Friday, August 30, 2013

STUD: Part Three

This short story has been read and approved for posting by SR. Any resemblance to actual living persons is purely coincidental. No one was harmed in the making of this little story, although the dignity of a few surely did suffer. 

The game: Poker
The stakes: Fashion humiliation
The players:

 The Author: Sylvain Reynard

 The Handsome Neighbor: Sir

 The Professor: Gabriel O. Emerson

            Professor Emerson set his sights on Sylvain.  He had seen the man tug on his collar and avoid eye contact with good cards.  He’d also noticed that Sylvain hadn't bluffed once.  He either folded, or had decent enough cards to justify his bets.

            Sir was just happy to have made it to the next round.  He’d made
some blunders, and had just lost another hundred and a half to
the watchful author.

            Sylvain was not aware of his tells, but he noticed that The Professor
was watching him for signals so he began to monitor his own body
language.  When Sir dealt him two fives and two aces he didn't even look
at his cards until Gabriel had made his bet.

            "I'm in for forty," The Professor murmured, making his total commitment only fifty dollars including the ante.  He had yet another small pair of fours, but it was a minor gamble to test the waters.

            "Call," Sylvain said.  He too was happy with any victory at the moment.

            "Two hundred," Sir announced.  He had the other two aces and his
competitors' thrifty wagers had given him the opportunity to make a big splash.

            Professor Emerson blurted the word Mother very loudly before stopping himself and smiling weakly at his neighbor.  He knew that the frail-looking fellow was willing to bluff big, but to raise the stakes as the last bettor was a statement. He analyzed Sir long enough to make his neighbor nervous. Slowly, Gabriel placed his cards on the table and glared at Sylvain, willing him to make his decision.

            SR knew he was going to call.  This hand would cement him as the
chip leader, but Gabriel's recent scrutiny had him second guessing every
decision, or at least looking like he was second guessing every decision.  It
was his only solution to blur whatever it was The Professor was looking for.

            "All right," he confirmed finally, counting out two hundred dollars in chips. "I'll do it."

            Sir proudly flopped his pair of aces onto the table, but when SR did
the same with a shrug and three cards still in his hand, it was clear that the French Canadian was going to lose another big hand.
            Sylvain collected the chips as well as the cards and organized both. From his perch at the bar, Robin declared that while the next man out might not opt to keep his new pair of shoes, he would be wearing his sweet new footwear as soon as he could go bowling.

            Three ten dollar chips made a white clover in the middle of the table
and SR sailed Sir's cards over them like spinning UFOs.  SR dealt himself a stupendously dreadful hand and waited to see how the other two felt about their cards.

            Sir was getting mighty low on chips but bet half of them with a
crooked smile.  The Professor raised him the rest of his own chips.  Sylvain
promptly folded, not wanting anything to do with the next few seconds.
            "I think I have you, sir," Sir hinted to Gabriel as he pushed the rest of his chips into the sizable mound on the table.  When he showed everyone the quartet of deuces he possessed, The Professor almost screamed in rage.  Instead, he snorted like a bull and glared savagely at Sylvain's cards.

            Antonio brought him another Scotch, which The Professor accepted wordlessly before he looked down at his own dwindling pile of chips.  He and Sir each had about four hundred dollars left while SR sat behind stacks so high that he looked like a kid hiding in a fort.

            Gabriel acquired the deal again, and with it came good luck.  He won a close contest with the other two men and a three hundred dollar pot.  Sir dealt himself an abysmal hand and watched as The Professor won another three hundred dollars from SR.

            Sylvain dealt the cards feeling hopeful that he would get something going.  He was rewarded with another two pair, nines and kings, but The Professor had three threes and the momentum began to shift his way.

            "The ante is now twenty dollars," Gabriel told them as he shuffled the cards. 

            SR threw in his ante, then matched the sixty dollar pot with his bet.  He had a pair of tens and didn't want to commit just yet.  Sir followed suit, but he’d already lost with a couple of fours.  He also only had about a hundred dollars remaining.  Professor Emerson called as well and won the two hundred forty dollar pot.

            On Sir's deal he received two pair which earned him a hundred dollars back from The Professor.  On Sylvain's deal, he won two times that from the same opponent.

            "Don't count the little guy out yet," Robin bellowed and began rooting for the mousy man to win it all.

            "I never do," SR muttered as he watched Gabriel shuffle the cards with a practiced hand.  The Professor was not satisfied with the chip lead Mr. Reynard still had, but he had gained ground and smiled as he dealt himself a pitiful pair of twos.

Sylvain watched Gabriel’s smiles with interest.  He noticed that The Professor seldom won when he was smiling.  SR also stopped tugging his collar and his hair, or doing anything with his hands except touching cards, chips and glasses of Scotch.

            Gabriel dealt Sylvain a full house so sweet that Bob Saget might as well have been the face on the jacks that looked back at him.  He bet a hundred dollars and counted on the other two to raise it.

            A pair of kings was given to Sir so he matched Sylvain's bet.  He was feeling good because that was only about a quarter of his pile.

            "One twenty-five to me?" The Professor queried.  For a minute, he looked like he was going to bet to throw off the stink of his crummy hand, but he unceremoniously dropped his cards and finished his drink.  Sylvain knew one of his tells.

            SR turned his cards over, embarrassed at such a good hand.  Gabriel was simply happy that that he didn't have decent enough cards to even consider a bet.

            Sir's deal was next and he shuffled the cards while they listened to Robin sing All Of Me along with the track playing in the surprisingly acoustic room. The song always made SR think of Steve Martin. 

