Thursday, August 01, 2013

The Poker Table: Part Three



            Midnight was approaching, and John's pocketbook had never looked better. Angie was a fantastic pool player and clearly not a new comer to the sport of gaming people out of their money. She threw the right shots, even the lower stakes games, to keep up the charade that she and John were just another couple looking to gamble a few dollars on a friendly game of pool. John appreciated the fact, knowing that he would have to fly below the radar to make the next part of Killjoy's plan to work. He didn't want to make a name for himself lest he be recognized, snooping around the poker tables later.

            As the last minutes of the day slipped away, a new breed of patron began to trickle into the Free For All. These people, by their clothing and bearing, were not the rabble that Killjoy had been playing up until now. Their suits were very expensive, probably costing more than most of the people present made in a month. Their noses seemed to be constantly stuck in the air, and they didn't seem to care anything about the people around them. More importantly, John noted, each of these gentlemen had at least one body guard in tow.
            These men went into a back section of the tavern, leaving their bodyguards behind. Most of these muscled men congregated around the pool table. John gave Angie a knowing look; here was a new crop of sucker waiting to be taken advantage of. They could probably bleed a few hundred bucks out of each of them if they played things right. This was going to turn out to be a very profitable night, even if Killjoy was unable to come through with a new core for the ship. John still had questions about whether he would be able to make that work; a ship's core seemed like a pretty big wager to him.
            "So which of these suckers should we take on first?" Angie asked in a voice low enough that only John could hear her.
            "The two at the far table," John answered as he gave Killjoy the signal for two pair. "They don't seem like their looking for a fight, but that body armor they have on isn't cheap. They probably have a bit of money to blow."
            "What body armor?" Angie asked. She was sipping a drink and looking unobtrusive.
            "They have it on underneath their shirts," John answered.
            "And you could tell from here?"
            "It's up my alley," John answered. "Sometimes it's a necessary skill in my line of work."
            "You intrigue me, John," Angie said with a look of admiration. "You'll have to tell me more about yourself sometime."
            "Sometime," John agreed with a roll of his eyes. This woman was just a tool to him, a way to stay under the radar and make a few extra bucks, and he was certainly the same to her. Neither cared about the other's life.
            "So, how do you want to play this one?" Angie asked as they moved toward their target. The two bodyguards were big, John thought to himself, but nothing that he couldn't handle if necessary. Not that he actually expected things to turn sour, it was instinctive for him to evaluate people this way whenever he met them.
            "Let's go with the tipsy ploy," John answered. "We've had good luck with that one."
            Angie nodded in agreement and shortened her stride a little. She faked a stumble and caught herself on the pool table. Giving a little giggle, she looked at the two body guards, then back to John.
            "Do you think we should, honey?" she asked. She looked like she was trying to whisper but made sure that her voice could carry to the men that she was talking about.
            "Shhh," John cautioned in a slightly slurred tone. His voice also clearly carried across the table. "You don't want them to hear you, do you?"
            "They look like push-overs," Angie said, ignoring John's question. "We could beat them easy."
            "You want to challenge them?" John asked. "It should be easy money."
            John agreed and began to round the table, leaning on it heavily to maintain the charade. As he moved, he gave Killjoy the signal for a high card. Even as he played this up, he kept his eye on the prize, and that prize lay with Killjoy at the poker table.
            "We challenge you to a game of pool," John told the body guards brazenly. He swayed slightly and hiccupped before continuing. "My girlfriend thinks that we can beat you easy. I think she's right."
            "Want to put your money where your mouth is?" one of the guards asked. By the glint in his eye, John could tell that he thought this would be easy money. He smiled inwardly; these fools were walking right into his trap.
            "I wouldn't have it any other way," he slurred. "How much you think, twen'y?"
            "How about a hundred?" the second guard asked.
            A hundred would work about right, John thought, but he might be able to get some more out of them.
            "I don't know, man," he said. "Tha' seems like a lot of mullah." He laughed at the use of the funny word.
            "You just said that we would be easy to beat," the first guard said. "If you're not man enough to back up your words with your money..."
            "Fine, fine," John conceded, reaching for his wallet. "A hunerd and fity it is."
            The second guard started to say something but was stopped by his friend. If this drunk man wanted to increase the bet, they certainly weren't about to stop him.
            "Is that a hunerd and fity toat... toat... in all," John finally slurred out, "or was tha' a hunerd and fity each?"
            "Each," the first guard said immediately. This game was getting more lucrative all the time.
            "Honey, put the balls up on the table," John called to Angie. The he dug through his wallet muttering to himself. "A hunerd and fity and a hunerd and fity. That's four hunerd, right? Yep, four hunerd credits." He pulled two hundred credit bills and four fifties out of his wallet.
            "So the wager is four hundred credits on the game," the first guard said. Clearly he had no problem taking advantage of drunk people. That made John feel a lot better about taking advantage of him.
            "Yup, four hunerd buckeroos!" John said happily. "Yer goin' down. Tha' money's as good as mine!"
            "We'll see," the body guard said. "Do you want to break?"
            "Break?" John muttered. "Break? Oh! The balls. Yeah, I'll break 'em."
            John retrieved a pool cue and stumbled down to the end of the table where Angie had just finished setting the pool balls.
            "Wrong side," one of the guards said. "You're supposed to break from this end."
            "What?" John said, looking confused for a moment. He seemed to get his bearings and headed to the end of the table with the cue ball. Taking his pool stick backwards, he started to set up a shot. Then, just before he thrust it forward to hit the cue ball, he started laughing uncontrollably.
            "I'm holding it backwards!" he guffawed, pointing to the stick in his hands. He looked at the guards and said it again. His laughing increased.
            "We get it, dude," the first guard said. He was clearly getting irritated with the drunk man. "Just turn the cue around and break already."
            "Okay," John agreed, wiping his eyes. He turned his stick around and lined up the shot. With a sharp thrust, the cue ball shot across the table toward the triangle of other balls. With a sharp 'crack' the game started.

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