Atlantic City Long Odds by Gordon Rowlinson

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SUMMARY: Several years ago I wrote a crime/drama story inspired by the Bruce Springsteen song “Atlantic City.” It shows a gambler really hitting rock bottom and desparate enough to try impossible odds.

Wendy was wearing her red dress when she walked out the front door. Sid said nothing as she walked out. Both knew where she was going. Words were unecessary. Sid was a hard man. But he was breaking up inside. He couldn't believe things had gotten this bad. Both of them hadn't eaten since lunch yesterday.

Sid paced the room for several minutes. He realized he needed to get out. Slamming the motel room door and knocking a cheap picture off the wall, he headed out into the night.

On the dark street, he passed the drug crazies, the drifters, and the homeless losers. He walked aimlessly. How could he let this streak of bad luck ruin them?

They were so happy when they blew out of Kansas in Wendy's beat up Plymouth. She was full of energy and he was full of plans how to memorize and count cards at blackjack. They looked at Atlantic City as a golden city full of promise. Wendy's Plymouth had a bad termostat and almost blew up in Pennsylvania. With $150 in their pocket and the car overheating, they limped into New Jersey. They stopped at a place called the DeLuxe Ecomony motel and told themselves that this was temporary lodging. He had a good mind and had trained hard in the art of counting cards. He had it mastered - almost.

The first night was magical. Sid wore his good jacket and Wendy wore her red dress. They walked along the boardwalk stopped in a few places for a bite and drink. But mostly they walked along the boardwalk and watched the surf and stars. It was like falling in love again. Anything seemed possible.

The second night Sid hit it big. His card counting memory gave him the edge he needed. He turned the $150 into $2,000. Sid, confident of victory, created a gambler name for himself - Kansas City Sid. On the third night he switched casinos and broke even. The fourth night he tried a casino called the Castle and it all fell apart. His memory of the cards was never perfect and was only a small edge. He was overconfident and made several errors. The hovering waitresses gave him a few cheap drinks. The drinks dulled him. By 2:00 in the morning he had lost everything.

When a horse throws you, its best to get back on the horse. The next day he pawned his watch and ring for $300 to get a game stake. He went back to the Castle and lost that in the fifth night. He never recoverd his luck and his confidence. His lost confidence distracted him and he lost his memory edge. The the big win from the second night clouded his judgement. He was sure all he needed was to ride out the bad luck streak and he could lick this town. He began to look for other sources of gambling money - sources that you discussed the loan terms in darkened, sleazy bars. Three months after first coming to Atlantic City, they were still in the Deluxe Economy Motel and into Big Lou for 20 grand. Being in to Big Lou for several grand, meant that your status was slightly above the level of being a slave. Big Lou always bragged about his organized crime connections. Sid was unsure how much of Big Lou's boasts were true. However there was no dening that Lou's small drug and loan empire was connected and crossing him resulted in a forfeiture of your life.

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