There was the gunshot! And the horses were out of the gate. Number 7 was five lengths behind. Suddenly, as if by magic, the 9 and 10 horses collided and number 7 jumped over the mix of legs and bodies that rolled into the mud.

“Number 7!” Carl yelled. It finished first.

“I would never have guessed,” an old-timer said.

Carl smiled a very rich smile and went to collect his winnings.

“3,800 dollars to the winner. That was a lucky bet mister.”

But Carl knew better. He held his black book tighter than ever.

Back at the firehouse, the guys wondered what was up with Carl.

“He just reads that dang book, day and night.”

“Hey Carl, how slow of a reader are you?”

But Carl’s mind was a wash of ideas and he paid no mind to words that wouldn’t help him.

“Come on Carl! Join our poker game and socialize a bit!”

Carl’s mind was free for a moment, so he put his black book aside.

“What game are you playing?” Carl asked.

“Five Card Stud.”

“As the cards were dealt, Carl looked into his friends’ faces. He knew each card they got and he remembered every card passed out.

In just 20 minutes, the game was over.

“You should be in the world series of poker,” Pete said. “You just cleaned me out!”

“WE HAVE A HEART ATTACK IN THE PARK. POLICE ARE REQUESTING BACKUP.”

And everyone jumped into the ambulance. “You didn’t seriously bring your book?” Greg asked.

But Carl was reading.

“Somebody needs to stage an intervention.”

At the scene, an unconscious man was lying on the sidewalk. “Apply the AED and do compressions.”

Carl just watched Greg and Pete working without success.

“Are you just going to stand there! CLEAR!”

“He’s not dead, but only sleeping,” Carl said. And he tapped the rollerblader on the chest in three distinct spots.

The man leapt to his feet. “Where am I?”

“You may be in the hands of God,” Pete murmured. “What’s up with you Carl? There’s something different in your eyes.”

But Carl wasn’t worried about what Pete said; he was only thinking about the homeless man hiding in the bushes 100 yards away.

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