Yellow Mama Archives II

William Kitcher

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I Like Gorillas

by

William Kitcher

 

 

It’s difficult to win at poker when everyone’s cheating and there are three large men standing in front of the only door out of the room.

When I say “everyone’s cheating,” I mean including me.

Over the past four hours, I’d palmed a few Aces which had come in handy, and I’d used the Memphis Slide once, so I was up a couple of grand.

I didn’t know why the gorillas at the door hadn’t just taken all our money, but then again, I didn’t know who they were with.

Maybe I shouldn’t call them “gorillas”. None of them seemed to be nearly as intelligent as a gorilla. I like gorillas. More gorillas, fewer people, if you ask me.

I think that Vinny and Eleanor, the only people I knew at the table, had finally figured out this was all a scam by the time someone said it was midnight. Funny phrase “midnight”. Middle of the night to me is about three or four or five, any time before the sun starts.

Vin and El and I had exchanged skeptical looks about ten, and now we just smiled forlornly at each other. No one else knew we knew each other. Between the three of us, I thought we had enough fists to get past the wannabe gorillas if things went south, but I wasn’t sure of that.

There were four other players. It took me a while to figure out who was connected to whom. I thought that the old bald guy David was in cahoots with the young blond Kyle, and that the scrawny red-haired Bobby was in it with the middle-aged woman who said she was a countess. Are there actually countesses anymore? I didn’t think about it a lot because she may have been even though she looked more like a woman I used to know who lived in a trailer park.

Anyhoo, I’d seen Kyle give David a card that had filled a flush, and the Countess had once dropped her cards on the floor along with her cigarette and her potato chips which Bobby had helped her pick up, and the result was the Countess won the hand with four Kings.

So when the next hand was ready to go, and the Countess suggested unlimited stakes, and the three guys at the door shuffled almost in unison, I knew crunch time was coming.

I’ve never understood why Texas Hold ‘Em has become the game of choice. It’s probably due to its being on TV all the time and that’s the only game some people know. I miss draw and five-card stud. I even like Stop. So, when I realized that the goons belonged to the Countess, I said, “How about a game of High Chicago?”

In case you don’t know, High Chicago is a seven-card stud game with the twist that there’s a split pot. Best poker hand splits the pot with the highest Spade down. At the end of all cards being dealt, you declare whether you’re going for the best poker hand or the high Spade or both. If you go for both, you have to win both. Two down, four up, one down, you bet after every card starting with the third card.

(You can also play Low Chicago – lowest Spade in your hand – or High Chicago, substituting Clubs, Diamonds, or Hearts, but that just seems to me to be something you do when you’re drunk.)

El said, “High Chicago’s a great game!” Vin said, “I like it.” The Countess said, “I’ve been to Chicago.” So that seemed to seal it. Four out of seven.

It was El’s deal. As she dealt, I went over the rules of the game. “Yeah, we know,” said David. I didn’t know why he was speaking for everyone else. I wondered if the other four were all in this together.

My first two down cards had no Spades; I had the Queen of Clubs and the Jack of Diamonds. I looked at the other players. The Countess flinched slightly. She had a Spade for sure.

The first card up for me was the Ten of Spades. Straightening. The Jack and Queen of Spades also came out in others’ hands. The Countess revealed a small smile. Did she have the Ace of Spades? At least, she must have had the King. Or maybe she had the Nine or the Eight. At this point, who could tell? Maybe Bobby had passed her all four of them.

The bets were reasonable. No one folded.

My fourth card was the King of Diamonds. I was seriously straightening. I needed only a Nine or an Ace to fill a straight. I bet a grand.

Kyle folded. Bobby folded. Vinny folded. El folded, which surprised me because she was the dealer and I’d assumed she was cheating.

The Countess raised a grand. David called. I felt good and raised another grand. They both called.

The fifth cards came out. Nothing useful for me: Six of Diamonds. I checked. So did they. Apparently nothing for them either. Same with the sixth cards, for me the Eight of Clubs.

And there was the seventh card, down. I got the Four of Clubs. No use at all.

