Mr. Lucky

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Book: Mr. Lucky by James Swain Read Free Book Online
Authors: James Swain
embarrass me?”
    “No. I just want to clear something up.”
    Lamar gave him the number. Gerry punched it in, stuck the phone up to Lamar’s face, and said, “Tell whoever answers the phone to go to your desk and look through your mail for a letter from the Nevada Gaming Control Board.”
    A woman with a Southern accent answered, and Lamar told her to go to his office. She came back a few moments later.
    “Sorry, Lamar, but I can’t find any letter.”
    “Tell her to try your e-mail,” Gerry whispered in his ear.
    “Try my e-mail,” Lamar said.
    “Got it,” the woman said a few moments later.
    “Read it to me,” Lamar said.
    “It’s from William Higgins, director of the Nevada Gaming Control Board,” the woman said. “It says, ‘It has been brought to my attention that several casinos in Las Vegas recently sent out a warning regarding an individual named Gerry Valentine. This warning was sent in error. Gerry Valentine is not a casino cheater, nor is he a card counter. He is employed by his father, a highly regarded gaming consultant named Tony Valentine. Please disregard this warning. Thank you.’”
    “When was this sent?” Lamar asked.
    “Yesterday. This is the guy you just pulled off the floor, isn’t it?” the woman said.
    Lamar hesitated, clearly at a loss for words. In his ear, Gerry whispered, “Say, ‘That’s right. Guess I’ll have to let him go.’”
    Lamar glanced at him over his shoulder. Something resembling a smile crossed his lips. He repeated the words to the woman, then said good-bye. Gerry killed the connection and released Lamar’s wrist. The big man turned around, shaking his arm.
    “Thanks for doing that,” he said.
    “Anytime,” Gerry replied.
             
    The problem with running a casino off a barge, Lamar explained when they were sitting in his office, was that there were weight restrictions. To allow more passengers to gamble, the owners had cut down on the amount of surveillance equipment, leaving Lamar and his staff at a disadvantage when it came to catching cheaters and card counters.
    “We get ripped off a lot,” Lamar said, fingering Gerry’s business card. “Lots of small stuff, but it adds up. So what’s this Grift Sense?”
    “It’s my father’s consulting firm.”
    “I figured that out,” Lamar said. His office was the size of two phone booths. The woman with the drawl came in without knocking, placed two steaming cups of coffee on the table, then left. “What does it mean?”
    “It’s the ability to spot a hustle or a scam. It’s like a sixth sense.”
    “That’s what you and your old man do?”
    Gerry had never nailed a cheater in his life, but he saw no reason to tell Lamar that. “That’s right. A lot of casinos put us on retainers. We look at videotapes of suspected cheating, and sometimes even live feeds from the casino floor.”
    “How’d you learn?”
    “My father was an Atlantic City casino cop for twenty-five years.”
    Lamar clicked his fingers. “That’s where I heard the name. How long you been working for him? Couple of months?”
    There was a twinkle in his eye, but Gerry knew a challenge when he heard one. “Look, friend. My father is the best there is. But I’m no slouch. You’re getting ripped off? Hire us, and if we don’t figure out what’s shaking, we’ll give you your money back.”
    Lamar laughed under his breath. “Cut the sales pitch. I’ll give you the business if you can answer a simple question for me.”
    “What’s that?”
    “I get scammed a lot. But one scam is pissing me off. We’re getting ripped off the same two times a month. We don’t know how, or where. We just know our take is short about four grand twice a month.”
    Lamar ripped the tops off a handful of sugar packets and dumped them into his coffee. Gerry sipped his drink while trying to hide the smile on his face. Of all the questions Lamar could have asked him, he had picked one that Gerry actually knew the answer to.

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