Friday, August 8, 2008

Bathroom Monologue: Noun Challenges You to Up the Ante

They skipped the Kentucky Derby that year, for the first time in twelve years. Twelve years ago Clarissa had come down with measles. This year there was a special poker game between high-stakes rollers of a stripe called the “P.P.G.”

There were four players, all impressive. The first as nearly a giant of a man with one eye and a Santa Claus beard. The second was a man all in black, his dark hair shining like bird feathers – and indeed, he wore some from an earring. The third was the most beautiful man Clarissa and Pete had ever seen, with hair of gold, not blonde, but rich and lustrous stuff. The last was an African with a bizarre accent and a bipolar disposition – one pole incredibly depressed over some lost job, the other jubilant, and thankfully, both with expert poker faces.

A hushed audience of ninety-nine ticket-holders was allowed to sit in on this rarest of games. There was Nexus Hold ‘Em, a form Texas Hold ‘Em played with tarot cards. When the big man with one eye won the first round two girls in the front sprouted wings. The African won two people on opposite sides of the room inexplicably fell in love. They were wed at intermission.

There was a game played not for chips, but articles indigenous to the homelands of the players. The one-eyed man actually gambled away bones of arcane creatures. The African had gold embedded in the pores of volcanic pumice, claiming they were born from the first belches of the world. They let out an ethereal shine from their holes that filled the audience with a lust for money. The beautiful man gambled teeth of unknown origin. When one accidentally fell onto the floor a dragon sprouted and nearly ate the bystanders.

The oddest game was straight-up five-card draw, where the man in black, who someone called “Raven,” drew an infeasible hand of five jokers, all wildcards that he claimed constituted a “divine flush.” Raven won the game so hard that he not only took home all the rocks and chips, but broke the entire world economy.

When all was said and done, Pete agreed that this was worth skipping the Derby. He preferred watching the horses to watching old people play cards, but any money he might have won at the track would have been worthless by the end of that final game. Pete was prudent in his aesthetics.

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