Hooker’s Nook



     In the production meeting in Hooker’s Nook, Ollie looked worried. Paul’s brain trust looked misnamed.
     “I don't think you're allowed to set the line on television. I mean it goes over the border, state to state,” said Joey Braintree.
     “Isn't there a law against that?” asked Fast Framingham Phil.
     “Television? There should be, I'm sure.”
     “No. Giving the gambling line across state lines.”
     “You're thinking of women. The Sullivan Act. Or the Mann Act. I forget which,” offered Ollie.
     “No, it’s like a betting wire. I think there's a law.” insisted Joey.
     “We better look that up.” said Morty.
     Ollie was at his best. He took a hit of gin, swirled it tastefully in his mouth, then swallowed with a little squeak and grinned at the girls.
     “It's not a line, it’s a suggestion. It's an opinion. Like when they say who's gonna win the academy award. He's not telling you what to do with his opinion, he's just telling you what it is.”
      “But if the line should come out as exactly that?” asked Morty.
     “You don't understand math. If someone as credible as Paul, I mean he is considered the top guy in the field…”
     “There's a field?”
     I looked over. The girls were trying to not pay attention, as it was most healthful to be inattentive when certain men were talking business, and they were making quite a show of it and all, while being stared at for their soul-crimping beauty, from all points of the globe.
     “Gambling feeds on the desperate and stupid.” I maintained, “And the desperately stupid. It's a regressive tax on the poor.” I glanced at Ollie. “Of course, I’m totally in favor of it, should it have any impact on my job.”
      “The poor don't have to gamble.” said Ollie, imperially.
      “It's the only chance they have.”
      “It's the rich building palaces and circuses to dazzle the poor and separate them from whatever they have left. Kind of like the Vatican.”
      “And it’s a free country for them to do it or not.” Paul said and ended the discussion right there.