Fiction: Mr. Luck to the Rescue

This is a retread of “Not the Girl for Him”. The first 500 words or so are pretty much the same: Mr. Luck “playing” blackjack. The difference is who is observing him. Gone is Rosalyn. Instead, we meet Dana. While there are slight changes throughout, I’ll mark in bold where the biggest deviation begins. The scene concludes in a very different manner.


Mr. Luck to the Rescue

Every private detective in every novel, TV show, or movie is pleasantly labeled as “down on his luck.” That’s a term 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.

Aleister Luck always chose a busy blackjack table. If there was someone loud, flamboyant, or self-centered, 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.

Tonight, 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 be noticed, but every time he walked away from the table, Mr. Luck had enough to live as he liked. His banker took care of the details.

Things started to go wrong after the second lady, the one wearing a gaudy crystal ring on her right hand, split a pair. That was really more information about the table than Aleister Luck preferred, but it wasn’t anything that should cause him trouble. 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.

She was sitting on a stool at the vacant table next to Luck’s. She had been watching him and flashed a 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 and took a seat next to him.

“Can I buy you a drink?” she asked.

Polished. That was Aleister’s impression of her. Glossy dark hair. The right amount of makeup where it needed to be. She wore a casual suit and a chain of rich gold.

Luck weighed her interest. She wouldn’t be put off easily. “Sure,” he said.

“What will you have?” The bartender hovered on the other side of the bar.

“Gin and tonic.”

“Same. My name’s Dana.” She offered a hand.

“Aleister. Aleister Luck.”

“Luck. Are you particularly lucky, Mr. Luck?”

“Not at all.” Aleister answered honestly.

She tapped a manicured fingernail against his plastic cup full of chips. “You seem to be doing pretty well to me.”

The bartender placed two highballs on the bar.

She could be casino security. Or, sometimes people happened upon Aleister. Instead of seeing an ad or looking him up online, they found him.

The answer wouldn’t be found in her sleek hair and the earrings that matched her necklace, but Aleister picked up one of the drinks while looking at her. The flavor of the gin was satisfying. Whether unconsciously or not, Dana mirrored his actions.

“Is there anything I can help you with?” he asked.

“No, I…” She glanced at Sports Center playing on the flat screen and at her hand holding the gin and tonic. “I just thought you might be an interesting person to know.”

“I see.”

She might be attracted to him, for whatever reason. Aleister wasn’t good or even novel looking. He was careful not to be outstanding in any way. Still, every so often, a woman took an “interest” in him. She’d pay attention to him. She’d stalk him in the nosey way women had. Most men didn’t notice or mind. For Aleister, though, this could be a problem.

“What kind of business are you in?” she asked. She sipped at the drink.

“Usually, I investigate certain matters for clients.”

“Oh? Like a private investigator?”

“Yes, something like that.” On the screen above the bar an impossible football play caught Aleister’s attention. The receiver, concerned about the defensive player behind him, seemed to get only the tip of one finger on a wobbly pass before the rest of his hand reeled in the ball. He was watching the second replay when Dana said, “That must be exciting. What’s the most interesting case you’ve been involved in?”

Mr. Luck heard it in her voice then. The timbre of her words was off. She knew who he was.

He ignored the question. “What is that you do, Miss… Dana?”

The question shouldn’t have taken so long to answer. “I work for a law firm.”



“Only sometimes?”

“My work includes many different things. Some investigation, in fact.” She set her glass, empty of all but ice, on the bar.

“What firm?”

“Pardon me?”

“What firm? What law firm?” Sports Center had moved on to a story about recruiting violations.

“Devine, Chance and Merit.” Despite the prestige of the institution, she said the words quickly, and Aleister thought he heard fear in them.

Aleister kept his tone light. “I know of it, of course.”


“In fact, I’ve had a few run-ins with some of your colleagues.” On commercial break, a buff gentleman hawked men’s deodorant. “But I think you probably know that.”

“Yes…” she slurred.

He switched his attention back to her.

Dana sat with her hands flat on the bar. She was staring somewhere past the inside edge of the counter. Her eyes were wide and dark.

The bartender was gone. He’d already removed her glass.

“They’re going to kill me,” she blurted. “They’re here. They’re all around.”

She pushed away from the bar without getting her feet under her. The barstool tipped and she tumbled to the floor. She was scrabbling away when Aleister took her by the shoulders and hefted her to her feet.

