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Fiction: Lucky Me

Michael was the kind of guy who you didn’t notice, unless you were in a bad mood. Then he was ever present, and usually ready to take whatever wallops were waiting for him. He wasn’t there at the start of the bad mood. Well, he was, but he wasn’t noticed. But once the bad mood happened, Michael was clearly there and usually in the way.

Michael didn’t see it that way though. He didn’t think much of himself, really. Maybe it was how Fay, his mother, would sit him at the table after school and weep to him about her tragic life. Maybe it was because of the way his father would not talk to Michael unless it was to order him around or set him straight with the back of a hand.

It was nothing new to Michael, then, when he was brought out of the casino on a stretcher, tubes coming from his mouth like he was some man-made cyborg. He had walked in hoping not to lose his money. That’s how Michael thought. Don’t lose your money, Michael. You’re going to need that money for food. Michael had enough money as a techie in a mid-sized company, but he still felt that the money he played with was money for food. Don’t lose your money Michael, or all of those things that happened to you were meant to happen.

Michael walked into the casino and slowly walked the periphery of the room. He was on vacation with his girlfriend Rachel. She was back in the hotel room still sleeping. It was 1 in the afternoon. After a late dinner last night and two bottles of wine, Rachel wanted to go dancing. Michael wanted to go to bed. He had only drunk two glasses, but that was enough for him. Combined with the jet lag, Michael just wanted to call it a night, but when Rachel wanted something, she got it.

“Let’s go Michael,” she said in her whiney, drunken voice. “We are in Vegas. I don’t want to go to bed.”

Upstairs, Michael had a bottle of champagne chilling. It wasn’t his idea. It was hers, and occurred 2 months before the trip. He made the arrangements though. All she had to do was say, “Wouldn’t it be nice to get to Vegas and have a bottle of champagne waiting for us in the room? It would be so romantic.”

Michael and Rachel hadn’t been romantic in some time. In fact ‘some time’ was two and a half months, ever since that incident where Michael couldn’t perform. He was stressed from work and an argument with his brother who was upset that Michael couldn’t lend him a thousand dollars for his mortgage payment. Michael’s brother has just purchased a new car, and money was tight. He had also just purchased a new X-box, skis, a $500 suit, and a vacation to Aruba.

Michael sat there as Rachel went through the cycle of disappointment. First she acted like it didn’t matter. Then she rolled over and pretended to sleep. Then she gave up on pretending and sat up, shooting glaring looks at Michael. Then she took out her dildo and went to work, all the while with Michael a half a foot away from her in their queen sized bed. Michael could have been a mile away though. She didn’t look at him once.

Two and a half months, and when they got off of the plane, had their late dinner (with more wine) and hit the hotel room, Rachel immediately passed out. He didn’t blame her. Their flight was delayed 6 hours, and Rachel, who didn’t like to read, was unhappy that Michael spent the time on a paperback novel. She eventually went off to explore the airport, and when he found her, she was at the TGIFriday’s bar with a glass of some alcohol and cola and a table of three fraternity guys. She was also drunk. Very drunk. He quietly approached and tapped her arm. “I think it’s time to go.” “I want to stay. You go. I’ll be there by the flight.” The frat guys got up. Their flight was boarding soon too; something like Cancun or some other frat guy destination. They said goodbye to “Bree”, as they called her, and walked off laughing and patting each other on the back. “You chased them away! We were just having a drink. It’s not like I was sucking them off!” He quieted her down and went to the bar for a glass of soda. He had done this before. When he returned she was gripping the glass of cola and some unknown alcohol tight. When she relaxed her grip, mostly due to the motions associated with drunkenness, he quietly switched the glasses.

By the time the late night flight touched down in Vegas, Rachel was already hung over. The three mini-bottles of White Zinfandel on the flight didn’t help either. They had a quick dinner and some more drink. They got to the room and the champagne was forgotten. So while Michael unpacked, her stuff first, then his, she slouched off into bed and passed out. They slept next to each other, but they were world’s apart.

The next morning he decided not to wait any longer for Rachel. He got dressed in the bathroom after she yelled at him for turning on the damn lights. He quietly closed the door after he left a note on her side of the bed underneath her contacts case.

When he entered the casino he felt a touch of excitement. Michael wasn’t much for excitement though. It felt too much like fear. He made his way over to the poker room and looked at the list. 1/2 No Limit Hold’Em was the popular choice for the smaller casino/hotel. There were several tables going, and Michael, experienced from television, some play-money sites online, and a couple of free bar games, asked to be placed on a list. His table was already opened, and he felt a bit of nerves as he inched closer to the table.

