"The Camera"
Copyright 1999 Lawrence Goetz

Sitting on a cardboard box, in his run down Manhattan apartment, Harry was listening to the races, on a little pocket radio.

Harry took in a deep breath and said, "Come on Lucky Dominos... Lucky Dominos come on..."

"Here they come, Lucky Dominos and Fatty Boy...," the announcer of the horse race said, "Fatty Boy and Lucky Dominos neck and neck... They're coming into the final stretch and Lucky Dominos and Fatty Boy are still neck and neck... Looks like it's going to be a photo finish... And the winner is..."

"Yeah, yeah..." said Harry.

Harry held his breath.

"Fatty Boy!" the announcer shouted.

Harry coughed and then caught his breath. "Damn... I had two hundred thousand bet on Lucky Dominos," Harry shouted, "I shouldn't have let it ride this time. Now Big Louie is gonna to want his money. What am I gonna to do. I gotta think... I know, I'll tell him I'll give it to him next week. That'll give me enough time to find the money."

A few minutes later Harry got a knock on the door. Knock, knock, knock.

"Big Louie sent me. Open up," said one of Big Louie's henchman.

Harry opened the door.

The henchman waded his way through to Harry, over the racing forms that carpeted the floor.

"You know what I want..." the henchmen said, "You lost, Harry! Big Louie wants his money."

"I don't got the money at this moment in time," said Harry.

"That's too bad. You see Big Louie gave me orders to either give him the money, or bring him your body."

"Can't you tell Big Louie I'll give him the money next week?"

"No! Now give me the money, or...."

"Listen... Here take my watch. It's gold, it must be worth something. I promise, I'll give you the money next week. If not, then you can kill me."

"I don't know... Big Louie wants the money real bad."

"Here, take my diamond ring too."

"Ok. But this is it. No money next week and 'bye bye Harry.'"

Harry thought to himself, "Boy, that was a close one. Now, I'll guess I'll have to go to Brooklyn; to visit my best friend in the whole wide world, Marv". Harry doesn't own a car, so he took the subway.

Marv lives alone in his one family, two story house.

Harry rang Marv's door bell. Instead of a ring or a buzz, he heard a computer voice say "Someone is at the door, Marv. It looks like your friend, Harry."

Marv opened the door and said, "How are you doing Harry?"

"Fine. Nice door bell you got. Hows it work?"

"Just invented it last week. There is a camera hidden in the door that connects to my computer. I gave the computer pictures of people I know. If the person matches up it announces them; otherwise it just says 'Someone is at the door.' Harry, what brings you to the neighborhood?"

"Can I come in, Marv?"

"Yes. Is something wrong? Do you want anything to eat?"

Harry came in and sat on the sofa and said "I'm not really hungry. You know my problem with gambling..."

"Yes. Your wife left you, because you kept spending your pay checks at races. You can't have a decent apartment, so you live in a run down one with no furniture..."

"Stop making me feel worse than I already am, if that's possible."

"Alright, what happened."

"You see, Marv, I was on a lucky streak. I kept winning time, after time, after time. I had a hundred thousand, but I was greedy. So I took on credit, an additional hundred thousand. I bet two hundred thousand, and lost. This was one too many bets. Now my bookie, Big Louie, wants his money. There's only one problem. I don't have any money. I have until next week, which is in three days, to pay back Big Louie, or I'm a goner. So I'm hoping maybe you could help."

"How? I don't have that kind of money."

"Hmm... Marv, if you don't have the money, could you invent a machine that would print real money?"

"No, I can't. Anyway... that would be illegal."

"Maybe you could invent something to make me place a bet that would be a winner?"

"Even if I made a computer program that would check the statistics of the horse, you still wouldn't be sure you'd win. The only sure way to know the outcome of a race, would be to see the future."

"Marv, that's it."

"What's it, Harry?"

"Could you make a machine to see the future?"

"It could be possible. I can give it a try."

"Thanks Marv, you're a lifesaver. Speaking of lifesavers, do you got any candy?"

"I have some in the closet. Go help yourself. I'll go to my lab and find a way for you to see the future. After you take some candy, you can let yourself out."

Two days later Marv called Harry. "Harry, I did it. Come right over!"

Harry rushed right over. When he got there, Marv was standing in the street with a weird looking camera in his hands. Marv said to Harry. "This is it!"

Harry asked "Is this what I think it is?"

"It is," said Marv.

"So with this I can see the future?"

"Yes indeed."

"How does it work?"

"Well, Harry, it looks like a regular camera and even uses standard instant film. The thing that it does differently, is that it gives you a picture of the future. On the back there is a number pad where you enter in how far into the future you want to see. Let's say for test purpose we want to see two minutes into the future. So I enter '0' for the hours and '0' '2' for the minutes and '0' '0' for the seconds. My machine is very precise, even to the second. Then I look for an area for which I want to see what it will look like in two minutes. I'll take a shot of the front door of my house. So I'll point the camera at the door. When I press the red button, at the top, it will automatically focus and take the picture. Here I go."

