Early the next morning, I ordered coffee. Laced mine with Beam, poured some sugar and lots of cream into hers. Woke her up. Then after her first four or so cigs, I taught her how to count the deck.
“Shonnie,” I said. “Aces count as zero. Two through nine count as plus one. Tens and the rest (face cards) count as minus one. You’re gonna sit there and count while you play two-dollar bets. Don’t get fancy. Just use the basic strategy I taught you. When the count goes hot, I mean, when the count goes real positive, I mean anything over plus five, you light a cig in your left hand. I will be at the bar and come on over, playing a drunk with a lot of money. Should just be a bit part for me. No acting. I can do ‘drunk’ slicker than owl shit.”
“Wait a minute!” She said. “You’re gonna play a drunk?”
“Yeah. So what?”
“Never mind. But you probably need to rehearse.”
“Funny. Anyhow, we will go to the El Cortez this evening and you havta go in first. Take a seat at the closest blackjack table to the bar. I’ll be watching you. When you signal, I will stumble on in and start throwing black chips around. You hand off the count to me by stacking some chips to your right. Five six, seven… Whatever it is. I will pretend not to know you and pick up the count. If all works out, I will score a grand, then feign needing to move on, color my chips and bug. You stay for another twenty minutes or so and then meet me back at the Plaza.”
“Great girl,” I said.
“Yeah. Fuck you! If we get in trouble, it’s on you.”
“Honey, nothing illegal ‘bout countin’, but they do frown on it. We’ll be fine. Just lay off the sauce a bit.”