As Michael sat down, he reached into his pocket for his travel Velcro wallet. He pulled out a single one-hundred dollar bill. His budget was $300, but he didn’t want to lose it all at one place. He put it down on the table and waited for the fat Hispanic dealer to give him chips. To his right was a big man, probably over 6’4”, but Michael couldn’t tell with him sitting down. He was built like a Brick house, although clearly age had softened the sharp edges a bit. Brickhouse had a stack of about $300 in front of him, which was about in the middle of the pack, but Michael could tell right away that he was the center of attention at the table. A drink with a small umbrella sat in front of the Brickhouse. He was wearing a white long-sleeved t-shirt with a stripe across the middle, and blue jeans. His boots were timberlands. His hair was short, but his goatee was scruffy.

Michael sheepishly put out $2 as a post. The dealer looked at him sideways and pushed the chips back. “No need to post. This is no limit.” Michael didn’t know that it made a difference. In his first hand, he looked down at his cards: 55. Michael looked up as it was his turn to act. He pushed his $2 back into the middle of the table and looked around to see what was happening. Brickhouse was also in the hand, as well as a few others. All were limpers. The flop came down AK5. The action was checked to Brickhouse, who bet $10. Michael had three of a kind, fives, but didn’t want to be too aggressive. He had just sat down and wanted to lose his money slowly. He decided to just call. No other players stayed in the hand.

“You sure you want to be in a hand with me, kid?” Brickhouse asked. “Um, yeah, so far,” was all that Michael could spit out.

The turn was a 4. Brickhouse bet $15. The bet seemed good to Michael and he counted out $15. He looked down at his stack and saw that he only had less than $75 left.

Then it happened. The river was a 5. Michael had hit four of a kind. Brickhouse didn’t even look away. He just gruffly stated, “Thirty dollars.” Michael looked at his chips. He pushed them all in the middle. “All-in.” Brickhouse didn’t hesitate, shoving his own chips forward with his big ham hands. Brickhouse flipped his cards, AQ, two pair. Michael showed his four of a kind. The chips were pushed his way.

”What a hand kid!” Brickhouse’s voice was a mix or excitement and anger. “I’ve got to watch out for you, huh?” “I just got lucky.”

Brickhouse took a long stare at Michael. He was slumped over in his seat. He was too thin, and fumbled when the chips were pushed his way. An ever-present fear was plain on his face.

Two hands later, Brickhouse bet preflop. Michael looked down and saw AT. He called. The flop came down TTT. He had hit another four-of-a-kind. Check from Brickhouse and Michael had to bet. He pushed out $20, about the size of the pot. Brickhouse thought for a while and called. The turn was an Ace, and Brickhouse paused before pushing $40 into the pot. Michael saw an opportunity. He raised $40 more. Brickhouse pushed, and Michael called.

“DAMN KID!” His excitement was even more heavily leaning towards ire. “You must be sitting on a horseshoe.”

What could I do?, Michael thought. He now had over $400 in front of him. He never expected to win at all, and already his winnings were higher than his original budget! With this came a bit of confidence, and Michael started getting into the game.

Brickhouse, meanwhile, reached into his pocket. The dealer took his $300, the maximum buy-in, and handed Brickhouse his chips. “Here you go, Carl.” Brickhouse, or Carl as he was better known, was clearly a regular.

Michael proceeded to post and fold. Finally he looked down to see King-Queen, both of diamonds. He called a small raise, as did Carl before him. “You again kid?”, and in a mumble, “Should I be worried about four of a kind?”

The flop came down Jack of diamonds, Nine of diamonds, 3 of hearts. Brickhouse bet, and Michael called. Another player called as well. The turn was a Six of diamonds, and Michael had hit his flush. Brickhouse bet. Michael raised all-in. Brickhouse called. They flipped their cards. Brickhouse had Ace and Duece of diamonds for the best possible flush. The river came down, Ten of diamonds. Everyone stood still for a moment. Carl had a grin. Then he saw it. The straight flush. “WHAT THE HELL!” Carl was irate. “This is a fucking joke! Who the fuck is this kid!”

The dealer jumped in, “Carl, you can’t curse in here. I’m going to have to warn you this time.” “Warn me. Fuck that! This is fucking bullshit!” Michael sat quietly stacking up more of Carl’s chips. He had mixed feelings. He was lucky, but he wasn’t used to feeling this way. He still felt a bit scared.

