One Eyed Jacks Online Page 0,1

just past her shoulders.

"Let's get moving, bro. I'm double-parked." She grabbed him by the elbow and guided him toward the door. "I just saw a cute little brunette number leave." She arched an eyebrow. "Anybody I should know?"

He did his best to look shocked. "Nope. Anybody I should know?"

Beth smiled. "You could do a lot worse. You probably have too."

"A safe bet. Let's go and get this over with."

The ballroom was filled with smoke and noisy, rich Democrats, most of them trying not to appear drunk. Yet. Koch and Jesse Jackson had appeared together earlier in the day to show Democratic solidarity, such as it was. There was a rumor that Jackson might show up to speak, but it wasn't in the itinerary. Jerry hated going anywhere he was required to wear a tux, but Beth had promised him three movie dates in return.

The three of them were the only ones at their table. Kenneth had his arm around Beth, whose shoulders were bare except for the thin straps of her blue silk dress. Jerry was jealous. He and Veronica were never to appear in public together. Veronica had made that much clear.

"I can't believe the party nominated Dukakis," Kenneth said. "Even Richard Nixon could beat him into the ground."

"Bad luck'at the convention," Beth said. "Hartmann might have had a chance."

"Then again he might not. Public opinion on wild cards being what it is. That issue would probably have sunk him. You should be glad you're not a well-known ace." Kenneth stood. "There's a few people I need to talk to. Back in a minute." He kissed Beth on the forehead and made his way into the crowd.

"I'm not an ace at all, anymore." Jerry took a large swallow of wine. "Which is for the best, I guess." Hello, Mrs. Strauss. A young man stood behind Kenneth's empty chair. He was tall, blond, and could probably have passed for a Greek god even in good light. Jerry hated him instantly.

"David." Beth smiled and motioned to the chair. "I didn't know you were going to be here. How nice to see you. Do you know Kenneth's brother, Jerry?"

"No." David extended his hand.

"Jerry, this is David Butler. He's the intern working with Mr. Latham. Even St. John is impressed with him. Has David working all hours."

Jerry shook his hand. There was an almost palpable energy in David's touch. Jerry withdrew and managed a smile. "You do what, David?"

"Whatever Mr. Latham requires." David smiled at Beth. "You look lovely tonight. I can't imagine your husband being foolish enough to abandon you."

"Oh, I'm well taken care of, David." Beth put her hand on Jerry's sleeve.

David gave Jerry half a glance and drummed his fingers on the table. "I'd better be going. Mr. Latham expects me to mingle with the heavy hitters. Says it should be good for me." He got up, rolling his eyes. "Nice to see you, Mrs. Strauss." David left.

"He must be gay," Jerry said. Beth chuckled. "I don't think so."

"Is he rich, then?"

"I'm afraid so."

"There is no God." Jerry emptied his wineglass and looked for a waiter.

"You don't need to be jealous, Jerry." Beth adjusted the straps on her gown. "Just because he's young, rich, and gorgeously handsome."

"I'm rich and young, sort of." Jerry hadn't aged physically in the twenty years he'd been an ape. Legally, though, he was in his forties.

"Feeling sorry for yourself again?" Kenneth said, reappearing and sitting back down.

"Constantly," Jerry said.

"Right. Did you ever contact any of those film people I mentioned your name to? You have talent. Beth and I are both impressed with your abilities."

"I'll get around to it. I have a lazy muse," Jerry said. "I know you went to a lot of trouble."

"Not as much trouble as proving that you weren't legally dead when you showed up last year." Kenneth smiled. "Nobody wanted to believe you'd been a giant ape for over a decade. Too many precedents."

Jerry sighed. "Sorry I was so much trouble."

"It's not that and you know it. When you're born into wealth like we were, there's a larger obligation to society that comes with it."

Jerry shrugged. "I like to think I'm keeping my bank from going under. It's the romantic in me."

Beth smiled, but Kenneth shook his head. "The romantic in you is going to get you into trouble someday. You can pay people to not call you Mr. Strauss, but you can't make them give a shit when it's crunch time. People don't love you for money, they love