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Dead Cert

Kathy watched her glass of sparkling mineral water, waiting to see where the next bubble appeared. Des grasped an oily cocktail, gazing fixedly at the far financial horizon.

"There's a rumour that you are being investigated by the Sporting Anti-Corruption Commission," Kathy said.

"They're wasting their time," Des said.

"Something to do with a betting operation called Des's Dead Certs. They reckon that if it's a dead cert, it must be a fix."

"It's a tipping service. What that means is that we have good information. You've got to be positive, or nobody will take any notice."

"What about spot fixing? No ball on the fifth ball of the sixth over. Giving away a penalty in the third minute. Isn't that the current fashion?"

"No way. The moment they see the bet, it's obvious what's happening, and too easy to nail the guy who's doing it. Last thing you want is a life ban on your best sources."

"What about the soccer match you tipped. International championship where the top team got thumped 8-nil by a total outsider. You're not telling me that wasn't fixed?"

"The coach was a foul-mouthed thug. Mates with the local Football Federation. The only way the players could get him sacked was an embarrassing loss. So that's what they produced. I tipped it because I'd talked to them."

"What about the cricket test where you'd correctly tipped a spectacular third innings collapse to blow away a winning position?"

"Coach, again. He'd been having a go at them about being too defensive. Told them, 'Now's your opportunity to cut loose.' So they did. All I had to do was listen."

"What about the Marathon you said wouldn't finish?"

"That was easy. New organising committee decided on a new route along a causeway, at the last minute so nobody could bomb it. Just didn't check the tide tables. I did."

"But didn't tell them."

"Why should I?"

"So you've covered your back?"

"Doesn't need covering. It's all psychology. And knowing the right people. It's tipping, not betting."

"So where does the money come from?"

"Fee for service. Commission from the punters. No obligation. Except if they don't pay, no more tips." Des smirked. "But it looks like there's a new prospect."

"What?"

"Watch any sports telecast, listen to the commentators get stuck into the referee or umpire, pointing out the mistakes. Okay, they've got video umpires, but they've got the wrong approach. They take ages,. They're trying to work out what happened, and half the time that's not possible because the camera angles are wrong or someone was in the way, so they say because they didn't see it it didn't happen. That makes the fans and the players really mad. They need a kind of fifth umpire, who can take a more holistic approach, identifying what should have happened, based on the run of the game, giving a probable, justifiable and satisfying outcome for the watching public, in the ear of the official on the field, so it's quick."

Kathy was unimpressed. "Sounds like a spec for the Lord High Match fixer."

"That's always a risk," Des admitted. "That's why they decided they wanted someone from outside the usual sports hierarchy."

"Is the job well paid?"

"Of course."

"I suppose it has to be. The integrity of sport is beyond price, but it wouldn't do to create vulnerabilities in that area, would it?"

Des nodded happily. Buying him was obviously going to be very expensive.

Copyright D.W. Walker, 2015


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