To win at poker is an art. It’s a game of skill, not chance. You have to be able to read the other players so well, that you can tell when they have a good hand or not. Tonight, like every other evening i’d spent in this damp basement, we were playing Texas holdem.
“One hundred dollars buy in.” The dealer stated. We all placed our cash on the table. I’d been doing short cons all week. Some you can do on atm’s but they are risky with the CTV camera’s these days. The easiest and quickest are to manipulate people with quick bets, then disappear. Frank being a prime example.
We each got our chips, mine totaling two grand. And we began. I started off with winning a few small hands. Earning only snide comments from the other males at the table. Then lost a few and folded several times until the other players cashed out. It probably took a little over an hour, but here we were just Gary and I. As planned.
“I guess your luck has changed then Dani.” He says, whilst looking down at his cards. “You’ve managed to last this long.”
“Well I am motivated by the need to eat.” And it wouldn’t hurt to see the look on your face when I take all your money. I check my cards. At the moment I have three of a kind. The chance of Gary beating this hand, given the previous cards are low. I raise by three hundred.
“Wow, so you think you’ve got something?” Gary throws his money into check. Not good, I wanted him to raise. I’m forced to show my cards.
“Three of a kind,” The dealer calls. Gary turns his cards over, “Two of a kind. The lady wins.”
“Fancy that.” He raises one eyebrow as he takes a swig of his drink. “Lets see if you can hold onto it.”
“Do you take pride in beating little girls Gary? Or is it just that you can’t bear to part with your money?” It was time to rile him up, make him uneasy so he’ll make mistakes and bet higher. He wasn’t having any of it though.
“I wouldn’t figure you someone to classify themselves in the little girl category Dani. You seem to be someone who knows exactly what they are doing.” Does he know? He can’t? It’s surely something people just say. I covered all the angles. There is no way he would know tonight is the night I take everything.
“It’s a facade I assure you Gary. Nobody ever truly knows what they are doing.” To this I gain a smile.
I get my next hand and fold. Better to lose a small amount then bet and lose big. And then I get the perfect hand. The one I had been waiting for. Gary was betting high, so I made the gesture that makes me appear to be bluffing and then raise. I know he’s about to go all in when the commotion near the door draws him away from the game.
“You don’t understand mate, “ The slur of a british accent could never be mistaken for someone else. “I brought my money, and heard you had a little game going on. I want in.” He can’t be here.
“The nights over.” I could hear Paul try to persuade the man to leave, “Come back next week.”
“Nah mate. Look they’re still playing.” Don’t look over, don’t look over. I look over. And there he is. All six feet of Logan standing just a few inches taller than Paul, who was trying to stop him from moving further into the basement. How he even made it past the stairs is anyones bet. I keep my face blank, as I turn back to my cards.
“This is a private establishment.” Gary says, as he gets up from his chair. “You need to leave.” If Logan cops me out I swear to God, he’ll be neutered.
“Hang on, I was invited.” He better not. Gary folds his arms across his chest.
“And by who exactly?” He asks.
“Her.” Maybe if I don’t look they’ll think it’s someone else. Like there is any other females down here. Oh Logan, how i’m getting the scissors. Gary moved to tower over me.
“Is he a friend of yours Dani?” I turn my head to look up at Gary.
“Not for a long time.” I shrug, “Just kick him out Gary, so we can get on with the game. I’ve got to get up early tomorrow for class anyway.” I see the sense click into place as Gary moves towards Logan.
“The nights over. Maybe next time. Me and your lady friend over there have some unfinished business to settle.” He bends his head back towards me.
“Right. Well you see, Gary isn’t it?” Logan gestures towards Gary. “I really need to speak to my friend. It’ll only take a hush of a second.” Code words were made for a reason, to get you out of a jam when say the police are on their way. How Logan knew they’d be approaching was beyond me, why Logan needed to save me from them would give me a headache to even consider.
“Fine.” I say standing up rather quickly so that my chair falls down behind me. “You. Me. Outside.” We move towards the door to the stairs, but I turn back to face them. “Paul, make sure Gary doesn’t check my cards.” This will ensure no one will follow.
We don’t say anything till we are a few blocks away. And even then I’m the first to speak, well to swing.
