Gothic stories. Today, enjoy a first post of Ten Masks of Evil by Martin Cid. Remember, every Sunday and Thursday you have a date with Martin Cid. Enjoy your day, Yareah Magazine friends.
The Mask of The player
That night, there were Alvin, Albert, Horace, Mills and a little man with an aquiline nose. Alvin smiled, Albert looked steadily, Horace sweated, Mills showed extremely good manners and the little man had enough trouble trying to have his nose go unnoticed.
Alvin and Albert were an established team from many years ago. They did not have a tacit pact but they never fought with each other.
Horace and the little man were ordinary people who had come to squander the few coins they had earned a few hours before.
Mills was “the sucker,” a raw player with money who was going to be “fleeced”. He belonged to the ilk of men who are thinking about business all of the time. He did not have soul and was so thirsty as to lose and be glad of his feat next day. He played politely but clumsily… unable to disguise his hands: when they were bad, he changed all the cards; on the contrary, he looked satisfied at them.
Alvin was feeling relaxed: “these three men will soon be defeated”.
Nevertheless, Albert was nervous: “perhaps, that man called Mills… Milton Mills is teasing us; his performance is much too exaggerated”.
They dealt again: draw poker, no jokers, no limit or possibilities of cheating… money for the discard. They bet prudently: Alvin threw one card away, Albert three, Horace two, Mills and the little man five.
Therefore, the right way of thinking would be: Alvin is looking for a straight (it seems improbable, he has a wired pair or poker); Albert has already a pair or a court card plus an ace; Horace may have a trio although it is very difficult but, in any case, his bet will show us the truth in a few seconds; Mills and the little man have nothing since they have thrown the whole hand away… but this right way of thinking is nonsense among people that are gambling and, in fact, Alvin only had two pictures and Albert a two of diamonds and a seven of hearts.
Of course, both of them passed with complicity to see the bets of the others. It was not a good idea to raise a stake with three “suckers” because they will be afraid and won’t continue. Mills and the little man passed too but Horace did not, since he had a trio or at least he was pretending to have one. Alvin looked suspiciously at him and when he touched his lip, he could tell he was lying. Suddenly, he doubled his bet; the little man matched him after hesitating a lot as he was a poor beginner; Albert passed again and, then, Milton Mills took his wallet:
‘Let’s proceed, men!’
Was he bluffing?
Albert Luchin was born and grew up in Sad Bride, a little village in the county of Missing, a place with so much literature that it is better not to describe it: everybody has read about its tanned people and wonderful landscape.
He was brought up in a big house, in the bosom of one of these ordinary families –called Luchin- that had made money thanks to speculation (what difference does the kind of abuse make?).
He was educated as a gentleman with a private instructor like those in popular novels: bald, cold and not very well read… what for? Albert had to behave as a lord since it was expected he would inherit a big fortune.
Nevertheless, Albert learnt from his father too and the problem started here because he found out from the very beginning that money can buy people’s souls and lives… Well, sorry, maybe we are exaggerating since you would also need some French words to impress a little more.
Therefore, his strict teacher taught him Victorian costumes while his father’s magisterial lessons were about how to frighten people. Eventually, Albert was a despot disguised as a posh man.
His 16th birthday was the day announced for him to start receiving an allowance as his advanced payment of his inheritance. In return for it, he had to attend to the ballrooms, marry a high-class girl and look for a pretty lover; that it is to say, he had to honor his family name: Luchin.
‘You must remember one thing,’ his father said one day. ‘You will have to behave like your teacher and think like me.’
‘I shall obey, dad.’Albert answered bowing his teen head.
From this holy day on, he turned into a regular customer of taverns and little by little he forgot his instructor’s Victorian manners although his father’s philosophy remained:
‘Even the most insignificant man can be important with a big billfold.’
Then, as his billfold was heavy, he neither shaved every morning nor spoke French words: some cash allowed him to drink and to have female company from dawn to dusk until the moment he started to get tired of so much silly happiness.
He was still very young when he met Benjamin Alvin, a respected member of a family of barmen and an excellent player too. A man of that strange sort who pays his debts on the few occasions he loses.
That night, Alvin was wearing poor but clean clothes and, in general, he was taking great care over his appearance.
‘We need a young player, Luchin. Are you interested?’
‘What kind of game for?’
‘Poker. Don’t worry, it’s an easy game with very few rules and plays: pair, doubled pair, trio, straight, full house, poker and color straight. If you like, you can watch a little before joining us. Only you’ll need something…’
‘A big billfold,’ Albert interrupted.
‘Wrong!’ Alvin said laughing. ‘You’ll need luck not to ask for much money at home.’
The room was poorly lit and you could hardly see tables and walls. The wood creaked, the paint had lost its original white color and turned into a dirty yellow one.
Five players with five cards. Each one of them must give a previous fixed amount of money to participate. In the first round, if they wish, they can raise the bet or, even, change cards. In this last case, they must match the others’ bets.
After discarding, they bet again, raising until one of them would like to stay.
The game was surprisingly easy: five cards and the best wins. Fantastic!
‘Ok!’ Albert thought. ‘It couldn’t be so difficult. You should wait for a good hand and bet.’
Albert observed the others and their frenetic ritual. It seemed everybody was happy since, although they lost, they could win in the next turn.
‘Come on, Albert!’ Alvin said. ‘You should learn. I suppose you have cash. Anyway, we would trust in your word, we are among gentlemen.’ Alvin smiled with complicity at the other four.
Albert sat down. Alvin was the smartest player; Locke the oldest one; Spinoza the most nervous of them and Wills (because they always had to add up to five) the person who rebuked Albert for his threatening fat aspect.
‘Let’s proceed, men!’
Continuation: Next Thursday.