            Gabriel looked down at his cards with a frown.  His face displayed  a deep scowl, something he’d trained himself to do when a particularly good hand came his way.  Sir was also pleased with his cards but his joy was written all over his face.

            Mr. Reynard was a statue.  He was dealt another phenomenal hand, a flush.  All of his cards were clubs, or puppy tracks as his friends from school used to call them.  He felt himself sitting rigidly and willed himself to relax.  He then tried his hand at acting and ran his hand through his hair as if he were unsure how to proceed.

            It was The Professor's bet and Gabriel was particularly frustrated that he happened to be first.  He couldn't bet big, but he didn't want to win a small pot either.  He casually tossed in one hundred fifty in chips and was delighted to see SR just as casually raise the bet another hundred and a half.

            Sir was stunned.  The bet was three hundred to him which was damn near all he had left.  He was sitting on three sevens so he shoved all but a half dozen chips into the pot.  A second later he shoved in the rest and blew out all his breath. 

            He stood up like Robin had when his entire game was at stake.

            "Turn 'em over," The Professor spoke solemnly.  He was certain that his three queens were going to win him a pot worth nearly a thousand dollars. 

Sir displayed his hopeful sevens but Gabriel didn't draw out his suspense.  He turned over his triplet monarchs but did not revel in the look of shock on his neighbor's face.

            Sir gazed up at the pair of hideous costume cries for help that would garner a second look even in Hollywood.  He swallowed drily and was suddenly very happy when he realized he still had a choice.

            Sylvain waited quietly until The Professor remembered the final detail of the hand and turned to him.  When SR laid his second full house in as many hands on the table, understanding was surprisingly slow to register on The Professor's face.

            Gabriel suddenly looked sick.  He had successfully seen another competitor dismissed, but he was now far behind in the chip count.

            Robin cheerfully addressed Sir. "Choose your proverbial poison, my fellow Goodfellow." The snarky man’s voice shook Gabriel from his daze, and only when his attention was turned towards Sir and his impending decision did SR scoop up his winnings very quickly.

            "It's a tougher choice than I thought it'd be," Sir lied as he paced the pedestals.  "I predict that my biggest chagrin will be in undressing the display models...and it certainly wouldn't take long to remove the few items that belong to the gentleman in the printed Speedo..."

            "Technically, I think that's a thong," Robin clarified.

            "Yes, well, that might have just done the trick.  I think I will be much more comfortable in the more elaborate of the ensembles."

            "So that's your choice then?"  The Professor grumbled, not taking his eyes off the last mannequin.  "The Bieber?"

            Sir answered by approaching the featureless statue and removing the Casio watch. 

            He chose to change in the washroom, wanting to model his new wardrobe with a good entrance.  The unicorn-embroidered cowboy boots were too big, but Sir was happy that it wasn't the other way around.  The Justin Bieber shirt was horrible, of course, as were the bandannas he wrapped around his wrist with difficulty.

            The pants, however, he liked.  They were a soft pair of Superman pyjama bottoms and they appeared completely unworn.  Sir didn't say anything to any of his companions, but he planned on keeping them.  Those and the Casio watch.

            When Sir walked back into the room, he put his other clothes on the nearest bar stool and spun so that his grey and maroon plaid jacket whirled around like a party dress.

            "Oh shit!" Robin cried. "I think I picked the wrong one!"  Everyone laughed, even Antonio.

            "You look like a vaudeville refugee,"  Sylvain uttered, earning a nod from the self-appointed bard who promptly walked over to the table to address the two men left sitting there.

            "Gentlemen, I think you should consider changing the game."

            "What do you mean?" Gabriel huffed.

            "With just the two of you playing, and a stud game at that, the bluff goes completely out the window.  All you'll do is win the ante.  And most likely you're going to bet while he folds, and he's going to bet while you fold. This will go on for about an hour before you come to the same conclusion."  Robin looked at SR, who arched his eyebrow.

            "He's right," Sir put in, fiddling with his drawstring. "There's not much room left in this game for strategy."

            "What do you suggest we play?"  Sylvain was curious and game for a change-up.

            "Texas Hold-'Em," Robin replied as though it was the only logical answer.

            Gabriel was not opposed to the idea. It was still a stud game with no draw cards, but it did have three rounds of betting.  It could potentially make it that much easier to boost his chip count.

            "I'm fine with that," The Professor agreed.  "But we should start fresh, with equal chips."

            The brash request was met with immediate objections from both Robin and Sir, who had become very emboldened in his new pyjama pants. 

            “That isn’t fair,” Sir protested. “That gives you more chips without having to win them from Mr. Reynard.” 

            Robin raised his eyebrows. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were sliding back into the Fourth Circle of Hell, Dr. Emerson.”   His Dante reference was met with an ice-cold glare from The Professor.

            "Actually," SR leaned in so The Professor could hear him. "I'm all right with that."

            "What?"  Robin was flabbergasted.  "Sylvain… Mr. Reynard, don't you see what he's doing?"

            "Don't do it!" Sir pleaded.

            "It's a completely new game," Sylvain said evenly.  "Besides, it's what happens in professional tournaments."  He stood up and moved to the chair Robin had occupied.  He faced The Professor and began to divide the chips.

            Gabriel couldn't believe his luck.  He knew Sylvain was fair to a fault and he was about to cash in on it.  There was no way he was going home in that ridiculous ball-hugger.

            Robin watched Sylvain's resolve and shrugged his shoulders.  "Well then, you chaps need a dealer, and I volunteer."



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