the Nevada Gaming Control—”
    “Au what?”
    “Au contraire. It’s French. It means, on the contrary.”
    “So you just told me in French that I’m an idiot,” Lamar said, his eyes narrowing.
    “I told you that it’s been cleared up,” Gerry replied stiffly.
    Lamar tried to squeeze his shoulder, and Gerry instinctively pulled back. It took all the sting out of whatever nerve Lamar was trying to pinch, and the big man looked surprised. Then his face hardened into a piece of granite, and with his head, he indicated the EMERGENCY EXIT sign. “That way,” he ordered.
    Gerry did as told. Walking down the stairway, he felt Lamar’s hot breath on his neck. He’d had onions for dinner. Gerry’s father had told him not to get upset with heads of security who had bad attitudes. Usually, it meant they’d been ripped off and needed to release some anger. At the first-floor landing Gerry stopped and stared straight up. What looked like a water sprinkler hung from the ceiling. It was only a few inches long and covered in tiny hair.
    “What’s that?”
    “A bat,” Lamar said. “Barge is filled with them. Rats, too. Keep walking.”
    “That’s why you have this stairway closed except for emergencies, huh?” Gerry said. “Never show them the inside of the sausage factory.”
    “The what?”
    “The sausage factory. It’s an old expression. It means, don’t—”
    Lamar gave him a push. “I don’t care what it means. Keep walking.”
    Gerry had a good idea what was coming next. Outside, Lamar took him to the parking lot to a spot Gerry guessed wasn’t being watched by the cameras. He saw Lamar pull back his sleeves.
    “Having a bad day, huh?”
    Lamar grunted something under his breath and threw a punch at his face. Gerry wasn’t good at judo like his old man, but he knew a couple of moves. Ducking the big man’s fist, Gerry grabbed his wrist and within seconds spun Lamar around and held his arm firmly behind his back. He hadn’t liked being pushed in the stairwell, and gave Lamar’s arm a little extra twist. Lamar grimaced and muttered, “Okay, okay.”
    “We need to get something straight,” Gerry said. Holding Lamar’s wrist with one hand, he dug out his cell phone and said, “What’s the number of your surveillance control room?”
    “Why? You want to call them and

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