À la Pushkin

Here is a quick sketch inspired by an Alexander Pushkin story. Enjoy!

I finished marking the score on the chalkboard when it happened.

Robinson shifted in his chair, popped the cigarette from his mouth, and ground it into a metal dish. I was close enough to smell the tar pour up from the butt’s wreckage; a camel logo on its butt shimmered through its milky billow. “That’s not right friend.”

“What’s not right?” I said.

Mike dropped a dead arm on the felt table cloth. “The score stands. Rules of the house. And unless you know another place for real action in Augsburrow, that house is mine.”

Robinson ejaculated a huff.

“I’ll just keep it for now,” I said taking my seat.

“House rules?” Robinson said. He rubbed his knees and lifted his butt off and on his seat. “House rules cheat me out of that hand? That’s what this is?”

Jared gave his NY ball cap a half screw. “Just leave it dog, don’t stress.”

“Way-way-wait. Jared, what is this man? You brought me here to get robbed?”

“Nobody robbin’ you ‘friend’,” Eric said. His lips were pursed tight and drawn down. His wooly brows raised. “Just play the damn game!”

Mike fanned Eric with his hand. “Calm down old man, he’s new.”

“Bullshit, I’m new here, but not in the world friend.”

“I’m not your friend, Roger. You’re here because Jared asked me.”

Jared puffed at his cigar and nodded agreement.

“Yeah,” Robinson said. He waggled his chin and didn’t look at any of us. Blood ran to his face; the bright red walls reflected off his bald head and completed the transformation into human beet.

I nudged Robinson with my elbow. “We’ve got things in place. People have tried to cheat us before.”

“Cheated? So that’s what this is!”

“Man, shut the hell up,” Jared said.

“Seventy-two thousand to one!” Eric barked. “Three straight flushes in an hour stinks!”

“This is ridiculous,” Robinson said. “I’m having a hot night and you jokers are trying to rob me?” He stood; wine strings threatened to pull him off his feet.

“Sit down and play,” Jared said. “You’re making me look like an asshole.”

Robinson steadied himself with a hand beside the scoreboard and used his silk sleeve to wipe away his score and draw another.

“Hey—” I laughed, “no one does the chalkboard thing except me.” Then the others snickered. Mike didn’t. His temples pulsed.

Robinson sat down paler than he had left; he took a shaking sip of cabernet.

“Fine! Fine, new boy!” Eric said. “You won’t beat me either way. Let’s just get back to it. Deal the hand.”

Jared leaned in to collect the cards and started to shuffle. Suddenly, Mike stood up with his cigar cinched in his teeth, paced to the scoreboard, and corrected Robinson’s score. “It stands the way it is Robinson. Touch my board again and you’re leaving with less than your money, got it?”

We all got it.






Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *