The Monte Carlo Fallacy

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Thrillers  |  House: Booksie Classic
A cash-strapped underworld dealer takes more than he can handle when his abused girlfriend finally breaks her nerve and seeks her vengeance.

Submitted: June 11, 2012

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Submitted: June 11, 2012

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The Monte Carlo Fallacy (draft 1)

 

 

1.

 

“Nature abhors a vacuum.” - Baruch Spinoza

 

By the time I'd flipped the coin one hundred and eighty times, Fay Weldon had cocked her cheap pistol and put it on the table, probably to intimidate me. Silly girl.

She knew I was looking for fear in her eyes, and that told her just how angry I was. When she put the gun on the table I'd bought for her own protection – out of my tender care and generosity – I was astonished. At least I had her where I wanted. Figuratively speaking, I held the cards. It was my favourite feeling.

“Say something,” she said. I flipped the coin for the one hundred and eighty-first time. I said nothing.

“I lost four grand in seven days, Jay. I haven't denied that. It was money you gave me to spend.”

I remained silent, tossing Queen Vic up into the air and catching her on the back of my palm.

“You didn't stipulate how I could use it or how long I had to make it last.”

I wrote each toss down on a torn memo. Heads, heads, heads.

“Fuck, Jason – is this your idea of punishment? You gave me that money and I spent it. It's not like I have anything else to look forward to now that you've moved onto sweet little Lindsey.”

She spat my talented secretary's name out with unwarranted venom.

“I heard what you said to Jack about her. She's the 'pretty girl with the Monroe mole on her cheek.' How dare you. You're a pretentious, greasy little womaniser.”

She had tears in her eyes; couldn't watch me flip the coin any more. She could still hear it, though. The metallic flick of thumb against copper was chilling in the silence.

“I'm sorry, I didn't mean that. You've probably only fucked her once.”

She said it quietly and petered off, tears rolling in silent cascades.

 

I put the coin on the table. Her eyes flicked to it briefly. I made a show of reading the numbers written in pencil on the torn sheet.

Fay was beautiful in a down-and-out kind of way. Last Christmas, one of my business partners hosted a party-cum-illicit-business transaction and to warm the potentials up a bit, he scattered some utterly beautiful girls among the crowd. I didn't ask him where they came from; it would have been impolite. They were unusual in that they looked like they actually wanted to be there, and Christ, were they stunning! They brushed past the men who were as entranced by the girls as me, their French underwear poking out under cheap, skimpy elf costumes, offering glittering champagne and dazzling smiles. I don't like party tricks in a business environment, but I had to make an exception that time. It was where I met Fay.

I spotted her among the suits and greying heads; she wore a Santa costume and a sad smile. She didn't share the wan beauty of the other girls. I saw she had a mind ticking under that cheap felt cap with the dangling white pompom, so I offered her dinner. Understanding her obligations to my very generous business partner, she obliged me.

She decided that she actually quite liked my money and started to live with me, and after a while I think I even got her to like me. I soon discovered the problem, though. I'd fallen for a thinker. She liked me, but she loved my money. She knew how to get it, too. Through her wily psychology and sad simpering, I sometimes found myself entirely short of cash. I thought I appreciated intelligence and selfishness, but I discovered they were not qualities to look for in a woman. Fay, I was sorry to say, had run out of time to appease me.

 

“Two hundred coin tosses,” I said, giving her a quick look. She gave me a dirty one. I scribbled on the memo. “One-thirty heads over seventy tails. Looks like the Queen is in the lead. Am I right?”

She sighed and nodded.

“So what happens next, babe? Am I more likely to hit heads or tails? Indulge me.”

“This is stupid.”

I grabbed her gun and threw it across the room. She froze in place.

“Heads or tails, Fay?”

“Tails,” she suggested. I smiled.

“No. Not necessarily. You might think since so many heads have been tossed there has to be a tail soon enough, as long as the coin isn't loaded. That's a fallacy. You're assuming a negative correlation between random instances. Know what I mean by that?”

“Don't patronise me.”

“Then I'll assume you do understand. Good! You see, it's not as simple as fifty-fifty, darling.” I opened a draw and threw her a Pall Mall; I lit one for myself and started puffing rings into the ceiling.

“It takes a lot of tosses before the law of averages kicks in. You can't reliably predict a random event like a coin toss because each trial is an non-exchangeable, separate instance.”

She held out her cigarette and I lit it for her. I could see she was trying her best to stop her hands shaking, to make herself look less afraid.

“In essence: if I toss ten heads, there's no logical force behind thinking it's high time I threw a tail. It's important to remember that.”

I blew a hot blue ring towards my desk lamp. The delicate doughnut of smoke collapsed against the lampshade and drifted lazily upwards, eaten by the rafters.

