Free Fiction: The Promotion Minisode #1

As announced last week, The Promotion: A Novella is now available for sale from Amazon as an e-book, and the print version should be up very soon (i.e., in the next few days). I’m also planning to release the book for you, the readers of the Jacke Blog, in a series of minisodes. Enjoy!

The Promotion Minisode #1: In Which the Narrator Takes a Break from Biglaw and Navigates the Depths of His Wife’s Passion


You need to understand this first: I have a weakness for people with passion.

And they had it, these candidates! They had passion! A love for life, for their careers, for themselves. Some wanted to join our firm. Wanted? They longed for it. They ached. They burned. Even those who secretly hated us thought they could change us, once they added themselves to our mix. That’s what passionate people do. They believe in the impossible!

Was this exhausting? Was I so jaded that I couldn’t bear to see the throngs of innocents at our door? Innocents? It was innocence itself knocking, and who could ever tire of that? They rejuvenated me. I could not wait to welcome them to our firm. The new, the proud, the eager, the full of passion!

I knew very well that passion has the power to overwhelm. You have to meet passion with high energy, or the impassioned will leave you behind. Transcend you. Cast you aside.

You don’t want to be transcended! You don’t want to be cast aside!

How well I knew this, exactly at that moment! My marriage had just ended because of passion.

That sounds like lust, an affair, another woman, another man. But that was never the problem.

No, the problem was blackjack. A passion for it.

When I first met my wife she was on her way to Las Vegas, lit up with excitement. Eager to clean them out. She said this with certainty as we waited in line to check our bags.

“You’re a card counter?” I cried.

“No,” she said, her eyes bright and a little wild. “I’ve developed a betting scheme.”

A betting scheme! A formula for doubling after wins and cutting back after losses, maximizing the winnings during hot streaks and minimizing the damage of cold ones. It sounded highly plausible. I abandoned my plans and joined her in Vegas.

It didn’t even matter whether it worked or not. Princess or pauper, high roller or washout—the point was that she cared enough to want something and want it badly. I was excited about being near her. We were each, in different ways, slaves to her passion. Devoted to her betting scheme.

Betting scheme. A few years later, after we’d been married and she’d lost everything we had, I looked up the phrase on the Internet. Blackjack betting schemes. And I found an article that said that yes, blackjack offered some of the best odds in Vegas. Unlike most other games, in blackjack you can reduce the house advantage almost to zero, and through strategic playing and following certain algorithms you can—even without counting cards—often leave the table a winner. It offered your best chance to beat the house.

And then, the sentence that made my blood run cold:

However, the worst thing you can do is to believe you have developed a betting scheme.

I learned that my wife had not been the first to fall for the streaks idea. Streaks did not exist in nature. You couldn’t count on runs of ups and downs. You had to bet each hand as if it were the only one you were going to bet that day, make your decisions on sound mathematical principles, win or lose the hand, and start the next one with the same clinical detachment.

I showed her the article.

Coming Next: The Promotion Minisode #2: In Which the Annihilation of the Narrator’s Soul Leads to a Stunning Development

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