Monday, February 06, 2012


Luck Episode No. 2: Part I

BLOGGER'S NOTE: This recap contains spoilers, so if you haven't seen the episode yet, move along.

By Edward Copeland
After airing just one episode, HBO has renewed Luck for a second season. That season, which will have 10 episodes, begins filming later this month for airing in January 2013. However, I have to consider whether I should keep trying to recap the series now. It isn't that Luck isn't worthy of recapping — it most certainly is and I've seen the entire season. The problem is that unlike the other shows I've recapped — Boardwalk Empire, Treme, the Mildred Pierce miniseries — I haven't received the kind of easy, simple background support that I require to do these recaps the way that I believe they deserve to be done. It's been like pulling teeth to get the names of actors and characters in recurring parts that aren't regulars and you might as well forget about pieces of music (though the HBO Web site has them the following day). The great, wonderful, helpful support I've had before could give me a hand with lines of dialogue that are hard to decipher. When I'm lucky, I get emails answered, so I haven't even bothered asking about those sort of things now — and when David Milch is involved in the writing, you damn well owe it to him to get the words right. Anyway, I'm posting the first half of my recap, since all these problems plus personal matters have made this an arduous task that only promises to get harder and with the fatigue factor from my M.S., I'm wondering why I should be risking my health if those who should be helping don't plan to do right by Luck or by me. On with the recap: With a first season that's one episode shorter than the second will be, Luck hasn't had time to waste — and it doesn't. The show's two biggest mysteries — why Ace willingly took the fall for a crime he didn't commit and what happened to Delphi, the champion thoroughbred who sired Walter's promising colt Gettn'up Morning — were cleared up tonight. We learn why Walter feels so overprotective of the Big Horse that he employs a night watchman so Gettn'up Morning never lacks supervision. For Ace Bernstein, it shows that he's a true devotee to the idea that revenge is a dish best served cold. Something of interest about Luck: Its episodes bear no titles, just numbers. (I just call it No. 2 in my post title, though technically "Episode 1.2" is its real name.) You don't see that very often. "1.2" has a teleplay credited to John R. Perrotta, the series' story editor, who began as a technical consultant on the pilot and is president of Star Racing Stable in Delaware (though on any David Milch show, Milch usually re-writes a lot). The episode was directed by Terry George, who helmed Hotel Rwanda and received Oscar nominations for co-writing that film's screenplay and co-writing the script for In the Name of the Father. George also is currently nominated for the Oscar for best live action short for The Shore. Also, I wish there were a way to trigger the dropping of balloons when a reader hits a certain word because a Milch trademark makes its first appearance tonight. Hint: It's not hooplehead.

A man flips through papers on his desk, one of which bears a small black-and-white photo of Chester Bernstein. “Have you had contact with or engaged in activities since your release that would violate the terms of your parole?” Ace's parole officer (Barry Shabaka Henley, so great as the doomed jazz musician in Michael Mann’s Collateral) asks at their first meeting. “No, I haven’t,” Ace responds, his eyes darting to photos on the wall ofMalcolm X and John Coltrane. “Any change in residence or contact information?” his parole officer queries. Again, Bernstein answers no. “How you settlin’ in?” the man inquires of Ace. “OK. Good. Thanks,” Ace replies. The parole officer informs Bernstein that he needs a urine sample. As his parole officer escorts Ace to the bathroom, Bernstein says, “I have difficulty if someone’s looking.” His supervisor asks what he did when he was in prison. “People made adjustments,” Ace declares as they enter the men’s room. Inside, the parole officer chooses to stare at the sink instead of at Bernstein directly, but still the piss doesn’t flow. “Shy kidneys,” the parole officer comments before turning the sink’s faucet on for encouragement. Ace thanks him. When the appointment has ended, Ace and Gus exit the building and Gus tells his boss he just received a lunch invitation. “As far as Escalante’s concerned, we can make that another day,” Gus suggests. “We’ll fit this in,” Bernstein smiles. Gus opens the back door for Ace, then calls someone. “My friend said to say ‘That’s fine,’” Gus tells the person on the other end. Once The Greek gets behind the wheel, Ace grins again. "Supposed to put me back on my heels — flying in without notice.”

