Not the Girl for Him
Aleister Luck had a problem and her name was Rosalyn.
Every private detective in every novel, TV show, or movie is pleasantly labeled as "down on his luck." That’s a label for the poor. Of course this is because private detectives in novels, TV shows, and movies are good people. They help the needy and if they’re involved in shady dealings it’s in the interest of doing right regardless of margins.
Mr. Luck was one of those good people. Or at least he tried to be. He was selective about his clientele and didn’t worry about whether they could pay. And that’s why Mr. Luck generally turned to magic to make a living.
The night he became acquainted with Rosalyn, Luck was happily working the blackjack tables at Jummer’s Casino. The night started out uneventful.
Luck always chose a busy table. It was more interesting to spread winning around. If there was someone loud, flamboyant, self-centered at the table, so much the better. In comparison, the casual observer wouldn’t notice Aleister Luck and the casino didn’t get too suspicious when he wasn’t the only one with a pile of chips in front of him.
This night, his fellow players were a pair of giggling middle-aged women, a quiet bearded man, and a college-aged kid accompanied by his blonde girlfriend. The women were fairly new to the game. The kid had been drinking and his girlfriend found his poor math skills exceedingly funny. The bearded fellow was sandwiched between them.
A near perfect set up.
Dealt from a shoe, all face up, no one really noticed that Mr. Luck didn’t look at his cards.
He had instead trained himself to look at people’s hands and wrists, blocking out the card faces. The ladies both had manicured nails, doubtless the product of an afternoon at the casino’s spa. The college kid had a tattoo of ornate lettering that started at wrist. Luck couldn’t read what it said. Luck’s own hands were a geography of dry skin and hangnails. Dealers’ hands were never interesting. They were clean, soft, and dealers rarely wore jewelry.
He didn’t watch to see what the other players were dealt or what the house had. He motioned for another card without any information. He simply knew it was the right decision. He put chips forward haphazardly too, never checking their color or the size of his stacks.
He won when he wanted and he lost when he wanted. Occasionally, he shifted his efforts to someone else at the table. With a thought, he knew that the card dealt next would be what that player needed. On the surface, he wasn’t a good enough player to cause anyone to notice him. It might have only been luck, but every time he walked away from the table, Mr. Luck had rent, utilities, and enough to eat well.
Things started to go wrong after the second lady, wearing a wide turquoise necklace, split a pair. It was really more information about the table than Aleister Luck preferred, but it wasn’t anything that should cause him trouble. But she lost when Aleister saw her winning. The next hand, Aleister lost when he had decided not to. Panic became an itch in the back of his throat. How much had he lost? How had he lost? His faith shaken, Mr. Luck excused himself from the table, sweeping his winnings into a plastic cup usually used for slot tokens.
And then he saw her.
He had encountered her one or two times in the past on the casino floor. She always smiled at him, but he took it as a gesture of general friendliness. Nothing of note.
Tonight, she was sitting on a stool at the vacant table next to Luck’s. She had been watching him and her face flashed an honest smile when he had turned toward her. Observed, his magic had failed. How much had she really noticed about Aleister Luck?
Luck nodded politely and headed to the bar. He tried to ignore her. The lack of a compelling sport to watch on the big screens didn’t help. She followed.
"Can I buy you a drink?" she asked.
She was small with honey hair and lightly tanned skin. She wore light pink lipstick and clothes that could be described as breezy by a newsstand magazine.
Luck weighed her interest. She wouldn’t be put off easily. "Sure," he said.
She took the chair next to him and offered a hand. "Rosalyn," she said.
"Aleister. Aleister Luck."
"Luck? Are you particularly lucky, Mr. Luck?"
"Not at all." Aleister answered honestly. She could be an employee of the casino, but he didn’t think so. "Rosalyn, is there anything I can help you with?"
Sometimes people happened upon him. Instead of seeing an ad or looking him up online, they found him.
"No, I…" And there it was, a blush below her tan. "I just thought you might be an interesting person to know."
"I see." She was attracted to him, for whatever reason. Aleister wasn’t good or even novel looking. He was careful not to be outstanding in any way. Yet, every so often, a woman took an "interest" in him. She’d pay attention to him. She’d stalk him in the nosey way woman did. She’d find out what she could about him.
In short, until she lost interest, his life was ruined.
Right. So. Here we are. The first meandering steps into the world of Aleister Luck. If it is confusing, please comment. Feedback is good!
Also, I apologies in advance if I never write about Rosalyn again. This is play-piece. It might have nothing to do with the novel that Eric and I end up writing. It’s meant to be a troubleshooting exercise. My "wouldn’t it be cool if" is met with Eric’s sense of system. The piece came pretty easily with some angst Wednesday night when Eric mentioned a new facet to the rules governing Luck’s magic. I sent it to him yesterday and Eric bounced it back with a couple notes. I think the changes I made in regards to those notes have improved the piece. Regardless of whether this eventually "makes the cut" in any way, shape, or form, I’ve enjoyed doing this more than anything I’ve written this year.