The Second Time Around

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Lucas "Lucky" Aricello sat in a hard wooden chair behind a simple desk. He had a laptop, a cell phone, and a cup of coffee laid out on one side, and the unfolded paper was spread out on the other. Phones up and down the hall were ringing off the hook. It was Friday, and there were three day of horse races. The ponies always attracted good money over the weekends.

There was a soft tap at his open office door, and Lucky looked up from the stock pages. One of his operators was standing in the doorway patiently.

"Whatcha got?" Lucky asked as the young man stepped inside and handed over a call slip.

"This guy called in, wants to put twenty large on a race," The operator said.

"Okay, what's the problem?" Lucky asked, confused. "Take the peckerwood's money and move on to the next call."

"Normally, I would, sir," The young man said, but he pointed to the name on the call sheet. "This guys is already into us for sixty large, I double checked. I wasn't sure if you'd want to keep that kind of tab open."

"What's he do?" Lucky asked, his eyes narrowing. "He got a wife? Kids? Own his own house?"

"File says he's a Professor," The operator answered. "But I used to know a girl that stayed in his neighborhood, and none of those houses go for less than half a million. And it says he's married."

"Take the bet," Lucky said. "If he wins, it'll just sweeten his taste for it. If he loses, and I'm betting he'll lose, then we can start to turn screws on him and milk him a little bit."

The operator nodded and left. He walked back to his cubicle and sat down. He took a deep breath, picked up the headset, and put it over his ears. He adjusted the microphone to just the right position, and then clicked the call off hold.

"Yes, Professor Mathis," The operator said in a practiced and neutral voice, "Sorry to keep you waiting, sir. I checked our records and your account is in good standing. We'll take your called bet of twenty thousand dollars for the number four race, number six horse, to place first. Odds against are sixty to one on the official ticket. You'll get ten to one here if you win, straight payout if you don't. We'll be in touch after the race."

The operator clicked the stop button on the screen before him, ending the recording. He saved the file under the proper folder with the gambler's last name and first initial. He placed the hand written copy with carbon copies in a file bin to his right, and clicked his headset on to accept the next call.

"Good morning, Pearson guided tours," The operator said into his headset, "How can I help you?"

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