Jerry may have won ¼ of that nearly $3 million Pick Six jackpot, but that doesn’t mean his gambling itch has been scratched and he’s back at a casino playing Texas Hold ‘em, only this time it’s at Larry Flynt’s Hustler Casino Los Angeles and Jerry’s playing at a high-stakes table. Given the look on Jerry’s face and the fact that the casino has allowed housekeeping to come out to vacuum the poker area, it would seem he’s been there a long time. A king of spades, a 3 of diamonds, a 7 of spades, an 8 of spades and a 6 of diamonds comprise the table's community cards. We don’t see what Jerry holds, but he stacks some chips and bets $2,000.

At the track, lots of thoroughbreds are out and about for their morning workouts. Rosie has taken her spot atop Gettn’up Morning once again as the two head toward the gate. One of the assistant starters (Kelly Steed) fastens part of the horse’s bridle and asks, “When’s the Old Man decide who’s ridin’ him?” Rosie seems miffed by the question’s assumption. “What does it look like I’m doin’?” she responds with a harsh edge. (Thanks to Dale Dye at Remington Park Racing Casino in Oklahoma City for helping clarify some track job titles that I couldn't figure out through Web searches.) “I mean ridin’ him when he runs,” the man clarifies. “If you put me in, he’s about to run right now, “ she says, clearly agitated. “Race ridin’, girl. Ridin’ him in the afternoon,” the guy rephrases again, clearly indicating that he does not consider Rosie a viable option. “Hey limp dick, eat it. Why don’t you stick to loadin’ and let the Old Man train his horse?” Rosie tells him, not even disguising her bile now. She does earn a grin from the jockey loaded in the gate's adjacent stall, Ronnie Jenkins. “Supposed to be a good one,” Ronnie comments about Gettn’up Morning. Rosie pats herself on the ass. “Get used to the view.”

Back at the casino, one of the other players, a Chinese man (Dennis Dun) taunts Jerry. “Sit in on a bigger table, Jerry. What’d you do — maybe sell your house? he asks with a mischievous smile. Jerry says that his aunt died. “My condolences. Sorry for your loss,” the man replies, though he doesn’t sound any more sincere than Jerry did when he lied. “Well, we weren’t that close. How about time?” Jerry says to the dealer (Kurt Basa), getting tired of the man’s delays. “Player calls time,” the dealer calls out to the poker room floor man (David Pease). Even with a clock on him, it doesn’t stop the man’s prattling on, continuing to note how he usually comes in and sees Jerry at $3 to $5 poker tables, but now he’s at his table. “That’s because it’s your century, Lester,” Jerry tells him. “One minute to play Lester or you’re dead,” the floor man announces. “I got the next 88 years,” Lester Chan responds.

The gates finally open for the morning run and though it’s not an actual race, Gettn’up Morning with Rosie in the saddle steams ahead of the other two horses rather easily. In the grandstand, it’s not just the usual spectators of Walter with his binoculars and his dog watching the horse’s progress with interest. Several rows behind and to the right of Smith, another man (Doug Minner) stands with binoculars monitoring the practice run. Rosie and the horse run so far ahead of the other two thoroughbreds that when Walter stops timing and checks the result, he says to himself (or perhaps the dog), “Lord. Heaven help us all.”

