Little Casino

Little Casino by Gilbert Sorrentino Read Free Book Online

Book: Little Casino by Gilbert Sorrentino Read Free Book Online
Authors: Gilbert Sorrentino
Tags: Fiction, Literary, General
uncharitably speaking, self-constructed cons. Of course, there are schemes that call for the investment of a lot of money to make more money, which systems work more often. These are not true, or, if you will, honest schemes, but are patterned on the loathsome practices of bankers, stockbrokers, commodities traders, venture capitalists, and other money pimps, devotees of the sure thing. Gambling, of whatever kind, is sometimes used as a metaphor for life, but that’s not my fault, and it is certainly not the fault of gamblers, who never think metaphorically: a dollar is a dollar, a flush a flush, a boat race is always a boat race. Likewise, a chump is, first and foremost, a chump.
    Fat Harry would take the young man to a diner on President Street and either pull out a fat sheaf of bills from a napkin that the waiter placed on the table, or put a fat sheaf of bills into a napkin, and place this at the edge of the table. In the latter case, when the waiter returned to the table with water and menus, he would pick up the cash-thick napkin, remark that it was dirty, and remove it in favor of a different napkin. When Fat Harry won, he would remark that it was a nice day, a hell of a day, and if he lost, he’d note, somberly, that the horseplayer had not been fucking born who could fucking beat the fucking nags. As he and the young man left, Fat Harry would toss a copy of the Daily Mirror on the counter, in whose racing pages he had marked his selections for the day. He disdained to play the horses touted by the comic strip, Joe and Asbestos, because of what he thought of as its ignoble practice of regularly recommending bets to place or show. This struck Harry as bush, and he would bet place and show only as part of an across-the-board wager. “You have got to have faith in the horse,” Harry would say. He also told the youth that Ken Kling, the creator of the strip, was a millionaire who had never put a nickel on a horse. The lesson was clear.
    Fat Harry, a painting foreman for Aquatic Ship Scaling, Inc., fell into the water one day at the Navy Yard, and was crushed to death between the hull of the freighter, John H. Derrenbacher, and the pier. A Norwegian scaler, half-drunk on his scaffold in the steamy sunlight, heard his cries and looked down to see him, thrashing in the oily water, just as the ship was heaved up on a swell and rode into the pilings. There was nothing that the scaler could do, but for a moment he thought that Harry would somehow—what?—avoid the ship? But he more or less exploded in a red surge of blood. All but one of his bets lost that day. Presidential Greetings, in the third at Santa Anita, paid 3.24 to show.
    Aquatic Ship Scaling won a Navy “E” that year.

    One of the napkins that occasionally turned up at the table in the diner had the letter “D” embroidered, in blue, on one of its corners. The napkin could not have represented the diner, which was named, somewhat poetically, the Rondelle.
    “Maybe it stood for Dolores.”
    High priestess of the Navy Blue Jumper, temptress of the White Cotton Blouse, goddess of Black Lace Underwear.
    While it is true that Ken Kling was a millionaire, it is also true that he played the horses, despite Fat Harry’s belief. That does not mean, however, that he was a horseplayer, that is, the great steeds and contests of the royal oval did not possess him, body and soul.
    [It might be worth noting that one day, Fat Harry told the young man that his youngest son, Ralphie, who was studying accounting at Fordham, was engaged to a nice girl who, Harry was pretty sure, used to live on his block. He was absurdly relieved to learn that the girl was Charlotte Ryan.]
    The hulls of ships of the considerable tonnage of the freighter, John H. Derrenbacher, are customarily repaired, scaled, and painted in dry dock; so that the death of Fat Harry, in the manner here described, is highly improbable.

This is the life


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