Click. "Now out comes the picture," said Marv "It will take about a minute to develop. When it is done, you should see what my front door will look like in two minutes. Also the picture will have the time and date stamped on it of when the picture will take place... Ok, a minutes up. Let's look at the picture... Look in the picture there is my mailman delivering my mail. You see, Harry it works. You can see the future."

"Wow!" said Harry.

"Let's watch for the mailman." Marv said.

After a few seconds the mailman came down the block and delivered the mail. "Look," said Harry "there's the mailman!"

"You see, it does work." said Marv.

Harry said, "Let's go to the races today and win the money I need."

"Ok, Harry. I'll bring a thousand dollars to bet with. We'll bet on the winning horses that will win with the most payoff. That way we won't have to make a lot of bets. We'll go to Ringmont. I'll drive you."

"Ok, let's go."

It was a nice sunny day. A little chilly though; they brought jackets. A good day to go to the races.

They arrived at Ringmont 15 minutes before the first race. "Come on, Marv." Harry yelled, "The first race is going to start soon."

"Ok. Ok. Let me get a racing form to see the odds for today," Marv said.

"Get your racing form here. Only two dollars," a man shouted.

So Marv bought a form. "Let me see..." said Marv, "In the first race Lard Butt has twenty to one odds. Let's see who the winner will be."

"Marv, do we take a picture of the track to see who comes in first?"

"No. We would need to take that picture to the spilt second they crossed the finish line. That would be hard to predict. We'll take a picture of the bulletin board that posts the game's results of the race. They display the same message for many minutes, so the exact time isn't important."

"Ok, Marv let's do it."

So Marv and Harry went over to the bulletin board. "Ok, Harry," Marv said, "I'm going to set the camera to take a picture 15 minutes into the future."

"Ok, do it."

Click. "Well who wins," said Harry.

"Lard Butt."

"Who'd a thought he'd win."

"Ok, Harry," said Marv, "Go to the betting window and put one thousand on Lard Butt for win."

While on line, a man in front of Harry asked him, "Hey mack, who you bet'n on?"

"I'm putting my money on Lard Butt."

"That horse is twenty to one. Why you bet'n on him? My money is on Rolling in the Dough. He's a winner."

"We'll I just feel lucky about this one."

So Harry put one thousand dollars on Lard Butt for win.

Marv and Harry took seats real close, they got seats right at the railing of the track. The horses for the race went to the starting gates. Harry said to Marv "This is it."

The bell sounded that started the race. Bring ding ding. "And they're off," said Marv.

They watched the horses go around the first turn. Lard Butt was in forth out of six horses. Rolling in the Dough was in first place. "Come on Lard Butt," Harry screamed.

Coming around the second turn Lard Butt moved up to third. Rolling in the Dough as still in first. As the horses came into the final stretch it was Rolling in the Dough, followed close by Mama's Boy, and a few lengths behind, in third, was Lard Butt.

Harry said to Marv, "I hope your camera is working correctly. Lard Butt is in third."

"Don't worry," said Marv, "Lard Butt will win."

The horses were nearing the finish, when all of a sudden Rolling in the Dough tripped and fell. Mama's Boy ran into Rolling in the Dough and fell as well. Lard Butt saw this and dogged the horses on the track. Lard Butt came in first and won.

"Yahoo! We won," said Harry.

"Now we have twenty thousand dollars. Go collect the winnings, while I go and take a picture to see what the bulletin boards results for the next race will be." Marv said.

While on line collecting his winnings, the man that met him before came over. "Remember me?" the man ask, "We met before waiting to place our bets."

"Yeah, I remember you." Harry said.

"You sure picked a winner."

"Yeah?"

"Where do you get your information from?"

"I just pick'em at random."

"Oh... Ok just wondering," The man said, then he left. The man thought "I heard him place that bet! He placed a thousand bucks on a 'loser' horse. He must have some sort of a contact. I'll follow him to see what he does."

So the man walked over to the side and watched Harry. After Harry got his winnings, he followed Harry. He saw Harry go over to Marv. "Aha," the man thought, "This must be his contact."

The man had a pair of binoculars with him. He used them to see what Harry and Marv were doing. He saw Marv had a camera. Then he saw Marv handing Harry a photo. The man went to higher magnification. The man zoomed in, and looked at the photo. He saw the results of a race. He looked to see what number race it was. It said race number two, with today's time and date on it! He was shocked. He thought "My god, that's the results to the next race! I must get that camera, and the photo."

Marv told Harry, "Go bet a thousand on Rocket for win. He has five to one odds. I didn't want to bet all of the money, because I didn't want to draw too much attention. "

"Ok," said Harry."

Harry left to place the bet. After a moment the man ran to Marv. He yelled, "Give me that camera!"

Marv said, "No!"

The man wasn't going to take no for an answer. He punched Marv in the face. Pow. Marv passed out. The man ran away with the camera and also took the photo of race number two.

