John Ridley's L.A.:
Radio drama script

Aug. 10, 2001 ó In the final installment of NPR commentator John Ridley's inside look at Los Angeles, he shows off some of his own tinsel-town style with an original radio drama. The scene takes place in the card rooms of L.A.'s Hollywood Park Casino.

The Characters:
ASIAN GIRL - the voice on the Casino's public address system
DS - A gambler
AG - A gambler

ASIAN GIRL: - (voice heard over a static-y PA system) Lock it up! Lock it up for CR!

DS: God, look at that: my hands are sick with sweat. And I swear the heat from the cash in my pocket is just about burning me. It's nothing. Just anticipation working me.

ASIAN GIRL: Lock it up for CR!

DS: She call CR? I can barely hear her. The casinoís got a P.A. system so bad Radio Shack wouldnít sell it. The Casino. Hollywood Park Casino. Thereís euphemism for you. Hollywood Parkís not in Hollywood. Not a park either. Itís a horse racing track, but I guess it sounds better to say you spent the day at the park, not you lost the rent in the fifth at the track. This jointís ain't much on glamour, either. Gray walls and glass block -- somebodyís idea of architectural flair. A touch of neon for that Vegas feel. Doesnít work. Doesnít matter, either. Far as L.A. goes, itís my best bet, my only bet for gambling. Not Gambling. Gaming. Gaming is what the industry calls it.

Another euphemism.

I didnít gamble away the money for the electric bill, I gamed it away. I didnít lose the rent money, dear, I wagered it on a game of chance. Ooh, the lies people toss when they got a bad jag and moneyís tight.

Other people. I donít have to tell tales. All Iíve got to do is lift some cash from where Beverly hides it behind a picture of me and her on vacation at Club Med in Cancun. Itís a good picture. It was good vacation, back before we started arguing, her opening her yap every other minute - calling me a thieving gambler and hiding her extra dough under the sink, or in the books on her shelf. Or behind pictures of better days.

Whatever.

She wonít have any smart talk and hot words when I kick open the door and wag a swag that's, what, three, six, ten times ten the amount Iíd...Iíd borrowed from her. And boy let me tell you something: I will; Iíll have the money. Soon as I win it gambl..gaming. But to win, Iíve got to play, to play Iíve got to get myself seated at the poker table. Thatís the thing: Hollywood Park; what this joint lacks in glitz itís long on in poker. Poker itís got in spades. Five Stud, Seven Stud, Omaha, Omaha High-Low, Mexican, Hold Ďem.

All that, all those games. The jointís always brimming with people - brimming to the point me and every other playerís got to put his initials on a board and wait for a spot to open, wait to get the call from whoeverís working the playerís board.

ASIAN GIRL: AG for two/four Hold Ďem! AG!

DS: What was...AG? My initials were on the list below AG'S. If AGís not here, got tired of waiting and split, then I get the call, I get seated at a table, and today...today Iím going to own that table. Donít matter who Iím squaring against, or how well they can work cards, no question: todayís my day. Iíve just got that lucky feeling, and not because of some B.S. gamblerís intuition, because I woke up and rolled over and the clock said seven-eleven, or I caught three green lights in a row out driving.

I'm tellin' you, today Iíve got luck because...because I just do. Gamble long enough, you know when luckís riding with you. You feel it; a sensation like the feel of the green felt under your finger tips and the cards in your hands. And itís all about the cards. Just listen to the cards, you listen and they tell you what to do. And right now, the cards; itís me theyíre calling.

ASIAN GIRL: AG? AG for two/four Hold Ďem!

DS: (anxious) AG ainít here. Look, cross him off. Call me.

ASIAN GIRL: Last Call. AG for two/four Hold Ďem.

AG: Yeah, I want that spot!

DS: Damn it! Look at this yahoo; eating half a sandwich, letting it drip down the front of his Lakerís T-shirt like he's their slob mascot. Why doesnít he just stay where he is, finish stuffing his hole? --

ASIAN GIRL: Lock it up! Lock it up for AG!

DS: So what? So he got a spot. No biggie. All I gotta do is wait. People canít play all day. Well, some can, but someoneíll get cold and drop soon. And Iím next. Iíll get the call, I get a seat. I get to play. All I gotta do is wait and win and get home with the money before Beverly finds out I...borrowed it Ďcause sheíd told me in no uncertain and profanity-laced terms that the next time I...borrow money ... sheís gonna--

Donít matter. Wonít come to that. All I gotta do is wait. Wait and win and get the winnings back to Beverly. No problem. Luck's riding with me.

Today is my lucky day.