The Road to Reno

by Grey Bard
Email: fitzrose at
Written for Dira Sudis


Danny Ocean is not repentant, not reformed, not a bookie and not in the state of New Jersey. But that doesn't mean he wants his wife to know that.

"She's not your wife," Rusty says.

Rusty's good with facts like that.

"Technically, yes. You're right." Danny admits. "But it is easier to say than ex-wife who took me back against her better judgment."

"She's not your wife," Rusty says. "Not anymore. And she's not going to marry you again, trust me."

There's nothing Danny can say to that."Especially if she finds out you're going to Reno."

Danny can't look at Rusty right now, so he watches Tennessee as it goes by the window.


Rusty had dropped Danny and his blushing former bride off at her place after the three of them drove away from the jail and into the sunset. He had helped Danny with the bags, smoothly opened the front door, and told Danny not to do anything stupid. He then had gotten back into the hotrod and didn't stop driving until he hit Miami.

Well, Washington, actually. That's where he got the hotel room. But he had started again the next day and kept going until he could see the beach.

Miami wasn't hurting for people with a lot of money and no poker skills. Rusty had done just fine.

Too bad for Tess that Frank Catton decided to hit Atlantic City for old times sake.

Too bad that he had Rusty's cell phone number handy.


Several hours in, somewhere over the Great Plains, Danny starts to wonder how Mondrian is doing whether or not Tess will call the conference and ask if he's there.

"Are you sure you want to do this?" Rusty asks, "We can turn around right now, no hard feelings. No one's making you do anything, you know that. We can turn around right now, and you can go home or we can spend the rest of the next two weeks in Saint Louis or New Orleans or anywhere else you like. No one's making you come in on the Reno job."

"Don't ask me that," Danny says. "Do I look crazy?"


It didn't take very long to get back to Atlantic City. It took less than that to figure out that Frank was right.

When Rusty got to 44 Pickford, he found Danny on the front steps, cornered between Tess and a neighborhood expert on house restoration. Rusty knew his partner in crime well enough to see that Ocean looked more trapped than he ever had during an arrest.

Plus, Tess was holding a pug with a rhinestone collar.

Like there was any doubt what Rusty needed to do.


West Coast air makes Danny young again. By the time they rent a convertible under Rusty's current nom de crime, Atlantic City has ceased to exist.


After the restoration man had wandered off, Rusty made an offer. Danny was happy to go to a local bar to talk about old times. Tess was not happy to have Danny go to a bar to talk about old times. Danny was now a perfectly respectable gaming industry professional and didn't need to talk about the old times that had landed him in jail, particularly at a bar at three o'clock in the afternoon with the man he had committed crimes alongside of.

Rusty said he'd be happy to just stand on the porch for awhile and talk about old times. Danny told him not to be stupid, and said he knew just the place.

As they left, Rusty gave Tess a little wave. He made sure to smirk just that extra little bit. Danny didn't see anything, but Rusty caught her eye, and made sure Tess saw everything.

Danny hadn't gone for a drink in the afternoon since Frank had visited. Rusty told him that that was a shame.


Reuben has plenty of enemies. Danny and Rusty know a lot of cons. And ex cons, for that matter. It wasn't very hard to find some common ground.


Danny was not, in fact, a perfectly respectable gaming industry professional or - to put it more properly - a bookie.

Danny was a man who had a lot of dirty money and a parole officer to please. He also knew some racing-bar owners who could use an employee who did nothing but pay them to pay him his own money. All he had to do was go to the same casino every day and play some tricks with a calculator whenever the corrections officers were nearby.

It wasn't much, but it was a living.


As Rusty explains the plan to their new gang, Danny thinks about calling Tess and saying something about conferences and bookies and being a good boy.

Then Rusty smiles, and Danny forgets.


After the second drink, Rusty leaned forward and asked Danny if it wasn't a little boring, the being paid your own money business. Danny said it was about as good as hustling high stakes poker for idiots, so long as it wasn't all you were doing.

But Danny hadn't come up with anything else to do.

However, Tess was happy, and had bought him the dog for his birthday. It wasn't the breed he would have chosen for himself, Danny being more of a spaniel type himself, but it had come from one of Tess's arty friends and was named Mondrian.

Daniel Ocean was not a popular man with Tess's arty friends and the feeling was more than mutual. Luckily, after the first time Danny had introduced himself as a bookie who had done time, he wasn't invited to see too much of them. He liked the dog, though. Rusty said he was sure that Mondrian was a good dog, but would Danny mind leaving Tess and the pug for a week or two on a job somewhere. Anywhere.

Danny said that he wasn't doing jobs anymore, except for the one where his job was to get paid his own money for nothing.

He stopped.

There was this gaming conference in Reno, Tess was always after him to show more interest in his work.

There were a lot of casinos in Reno, and Reuben Tishkoff was sure to hate somebody in that town.

How did next Thursday sound?


So they've done the job, and they made a lot of money, as well as making Reuben's enemy of the month very very sorry. It wasn't that hard, but it was a lot of fun.

Danny has lived with Tess, and he's lived with Rusty. He'd forgotten how much he liked living with Rusty.

However, Danny has an ex-wife who took him back against her better judgment. He also has a very nice dog who loves him.


Rusty's favorite mentor is named Saul. Odd coincidence, since the same man is Danny's favorite mentor, too. A grand old man, always up for anything. Saul is always happy to help an old student.


Tess received a call from Mr. Ryan, the proudly criminal father of one Rusty Ryan, and asked her if she knew where his son was. He had urgent family business, and the last he had heard, the boy was going off with her man on some job in Nevada or Utah. Or somewhere. His memory was not good. Did she know which casino they were planning to rip off this time so he could ask if Rusty's usual alias was staying there?

Tess said she was unable to help him and hung up. She called the museum and made excuses. She then called the airport, called the movers, and started packing.


The house is entirely empty, but Danny's key still fits the lock on the front door. No chairs, no rugs, no lamps. Just a note on the counter. Danny reads it.

"Blah blah blah blah blah, evil ways. Blah blah blah, lying again. Blah blah blah blah blah, she should have known better. Yadda yadda, never coming back, last chance gone, I can keep the house, I humiliated her in front of her friends again, so she can't possibly go on living here. She knows this nice place in France. Blah blah - WHAT? She's keeping Mondrian?"

"She took the dog," Danny says, shocked, holding the note. "Why would I want the house? But she took my dog."

Rusty shrugs.

"Back to the note. Something, something, broke her heart. Saul Ryan called and told her I was on a job with his son...."

Danny looks up. "Rusty, your father was never named Saul, and he certainly wouldn't be calling Tess and asking after you. Care to explain?"

Rusty smiles.


Obviously, it doesn't bother him much. Look at what he had done to Terry Benedict! Danny is the last person to mind the best man winning, in love or war. He mentions this to Rusty one night as they're sitting on the bed, having a look at plans for the newest variety of motion sensor.

"That's good," says Rusty. "Which was Tess?"

"I don't know," Danny admits, and shrugs. "Do you think we should learn this one, or just do the C-4 thing again?'



Grey Bard