More bets were made. I was pretty well oblivious by this point. I raised a couple of times. So did they. After a while, we got tired and called. There was a pile of cash in the middle of the table I couldn’t have begun to know how to count.

And then it came down to Declaration. “Pick up three coins, people,” said Eleanor. “One for high Spade, two for poker, three if you’re going for both. Show them. Palms up.”

David showed two coins. The Countess showed one coin. I showed three coins.

David had three Queens, and I don’t know how he’d managed that considering I had the Queen of Clubs in my hand and the Queen of Spades was face up on the table in front of the Countess. I suppose that happens sometimes in friendly poker games like this one.

The Countess had the King of Spades in her grubby left hand.

As I mentioned before, I’m good at palming cards. I had the Ace of Spades. Straight ahead. I had to find a paper bag to carry the cash.

Eleanor gave the gorillas a thousand dollars, and we left in peace.



Mister Bunny and $88.01

 

By

 

William Kitcher

 

 

I was lying on the couch, waiting for the air conditioning to kick in and dozing off due to the heat, a hangover, and disinterest in the ball game on TV because the Jays were pummeling the Yankees for the third day in a row.

My cat Henry was napping on my chest, and we were both startled awake by my apartment buzzer. No one ever buzzes my apartment. People call first. Actually, no one ever comes to my apartment. I meet people outside.

I staggered to the buzzer. “Hello?”

“Is this James Yates?”

“Yeah. Who’s this?”

“Police.”

Police? What the . . . “How can I help you?”

“Can we come in?”

“How do I know you’re the police?”

Silence.

“Hold on,” I said. “I’ll come down.”

I pulled on a T-shirt and went downstairs. Sure enough, it was the cops. Two uniforms, one plain clothes. I assumed the plain clothes was a cop, because she did all the talking. She introduced the three of them by name, but I didn’t really pay attention.

Looking at her notes, she said, “Where were you on the night of January seventeenth?”

Jeesh, what a question. Some random date five months ago. Would she expect me to remember that?

“How the hell would I know?”

“Listen, Mr. Yates, can we talk in your apartment?”

“Do you have a warrant?”

She looked at her shoes. The two uniforms looked at each other. No one said anything.

“Ah, never mind,” I said. “Come on up.”

They made so much noise coming into my apartment that Henry scurried into his cage and burrowed into his stuffed animal friends.

She said, “Do you know Peter Baxter?”

“No.”

“Are you sure?”

“I don’t think so. Who is he?”

“He was murdered January seventeenth. In a house not far from here.”

“Oh, that guy. I remember that happening. No, I didn’t know him.”

“We think you did.”

“What can I say?”

“Can you tell me where you were about nine on that night?”

“Probably not. That was five months ago. How would I . . . Oh, wait a minute.” I opened up my laptop and went to the website of my credit card company. On January 17, there was a posting from the Terrier and Rats for $88.01. “So,” I said, “if you go to that pub, they’ll be able to pull up that receipt. I remember now. I was trying to figure out the exact tip percentage to get it to exactly eighty-eight bucks. I couldn’t do it. I wanted eighty-eight coz that’s how many points the Raptors scored that night. They lost. The game would’ve been over about nine-thirty or nine forty-five, so my receipt will be ten or ten-thirty. The receipt will have the time on it. So that’s where I was all night.”

She made a few notes, looked at me, said, “Thank you, Mr. Yates. Sorry to have bothered you.” And they left.

Henry came out of his cage, sat beside me on the couch, and we watched the end of the ball game. Then I figured I’d go to the Terrier and Rats for a hair of the dog. I reached into Henry’s cage, pulled out Mister Bunny, unzipped his stomach, and took out a roll of money. I peeled off a hundred-dollar bill from what I’d taken from Peter the night I killed him for trying to rip me off on a heroin deal. I use my credit card only on special occasions.

Just because you have proof you paid at ten doesn’t mean you were there the whole time. I wonder if cops know that.

Bill Kitcher’s stories, plays, and comedy sketches have been published and/or produced in Australia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Czech Republic, England, Guernsey, Holland, India, Ireland, Nigeria, Singapore, South Africa, and the U.S.

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