After that Carl began taking up more and more space at the table. His sharp elbows poked out, nudging Michael and squeezing him out of his position. Michael, for his part, leaned back and avoided any physical contact. He knew better than to do anything to stroke the anger inside of Carl. He’d seen looks like that before from his father and other random guys. It was the look of a man with a lot of anger and no where to put it. Michael didn’t want to volunteer.

The last hand of the day, Mike thought. His stack of chips was pretty high, and he wanted to leave on a good note. Carl was still steaming, playing most hands and gifting his chips to the rest of the table. He had continued to spread himself to the point where he may have been two men sitting at the table. All of this made leaving a lot easier. Any minute now, (it was 3 o’clock) Rachel would be waking up with a dry mouth and a sharp tongue. He’d be better off waiting for her to awake, rather than waiting for her to find him gambling.

Last hand, and he looked down to see KK again. Both black. One of them was holding his sword through his head. The other one had a blank expression on his regal face. Michael’s decision was easy. An early player raised from the $2 blind to $15. Carl huffed and pushed out the rest of his chips. There were a mere $50 in total, and Michael had no choice but to call. Carl peaked to his left, eying Michael with a look that said, “Come get it.”

The original raiser saw an opportunity and raised all-in, adding another $90 or so to the pot. Michael held the second-best possible hand. He felt that he was facing the best, AA. But he resigned himself. Here it was. Last hand. He called.

In most cash games tables, you don’t have to show your cards if you are all-in. Michael didn’t know this and showed his KK right away. The original better had QQ. He wouldn’t be a problem. Carl had AA. He was red with excitement and heat was coming off of his body. Michael could feel Carl’s big elbow poking him further. It was the type of contact that said, “Yeah I’m here, but I’m not acknowledging you unless you got a problem.” Michael didn’t much like to bother people, so when the card showed, he just leaned back.

The flop came down Ace of spades, Queen of hearts, Three of spades. Michael’s heart sank. He was behind Carl and the original bettor. Carl jumped up, “YEAH! Take that luckboy!” Michael sunk lower in his chair.

The turn was dealt. Four of spades. Michael looked at his shortened stack. He was still up a good amount. Most of that money would be spent on Rachel. He noticed some jewelry she might like in the shopping area of the hotel. He could go there immediately and surprise her, but she’d probably not like whatever he chose. Better to let her choose it out herself.

The river was a six. Of spades. There was another moment of silence, and then it hit Michael, a flush. A fraction of a second passed. The next thing to hit Michael was a little harder than a flush. Carl’s fist took Michael broadside on his right cheek. Michael fell off of the chair fast. He hit the floor, his face already warm from the force of Carl’s big hands. Next came a flurry of kicks, mostly to the stomach, some gravitating to his groin. Michael immediately curled up, his natural reflex from beatings on the school yard or at his house. He felt the feet on the crown of his head, his exposed shoulders and his shin. One slipped through and kicked him in the mouth. Blood mixed with his loose teeth. He peaked an eye open, only to see a chair come down.

Rachel woke up and looked around the room. When she didn’t see Michael, she crawled into the shower. As she threw on her nicest outfit, she grabbed the champagne from the bucket, where warm water had taken the place of last night’s ice. If he was going to go off and have fun without her, she was going to do the same. After a couple of disdainful swigs, Rachel left the room. She didn’t even bother to put on her contacts. It didn’t matter how anything looked anyway, and the dry dessert air and constant smoke made the contacts an unpleasant option. She found the bar in the middle of the casino. There was a pair of young guys having a beer. She left her money upstairs, as planned, and sat at their table flirting until they bought her a drink.

Michael was in an ambulance. All he could think was, “Lucky me. Lucky me.”

posted by Jordan @ 2:53 PM,


At 4:52 PM, Anonymous mookie99 said...

Enjoyed the story, are there or will there be more "chapters" ?

At 11:27 PM, Anonymous DP said...

I really enjoyed reading that.

At 10:52 AM, Anonymous Jordan from High On Poker said...

I didn't expect to do more chapters, but now that I think of it, I could probably work something out. Thanks for the kind words, guys.

At 2:07 PM, Anonymous Tom said...

I'd end that one where it is and write a new one if you want to keep writing some fiction. I liked it.

At 3:30 PM, Anonymous The Poker Enthusiast said...

What a great story. Everything we've alwasy wanted up until the ass kicking.


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