Monday, February 12, 2007

The Meltdown of Stan Hurwitz--short story

"The Meltdown of Stan Hurwitz"

Synopsis: Several weeks after his son's death, a world famous poker player flips out at the
final table of the World Series.

(The characters created are completely fictional. the story is not autobiographical.)

Stan Hurwitz looked down at the felt, his thoughts racing and that inner voice mumbling incoherently.

"What is he holding? Jack of Diamonds, Queen of Hearts, Ace of Spades, maybe he's got junk, 7-2 offsuit. "

Besides the occasional bullshit at the table about a hand, loneliness consumed him, even when contemplating his next decision. He felt green. An idiot. Like he had never played before, and that sinking sadness crept all over him. When the tournament was over, he would head back to Annie as a millionaire husband, hoping the luxury of their newfound wealth could possibly ease the pain from Kyle's death. Maybe just a little bit. A few weeks ago, Annie mentioned wanting another baby, and Stan realized it was time to be monogamous. But Stan found his addictions more pleasurable, and enjoyed the company of whores after tournaments. Fatherhood was hard, harder than any problem he had tackled in life.


Smiling, he remembered when Kyle first met Sandra, his babysitter.

"I'm Hurwitz kid." He said to her like a mini-professor. Kyle was highly developed for a 5 year old, with an immense vocabulary. The family doctor diagnosed him with Asperger's Syndrome, and he would drift in and out of his own inner world. He loved video games, Dungeons and Dragons, Trivial Pursuit, performing magic tricks, and reading books.


Several weeks earlier, upon returning from a tournament in Australia, Stan was stunned to see an ambulance, a fire truck, and several news vans parked down the street from his modest colonial home in northern Las Vegas, several miles from the strip.

The flashing red lights from the fire trucks started to make Stan nauseous, he felt faint and noticed part of Kyle's foot was uncovered devoid of life and movement, and he was wearing blue pants. "In his pajamas?" Stan wondered.

Sergeant McKinley, a 6'4" African American, with tightly groomed hair and a hard ironed uniform scribbles some notes on a small white pad.
"Mr. Hurwitz, I'm sorry."
"Did your son ever talk about hurting himself"?
"My only son…What…No."
"I know this is a rough time, but I need you to identify his body."
"My wife and I would like some privacy."
"C'mon, get these news vans out of here."

McKinley uncovered the white sheet.

"Is this him?"

Sobbing, Stan covered his eyes. Kyle was wearing his Superman outfit. He jumped off the roof, probably thinking he could fly.

"Did your son talk much?"

"He'd spend a lot of time alone."

"Why do you ask?"

"Was he ever diagnosed with autism?"

"Our doctor believed he had a mild case..please finish what you need to do, and leave us alone."

"I understand, sir."

At the end of the driveway, Jill Johnson was covering the news story of Kyle's death. She was the anchorwoman from Las Vegas local channel 5 WBTV.

"A terrible tragedy tonight for world famous poker player Stan Hurwitz. Apparently, earlier today, the Hurwitz's only child Kyle jumped from their roof in an apparent suicide. The child was only five years old."

Stan secretly masturbated while watching her on her 11:30 news shift while his wife was sleeping, and every day, his growing lust for her became irresistible. One drunken night, after losing $30,000, he spontaneously drove to the television station, and wanted to ask her to grab a drink.. He lit a cigarette and took a hard drag. The purring engine of his Porsche 911 seemed to soothe his troubled mind.

"An affair is what she would want," He thought outloud.

Things were bad at home. He hadn't had sex with Annie in several weeks. She was moody, cold and distant, but he didn't mind it very much. It freed him up. He even remarked to his friends that for some odd reason, his golf game was better when he and his wife spoke less often.

He arrived at the station and parked. Jill was outside smoking a cigarette, laughing with her co-anchor. Stan remained in his car, staring at her, immovable. He could give her shopping money. She was probably wild in bed, he thought, and he imagined grabbing her breasts when she rode on top of him. She put out her cigarette and walked back into the station. Several minutes later, he drove home and crept into bed, spooning up to Annie.


