the game

The chips splashed the pot with a crash.  The pile teetered and a few loose clay coins spit loose to roll in lazy circles before they too came to a resting stop on the felt surface.  Red’s bet had been called.  Doyle thought he was bluffing.

Red, in complete control of his facial expressions raised his right eyebrow slightly to lodge his complaint about the splashed pot.  There was no call for that.  All eyes around the table flicked back and forth between Red and Doyle.  The air had gone out of the room.  One of the players noticed that he was tapping his foot nervously under the table and stopped, removing the last source of noise.

The silence was deafening.

Holding the cards in his left hand, Red made a move with his right as if he were going to use his free hand to fan his cards down in front of him, but he stopped short, locked eyes with Doyle and smiled.  His words held a teasing, playful tone, “You were supposed to fold.”

“Show your cards.”  Doyle had no patience for such games.  He’d paid to see and he demanded his due.

Red could see the man’s ire building behind his blood streaked eyes and his smile broadened.  All eyes around the table bored through the backs of his cards.  All attention was focused with anticipation for the great reveal.  Red made the move again with his right hand, the move he had made before that no one had flinched at.  This time he didn’t stop short and he didn’t spread his cards out either.

He cleared his holster before anyone even registered the danger.  The flash and clap of thunder sent the players scrambling away, but all too slow.  His thumb worked the trigger in between shots, his hand smooth between his targets, one into Doyle, and then around the table to his right, towards the door.  On his way he finally showed his cards as he dropped them while overturning the table.

He had been bluffing.  The off suit, non-paired, jumbled mess of nothing drifted down to the blood, beer, chips, and splintered wood, even as Red disappeared into the night.

Clutching at his breast with his right hand, Doyle smiled triumphantly as he saw he had been right to call Red’s bet.  Then his eyes closed, his hand fell free, and there was nothing.


Word Count: 400

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18 thoughts on “the game

  1. When I was a kid I played seven card stud with my parents and siblings every Saturday night. The games never ended like this though. : )

    This was cool. Great twist of an ending. Also like the character names. Ha!

    • Thanks! I never liked playing backstreet poker games because I didn’t want to lose my money to people I didn’t know. When I hosted a weekly game if I lost money to them, then I always knew I had the chance to win it back the following week.

  2. Great atmosphere, tension crackles between them. ‘Silence was deafening’ is a bit of a cliche. I was guessing until the finale. Red and Doyle are great names for the characters. There must be more to come.

    On a technical note, you wouldn’t work the trigger with your thumb, but you would cock the hammer with your thumb … although that would slow down your firing rate … :o)

    • I like a good cliche from time to time.
      Thanks for the trigger/hammer note – I swear I wrote hammer, but my mind isn’t always running at peak performance these days. Hopefully my vaquero will forgive me the mistake the next time I take it out. 😉

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