The Hand We're Dealt

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
About a man who loses everything to his addiction

Submitted: November 20, 2012

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Submitted: November 20, 2012

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The Hand We’re Dealt


Robert had lived his whole life in fear of his addiction. Coming from a long line of addicts, he supposed he had good reason to. Drugs, alcohol, sex, even tattoos in the case of his cousin, who had forty-three and counting. It had always been the monster in the closet, under the bed, in the dark spaces under his desk at work. It followed him everywhere he went; in the shower, at work, in line for lunch. But then he had turned thirty and naively thought "aha, I'm the odd one out!" as if the fact that he had made it this far without falling into sin was some sign that he was exempt. His addiction didn't work like that, it was soft and patient, like a panther waiting to strike, not like one of the others that seemed so normal. The other's addictions had been something that had just seemed natural when they were started; a part of the world around us. Then they slowly but surely took their victims over like a cancer, not waiting, but not being hasty either, just calmly oozing into every facet of their life, professional and personal. Robert's addiction was a sudden killer, not like the cancers that were alcoholism and drug abuse. His addiction struck suddenly and so fast you couldn't even see it. It worked fast too, less like a disease and more like a bullet; quick and painful. And the trigger was what pulled you in, not the result like the others. You started off euphoric and nervous, not like the others where you ended drunk or high. It started with just a scratch.
Gambling had cost Robert everything he had had in his life. One scratch card and quarter, nonchalantly left on a subway seat that he happened to sit down next to. When nobody came to get it after five stops, he picked it up himself. He was curious, having never bought one himself. Clumsily he scraped the gritty face of the card with the quarter, somewhere in his subconscious he realized his heart was beating faster with every number he revealed. Unsure of the result, he turned the card over to re-examine the rules. Robert's jaw dropped and he choked on his next inhale as he stood up suddenly on the moving subway and yelled, an almost wordless shout of joy. "Two thousand dollars! Two thousand! I just won two thousand dollars, I don't believe it!" As with most things, people never learn to quit while they're ahead.
The next weekend Robert was at the casino, tumbler of Maker's Mark in his hand, cigarette in the other, a beautiful girl on each side, taking turns blowing on his dice and squealing with excitement as he kept winning. Those around him who knew the tell tale signs shivered as they could practically hear Roberts addiction purring and slinking around his feet, waiting for the right moment to pounce. He was winning everything in the place; slots, roulette, blackjack, craps. The owners were on the verge of suspicion of cheating when the moment came and Robert's pride ran out and his fall began. His addiction licked it's lips, narrowed it's eyes, and prepared to spring.
"All in." Robert spoke those fateful words from the edge of a poker table, immediately to the dealer's left. In disgust, all of the other players threw down their cards, folding for what seemed the thousandth time in this game in which nearly none but Robert had won. All but one player stood to get themselves a drink and mourn the loss they had sustained at what seemed to be a monetary scorched-earth that Robert had unleashed on the casino that night; the remaining player was a nondescript man, roughly Roberts age. He also went all in, and the dealer placed the last card on the table. Robert had been building confidence all night and had no intention of losing, nor did he expect to, what with his pair of kings, what seemed to him an unbeatable hand. As the dealer set down the Ace of Hearts, there was a sudden twinge in the back of Robert's mind that was lost to his drunken mind and over inflated ego. He let out a happy exclamation as he flipped his twin kings, and knocked back the rest of his bourbon, leaning back in his chair. The gentleman across the table very calmly placed his Ace of Clubs and Ace of Diamonds face up and began collecting his winnings.
Robert's face fell like a balloon being popped, hanging in the air for a fraction of a second after the needle punctures it, not realizing that it's time in the air is over. He stumbled through his thoughts, trying to make sense of what had just happened, namely the loss of nearly thirty thousand dollars in casino chips. After comprehending his sudden fall from grace he panicked, and the rest of the night was a drunken blur of fear and attempts to reclaim his lost fortune, dipping deeper and deeper into his savings, until he had nothing but the clothes he wore, the watch on his wrist, and the change in his pocket. Across the room, in a dark space between two slot machines that jangled and chimed their tempting songs, Robert's addiction blinked lazily and lay down for a nap after it's most recent meal.


© Copyright 2019 Liam Morris. All rights reserved.

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