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“No, I’m not currently a patient of your mom, but I’ve definitely met her. She’s a very nice person. You take care, Tyler. It’s been great talking to you. I don’t want to make you late for your next class. See ya around.”

Tyler exited the classroom, and Connie approached Jeff as he finished packing up. “Wow, I am impressed, Jeff. You really killed it with the kids. Some of the kids firing questions at you are ones I can barely get to say a word in class. We’ll have to get you back sometime to do this again. You missed your true calling. Thanks again.”

Chapter thirteen

It was November 8th, a week before Michigan’s rifle season opened for deer. Eddie Koehler drove across the Mackinac Bridge, heading to the casino in Bangate City while Eminem’s song, “8 Mile,” blasted from his surround sound speakers. Eddie wasn’t going to the casino to gamble but rather to meet with the controller regarding the debt he owed.

When Jeff and Eddie cashed out their interest in Koehler Iron Works, Jeff invested some of his money in a house and equipment to get his photography business off the ground. The rest went into a 401k retirement fund. On the other hand, Eddie had always been a gambler at heart and decided to try to turn it into a massive windfall at the casino. Before extending credit, the casino checked Eddie’s financial status and saw he had cash reserves to cover any losses. However, they didn’t follow up when he omitted to file the monthly updates that were a part of his agreement to secure credit at the casino. He also didn’t gamble at only one casino, although the Bangate casino had become his primary establishment.

After winning the first few weeks, Eddie hit the inevitable cold streak. It amazed him how fast you can lose money when luck goes against you. Eddie switched casinos several times, but his losing streak continued. The more bad luck he had, the larger his bets became as he tried to recover his money. Eddie was flat-broke for all practical purposes within three months of getting the windfall. Shortly thereafter, the casino demanded repayment. Unfortunately, Eddie no longer had the money to pay. The purpose of today’s meeting was to discuss this problem.

As Eddie pulled into the casino, the clock in his truck told him he was ten minutes late. There were only about 100 cars in the large casino parking lot, but Eddie still pulled to the back corner. He took a great deal of pride in his Ford Lightning pickup and had to call in a favor from a friend who owned a dealership just to get one. He liked to park out of the way whenever he could to avoid the scratches and dings that inevitably came from parking in crowded spaces.

Eddie entered the finance area of the casino, and a secretary ushered him to a plush meeting room where the controller, and the head of collections, were already seated. Eddie knew the head of collections but had never met the controller, who introduced himself as Chuck Wagner. “Eddie, you know what this is about, so let’s get right to it. It’s my job to make sure everyone pays their debts. We were trusting enough to provide you with a $100k credit line. It’s unacceptable for you to refuse repayment.”

“It’s not that I refuse to pay; it’s that I just have a cash flow problem right now and just need more time. I’m working on something that will bring in enough money to pay off my debt and then some. Just please be patient for a little while longer.”

The meeting was briefly interrupted when a tall, dark-haired man entered and stopped to introduce himself to Eddie. “Hey, Eddie, my name’s Turk. We’ll talk after this meeting.” Turk then sat in the back of the room and said nothing more.

“We’ve been patient, Eddie,” Chuck continued. “The clock is ticking on paying off your debt. You know bad things can happen to people who welch on what they owe.”

“Just give me a bit more time, and this will all disappear. Nobody benefits if you do something drastic. I’m good for the money and just need a couple more months to get it.”

“You’re right, Eddie. We only care about the money. We don’t want to have to hurt you financially or in any other way. You’ve got 30 days and not a day more. We’ll meet back here in exactly 30 days. If you don’t show up with the money, I won’t be able to help you.” Do you understand?”

“I hear you.”

“That’s not what I asked. DO YOU UNDERSTAND?”

“Yes, Yes, I understand.”

“Very good, Eddie. See ya in 30 days.”

With that, the meeting ended. The man called Turk walked over to Eddie as the others filed out. “It’s nice to meet you, Eddie. I wanted to introduce myself because you and I will become great friends.”

“What do ya mean, great friends?”

“I’ll be in touch in a day or two. You and I are going hunting together.” With that, Turk smirked and exited the room leaving Eddie totally confused.

This had gotten really serious, and Eddie knew he better make something happen quickly. These weren’t guys to mess with, and they certainly meant business. As he walked back through the casino, heading for his truck in the parking lot, he checked his wallet to see what money he had. He only had $40. He stopped at the roulette table, took $20 out of his wallet, and placed it on red as the wheel started spinning. It came up red, and Eddie immediately won $20. See, he thought to himself, my luck’s changing already. I’m sure I can figure out a plan to repay that $100k I owe.

Eddie quickly walked to the back corner of the lot where he’d parked. As he approached the driver’s side of the F-150, he yelled in shock, “Fuck You! You Bastards!” A long scratched line ran all the way across the driver's door, where somebody had keyed his prized truck. It wasn’t hard for Eddie to figure out who did the deed. He stormed back into the casino, heading toward Chuck Wagner’s office. The secretary tried to stop him, but he bypassed her in a rage and rushed into the large paneled office where Chuck sat working on a laptop. “So you guys decided to send me a message and fuck up my truck! If you think that will get you your money any faster, you’re dumber than I thought.”

Chuck looked up at Eddie with a puzzled look before saying, “Calm down, Eddie; what’s this all about?”

“You bastards keyed my truck. That’s what this is about. I thought we had an agreement on payment, but you had to do this. Screw you and this whole casino.”

“We had nothing to do with it, Eddie, but we occasionally have cases of theft or vandalism in our parking lots. We try to stop it as best we can. It’s not good for business if customers don’t feel safe.”

“I see cameras all around here. I want to see the footage from the parking lot. Then we can settle this real quick. If you guys didn’t do it, you shouldn’t have an issue showing me the footage.”

“Chuck pushed a button on his phone and spoke to his secretary. “Margaret, get Art Cushings up to my office pronto.”

“Eddie, Art‘s my director of security for the casino and has access to all the footage.” Within a few minutes, a heavy-set man with an ill-fitting double-breasted suit strode into the office.

“Art, this is Eddie Koehler. Eddie says someone keyed his car in our parking lot. He’d like to see if we have any camera footage showing who did it.”

‘Yes sir, Mr. Wagner. So Mr. Koehler, when did this happen, and where exactly were you parked?”

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