They're akso keeping time at The Hustler Casino. “Fifteen seconds, Lester,” the floor man tells him. “Made my flush on the river, Jerry,” Lester claims. “Oh, yeah — congratulations,” Jerry says with the utmost of insincerity. “I show you after you fold,” Lester promises. “Why don’t you show me how you take a raspberry douche?” Jerry responds as if he were channeling Marcus for a moment. (Raspberry douche also is the name of a drink and was referred to in Barbra Streisand's version of A Star Is Born.) Lester’s perpetual grin transforms to a scowl on that comment. “I put Jerry all-in,” Lester says, finally making a decision, though far more than 15 seconds Short attention span theater comes to Luck. On top of the time-stretching shenanigans involved when Lester has been given first one minute and then 15 seconds to make a decision when much more than those time periods have elapsed, why did the poker scene AND the Rosie workout scene need to be sliced into slivers as they were? Ace’s scene with the parole officer and an upcoming lunch meeting run in full. There’s no reasonable rationale for chopping those other parts into bite-size morsels, especially the poker scene. Are they hoping viewers forget that Lester has a clock on him? That can’t be because they remind us. has passed. Jerry looks at the 9 and 10 of hearts that he holds, making sure he has a straight with the 6 of diamonds and 7 and 8 of spades on the board. Jerry then calls, sliding his large stack of chips to the middle of the table. Jerry turns over his cards. “Straight,” the dealer announces. Lester reveals his hole cards one spade at a time, first the 9 of spades, then the ace. Since the community cards also have the king of spades on it, Jerry knows what’s about to be said. “Player has a flush,” the dealer declares as he starts moving all Jerry's chips Lester’s way. “I wouldn’t lie to you, Jerry. Too much respect for your game,” Lester crows. Jerry gets up from the table and begins to walk away, but then returns. “Jerry on tilt. Maybe go get more money from auntie’s shoebox,” Lester mocks him. Jerry had only come back because he forgot his coat.

“I could punch you in the nose, Ace, with all you’ve been through, coming out looking so good,” Isadore Cohen (Ted Levine) tells Bernstein. “No tea party,” Ace says. “It’s a disgrace,” Cohen declares. “They draw the line nowhere,” Nick DiRossi, also present for this impromptu lunch meeting, comments. The three men sit at a table at a dark but elegant restaurant with expansive floor-to-ceiling windows that look out on well-kept lawns. The restaurant itself seems deserted except for Ace, Nick and this out-of-town visitor. “The Greek havin’ fun off that jackpot he won?” Cohen asks Ace. “Oh, life of Riley. (A second possible origin for the phrase.) We’re drivin’ out after this to see the horse he bought,” Ace tells them. “As many stunts as our floor guys pulled so his guy could be the guy who pulled that slot,” Cohen laughs while pointing at Ace and looking at Nick. Cohen may be amused, but you can sense that Bernstein isn’t and that DiRossi feels it too. “You want to get yourself a plate, Ace?” Nick asks. Ace shakes his head. “Before we start Ace, can I quick interject a message from Mike?” Cohen inquires. Hoffman does a nice little character move here as Ace. You begin to notice how often Bernstein avoids answering direct questions, even from a friend such as Gus. He doesn’t say yea or nay to Cohen’s inquiry: he wets his finger and turns a page of paper. “Mike sends his best and anything you want to do, he will support in any form or fashion you think best,” Cohen relays. Bernstein puts his papers down on the table in a way that makes the silverware loudly clink. “Shall we start?” Ace asks, though he declines to wait for an answer and just launches into his spiel. “The U.S. economy is in the fuckin’ toilet. The New York bankers with their three-card monte bond swaps just about brought the fuckin’ walls down. Tremendous structural damage, the tax base, unemployment plus, my impression, tremendous, tremendous compression of the leisure gaming dollar,” Ace declares. “One hundred percent accurate,” Cohen concurs. “Then why look to buy a race track with all the added arguments against — the churn is slow, the unexploited square footage, the stables, the racing surface, the grassy grounds and flowers? Because in California, established and passed by the Legislature, horse racing is legal and casino gaming isn’t, leaving aside for a second the fuckin’ rain dancers, and, like the whole state economy, the track is desperate for new streams of revenue — the perfect fucking Trojan horse,” Ace argues. (No offense to Mr. Perrotta, who was brought into the show’s writer’s room because of his expertise on the industry, but when you hear these words roll off Dustin Hoffman’s tongue, is there much doubt that Milch composed them? When I say compose, I mean it too, because wrote is neither adequate nor accurate enough to describe his dialogue. “can I quick interject a message from Mike?” Ted Levine’s versatility amazes. He never looks the same in any two parts, though that voice usually gives him away. His work with Michael Mann dates back to Crime Story and also includes Heat, Ali and the Mann-produced Wonderland.) “To bring in slots and table games,” Isadore Cohen smiles broadly. “I put up the money, you put up the signs. Your end’s 10 points plus you’ve got a 12-month option up to 39 more — my purchase price plus my cost,” Bernstein calculates out loud for the duo. Cohen laughs. “This isn’t fucking costs. It’s a full court press in Sacramento,” he replies. “The last I heard option means a choice and 12 months stands for a year,” Ace raises his voice a couple of notches. DiRossi comments to Cohen, “Here comes that famous Bernstein temper.” Ace brings his tone back down. “What you get for your 10 points you can decide to nix your option, you get for us being friends,” Ace says. “And our name on the signs,” Cohen responds sourly. “Because I’m a fuckin’ felon — anything else you wanna explain to me?” Bernstein fires back. “No,” Cohen says, shaking his head. “What part Mike wants — he can take a piece of your piece. You tell him he can work that out with you,” Ace tells him. “Chester Bernstein, ladies and gentlemen. The Ace is back in place,” Nick announces. The meeting ends and though we don’t see Ace get up, we know that he has to, quite literally, see a man about a horse. (In this second episode, we can see that Hoffman has a much better grasp on Ace than he did in the pilot. He can convincingly be intimidating as a power broker, but he just looked silly trying to come off as a tough guy like last week. The scene that follows between Gus and Ace is a conversation of pure exposition that explains exactly why Bernstein had been in prison. Therefore, since it's all dialogue, I'm recapping it that way.)

