The odds

Five weeks after he’d been sacked Henry Mullins stepped out as usual at 8:07, walked to the station in time for the 8:16, arrived at Central at 8:45 and walked up the hill towards the office. He smiled at the doorman at number 12, browsed the magzines at the convenience store then kept walking. The King’s Arms was just opening. He stopped in for a stout. But when he felt in his pocket he had no coins. He knew his account was overdrawn.

Then he found a forgotten note in the bottom of his briefcase. He carried his glass to a poker machine and fed the change, enough for two games, into the slot. He pulled on the handle. Queen, Jack, Ten, Ten, Joker. He sipped his beer. Wondered what Jan would be doing. She’d get to the shops eventually, and her card would be rejected, and then Henry didn’t know what he’d tell her. He sipped again. Pulled the handle.


Jan took the call as she was about to leave for the supermarket. ‘Hello Love.’ He sounded jumpy. ‘Listen there’s been some foul-up at the bank. I’m sorting it out. But don’t try to use the account for the moment.’

‘Is everything alright, Henry?’

‘Everything? Yes, fine Dear. Fine.’