“The same principles apply for craps. When you shoot the dice, you pray to God you're not going hit a seven-out. You hit that, you lose, you bet again with this conceited idea that somehow you'll score on the next round. I've seen you do it plenty of times before. You're addicted to it, sure. Not my problem, really. But you're doing it with my money, and my money is going fast down the drain.”

I put my own weapon on the table, a long hunting knife carved by my great grandfather-in-law; a similar gesture to hers not a few minutes before. I span the knife on its tip, digging a small circular groove into the woodgrain. I blew the shavings towards her and put the knife back in my belt.

“I'm the one with the fucking maths degree here, hon. I'm also the one earning the money. From now on, if you want my money to spend at the craps table, you've got to earn it.” I could feel the glint in my eye; where she saw madness, I felt opportunity.

As I rose, she froze in her chair, her cigarette fallen from her red lips. I could taste copper in my mouth. She tried to mumble something like please don't! but I hadn't the mind nor the inclination to listen to her pathetic warbling; the tears in Fay's eyes and the fear I could almost smell on her made me feel alive. I knew exactly what I was going to do and the terror in her face told me she knew as well. I took my knife back out of its sheath in my belt. As I tore her trousers and smacked her cheek while she struggled, a small part of me felt a pang of regret, as if I'd let the last vestige of good nature I had left in me go.

 

 

2.

 

I had that copper taste in my mouth again. Its bitterness went against the sound of tinkling coins falling onto my dresser. I was leaning over its dark mahogany surface, pennies falling from my mouth, wet with my saliva. I could see each one as they hit the wood and span off; I counted the coins that remained on the table while they still span or slid. Heads, tails, tails, tails... it made me feel uneasy.

My hands were full of coppers, mostly twopences. I held them near my face and opened my clasped fists, saw them fall unnervingly slow as I looked up into the mirror ahead of me; my eyes were black and they were still counting the coins. A thin sheen of sweat formed on my brow, eventually dribbling down my face and into my mouth. It tasted thick and metallic. I felt a peculiar heat on my extremities: the coins I were dropping were blisteringly hot, as if they were just out of the smelting process. My mouth was still full of them and I could barely breathe. They too were heating up; I tried to spit them out, to no avail. A panic set in my chest.

I woke up on my front, roasting in my pyjamas, face down in my pillow. Heat and the roar of demons seemed to fall upon me. I regained my senses and turned around. My bedroom was on fire. To my unadjusted eyes, a dark silhouette stood at the food of my bed, holding a long knife. My long knife.

“Fay,” I croaked. My voice was hoarse in the smoke. For the first time in a very long time, I felt truly at the mercy of someone else.

“You hurt me, Jason. You raped me, you cut me... what you did to me is unforgivable.” I could barely hear her over the thick crackle of the ever-encroaching flames. “This is your comeuppance. You can't run away from this.”

She leapt on the bed and pushed my hands away. I tried to bite her arm as she held me down, but my survival instincts weren't kicking in. I was frozen. I was scared. She stabbed me in the arms, in the chest, in the throat... she even diced my fingers as I tried to deflect that merciless blade. Each plunge felt like fire and ice, and each time I felt just a little more woozy. After what felt like a lifetime, she stopped and slid backwards. I could just see the headboard behind me crinkle with blackness; the very bed I lay dying on was starting to burn.

Fay flicked a coin at me. It landed on the burning table beside my bed. She dropped my knife and walked to the door.

“I loved you, Jay. When I got out of hospital, I flipped a coin. Heads, I leave you to die. Tails, I injure you and scare the shit out of you like you did to me. Scare you so you have no more nice dreams; only nightmares.”

“How did you...?” I said feebly, as the taste of copper rose in my mouth and spilled down my chin. I meant to say, how did you get my knife. I could no longer speak properly.

“You should never assume you have the upper hand because you had it before. You taught me that, Jason; there are no reliable trends.”

Her voice broke, and even through the haze I could see she was crying her fucked up little eyes out.

“You bitch! You fucking whore!” I tried to scream. “Cunt!” I said, dribbling blood down my pyjamas.

“Goodbye, Jay.”

She ran out the door, coughing her guts up while I lay there and bled. I tried to scream for my men, but I couldn't speak with the blood gushing out of my throat. I felt unusually warm. Almost cosy. I turned my head slowly to the bedside table, and just as my hair started crisping in the dry, stifling air, I caught sight of the coin, the twopence glinting magically in the glow of my burning room.

Queen Vic stared vacantly into the distance, her copper-plated face telling me what I already knew. I closed my eyes as the flames licked my feet. The Monte Carlo Fallacy, I mused sleepily. My girlfriend just killed me with my own vainglorious anecdote. Clever, clever girl.


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