Title: THE INVESTMENT CLUB
Author: Doug Cooper
Publisher: Rare Bird Books
Genre: Literary/Upmarket Fiction
Forty million people visit Vegas every year but most never get past the strip. What about the people who live there? What brought them there? What keeps them there?
Told from the perspective of a seasoned blackjack dealer, The Investment Club tells the stories of a self-destructive, dwarf entrepreneur, a drug-addicted musical performer-turned-stripper, a retired, widowed New Jersey policeman, a bereaved, divorced female sportscaster, and a card-counting, former Catholic priest before and after their fateful meeting at the El Cortez Casino in downtown Vegas.
As the five learn the greatest return comes from investing in one another, their lives stabilize and take on new, positive directions. But their love and support for each other can take them only so far before they must determine the meaning and value of their own lives.
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The First Page
Date: Friday, January 17, 2014
Dow Jones Open: 16,408.02
Never split tens.
The words flashed in their eyes and formed on their lips. A nervous fingering of chips followed. Except for third base, the last, and most important, seat at the table. He controlled the fates of the other players, a role he seemed to enjoy. His stout digits remained steadfast, cupped over the stack of ten black chips measured to split the hand. Never had a doubt. Once he saw the house had a five of hearts, he knew his play.
My left hand slid to the shoe, eyes directed toward first base. “Twelve.”
The brim of her faded green military cap angled downward, concealing her eyes and half of her tawny face. Her hat was more fashion than function, this girl had never served, at least in the armed forces. Her body, though, was all function. Lean and mean. Definitely put on this earth to move. It was just a question of if that was in the vertical or the horizontal.
She waved her hand over the cards, never lifting her gaze from the table. “I’ll stay. You’re going to bust.” She was there for one purpose: to make money. Played every night. Never for less than $25 per hand and often as high as $200 when she really got rolling. I wouldn’t say she was unfriendly or mean. Just had an edge to her. Wanted to be left alone and not have to talk to anyone.
Next to her in seat two, a burly man, about six foot two or three—somewhere in his late sixties—nodded approvingly. He had a half-inch gray flattop that with each tilt of his head revealed a thinning patch on top. “Good girl,” he said. “You don’t have to have great cards; just need the dealer to have worse ones.” He plucked a red five-dollar chip off his stack and placed it next to his bet. Holding up his index finger, he said, “One card, down please.”
Sliding the card from the shoe without revealing the value, I said, “Down and dirty.” Directing my attention to his neighbor, I nodded at the seventeen in front of the surgically enhanced Barbie doll in seat three. “The ol’ mother-in-law’s hand.”
She furrowed her brow, barely wrinkling her taut forehead. “What does that mean?” It was obvious she didn’t know the game, but she wasn’t stupid either. Everything she did had a purpose. What she revealed at the table was exactly what she wanted the others to see to elicit the reaction she desired.
“It’s a seventeen,” I said, about to drop one of my standard lines, good at least a few times a night. “It’s like your mother-in-law. You want to hit it, but you can’t.”
“Well, I don’t have to worry about one of those.” Her eyes sank to her cards. “So do I hit or not?”
About the Author
Doug Cooper is the author of the award-winning novel Outside In and The Investment Club available October 2016. He has a BS in Mathematics Education from Miami University and a MA in American Studies from Saint Louis University. Always searching, he has traveled to over twenty countries on five continents, exploring the contradictions between what we believe and how we act in the pursuit of truth, beauty, and love. Originally from Port Clinton, Ohio, he has also called Cleveland, St. Louis, Detroit, New York, and Oslo, Norway home. He now lives in Cleveland working on his third novel Focus Lost.