“What was that for?” Logan yells sobering up quite quickly, as he clutches his jaw with his hand. I wasn’t having any of it.
“Do you understand just how much money you have lost me? I’d been working on this for a month Logan. A whole month!!” I’m fuming, and move my arm back to punch him again. But he catches my arm, so I knee him in the balls and he goes down.
“Un-called for Lace.” He grunts.
“No, not uncalled for you skeeming son of a bitch! Why are you even here? If you’d waited another half an hour I’d have money that you could then steal from me. But no, you just had to use hush.” I’m pacing now, as Logan tries to regather his sense and stands. “And i’m also guessing there was no police. Why would they even show up when the place would be dead, and surely they’d know peek times so…” I was babbling to myself, so I stopped and looked at Logan. Who had a smile tugging at the corner of his lips, so I did what any sane woman would do. I punched him in the stomach. For the second time this evening Logan was on the ground cursing.
“I see your right hook has improved.” He manages after regaining his footing. Logan looks around, “We should probably keep moving.”
“And why would I be going anywhere with you?” I fold my arms across my chest.
“Because I just saved you from getting beat up by some steroid duffus after you take his money. Truly you should be thanking me luv,”
“Thanking you?” I can’t help but laugh, “What do you even want Logan? And don’t give me some rehearsed line….” Logan fakes shock, as he rests his hand above his heart.
“Rehearsed line? Who do you take me for Lacy, some kind of dashing ladies man. Well you’d be correct for one…” I pull my arm back to hit him again, but he places his hands up in defense.
“If we are being honest,” He begins as he lowers his hands, “Because I feel like that is something you’re looking for. We’re putting a team together. And They wan’t you in.”
“Yeah, I am completely against it since we are telling the truth and all. I told them how your not really a team player and have no problem hitting others if they piss you off,” To this he smiles again, “But they insisted so I tracked you down. Which was rather easy in fact, you really should cover your tracks better.”
“And who is this They Logan?” I ask, even though I already know.
“The ones we only ever heard about Lace. The ones every grifter tries to find, which is pointless honestly because they always find you.”
“Why me then?”
“That’s what I said. Repeatedly, but they wouldn’t have any of it.” Logan sighs, “I guess they like your style, for some reason.”
“Right. Well tell them that I deny their offer.” I start to walk away from Logan but he’s beside me again in seconds.
“I’m sorry. But you don’t deny their offer.” He catches me by the arm and turns me around.
“Listen, Logan. To be honest, because that seems to be something you’re looking for,” I say to mimic him, “I don’t really care if it is something you don’t do. I’m not working with you, not again. And anyway, you would have thought They would have sent something a little bit more mysterious, like a calling card that self-destructs. Or a glowing map where X marks their head quarters, you know, something fancy like that.”
“Something fancy like that?.. You think i’m lying.”
“You always lie Logan, this isn’t anything new.” I pull my arm out of his grip and continue walking.
“Why do you always have to be so stubborn.” He says as he catches up to me again.
“It’s not stubbornness Logan, its called survival. When something is too good to be true, it probably is. And right now, you turning up out of the blue telling me the one thing that would rope me back up into your mess seems too good to be true.” I stop, and face him. “And Logan, there isn’t anything good about you.” He takes a step back, pulling his eyebrows together. His hands reach into his pockets, moments pass before he speaks.
“I’m sorry you feel that way Lace.” He shakes his head, “But I’m not lying.” I let out a deep sigh. What does he wan’t from me?
“What do you want from me, Logan?” Please, don’t put me through this again.
“I wan’t you to come with me. Let me show you where I’ve been for the past year, why I left.” He drops his voice.
“And why would I care?” Because I don’t. Not one bit. No, I don’t.
“You might not care Lace, but you’re curious. No matter how much of a bastard you think I am..”
“Know you are,” I correct him. He ignores my comment.
“You still want to know if i’m right. If i’ve found them.” He inches closer, placing a hand behind my neck lifting my chin at the perfect angle. “Of course you’re probably, secretly, excited to see me as well. Who wouldn’t be..GOD DAMMIT LACY!!” I take a step back with a smug smile on my face, as Logan holds his crutch again. I wanted to say something like, you are not permitted to touch, but that sounded douchey even in my head. So I just went with,
“Pick yourself off the floor Wheeler, no one likes a crying Brit.”