Here's a teaser from The Life, Lies and Legacy of the Gambler...Enjoy!
Alex jumped from the rail car as the train rambled through Memphis. Feeling his old habits return, he meandered toward a dog track they passed by minutes before. It was there, as fate would have it, where the gambling man met, Deuce Beckett.
Alex’s curiosity got the best of him when he saw a tall, skinny gambler make several trips to the cashier's window. He approached the betting man with a broad smile. "Would you like to join me for a cold beer? Maybe you can show me how to bet on these damned hound dogs?"
Deuce Beckett, a former small-time gangster originally from Kansas City, was proud of the reputation he had for cheating at dog tracks. He’d concocted a failsafe method to win nearly every race.
He looked the stranger over from head to toe and recognized the unshaven unkempt gambler as the man he'd seen earlier standing in line at the cashier’s window. Deuce nodded in agreement. "Sure, buy me a brew and we'll talk. Where you from? Have I seen you in here before?”
"Nope, just arrived. I left Chicago about a week ago. Been hopping freights making my way to Nevada. I stop here and there to pick up a few bucks at dog tracks along the way.”
Alex pulled a five-dollar bill from a full wallet and the men moved together toward the bar.
Observing the wad of money in the stranger’s wallet, Deuce was curious to know more.
"Where'd you come from?”
Deuce smiled and Alex saw he was toothless except for one gold tooth in the front.
Quick to tell a lie, Alex answered him with a straight face.
"Originally, from New York City. I got tired of the fast track. Spent some time in Chicago and decided to try my luck in Vegas. How about you? What's your story?"
"That’s crazy, I'm heading to Vegas myself. My sister lives there. I haven't seen her in thirteen years. What's it like riding the rails? Jesus, man, can’t you afford a bus ticket?"
Deuce coolly rolled a cigarette and offered the unlit, crude paper-wrapped Bull Durham smoke to his new friend.
"No, thanks! I don't smoke cigarettes. Maybe a Cuban cigar now and then. Nothing like the smell of a good cigar." Alex thought. Life can be such an adventure. This guy’s a hoot! I sense we’re a lot alike.
Deuce was ready for some new action and a change of scenery. “I'd planned to buy a bus ticket, but it might be more fun to ride the rails.
"I'd sure enjoy some company. It’s lonely out there. The train leaves Memphis at dusk.” The prospect of having a friend accompany him on the final leg of his journey pleased Alex.
The gamblers quickly got along like old friends while sharing somewhat limited information about their respective gangster pasts. Agreeing to meet at the railroad shift yard at dusk, they drank a couple of beers and said goodbye.