Art courtesy of Jen Ferguson
This feature contains adult content intended for mature audiences
Note from author John Perrotta: This blog is the writer’s depiction of an imagined racetrack-based story, an ongoing saga, which includes some of the characters depicted in the ill-fated “Luck” series.
Cast of characters
Marcus - wheelchair-bound since falling from a tree as a child, he’s irascible but sensitive, and his world revolves around trying to pick winners at the track.
Jerry – Marcus’ best friend, a player in many senses of the word, he’s a clever horse handicapper with a weakness for Texas Hold ’Em poker and good-looking women.
Renzo - a sweet guy who’s not that great at handicapping but loves the familial relationship of a group of gamblers.
Lonnie – another good soul who has a load of self-esteem issues and deals with them by trying to be the “cool” one.
Ronnie Jenkins – a veteran jockey nearing the end of a career. He’s a former top rider and Derby winner but suffers from PTSD after a series of spills and wants one more chance with a “big” horse.
Joey Rathburn – longtime jockey agent, he has toiled in ambiguity for years and now has a shot at the gold ring.
Rosie Shanahan – the Irish import, she’s moved up from exercise girl to jockey and is proving she can hold her own with the boys.
Walter Smith – an old-school horseman, he’s come to California with his only horse to get away from bad memories in Kentucky. When the horse turns out to be a real runner, he gets more attention than he wanted.
Turo Escalante – a Peruvian misanthrope, he’s a skilled horseman with a big ego that gets tested when a talented horse with shady connections lands in his barn.
Ace Bernstein – mob-connected “businessman” who has done time for a frame-up, and now he is looking for revenge. Bernstein loves the track and has a dream of resurrecting the sport.
Gus Demitriou – Ace’s longtime driver, bodyguard and confidante. Winning a big slot jackpot fixed by Ace, he’s been the beard for the purchase of a talented Irish colt.
Mike Smythe – an evil mob guy who framed Ace and is obsessed with making his life difficult. Sometimes seems like the devil himself.
Goose – the “fifth wheel” of the Degenerates, he’s a lifetime racetracker who gambles every day and occasionally trains horses. He and Renzo bonded when they tried to claim Mon Gateau.
Bayou Bobby – the short-order cook in the Jockeys’ Room — a perennial wise guy.
Birddog – a shady jockey agent.
Chaz – Renzo’s little brother, done with a stint in rehab.
Moonbeam – Renzo’s waitress girlfriend from the diner.
Naomi – Jerry’s card-dealer girlfriend.
Kitti – one of Ronnie Jenkin’s ex-wives, she’s a former Las Vegas showgirl with a wild streak.
“If there’s anything you need, just let me know,” says the crewman to Claire, opening the door to her stateroom.
As he stows her luggage, she puts an attaché case on the desk.
“Take this to Mister Smythe, please,” she says.
“We leave the dock at midnight tonight,” he replies.
Goose squirms as the loan officer examines his paperwork.
“We usually have to have originals of this,” says the officer, holding up a photocopy of Daylight Savings’ foal certificate.
“Yeah, but you know horse ID holds it when the horse is running,” says Goose.
“You can borrow up to 40-percent of the appraised value of the horse, based on your interest,” says the officer, “which is how much?”
“Eighty-five percent,” says Goose, “my five partners only own three points each.”
“Good thing,” says the officer. “Over five percent, we’d need their signatures.”
“Yeah,” muses Goose, biting his nails.
Out of Luck Blog Archive
Ronnie looks around the corner into the busy cocktail lounge. Big Guy’s at the corner booth with a platinum blonde.
“C’mere Ronnie,” says Big Guy, “meet Ada from Decatur.”
“I can’t stay, I’m on the wagon” says Ronnie, eyeing Ada.
“Just one can’t hurt, baby,” says Ada, patting the seat next to her. “Here, sit down and let’s get acquainted.”
“Yeah, and I need a favor, pal,” says Big Guy.
Marcus jumps at the knock on the door.
“Hold on,” he barks.
It’s Monte with two swarthy types behind him.
“The ‘boys’ around?” Monte inquires, “Lenny and Ratso?”
“Two doors over to Looney Tune world,” says Marcus. “But they haven’t been around all day.”
Rosie’s alone at the bar, enjoying a salad and a glass of wine. Below the bar, out of sight, she’s discreetly rubbing an ice cube on her ankle.
“You’re the jockey girl I met at the track, right?” says Chaz with a big smile, “That won on my brother’s horse?”
“Join me,” says Rosie, dropping the ice cube.
“Those were all routine transactions,” says the track president. “Compensation for a consulting job.”
“You’ve been moving money to Malta for a year,” says the Interpol Agent.
“But that wasn’t my money,” insists the track president.
“Exactly,” says the agent.
Renzo frantically pulls clothes from his top dresser drawer.
“I could swear I put my money under my socks,” he says.
Lonnie counts out cash on the coffee table.
“That’s the first place they look,” says Lonnie. “You gotta stuff it in your old shoes. Or put it in the freezer. They never look there.”
Renzo peeks out at the parking lot, through the Venetian blinds.
“Here comes Monte,” says Renzo, “with a couple of friends.”
Goose pulls down the window shades.
He’s counting cash at the kitchen counter, puts it in a coffee can and stashes the can on the top shelf of the pantry.
Chaz pulls a roll of cash from his pocket, grabs Rosie’s dinner check.
“My treat,” he says. “How about we go for a drink?”
“Why not,” Rosie replies, rubbing her ankle.
Jo gives the babysitter instructions as Escalante returns from stowing their luggage in his truck.
“We’ll be back in two days, just a quick honeymoon,” she says. “He’s a great kid, probably be on the computer the whole time.”
“Why can’t I come?” asks Eduardo.
“Cause a honeymoon only holds two people,” says Escalante.
The Old Man checks Gettin’ Up Morning’s water bucket as he pulls the feed tub.
“You cleaned up good, bub. I’m going home.”
From the shadows, the man in a black hat watches, following as the Old Man heads to the parking lot.
Ace motions to Gus to give him some water.
“We got the plane home tomorrow morning, whenever you’re ready, Ace,” says Gus. “I think you’ll mend real quick when you get back in your own place.”
Bernstein just nods, seemingly lost in thought.
As Gus looks takes a closer look at Bernstein, his eyes widen.
“NURSE!” he yells.
Smythe leans on the aft rail of the yacht, watching as the lights of Buenos Aires shrink in the distance.
“Michael,” says Claire.
“Yes, my dear,” says Smythe, turning to face her, champagne flute in hand.
She has a pistol aimed at his heart.
“My, my, what’s this?” says Smythe.
“This,” says Claire firing a shot into his chest, “is for what you did to my brother.”
“And this,” firing another shot, “is for what you did to my Chester.”