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[time: 4 minutes]

K is for Kings

Slap, go the cards on the table. Buddy Bill’s got a hand, and a whopper hand too, which is often the case, prolly too often the case, if’n you know how to count cards, which I don’t. But he’s got three kings and two queens and although none of them are the same suits, they’re still a might powerful thing to see all together like that.

Slap go his cards, like I said, and then there’s silence. Not the shocked ’cause he threw down that kinda hand silence. But the silence of waiting to hear whether you needed to situate yourself light on your feet all of a sudden. That listening kinka silence.

So we’s listening, hard. Buddy Bill leans back in his chair, creaking in, and I want to hush so I can hear what else is going game. My feet are itchy inside, like between the toes, and that usually means bad things are about to happen. Or maybe it’s just the thrush come back and the man sitting across from Billy Budd’s not as bad as they all say.

Then he laughs. Not Buddy Bill. The other. Laugh like to break your ears wide open, uncurl their curls and push em flat into your head.

He puts down his cards. Not a sound. Four queens, him. And a king too.

“You got me beat, sonny,” he said. “Fair and square. By my own rules anyway.”

Buddy Bill, he’s the only one smiling. Arrogant fool, making the devil’s deal.

Then he leans in, and puts his finger on Buddy Bill’s top card, the King of Hearts, right over his eye.

“Double or nothing?” the Devil asks.

And Buddy Bill, that fool, he shuffles.



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