Mike Smith, a long-time ESPN employee, stands confidently near the table.

"Ladies, bring out the money."

Two beautiful brunettes, in short skirts, and cut off tops, their breasts bulging out from their "Binion Casino" emblazoned cocktail uniforms, casually drop twelve million onto the table. Stan had a commanding chip lead, beating out 8000 other hopeful wannabes over four days to get this far, but it wasn't enough. Second place was second place. He needed to win and lusted after that World Series bracelet, as if he was caught in some long-winded fever dream. It would prove why he'd been away from home for weeks at a time. Perhaps if he had been home that dreadful day, playing online, far away from a brick and mortar casino, Kyle would still be alive, playing with his Tonka trucks in the backyard. That hurt him more than his death, more than the pulsing pain from his sprained ankle when he stumbled over with grief and guilt at Kyle's funeral.

Stan felt disoriented with the camera close to him. He had to block everything out, back in "Reality Ville", concentrating, staring at Jack "Bulldog" Jacobivitz through his Aviator sunglasses, he was at war, contemplating his next action. He widened his eyes, perhaps it would help him see into The Bulldog's soul, who was a mysterious player, impossible to read. Stan couldn't put him on a hand. Ace King, maybe. Preflop, he raised three times the big blind. Stan looked at his cards again--Ace-3 of diamonds.

The board comes out Ace of clubs, King of Diamonds, Jack of Hearts.

The Bulldog aggressively bets out $15,000. Stan gazes over his chips.

" Raise to $40." The audience claps. Some young girls scream, and for a brief moment, Stan wondered if some of them were die-hard fans. Jack quickly calls.

The turn comes Nine of Diamonds.

Only one more diamond and he would make his flush, and he would ride this glorious wave toward a new beginning. He kept dreaming. They would buy a beach house in Hawaii. Annie always wanted a small business, her own clothing line, and Stan could start collecting expensive Spanish wines, and finally build a mahogany bar in their new den room, uninterrupted, at peace, with the crashing waves at Kehena beach soothing their painful loss. Summer arrived, and they would throw a July 4th party and Stan easily pictured it in his mind. He imagined the Rolling Stones blasting out of Annie's 80GB Video Ipod, and how the music seemed to inject a relaxed mood into everybody.

Excitedly, "The Bulldog" jumped up and down, and obnoxiously entered Stan's personal space, confirming the widely held accounts in the poker world that he was a gifted but eccentric player.

"Play, ya loser. Come on, I take you on. I beat you. You'll see, on the river."

He slapped Stan's cheek lightly, but it was enough to give him a slight sting since he shaved that morning. He was trying to get Stan to talk.

"I know how to play the game baby. I will take you down." Jack said.

"You can't have a hand every time."

Jack sat back down. A minute passed. Jack calls "ALL-IN" on the turn. Stan calls.

Would this river be a dream or a nightmare? Stan's heart fluttered. His emotions sometimes got the best of him. They would swirl and tap dance beside him.

At the river, King of Hearts reveals its ugly head to Stan.

Jack flips over Ace-King unsuited. It was over. That obnoxious Russian ogre won, he thought. Even though he was $7 million dollars richer, Stan's blood boiled. He slammed his right fist on the felt, grabbed his end of the table and overturned it. He screamed. The ladies looked on in horror as Stan charged Jack, punching him in the nose.

"You broke my fuckin' nose."

"I needed to win....for him."

"You crazy fuck. Ya need Prozac. You're still a millionaire. See you in court."

The audience, sitting in darkness, stunningly rise to their feet. Security rushes him, pinning him to the ground. As the flash photography temporarily blinded him, he swore he saw Jill preparing to report this story, with Annie right beside her.

Copyright 2007

**any filmmaker, feel free to contact me if you'd like to adapt this into a short film. option is $5000 (just kidding) and you'll get to show the world that you directed a short film that was written by Wyatt Ben Bernstein.****