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Old 02-23-2018, 06:30 AM
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joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
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Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Sarzana,Italy
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Default A Friendly Game Of Poker

It was foggy and a drizzle of fine cold mist was falling as I stood in front of The Aviation Club at midnight, waiting for my cab to appear. This is my life as a professional poker player, up till the early morning hours then sleeping late into the day. It was twenty minutes before the cab arrived and the morning chill had penetrated my new leather jacket, then while climbing into the cab the crown of the Stetson hit the door frame but i managed to catch it before it hit the gutter.
Stetsons are fine for riding a horse on the open range but not climbing into a Renault. As the cab took me to my hotel, I decided that tomorrow I needed to do a bit more shopping.
I awoke very late, looked out the window and found that the drizzle and fog were still there. My bowels were telling me that it was time to move.
As I pushed the lever of the toilet and watched the Monkfish disappear in a whirlpool of water; I couldn’t help but smile at the thought that nature eventually turns the best of everything into crap.
Showered, shaved, and feeling rested. I made my way down to the hotel´s restaurant.
While waiting to be seated I thought of lucky Bob, and wondered if the day would come that the cards held the same misfortune in my future.
The hostess greeted me with a welcoming smile that again reminded me of Gina.
As I was smiling back at her I saw Mr. Ronnie Moss sitting alone at the nearby table, in the act of drowning a plate of French fries in catsup that accompanied a large hamburger, and a bottle of Coca Cola.
My first impulse was to turn and leave, unfortunately as he bit into the hamburger he looked my way and then he waved.
I nodded in recognition as he motioned me over to his table. As I started to make my way across the restaurant´s beautiful cross grain parquet’ floor, I stopped a moment to admire the chess board pattern of walnut, oak and ebony.
By this time Mr. Moss had swallowed his mouthful of hamburger and was on his feet holding out his hand. “Mr. Wilson, what a surprise. Come, sit down and have some lunch with me.”
As my options at that moment were limited, I smiled and shook his hand.
“What are you doing here?” We asked each other simultaneously .Again, we both answered in unison. “I am staying here.”
He laughed and said “Well I will be damned”
“Me too” I answered,
Mr. Moss took another large bite of his burger and washed it down with iced coca cola. “You don’t mind if I eat, been starving for some good American food since I got here.”
I busied myself looking at the lunch menu and did not answer.
The waiter came to the table; I ordered a cappuccino to start.
Not being too hungry I decided on smoked ham, brie, sliced red onion, and tomato dressed with Dijon mustard on a baguette of freshly baked white bread. By now the burger was gone and the French fries had all but disappeared from Mr. Moss´s plate.
“Are you playing cards tonight Mr. Moss?”
“I most certainly am, and call me Ronnie.”
“Okay; how did you do last night Ronnie?” As I have mentioned, I want to know all I can about my adversaries, and I had a feeling Ronnie Moss might be one to be careful of.
I had noticed that Ronnie never sat up straight in his seat. That his head with its bulging green eyes was bent forward as if it were too heavy and his shoulders had a permanent droop. He looked to me like a man that had a lifetime sitting at a card table.
He took the white linen napkin that was now catsup stained, wiped his mouth and hands, then leaned my way said."You may want to speak up; I am a bit hard of hearing”. I asked again “HOW DID YOU DO LAST NIGHT?”
“Oh I did just fine, one hundred thirty entries and I finished in second place.” He continued, “These French are a wild bunch of players, but between you and me, they are not good players." How about you? Cleaned up the table did you?”
My lunch arrived and I drank my cappuccino before answering him. “No, I was not lucky last night, but I did managed to cover my dinner expenses.”
He looked at me then said the words that told me Ronnie Moss was not an average card player here on vacation. “I don’t believe in luck, I believe in percentages and the mathematical odds,” I picked up my sandwich and said. “Really, why is that?” I took a bite of the most unforgettable combination of simple ingredients I could think of. While I ate, Ronnie Moss told me a bit more about himself. “I have a analytical mind, I was a jet Jockey in Viet Nam, flew F 104 C fighters, never crashed, never was hit by enemy fire, flew over two hundred sorties, mostly strafing and napalm. Treacherously low level stuff, and because I don’t believe in luck I am here safe and sound, except for a bit of deafness caused by jet engines and the twenty millimeter cannon gun fire.”
Well, I have to say I was impressed with Mr. Moss. I could see that he was proud of his military experiences and wished to continue talking about himself.
I dressed my salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil added a bit of grated parmesan cheese. Then i stopped and looked at Mr. Ronnie Moss in a different light. “You have had some interesting experiences Ronnie. Are you playing a tournament tonight also?”
“No I don’t care to sit that long tonight as my back is not up to another six hour session. Too many hours sitting in the pilot´s seat in front of instrument panels. I do intend to play tonight at the no limit table.”
This was Interesting, Ronnie Moss and me were soon going to try and cut one or the other’s throats at a “friendly” game of cards-
The meal was over and I felt that there was little more information to be gained in continuing my conversation with the intriguing Mr. Moss.
Wanting to gain his confidence I reached across the table, put my hand on his wrist, smiled, and offered to buy his lunch.
He looked at me, then laughed and said “As we like to gamble let’s flip a coin.” He reached into his pocket and extracted a silver dollar. “Heads I pay, tails you pay.” Without waiting for me to reply he sent the coin spinning into the air, deftly caught it and opened his fist. “Heads I pay.”
He smiled and then showed me the coin´s obverse side. “I never lose on this bet; this is a two headed coin.” We both laughed. “Ronnie I will see you at the game tonight.

To be continued
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