I entered the smoke-filled back room and saw him waiting. He was sitting there in a dark gray suit smoking a cigar. I stumbled a little as I approached the table holding the sack filled with kittens.
“You come to play?”
“Have a seat then.”
Sitting down I put the sack next to me.
“Frankie, bring us a fresh deck and get the kid a drink.”
That is when I noticed the midget in the corner sitting on a stool. He hopped down and got a new pack of cards from the desk.
“What you have kid?”
“Come on kid you are gambling have a real drink.”
“I’ll just take the coke.”
“Suit yourself kid, but this could be your last chance.”
Frankie the midget got me a coke and dropped the deck on the table in front of his boss.
“You know how to play poker kid?”
“Some. I watched some YouTube videos on it.”
“Don’t worry I’ll teach you,” the man across from me said as he opens the pack and pulled out the deck. Dumping the extra cards to the side he cut the deck one-handed.
“If I win you will give my mother longer, won’t you?”
“That is how this works kid, but kittens don’t give much. If you want to really help her, you are going to have to put your own life on the line.”
I swallowed, “Let’s start with the kittens.”
“Frankie, bring the basket.”
The midget dragged over what looked like a giant picnic basket.
“Dump your kittens in kid. We ain’t going to cheat you.”
I quickly dumped the sack of kittens.
He dealt out the cards and I ended up winning the first hand. With that first win, I began to calm down. The next eight hands went my way and I had almost doubled my collection of kittens.
“You got your mom a little over a year and a half there, kid, ready to call it a night.”
I shook my head. “I’m winning.”
“Ok kid it is your funeral.”
I suddenly lost a hand, and I was sure I was going to win. I had bet big on it. I was down to a pair of kittens.
“Well kid, I guess you can get mom a month and a half extra with that pair.”
“No, I want to bet a year of my life.”
“Now you are talking.”
“If I win my mom gets a year, right?”
He looked at me and smiled. “That is how it works, but if you lose, well you lose a year.”
“Deal the cards.”
I was on fire; every hand was a winner. I won my mom 6 extra years.
“You should quit now kid.”
“No, I’m on a roll.”
“Ok but let’s add a little more fun to the game.” He picked up the pair of jokers. “The jokers are wild, kid.”
“Sure, just deal the cards.”
He shuffled and dealt out the cards. I looked at mine quickly. A royal flush nothing could beat that.
“So, what are you betting this time?”
“I’m going all in, all I won and every year I have left.”
“You sure about that kid.”
“Then I match you. I have four nines.” He flipped four of his cards.
“Holy shit. Yes. Royal flush.” I flipped the cards.
“You lose kid.”
“No, I don’t nothing can beat a royal fucking flush man.”
“Five of a kind can.”
“Ain’t a such thing as …” my words died in my mouth as he flipped his last card a joker.
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