GUS: Are they movin’ the way you predicted?
ACE: Yes. They’re gonna move on the race track. The hook is sunk.
GUS: They swing to Mike with you right there, they’ll swallow it whole.
ACE: Nothin’ Mike likes better than takin’ somebody else’s idea.
GUS: I still don’t know how you ever got involved with this guy.
ACE: Twenty-five years ago — a different person and the best head for business by a lot until — (Ace pauses to point to his nose and make a snorting sound, miming cocaine use) — he started making it big — really big.
GUS: And that’s what happened with that condo.
(We’re still getting exposition out of the way, but this scene plays a bit more clumsily than we usually hear.)
ACE: Co-op. Co-op. We had it in New York for business, entertainment. When we split up, I kept the co-op, he took the plane. Then the grandson at NYU starts using it and Mike starts using the co-op to stash his dope.
GUS: He could have stashed it anywhere.
ACE: You try to see his perverse logic, you’ll go blind. And my grandson’s doin’ what he’s doin’, swingin’ from the chandelier with six broads and then someone upstairs, a neighbor, whatever, drops the dime. They bring in the canines, they find the stash and my grandson says it’s not his and he wasn’t lyin’ — it was Mike’s.
GUS: You know, all’s I remember from that time is this little boy runnin’ around with his shoes untied.
ACE: Six kilos of cocaine? You couldn’t have sent him out to buy six pounds of dog food, the shape he was in four years ago.
GUS: The feds had to know.
ACE:Of course they knew! They wanted me to roll over on Mike and his offshore bullshit. I roll over on Mike or the kid takes the fall.
GUS: The question is this: After you take Door No. 3, where you claim the dope and you do the time, the question is, Ace, what if it was all turned around?
ACE: The answer is Mike would’ve given me up in a heartbeat. So what? I never ratted out anybody in my whole fucking life and I wouldn’t do it, even with that cocksucker.(FIRST TIME USE. PRETEND I DROPPED BALLOONS.)
GUS: I don’t know why you wouldn’t let me kill that prick.
ACE: Stop it. Stop it.
GUS: Hypothetic, I’m sayin’. Hypothetic. (Don't you bet Gus yearns for the days when a draw across the throat made fucking resolution.)
ACE: Enough. (pauses) Hypothetically.

