The Game #44

The rhythm was the same one Edward had seen a million times.  The players sat in anticipation of the final card, the river.  For some, it made no difference.  They either had the nuts or they were drawing dead and one more card would not change their hand.  But for many, the final card was everything.  The last card in the straight, make the flush, hit the boat or quads.  The river took away as much as it gave.  It could be uplifting or devastating, a winner or a loser.  The card was random, of course.  Depending on the number of players, it was one of thirty-eight to forty-four cards left in the deck.  From two point six percent to two point three percent.  Those were the odds of hitting any one particular card.  Of course, if a player had more than one out, the odds got better.  But somehow, it didn’t feel like that.  The river had a personality; it was the evil dream crusher to the player losing his all-in bet in the tournament.  It was salvation to the player on his last small stack when it handed his opponent a bad beat against all odds.  Yes, the river was a harsh mistress, and she was not to be courted by the faint of heart.  The minute you thought  that she was yours forever, she would turn on you and give her affections to another.

The card was turned; the five of clubs.  The board was a rainbow, so the flush draw was out.  It was possible that Darius had made  a straight, but Edward didn’t think so.  Edward had George beat, so he needed to him to fold. 

Darius said, “One thousand” and pushed his chips into the pot.

Edward looked at George and gently raised three fingers off the table.  He hoped George had seen the signal.  “Call”.  Edward pushed his chips across the table.  He didn’t want to try to break Darius on this hand as he wasn’t sure what he had, but even if George lost, Martinique would still be alive.  He hoped so.

“Call”.  Edward watched in astonishment as George pushed another thousand dollars worth of chips into the center of the table.  What the hell was he doing?  Hadn’t he gotten the sign?  It was too late for Edward to fold now and he had George beat for sure.

Darius flipped over his cards; a pair of eights.  He was playing us, thought Edward.  Keeping us in the game and trying to get George to go all in.  Thank God he didn’t.  George turned over the jack of spades and the king of hearts.  Damn, he had Darius beat.  Edward turned over his fives and George looked like someone had kicked him in the stomach.  Someone like Edward.  Edward was starting to wonder if Darius had somehow drugged them.  Things weren’t making any sense.  I’ve been playing with most of these people for five years or more and they are the best there is.  So why were things going so terribly wrong?

“Mr. Teraneau, your luck seems endless.” Darius commented as Kenny pushed the chips to Edward.  He reluctantly added them to his chip stack.  The water level in Martinique’s cell began to rise again.  George stared at her, then at Edward.  There was no mistaking the intent of that look.  No matter what happened to Martinique from here on out, George would be holding Edward responsible.

The water had only come up to Martinique’s knees, but it was at her chest and still rising.  She began to tread water, but her flowing gown with its beadwork and her jewelry were making it difficult.  Edward watched as she ducked under the water and began to shed bracelets, rings, her necklace and at last her dress and shoes.  She was now dressed only in a black lace bra and panties.  Her ebony skin was smooth and firm and Edward became embarrassed at how much he enjoyed looking at her.  She pushed off the bottom of the cell and inhaled deeply as her face broke the surface of the water.  The level had stopped rising, but there was less than a foot of air space left in the cell.  George had to win the next hand, no matter what.

The shuffle and the deal; the next hand was under way.


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