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.
From their vantage above the harbor, Claire and Smythe can see the yacht’s approach.
“They’ll need the rest of the day to stock up and get ship-shape,” says Smythe. “As soon as you get the cash, we’re off to the Med, darling.”
“I’ll take care of it,” replies Claire.
“I trust your brother is well,” says Smythe.
Claire nods, biting her lip.
“Do me a favor, next time you decide to disappear,” says Gus into the cell phone. “Don’t.”
Drawn and weak from his ordeal, Ace motions to Gus, indicating he wants the phone.
Gus gives him a thumbs up.
“I hope she was worth it, the agita you gave me,” says Gus into the phone before handing it to Ace.
Joey Rathburn stands patient outside Escalante’s office as the trainer finishes his phone call.
“They arrested Ramirez for hitting his wife, that piece of crap that he is,” says Escalante, slamming down the phone on his desk.
“I’m going to put the girl on my Irish horse, in the turf stake on Saturday.”
“Sounds good to me, Turo,” says Rathburn.
“You make the entry for me … and put Mon Gateau in there, too, with her on,” says Escalante.
“You’ll run both?” asks Rathburn, to which the trainer doesn’t reply.
The track president and his secretary stand nervously, next in line to board the plane, when two men in black suits approach, flashing badges.
“I’ll take those,” says one of the men, removing the boarding passes from the airline clerk’s hand.
“They can go to the Canary Islands some other time,” says the other FBI agent.
Out of Luck Blog Archive
Trainer Smith considers his condition book as the clerk fills out an entry blank.
“I think we’ll go in the turf race, he’s bred for it on his mother’s side.”
“Put Ronnie Jenkins on, Gettin’ Up Morning, one-twenty,” he says.
“And blinkers on.”
Goose hovers close to Marylyn as she enters Daylight Savings.
“I don’t usually run a maiden in a stakes race, but it’s a short field and he barely ran the other day,” she says.
“Putting Crispino on again?” asks Goose.
“The human anchor?” she laughs. “Not a chance. First call on Rosie this time.”
The track president stares blankly at the mirrored wall of the interrogation room.
“Our friends at Interpol want to interview you, too,” says the FBI agent.
“Your secretary’s going to give you up, so you might as well cooperate,” says the other agent.
Jo leans in the doorway to Escalante’s office.
“Mulligan’s out of the picture, what’s the excuse now, Turo?” she says.
“No more excuses, baby; I’m a changed man,” he replies, going down on one knee.
“Time to get our lifes together,” Escalante says. “Marry me.”
Rathburn studies the document his lawyer gave him.
“I don’t even know who this guy was, paid my bail,” he says to another agent. “Somebody named ‘Lionel Pointer’.”
“I had a pointer when I was a kid,” says the agent, “best bird-dog I ever hunted with.”
“Bird-dog?” says Rathburn.
Rosie checks to make sure nobody’s watching as she takes her boot off. The ankle bulges through an Ace bandage.
“Call for the fifth race,” yells the Clerk of Scales.
“Take me off,” says Rosie to her valet. “I’ve got bad cramps.”
The reporter flips through her note pad as the Old Man strains to remember something from a night long ago.
“Thought it was a dream … ” he says. “The Colonel’s son-in-law walking past my window. But now, I’m sure I saw him, carrying a twitch. What would he need a twitch for in the middle of the night?”
Renzo’s mom slides one tray in the oven as she pulls another out.
“Best brownies I ever had,” says Chaz.
“Me, too,” says Bayou Bobby.
“I’m piling up my points at the clinic,” she says, “so I can get my free rewards. Plus, they give me a discount for bulk purchase.”
Ronnie Jenkins is as contrite as an errant schoolboy, seated in a straight chair before the head steward’s desk.
“Just a warning this time, jock, but you’d better be prepared for a test every day for the next month.”
“Breathalyzer?” says Ronnie.
“That or a hair test,” says the steward. “Officer’s choice.”
Marcus scrolls the odds, betting with an online betting site on one of the three color monitors on his desk.
Jerry’s doing likewise, playing poker on a laptop in his room, still in his bathrobe. Marcus grabs the phone on the first ring.
“Yeah, I’ll see if he’s here. Who’s calling?”
“It’s for you,” he says, passing the phone to Jerry. “MasterCard.”
At the coffee shop counter, Renzo labors at writing a check.
“Should I make it to ‘Institute for Insightfulness’?” he asks Moonbeam, as she blends him a protein shake.
“Just make it to ‘CASH’,”she says. “Eliminates a lot of pain-in-the-ass paperwork.”
Lonnie sips his coffee at the counter of a greasy spoon.
“Pass the sugar, honey,” says the young lady two stools over.
“You from around here?” asks Lonnie.
“Nah, I’m a professional dancer, just working here for a while,” she says.
“I’m a big admirer of the arts,” replies Lonnie, sliding a stool closer.
Rathburn’s waiting at the door to the Jock’s Room as Rosie exits, hiding her limp.
“No problem,” says Rathburn. “You’ve been going pretty hard. One day off won’t hurt.”
She gives him a patronizing smile.
“But the big news,” he says. “Escalante put us on Pint of Plain for the stake Saturday.”
“Unbelievable! I’ll be ready,” she says.
TO BE CONTINUED ...