Escalante gives instructions to Rosie's friend, Lizzie, who also is an exercise rider, about how he wants her to ride her Pint of Plain, Ace's horse heading out for his workout, when Turo's distracted by the sight of Gettn'up Morning, who stands near the outer rail as Rosie and Walter discuss his workout. "I'm sayin' out loud — us two really get along," Rosie tells Walter, referring to herself and the horse. Smith sort of nods nervously, but doesn't say anything. "Whatever you think that's worth," she adds. "Um…well…anyways, take him on home to the barn," Walter finally gets out. Rosie starts riding the colt back. "Beggin' — like some chancer on a bed of hope," Rosie mutters to herself. (I can only hope I cut through the second part of her brogue correctly.) Turo gets on his phone with the mystery man who was watching Gettn'up Morning's morning run, inquiring about who the horse was. "That would be Gettn'up Morning, el presidente. He's a 3-year-old colt by Delphi," the man tells Escalante. "By Delphi? He got a right to be OK," Turo grins. "Boy, I must need a vacation, I nearly understood everything you just said," the man declares. "Joto. You understand that?" Turo asks. Ronnie rides down the track alongside another man on horseback (W. Earl Brown, who played Dan Dority on Deadwood). "He's OK. He's decent," Ronnie says, though it's unclear to which horse he refers. "He worked faster last week," the man responds. Ronnie gives an excuse and asks the man if he wanted to ask him and get him sour.(Maybe this isn't a horse they're talking about.) "What I wanted was to not waste a workout, Get him back to the goddamn barn," the man tells Ronnie. (Now I get it. He's talking about the horse Ronnie rides currently. He owns it and feels that Jenkins didn't give him the workout he needed.) "Ain't I glad I got up early to hear you bitch and moan?" Ronnie proclaims just as Joey appears at the rail. Walter overheard the exchange and is laughing as Ronnie rides by. "I guess you ain't been fooling with those Dale Carnegie courses they got out here," Smith chuckles. "How are you, Mr. Smith?" Ronnie inquires, changing his demeanor. "I'm alright. It's good to see another Kentucky face," Walter replies. (While I didn't have any problems with Nolte's performance in the premiere, he's improved in the second outing as well, loosening Walter up a bit instead of just playing him as grizzled and one note.) Ronnie commends him for the speed of his 3-year-old and Smith inquires about Jenkins' "bad fall," but Ronnie insists he's up and fine now. "That's good. Why don't you stop by the barn? We'll tell each other some lies, huh?"

Marcus and Renzo dine at the Arcadia landmark Rod's Grill, less than 2 miles east of the track. "Slickest trainer on the grounds enters his horse cheaper off a win this week which is like hanging a 'Please Buy This Nag' sign off the animal's neck and you propose we claim him," Marcus says to Renzo skeptically. "Yes — for the reason he was key to our jackpot Pick Six success," Renzo argues as Jerry enters the eatery and asks the cashier for aspirin. "How about we get sentimental, hold hands around the men's room toilet, flush the eight grand we blow on the claim and that way at least save ourselves the sales tax?" Marcus responds. "So you have reservations?" the always-on-the-ball Renzo senses. "Nothin' gets by you," Marcus comments. Renzo spots Jerry and gets up so he can sit down Marcus notes that Jerry looks half dead. "Well, gee, I feel like a million bucks," Jerry insists unconvincingly. Renzo excuses himself for a smoke as he sees a man at the door waiting for him. "What was the hit?" Marcus asks Jerry. "You assume I lost," Jerry replies. Marcus grills Jerry on what size game Jerry was playing in and Jerry tell him just $10-$20, describing it as not that big a step up. "No photos we didn't allow. No ceremony presenting us with Pick Six money. All our precautions to keep anonymous and all of a sudden you're Johnny Big Time at the poker table?" Marcus lectures. "You know, it's not like we robbed a bank," Jerry tells him. "Like this mope here," Marcus says, gesturing to Renzo over his shoulder, "wants us to claim Escalante's horse, drawing ourselves attention on that front." Upon hearing that news, Jerry picks up the paper on the table. "I saw that Escalante's dropping the horse down," Boyle comments. "Not to mention that jughead Lonnie likely braggin' to those biddies that he's banging," Marcus works himself up to a coughing spell and has to bring out the oxygen mask. Jerry urges Marcus to take it easy. As Becker continues hacking, he removes his mask long enough to tell Jerry, "Go fuck yourself."

