A Stroke of Luck

My clever, young creative writers wanted to focus on characters, and so together we set up a basic plot: person in a room, person looks out the window, person sees something he/she/it reacts to, person takes action in the room.

This lovely little structure gave way to great leaps of imagination. Amazing how the same simple plot becomes so many interesting scenes depending on a different persona. Anyways, I hope you enjoy this little flash.

Keep writing. Cheers.

Happy Monday!

Le Tripot is a painting by Mountain Dreams

There’s 10,000 in chips on the table, and yet I find myself staring out the window, out past the valet saddling the latest filly, out to the lit track where horses bray speech bubble puffs of air in their starting gates, ready to take off, roused by the crowd cheering their favorites before the bell has even sounded.

Dockets ripple in the air, a sea of make believe. And somewhere out there is Tilda, her hair tied in ribbons. She is also rippling. She’ll be on some gentleman’s arm, no doubt. Doubling down on her bet at who will win big.

“Sir? The actions on you.” It’s the dealer. He’s standing awkwardly in front of me, asking if I want another card, but to be honest, I haven’t even looked at my hand. I flip over the hidden card to reveal a 7. Double 7’s, a lousy blackjack pull. I’ve got to get my mind back on the table. I’ve been hot all night, but there’s always a chance that one wrong turn takes it all away.

The velvet itches below my fingers and my opponents grow restless waiting for their own turns.

The dealer has an ace in view. I shuffle two chips in my hand. I can’t stand these minutes of indecision like after a race starts and all the horses are rounding the track, but you can’t tell who will get that second wind, who will putter out and who will make a last-minute rally. That moment when everything is undecided.

Like this moment now. I’m about to say hit me. About to ask for a card when I know there’s less than a 1 in 10 chance that I’ll pull a lucky one, when a man at the end of the table starts coughing. His face reddens until it is brighter than the walls of the den.

He pushes himself to his feet, but those around him move back, unsure of whether he’ll regain his breath or need medical attention.

“This man needs medical attention!” I yell, but I’m on my feet by the window, watching the last leg of the race. Looking for a signal, Tilda’s purple scarf, the one she waves when we’ve got a high roller on the hook.

“Don’t just stand there. Do something?” I’m shouting at the young dealer, but there’s no purple scarf out the window, and there’s nothing I can do. Not really. I’m not trained in any science besides that of judging a man’s character, and I’ve already swept the choking man’s winnings into my bag on top of my own, and I’m headed towards the door like a horse headed for the finish line with his blinkers blocking out the competition.

In this confusion, no one will likely notice. I’m just another gambler leaving after a streak of bad luck. And for once, I wish to never return to this musty place with good and bad strokes, booze, and stubbed out cigars. This viper pit of adrenaline filled with lost and found wishes.

Who knows? After this jackpot, maybe mine can finally come true.

© 2022 | K.Hartless

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