Luck, Be a Lady
by Jennifer Lamont Leo
With a swish of her satin skirt, Midge slid into her usual spot at the roulette table. The croupier—a dark-haired young man with eyes green as emeralds—smiled at her.
“So are you,” she said, relieved. Sometimes the casino adjusted work schedules without warning. “You’re my lucky star.” She smiled in the deliberate way that deepened her dimples.
“Seems you bring your own luck.” He winked at her. Heat rose in her face. Perhaps the dim light softened her features, blurred her age. Or maybe he was just very good at what he did.
She named a number and watched his hands, strong and limber, as he spun the wheel. He couldn’t have been much older than her son. Maybe he, too, was a college student, earning his tuition. She had no idea; they never talked of personal things. He didn’t suspect she’d just kissed her husband good-bye at the train before dropping the two younger children at school. What would they think if they knew how she—devoted wife, mother, and PTA president—spent her afternoons?
No time to think about that now. She needed to concentrate.
“Congratulations,” the croupier said as he counted out her chips. “You’re one lucky lady.”
A beefy businessman took a seat and leaned drunkenly toward Midge.
“Hello there, darlin’.”
Midge ignored him, recoiling from his boozy breath. Gads! Who gets drunk at this hour?
“Hey!” the man slurred. “I’m talking to you.”
“Sir, the lady clearly doesn’t wish to be disturbed,” the croupier said. Midge thanked him with her eyes.
The man sneered but backed off. “Gimme twenty-seven.”
Midge narrowed her eyes as the wheel spun.
“Come on, baby!” the man shouted.
She didn’t take her eyes off the action. Time seemed to crawl as the ball slipped almost imperceptibly into the well, then shot out as if pulled by a string.
The businessman swore. Midge held her breath, but he said nothing further.
He hadn’t noticed.
Midge stared at the wheel. There must be something, something . . . Then she saw it. A tiny, barely detectable hole in the well.
She looked up through her lashes at the croupier. Such a shame. He seemed like such a nice man. A boy, really.
Gracefully she reached up and adjusted her left earring. Moments later a pair of plainclothes policemen appeared from the shadows. As one snapped handcuffs onto the speechless croupier, his partner sidled up to Midge and flipped open his notebook.
“What’s the racket?”
“Compressed air ‘s my guess,” she murmured. “Puffed through a tiny hole in the well to prevent the ball from landing.”
“We’ll check it out. Good work, Midge. The captain will be in touch.”
Midge noticed more police approaching the casino’s owner. She glanced at her wristwatch. If she hurried, she could change clothes before picking up Barbara from ballet. Then she’d rush home and throw some onions into a frying pan. Soon the house would smell as if she’d been cooking all afternoon.