Renzo meets the man (Woody Copland) waiting outside Rod's. "Here's the deal, Renz. You're obligated to absolutely nothing if you put a claim in on a horse," the man tells him. "You look at the horse in the paddock, right Goose?" Renzo inquires. "I know this horse of Escalante's so well, I know every pimple on it," Goose declares. Renzo asks Goose if he knows Marcus. "Marcus — he's a hall-of-fame ballbuster," Goose replies, "Yes. He'd be one of the partners I'd want to eventually involve. Plus Jerry," Renzo explains. "Jerry — of course, Jerry. Brilliant handicapper — and poker room whore," Goose assesses. "And Lonnie. I don't think you know Lonnie," Renzo says, "You know, horse ownerships tend to be fluid. That's why pencils have erasers on 'em," Goose proclaims. Renzo tries to figure the division of costs in his head and out loud, but it's a struggle to watch that little brain work so hard. "You've got the money on your own, right?" Goose interrupts. Renzo confirms that he does and Goose does the computing. "Let's see. Ballpark. Sales tax, Eighty-eight hundred. Can you handle that?" Goose wants to know. "Yes, which I would put up individually, making the horse a present," Renzo announces his intention. "That's a beautiful and noble gesture, my man" Goose says. "Let's go to the track."

Mon Gateau gazes out from his stable and soon Jo climbs out from behind him. "I just gave your eight thousand dollar horse his three dollar shot of Lasix," she tells Turo. "You think I lose him here this afternoon? Someone gonna drop a claim in?" Escalante asks her. "I don't know why you put him up for claim in the first place," Jo replies. Escalante confides to her that he's going to run Mon Gateau with wraps on his front legs this time "to scare away all the vultures." Jo sees what Turo's plan is. "Sure, bandages. The old-school head fake," she comments. *Escalante leads Jo outside of shedrow to show her Pint of Plain. "Ace Bernstein coming with his beard to see what his two million bought him," he tells her. "He's doing great, Turo," Jo rules on Pint of Plain's progress. Escalante reports on how Pint of Plain's trot went that morning and makes a crack about Bernstein thinking he can put a foot in his business. Jo just sighs.

Goose escorts Renzo to have his photo and fingerprints taken so he can obtain a horse owner's license.

