while the wheel's still spinning, the little
ball drops into Luke's particular slot again--only, in this particular game
of chance, he doesn't rake the chips in; they get swept out from under his
After a botched appendectomy (which included a nightmare scene in the recovery
room that involved waking to the Four O'Clock Movie right at the moment when
Tony Curtis as Houdini gasps out the promise, "I'll come back . . . I'll
. . . come . . . back . . ." as he dies from peritonitis--just down the street,
it turns out, from Luke's old house back in Detroit,) he declines to accompany
his girlfriend of seven years to Zuma Beach.
There had been another argument, the night before. Something--a cat or an
iguana or maybe even the caiman--had dropped a little calling card in the
bottom of her sister's, Aleis', sleeping bag and, apparently, lots of shouting
and yelling had ensued. He didn't say whether any lobbed bottles of Beefeater
gin had figured in it.