The Bluff

Here is a piece of flash fiction for your reading enjoyment.   Poker, anyone?

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The Bluff

Jonathan Stryker held the cards close to his chest and peered over them at his fellow shipmates.  Then he laid them face down on the round poker table and leaned back in his
chair.  John rubbed his beard and saw his beloved Laura, who sat directly opposite him, try poorly to hide a snicker.

She always claimed he had more tells than he realized, and based on her smirk from across the table, she must think that was one of them.  Well, they’d soon find out who was
bluffing whom.  John gave a half smile and quirked an eyebrow at her.  Then he got his mind back on the game and looked to his left.

“Well, George?”

They’d already played much later than usual and everyone was growing tired.  This would likely be the last hand of the night, and the pot was huge.  The current hand of two-card draw was Jacks to open and trips to win.  With no wild cards—John preferred honest poker to a bunch of wild cards—no one had gotten trips in the past ten deals.

This time, however, David had opened and Laura had raised the maximum amount.  Beverly then Luke had called, bringing the bet around to John.  He’d also raised and was now waiting, feigning patience, to see what George and David would do.  Laura looked
smug and was making no attempt at a poker face.  So, she definitely had at least trips.

That was good.  That meant she’d raise again and he wouldn’t be the only one running up the pot.  Then he could rake it in.

After all, it wasn’t every day, or even every decade, a person was dealt a straight flush.  He
considered it the perfect hand to cap off the evening:  five beautiful spades, ten high.  He’d stood pat and hadn’t drawn at all.

Then again, so had Laura.   So whatever she had, it had to be pretty darn good as well.  Maybe a full house or four of a kind.

George looked back and forth between John and Laura and shook his head, sadly regarding all the money, not just ones and fives but plenty of higher-denomination bills in the center of the table.  “I’m out.  If one of you doesn’t have it, the other certainly does.”

“The odds do favor someone winning this hand.  But alas, I don’t believe that someone will
be me,” David said.  “I fold.”

John regarded Laura impassively, careful not to let too much glee show.  Even more careful not to let his thoughts wander to what the two of them would be doing later.  In private in their cabin.

“Not me,” Laura said.  “Someone has to keep him honest.”  She raised again, which
made it the third and last time.

“Well I think you’re both bluffing,” Beverly tossed her own cash into the pot.

Luke gave a chuckle.  “Doctor, I must disagree.  I’m folding.”

With theatrical deliberateness, John put his money into the pot.  “Call.”

Grinning from ear to ear as if her face would split, Laura flipped over her cards.  “Ha!”

Five Hearts, Queen high. Then John did a double take and felt like his jaw smacked the
table.

Five Hearts, all right.  Queen high and Eight low.  With a Nine, Ten and Jack in between.

Beverly gave a good-natured shout of chagrin.  George let out an exclamation as well.

Laura sat back and folded her arms across her chest.

John found himself grinning almost as broadly as Laura.  “Queen of Hearts, huh?  It figures.”

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And for those who like the supershort stories, it’s also available in this volume:

Zoom! A collection of flash fiction.

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Xin Xii

One Response to The Bluff

  1. Fritz Billy says:

    Sweet read, thank you

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