At the motel where the four "degenerates" have been residing since they hit the Pick Six jackpot, Lonnie comes out of his room singing and approaches an outside table where Jerry and Marcus peruse newspapers and racing forms for the day. Lonnie is decked out in a sharp-looking new suit and matching hat as he approaches his fellow winners. "Lookin' like a million bucks," Jerry comments to Marcus. "Well, if that ain't right on the nose," Marcus concurs. Lonnie greets the guys and models his wears for them. Marcus mimes a sign as he interprets the message Lonnie's duds send. "Won money. Head up ass. You could've flashed it across the Snoopy blimp," Marcus comments. The always-slow-on-the-uptake Lonnie asks to whom and to what Marcus makes reference. "You. Puttin' yourself in that suit to prove to those cock-struck broads who probably you were already in it at fifty different ways," Marcus dresses down Lonnie. "It so happens you've got things backwards, Marcus. Those women I've been bangin' bought this Brioni for me," Lonnie declares. "Oh sure they did — for your personal injury scam. (I usually link to words such as scam that I imagine most people know because I'm curious about the origin. I must say I was surprised to find that every reference I found cites the word's beginning only in the early 1960s. Hard to believe such a common, widely used word would be such a recent addition to the English language.) So when you take that insurance slip-and-fall they're settin' you up for, you've planted them with the foot traffic. You think you're a real scamster, huh? Meanwhile, they've probably got you signed to some life insurance policy or somethin'," Professor Becker (doctorate in street wisdom) lectures. Jerry grows tired of the oration and unsuccessfully tries to get Marcus to release the students for this period. "No, you bought that suit — you did. Puttin' on airs (third air entry, second noun), it draws scrutiny on all of us," Marcus continues as Renzo approaches in the distance carrying four large cups of coffee. "Maybe you're confused with my mother, Marcus, that I'm required to take your abuse," Lonnie tells him. "That may be you, your circus outfit, your good fortune you had so much to do with, you can put yourself in another section," Marcus suggests. "Maybe I'll go you one better," Lonnie says. "Perish the thought. Be still my poor heart," Marcus replies without a trace of caring, though after that speech he finally has to grab for the oxygen. Having finally arrived at the table but missing most of the fireworks, Renzo looks horribly confused and somewhat sad. "I appreciate our good fortune we had but ballbreaking over my wardrobe is not my idea of fun and my mental adroitness is dulled by this constant negativity," Lonnie declares before walking away. Marcus mouths, "What?" to Jerry. "And don't think they mightn't have bad intentions towards him either — those insurance broads — they find out he scored. Mental fuckin' adroitness," Marcus frets to Jerry as Renzo grabs two of the coffees and chases after Lonnie. Becker returns the oxygen mask to his face. (In the pilot, Kevin Dunn dominated as Marcus, with Jason Gedrick's Jerry seeing the second-most development of the quartet. In this second outing, Ritchie Coster's Renzo and Ian Hart's Lonnie both get material that allow their characters to expand from interchangeable dimwitted comic relief, Coster especially. Both English actors continue to hide their real accents fairly well, though I caught a little British sneak into Coster's speech at times. Gedrick gets to grow Jerry as well as we see his poker world instead of hearing about it secondhand.)

Renzo catches up with Lonnie and gives him his coffee. "He got up on the wrong side of the bed," Renzo says, meaning Marcus. "Tell me the day he didn't," Lonnie responds, still seething. "It's a new situation, Lonnie. It's a process of adjusting for everybody," Renzo tells him. "Why shouldn't that include me? It feels like he's in a movie, falling off a building backwards," Lonnie's voice practically yells all words now. Renzo tries to bring up his proposal for continuing their partnership "under a new concept." "What would you say then?" Renzo asks. "Renz, I'm OD'ing on concepts," Lonnie replies before thanking Renzo for the coffee and continuing his walk to whereabouts unknown. Renzo smiles a grim grin to himself.

