FAMILY - CHRISTOPHER GRANT
The beer is as stale as the air. The cover band is playing Sweet Dreams by The Eurythmics. They’re butchering it so bad, Annie Lennox, Nobel Laureate Woman Of Peace 2009, were she here, would be forced to get medieval on their asses.
The club’s heavy metal door opens and a redhead in the electric blue dress walks in, then across the floor to the bartender. She says something and he points to his right. She says something else and he nods and she goes off in the direction he’s just pointed.
She parts a beaded curtain and finds herself boxed in by two beefy black guys in three piece suits and a metal door directly in front of her. The guy on the right waves a wand over her, head to toe. He nods to his partner, who turns the knob of the door and ushers her into the room beyond with a wave of his hand.
On the other side, another metal door blocks her path. To her left is a cage bolted to a wooden countertop; inside, a diminutive man sits on a high stool.
“Hey, Foggy,” she says.
“Trish,” he says.
“Give me thirty,” she says and sets down two stacks of cash that she produces from somewhere on her person.
His hand snakes out through the hole where the cage meets the countertop and grabs the money.
“Gotta count it first,” he says, as he clutches the money to his chest.
“Hurry up and do it then,” Trish says.
It takes him less than thirty seconds, sending it through the bill counter in smaller portions of the rubber-banded stacks.
“Okay,” Foggy says and reaches behind him to grab three stacks of high society. He slides them through the hole one by one and buzzes her through the metal door.
The first thing Trish does is attract attention, turning a lot of male heads. That’s what the bolt of lightning dress is all about. Get your opponent off his game.
She’s already got it two-thirds in the bag due to the fact that she’s a woman. Men are fucking dense if they think they’ve got a chance with you.
The third part? She’s got skill. She really can kick anyone’s ass at the table. She learned from the best, her father. It’s all a matter of which table she sits at, whether it’ll be short and sweet or if she’ll have to reel everyone in.
But not tonight.
Two minutes after she walks through the door, Trish is greeted with a face from the past. A face framed by blonde hair.
“Hi, Trish,” the blonde says, standing up, towering over Trish by a good foot.
Where she once had the room eating out of the palm of her hand, Trish’s confidence is now shaken.
“Come on,” the blonde says, “let’s go home.” She grabs the trays of chips in Trish’s hands and tucks them under her arm.
“Fuck you,” Trish mutters. She tries to keep it under her breath but the blonde hears her clearly.
“You’re gambling with Charlie’s money,” the blonde says. “This isn’t the smartest thing you’ve ever done. You know what I do for Charlie, right?”
Trish shakes her head from side to side. “Should I care?” She’s getting bold.
The blonde barely even moves her own hand but Trish has tears in her eyes and her wrist is bent backwards at an extremely awkward, extremely painful angle. The rest of the players don’t do anything. Most of them have had dealings with the blonde at one time or another.
“Don’t make me break it like I did the other one when we were kids,” the blonde says. “Mom beat the shit out of me for that.”
On the ride home, the ice pack is cold on Trish’s throbbing wrist, the car’s interior is deafening silence, the thirty-thousand dollars safe inside Greta’s jacket pocket.
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