When Harry returned he found Marv passed out on the floor. He slapped Marv in the face to wake him up. When he awoke Marv said "Some... some man... he got my camera and the photo of race number two."

"What are we going to do?" said Harry.

"Harry, I would like to bet all the money that we have on race number two, but I just can't. When the track sees you bet twenty thousand again, and win, they'll be suspicious. We can't risk getting caught. We'll just have to find that man and get the camera back."

So Harry and Marv looked all over for people with a camera that looked like Marv's. They searched near the bulletin board, but no luck. They searched near the track, no luck. Then Harry told Marv "I gotta go to the bathroom."

So he went into one of the stalls of the bathroom. He heard a man in the stall next to him saying, "How the hell do I get this damn camera to work!!!"

Harry thought "Could this be the same camera that Marv lost?"

So Harry wanted a closer look. He stood up on the toilet and looked into the next stall. He saw the man that was next to him on line. The man had the camera that was stolen from Marv.

Harry climbed over the divider to the stall and dropped down on the man. "What the..." the man said.

"Give me back my friend's camera," said Harry.

"NO!!!"

"Take this," Harry said as he punched the man in the face.

Whack. The man's hands flew in the air. The camera got thrown up in the air, and out of the stall.

"Oh my gosh, the camera," Harry said.

Harry quickly ran, dived, and caught the camera before it hit the floor. He left the bathroom and gave the camera to Marv.

"You got that camera back. Who had it?" said Marv.

"A man I met on line had it. He must be on to us," Harry replied.

"Well anyway, Harry," said Marv, "we will continue to keep placing the bets. The money is due tomorrow and we can't waste any time."

So they kept placing bets, and they kept winning their bets as well. By the time the last race came along they had ninety thousand dollars.

"Ok, Marv," said Harry "go take the picture of the last race's results."

So Marv went back to the bulletin board to take the picture. Standing near there, was the man that stole the camera before. He was determined to get the camera, this time. So he charged at Marv to swipe the camera away from him. He charged and said "I'll take this," as he grabbed the camera.

He continued to run. He ran to betting windows. There Harry was collecting his winnings. Harry saw the man running with the camera.

Harry put out his foot and the man tripped over his foot and fell. The camera flew into the air. Harry ran to catch it, but was too late. The camera fell to the floor and smashed. Smash.

Harry went back to Marv and told him the bad news.

Marv said "Harry, I guess we'll have to pick the horse the old fashion way. We'll have to use guess work."

"Do you want to call the Psychic Friends Network for advice on what horse to pick? On TV, they show that they have very good results." Harry said

"I'm not going to trust them! I know a lot about statistics. I'll help you pick a winning horse."

"Ok, Marv, I'll go a long with that. Just don't let me down."

"I won't."

So Marv took a look at the racing form. "Harry," said Marv "I'll take out my pocket calculator, I never leave home without it, and I'll put in some statistical formulas. Then I'll factor in the stats from the racing form. This way I'll figure out a horse that should come in first. However, there is no guaranty that the horse will win. So instead of putting the money on the horse for win, put the money on show. That way we'll have three times the chance of winning."

"Ok, I guess you know what you are doing."

"Hold on while I do my calculations. In a few minutes I'll have the results."

Moments later. "Ah ha..." said Marv, "the winner should be Money Bags. He has four to one odds, but that's the odds for win. You will have to place a bet for that than twenty five hundred in order for you to get your hundred thousand. I say you should bet... ten thousand. That way if he comes in third we'll have enough money."

"Ok. I'll place the bet."

So Harry went to the betting window and placed ten thousand on Money Bags for show.

Harry and Marv watched the horses go to the starting gates. Harry said to Marv "I hope you're right about Money Bags."

The horses left the starting gate. When they went around the first turn, Money Bags was in first. "Come one Money Bags!!!" Harry yelled.

In to the second turn it was still Money Bags in first. Harry was praying "Money Bags, Money Bags, Money Bags...."

The horses were coming down the final stretch. Money Bags was ahead by five lengths. The horses crossed the finish line. The winner, of course, was Money Bags. "Yeah, Money Bags!!!" Harry screamed.

Marv said "Harry, go and collect the winnings. After which we'll leave. Going around with all the cash on hand is making me nervous."

"Ok, I'll hurry up."

So Harry went to collect the winnings. As he was waiting on line he noticed, the man from before that wanted Marv's camera. So Harry pulled his collar from his coat up to hide his face. The man walked by and didn't notice him.

After he got the money he went to Marv. Marv said "You got the money?"

"Yeah. Let's go."

So Marv drove back to Harry's apartment and let him off. Marv said to Harry "I hope every thing goes alright with you and Big Louie."

"Yeah, it will, now that I have the cash. Thank you very much for what you did for me. Maybe some day I can repay the favor... Well, from the last win I got a little over one hundred thousand. Here, you take the left over part."

"Thanks a lot. Maybe we can do it again. It was sort of fun. Except next time, I hope it's not to cover your gambling debt."

"Ok, I'd like that. See you, Marv."
"Bye, Harry."

Then Marv drove off.