Marcus and Jerry make their trek to the Santa Anita doors along with other attendees for the day's racing card since they didn't arrive early to watch workouts as they've done previous. (A brief shoutout of thanks to Pete Siberell, director of special projects at the real Santa Anita Park, who has provided me with some real details about the track for the recaps.) Marcus' rant about the syndicate members' behavior post-Pick Six windfall doesn't seem to have ceased since the motel. "With money comes responsibility, whether you think you can handle it or not," Becker pontificates. "And with some of his money, Lonnie bought himself a suit," Jerry says. "And I have a right to object. On him, it draws scrutiny on me," Marcus insists. "How does him and his suit draw scrutiny on you?" Boyle asks, almost laughing in disbelief. "From being included in his spotlight," Marcus answers as he and Jerry move to the interior of the track's main building. "Same as you running up your come-and-get-me flag at the poker joint." Jerry reads the race forms as he responds, "That puts scrutiny on you." The two turn the corner from the entrance and stop short of Top-O-The-Stretch where Marcus explains further his philosophy of anonymity, though Jerry keeps reading the rundown. "You sit down at a bigger table, right? Because you didn't win your bigger bankroll there, they recognize you won it here where you and me are known associates," Marcus elaborates. "Do you want me to sit in a different section?" Jerry asks. "You're gonna end up broke and alone whether you know it yet or not," Marcus tells him as Officer Kagle arrives to harass them, patting the bag on the side of Marcus' wheelchair. "Does he ever actually wash his clothes?" the security guard inquires. "Hey! What is it to you, you pig-faced, paper bag-lookin' cunt?" Marcus snarls as Kagle, nearly knocking the guard over with his chair. "Whoa! Whoa!" Kagle yelps, stepping back. "You mind your business or you'll find out what happens," Marcus warns the guard. "You better back off — you might cough at me violently while struggling for breath," Kagle retorts. "Hey — we're talkin', Kagle," Jerry tells him while Marcus does put on his breathing assistant. "Let me leave you with this thought. Three points a week — put your cash to work on the street — and make yourself three points a week," the loan shark side of the guard suggests before he departs. "That seven thousand I just lost for the week — I'm six hundred and fifty grand ahead," Jerry informs Marcus. "You just lost seven thousand," Marcus says, looking displeased. "You know, maybe broke and alone is what you're afraid of. Maybe that's why you're carrying what you're carrying in that fucking laundry bag," Jerry tells him. "I've got no idea what you're talking about," an unusually subdued Marcus replies as Renzo arrives. "See you Renz," Jerry says, giving him his racing forms before walking off. "When you comin' back?" Renzo asks Jerry as his back gets farther away. "Probably not today," he says as he keeps up his pace without looking back. Marcus spins to give his farewell to Jerry's backside. "So I'm this moment's excuse for you to go back there and get your teeth kicked in," he bellows to the vanishing Jerry. Renzo makes a sniffing sound and as Marcus prepares to take in more oxygen, he inquires what problem Calagari has now. "I'm claiming that horse, Marcus," Renzo declares while the oxygen mask covers Marcus's face, preventing an instantaneous response. He take it off, still short of breath, and squeezes out, "You're kiddin', right?" Renzo extends the invitation for Marcus to buy in as a partnership and asks for a yes or no. "No — and where you think you're in position to do so? No license or trainer, never mind the wherewithal," Marcus lashes out. "You might be surprised where people were positioned if you weren't busy wading through their feelings left and right — hurting them." Marcus doesn't stay to listen to the third member of his syndicate call him on his crap on the same day and rolls away before Renzo finishes.

Leon's drinking something at one of the tables at the snack bar outside the Backside Cafeteria in the barn area when Joey wanders in. Leon tells his agent he's been mulling ordering a bear claw. "No. No bear claw. I don't need you overweight ridin' back today, pressing your luck," Joey tells him, though the agent's attention keeps being drawn outside. "I was thinkin' I could do some extra road work," Leon says. "Looks like Ronnie had a good back-and-forth with that Old Man," Joey informs Bug Boy, who couldn't seem less interested for he turns the conversation back to Escalante and Mon Gateau, wondering if Turo has mentioned how the horse is doing. "It's not our place to ask," Joey declares. "I'm just sayin' he's droppin' him awful cheaply off a win," Leon comments. "And I'm sayin' you and me, tryin' to handicap a trainer like Turo Escalante — remember what I told you that was called," Joey reminds him. "Heavy lifting with light equipment, Leon replies. "You're worried about the horse being sound?" Rathburn reads into his client's demeanor, especially after what happened to Tattered Flag. "I guess I am a little," Leon admits. (That British accent definitely mucks up the Louisiana drawl Tom Payne is supposed to have as Leon — A LOT.) "Let me give you some advice — acts of God and so forth, bad luck — like that spill you were in. To worry yourself about those afterward…" Leon interrupts. "You worry about everything." Joey continues anyway, "Putting yourself even more in the way of getting hurt, which was a factor with Ronnie and only now he's coming back from that hole." Leon quietly says, "Yeah" and Joey reaches out and places his hand over the young rider's.


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