Sudden Death: the spread

3 Oct


Sudden Death

the spread

By L. Stewart Marsden


Comedian Groucho Marx once emceed a long-running quiz show called “You Bet Your Life.”

“Say the magic woid (word) and win a hundred bucks!” he would say, his bushy eyebrows dancing with each woid (word).

People will bet on anything. Any thing. Any time. Any where.

Football, basketball, soccer, baseball, NASCAR, the stock market, politics. ANY thing.

Who will win. Who will lose. The point spreads. Number of touchdowns, passes, runs, field goals, free throws, fouls.

Anything. Got it? Get it. Good!

So when Jamaal Salem spouted off to a dozen cameras that he was going to throw for more than 400 yards and three touchdowns in the Techtronics game against the Trinity Devils, it became a betting item. Big time.

Bookies across the nation were inundated with calls and bets on either side of the coin: Salem would make good, or Salem would fail in his promise. Not only that, but the spreads went on either side of each boast, meaning that bets were taken for less or more than 400 yards — and how many less or more yards; and for less or more than three touchdowns.

ESPN color commentators argued all around the figures.

Then, as a result of the betting, one more gamble was thrown into the mix: whether the Devils could upset the Techtronics. And on the heals of that, if they could or could not beat the spread.

Jimmy the Big, a long-time bettor against the odds, took an interest. Specifically, Jimmy wanted to take the long odds, which paid off better. You know, the better the bettor and all that jazz.

Smelling a big payoff potential, Jimmy hedged his potential bet, and picked up his iPhone and gave Siri an order:

“Call Higgy the Hammer.”

“Call-ing Hig-nee the Ham-per,” Siri responded.

“Hammer here,” a deep voice answered.

“It’s Jimmy.”

“Whatcha need?”

“Got any touches on the Techtronics team?”

“How many you need?”

“I figure three. Salem one of them?”

“Nah. You wouldn’t want him if he were. Which game?”


“Not much notice.”

“Ten percent.”

“On the spread?”

“That, and the win.”

“I got a linebacker — their All-American standout — as well as the offensive center. Oh, and one more: their star wideout. Won’t be cheap.”

“Make it happen.”

“It’s yours.”

Jimmy the Big disconnected the call, then gave another order to Siri.

“Call Dingle.”

“Call-ing Ding-tree.”

“Your dime,” Dingle answered.

“It’s Big. Tech and Trinity. One-hundred against the spread, and one-hundred on the upset.”


“Have I ever bet anything else?”

“Just checking. I got you down for 100 Gs against the spread for the Tech-Trinity game, and a hundred Gs Trinity wins the game. That right?”

“You got it.”

“Check your email for a confirmation number and hang on to it. It’ll go to your spam.”

“You’re the best, Ding.”

“No, you’re the best!”

Jimmy the Big put his cell phone down, reached for a cedar box on the corner of his desk. Opening the lid, he picked a fat cigar from its contents and smelled along the aromatic cylinder, his mouth watering. He carefully clipped the tapered end with a silver and redwood cutter, then lit the cigar with a stick match. He puffed quickly and a flame billowed until a fine thin burn circled the end.

Big leaned back in his chair and slowly let the rich taste escape his mouth in blue-gray circled rings, and smiled.

* * * * *

Copyright © by Lawrence S. Marsden

Previously in Sudden Death


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