“My friend is a little distraught,” he said to no one in particular. “Lost a bit of money.”

He left his cup of chips on the bar as the started toward the door of the casino.

She struggled and Aleister pinned her arms to her side.

“We need to get out of here,” she whispered. “There are assassins in the chandeliers. In the balconies.” She twisted and turned as they moved through the cavernous lobby. Mr. Luck resisted the urge to check if anyone was following, if there was anyone watching from the sweeping stairway to the casino’s restaurants and shops.

“We’re going,” said Aleister. “We’re going.”

“They’re going to shoot me!”

“No, they’re not.”

Once they were outside, Aleister was less worried about Dana being loud, but increased his grip on her arms. She quieted but also struggled more. “We need to be faster!”

Luck had parked nearly a block away, but he moved in the opposite direction. More people. More alleys. He didn’t look back despite Dana’s warnings. Her wide, overly dark eyes saw enemies behind every sign and in every moving car. Aleister was peripherally aware that the ever-present Las Vegas crowds were giving them a wide birth. He didn’t like it.

Tires squealed somewhere behind them, followed by the acceleration of an engine. Dana wrenched away from him and darted back the way they had come. She was clumsy and Aleister had no problem capturing her again, but he saw the sedan speeding toward them.

Mr. Luck closed his eyes as he picked Dana off her feet. He lurched a few steps before opening his eyes again and taking stock. Three long steps would take him to a space between two buildings that was tighter than the sedan. The alley was dark, there would be no outlet. Aleister shook his head and lunged out into traffic. He kept his attention on Dana’s face, her polish replaced by wild fear.

More tires shrieked and the shouts of bystanders added to the cacophony. Aleister tripped up the opposite curb and nearly dropped Dana. The pause in their flight was enough to allow the driver to swerve toward them. After all, Mr. Aleister Luck, hobbled somewhat by the woman he was carrying, was headed for an open corner. He wouldn’t be able to outrun the sedan.

The driver didn’t notice the fire hydrant and neither did Aleister Luck. Only Dana saw the spray of water that erupted as Luck dodged around the corner.


More process:
We wanted a “Mr. Luck to the rescue” scene. After some talking (in person since Eric’s back from Nebraska), Eric convinced me that I could re-purpose the casino scene written a couple weeks ago. The more exciting aspect was placing this scene more firmly in the chronology of the book. This will probably be chapter 2 of Luck for Hire.

  • Eric J. Krause spoke:
    23rd/07/2010 to 11:59 AM

    Good action in this. The expansion of the story really brought the characters to life.

  • Hazel K Larkin spoke:
    23rd/07/2010 to 1:34 PM

    I really enjoyed the pace of this story – and the little touches of detail that inform but don’t overwhelm work very well. I look forward to reading more about Mr Luck’s Luck! 🙂

  • Katherine spoke:
    23rd/07/2010 to 7:04 PM

    Thank you for the comment! Much appreciated.
    I plan on a good deal more Luck!

  • Tweets that mention Luck for Hire -- spoke:
    23rd/07/2010 to 3:33 PM

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Katherine Nabity, Katherine Nabity. Katherine Nabity said: Old/new Luck: "Mr. Luck to the Rescue" #FridayFlash #webfiction […]

  • Marisa Birns spoke:
    23rd/07/2010 to 8:47 PM

    Very good work here! It will make a wonderful Chapter 2. 🙂

  • mazzz in Leeds spoke:
    24th/07/2010 to 4:14 AM

    What an intriguing character Mr Luck is

  • Valerie spoke:
    25th/07/2010 to 5:43 AM

    Glad you went back to this. I like how you repurposed it. Good action, and now we have the requisite damsel in distress. Nice work.

  • Katherine spoke:
    25th/07/2010 to 6:32 AM

    I was a little leery of reusing it because I really liked the other version. I suppose in an odd way this is me “killing a beauty” in favor of something that works better with the (potential) whole.

  • Luck for Hire spoke:
    30th/07/2010 to 2:53 PM

    […] in the land of story chronology, this is intended to be Chapter One, set just before Mr. Luck to the Rescue. I’ve posted a separate process note on […]

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About This Blog

In July of 2010, Katherine and Eric Nabity began work on a novel featuring Mr. Luck. This blog includes some proof-of-concept vignettes, progress notes, "alternate takes", and commentary on the collaborative process that Eric and Katherine engage in.

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