Excerpt from:

Titanic Thompson

Stroke of Genius
Richard Campbell


...Ti and George sat at a table with Leo Flynn, golfing promoter for the coming big money matches. One look at Flynn and you knew that he'd been around-and so had his rumpled suit.
     Like the fighters he had promoted and managed, Flynn pulled no punches. He casually stirred his drink, and spoke to George-but nodded at Ti, like a side of beef. "Don't need your boy, here-George. I already got one. Billy Ford."
    Then he looked coldly at Ti, and actually spoke to him. "I hear you do some pretty clever stunts and you're a good bettor-a real good bettor. But I take golf serious-like I did boxing when I managed Dempsey."
    George was getting worried. This was not a good start. "But Ti can play, Leo."
    Flynn was not impressed. "Maybe. Maybe not. I got a world-class reputation. Can't risk that on a-a circus act," he said, almost with disdain.
    George fumed. Ti's eyes hardened, but he stayed calm, and with a glance, urged George to do the same.
   And their rapport was not lost on Flynn, who casually added, "Notice I didn't say-cheap hustler."
    The Irish in George erupted as he jumped up and threw his chair aside,
ready to fight. "That's it! Put 'em up."
   Flynn was neither impressed nor frightened by the outburst. He never even moved, except to simply continue stirring his drink.
    His attitude made George even madder. "Why you sonofabitch! I ought to..."
    Ti held George back and then with a smile, he said calmly, "George. Can't you see Mister Flynn is just trying to burn my ass? Seeing if I can take it?" George gathered himself and slowly sat down.
    Now Flynn was impressed. He took a close look at Ti and confided, "If you're out trying to make a twenty foot putt on one of those country club courses, and some blue blood says your shoe ain't tied according to Hoyle-I don't want no player of mine crying all the way home. I want you rock-solid. Tough."
    He pointed at his own arm. "Not here!"
    Then he pointed at his head. "Here!"
    He leaned closer to Ti and warmed to his subject. "Lot of talent out there on those golf courses. Lots of it. The guy who's got it between the ears and behind the eyes..."
    He looked at Ti's cold, piercing eyes.
    "He's the guy who's going to bring home the bacon. And that's all I'm after. Not the blue ribbons."
    George smelled a sale. "Look, Flynn. When you get those big match games set up on those swank country club courses, it's Ti here you'll need playing for you."
    A thought crossed George's mind. He looked at Flynn closely. "Say, how much are the blue bloods willing to wager on their club champs? We talking big money?"
Flynn's eyes shifted uncomfortably. His business was his and nobody else's. But he knew he had pushed them far enough. He had done his research and heard enough about Ti's reputation for carving up the competition on golf courses to know he deserved a chance. It was just a business deal now, and he hated to leave anything on the table if he didn't have to.
    So, rather than put them in their place, he just played it casual. "Aww. It's hard to tell."
    But Ti was like a dog on point. He sniffed the air and said, "Smell that George?"
    George seemed confused. "What? Do I smell-what?"
    "Bacon. Lots of it."
     Then Ti quickly turned to Flynn and in a cold, steady voice, said, "Leo. Let me play. I'll win."
    Flynn liked that approach, but he still needed to see just a little more hunger in his potential associate. "Like I say. Got a boy. Billy Ford. Good player. Just don't need you to play."
    "Then let me play Ford. I'll beat him. Then I'll win all the big money matches for you."
    Ti waited a few seconds for all this to sink in. And since this might be the only time he could carve anything extra out of this deal, he took a chance and said, "That is-if I can make side bets on myself."
    Intrigued, but not wanting to show it, Flynn swizzled his stick in his drink for a long moment and bought precious time. Time for him to figure out just what in the hell he was going to do. He weighed everything very carefully. Then, in his own, very deliberate way, he announced the sum of his thinking, in his matter-of-fact tone.
   "If you did beat Billy-which you won't-and I did take you to the big money matches-which I'm not promising-you'd get all the action you wanted because you-you would be a big underdog."
   Flynn had made up his mind and got up to leave. "And that-might be interesting."
    Ti and George leaned forward in their chairs. They hoped that this was going to be one of those really big moments in a lifetime.
    And it was.
    Casually, Flynn made an announcement. "Ti. You and Billy. Two o'clock tomorrow. I'll let you know where."
    And that was it. With no more fanfare than ordering extra dressing for a salad, at a restaurant table in New York City, the biggest match of Ti's life was on.

                            Copyright © 2001-2012 Richard Campbell
                                         All Rights Reserved



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"Titanic Thompson Stroke of Genius"
"The Unsinkable Titanic Thompson"

or...Mr. Campbell's screenplay


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