Do you remember the day that changed your life? I do. It was Valentine’s Day and I lost my two best friends that night. Talk about bad luck.

Chauncey, Eleanor and I were friends since childhood. Even back then Chauncey was lucky; everyone knew that, including him, hence why we just called him Chance.

Good luck seemed to follow him, like the time we served in the Her Majesty’s Calvary and participated in the now famous ‘Charge of the Light Brigade.’ I lost my right arm to the Cossacks’ dammed artillery and what did Chance get out of it? A scar on his right cheek and a medal, pure luck. Yes, I too got the same medal and a new arm but to top off his good fortune when we returned home Chance married Eleanor, the prettiest girl in five boroughs; lucky bastard.

I’d grown so accustomed to Chance’s lucky streak, that when he told me that he had been invited to an exclusive private gambling house on the other side of the Thames, I jumped at the opportunity to join him even though it meant spending Valentine’s Day night without my wife. But she understood and we had a wonderful day together. Before I headed out the door, I made sure that my arm was properly oiled and its fuel reservoir was full. My lovely wife handed me my bowler hat, gave me a kiss and I stepped out into the cold evening air. The lamplighter who worked our borough was just making his rounds. I gave him a nod and walked up the block to Chance’s house.

When I arrived, he gave Eleanor a kiss and rushed out to the waiting Stanley. I remember thinking that Ellie looked upset but she smiled briefly at me before heading back inside. Donning our goggles, we headed into town. We didn’t talk much during the drive, since the steamer was a bit loud. All too soon we arrived at our destination. I remember thinking that it was a very inconspicuous building just a stone’s throw from the Charing Cross railway station. Once inside, the Gambling House was larger than life; bright lights, red carpets and lots of women. This should’ve been my first hint of things to come but as always, I followed Chance’s lead.

Without skipping a beat, Chance proceeded into the establishment with a buxom blonde, dressed in a tight corset and little else, on each arm. I watched for a moment before a beautiful brunette offered to guide me to our reserved table. Later, I would find out these ladies were in the pay of the proprietor and whose sole duty consisted of enticing patrons to gamble. I vaguely became aware of the press of bodies to my right and left, there were hundreds of people standing behind ropes but then the brunette moved up close, pressed her ample chest into me and whispered something that was lost in the noise. Nodding like an idiot, I let myself be led inside.

Chance was already at the table by the time I arrived and the gambling had begun. Looking around, I vaguely noted that the majority of the crowd was focused on our table. A sudden cheer brought my attention back to the game. Chance had just shown his hand, a jack high straight; a winning hand.

As the dealer pushed over his chips, he buried his face into the bosom of one the blondes sitting beside him. The dealer cleared his throat to get Chance’s attention before dealing. Chance won again and again. Then, he would lose a hand but win the next three. This pattern continued and players dropped out until it was down to two, Chance and the old man. When the next hand had been dealt, Chance just sat there looking all smug. The old man had a stone face but his eyes looked worried as he chewed on his cigar and studied his cards.

The tension in the room was heavy and the crowd was silent in anticipation as the old man showed his cards.

“Full boat, Aces over Ladies.”

Grinning, Chance moved to turn over his hand. The crowd seemed to hold its breath.

It was at that moment when Ellie stepped out of the crowd. She was wearing a red leather corset that accented her figure nicely. Her hair was pulled back off her face giving her a very regal look and her makeup was perfect, bright red lips and all. She was dressed to kill. The only thing that stood out in stark contrast to her beauty was the shiny silver revolver that she was pointing at Chance’s chest.

Sooner or later, luck always runs out. Dumb Luck.

About the Author

A.E.McCullough is a self-published novelist.