Chapter 1

Written by: debbie

Jim watched the surgeon walk away, talking to the nurse.  Glimpsing back, he saw Cate hooked up to all kinds of monitors and drips. He knew he should be calling her family to inform them of the accident, but the separation had not done him any favours with the family.  Struggling to come to terms with what had happened, he absent-mindedly headed for the exit. Pushing through patients, doctors and nurses, he did not see the food trolley coming towards him down the corridor until it was too late.  Brushing the spaghetti and sauce off his pants, Jim mumbled an apology to the orderly and swiftly made his way out the exit.


A short time later, Jim found himself standing in the local Casino hall with dim lighting, a live country and western band on stage and big screen TV’s re-playing the latest rugby game. Stale cigarette smoke, body odor mixed with perfume and restrained hope filled his senses. Coins were tinkling into the slot machines, dice rolling around on the Roulette table, people chatting, and dealers calling “place your bids”.   

Jim could feel himself beginning to relax - home.  Ordering a whiskey sour, he exchanged his last $500.00.  Sitting down at the Black Jack table, he knew tonight was the night. He was going to win enough to cover his gambling debt.  Never again was he going to have the Casino’s debt collectors come calling.  That had been a painful meeting, even more so once Cate found out. Three rounds later, and a similar number of empty tumblers, he was $300 up. 

Sensing someone was behind him, Jim glanced over his shoulder, straight into the icy blue eyes of his ex-sister-in law.  His stomach lurched as he realised she knew about Cate and it was obvious that she was not pleased to catch him there. 

Francesca was the complete opposite of her sister; a brunette, short and obese with no dress sense. She had two snotty nosed kids who got whatever they wanted when they demanded it.  They had never liked each other from the first time they met; Jim knew he had exceeded her low expectations. Ignoring her, he signaled the waitress for another drink then turned and tapped the table for another card. Whatever Francesca wanted could wait. This round was going to see him walk out with a healthy profit.

With hands on hips, and a furious expression, she looked like she was about to explode. “Do you realise Cate is in hospital?” she spat at him. 

Spinning around on the swivel chair to confront her, Jim saw two police standing a distance back, and nervous casino security guards behind them.  What the hell was going on? The atmosphere in the casino was still full of people grasping at hope, ignorant of what was happening around them. Jim could only feel a deep dark pit of despair as he realised he was in a no-win situation.

Someone had tampered with the car

Debbie Stuart (NZ)



Debbie must have been in a casino or two. The description and atmosphere are spot on. I loved the description of Francesca and the two snotty nosed kids. What a disgusting sight - kids with liquid top lips. I like the mixture of the sterile hospital, the busy casino, and Jim's demons. A chapter that has got this serial off to a really good start.
Well done Debbie!
thanks, and no I haven't been in many casinos. The one and only time was about 10 years ago, so I guess it made an impression. And yes I did walk out with more than what I started with :-)
Don't you ever tell me again that you cannot write. This is an excellent piece of creative writing and I am pleased you did not fall into the trap of throwing lots of dialogue into the story. Your writing let the reader enjoy it in their own mind and not be forced down a narrow path. Well done!