A game of cards [Excerpt]

December 30, 2013 § 1 Comment

house of cards

At the next table sat three tensely mute men. Each was slouched behind a set of five high-held cards, looking intently into them as if the sheer power of their gaze may melt and redo the fortunes subscribed on the cheap plastic. Subsequently, one of them lazily threw down a Hearts’ four and prompted a slow game. The hopelessness of his manner was countered by the apprehension of one and the sudden joviality of the other, both of whom proceeded to contribute their Hearts and then shifted the stakes to the Diamonds. Upon every new round, the emotions on their faces registered vivid changes. They would go from struck to livid to joyous to ebullient, dead-mute and struck in a matter of a few rounds.

It was the sum total of their inconsistent lives, packaged and shipped in a pack of 52 cards manufactured by the U.S. Card Games Inc. The workers at the factory had specially stamped their fates into the cards, leaving tiny, empty slots to be filled with cartridges of misfortune. So here they were, fervently beckoned to their misery by shifting their small money among themselves. The whole point of their wins and losses was so insignificant that it eradicated the very sense of accomplishment of victory or grief of defeat and all was uniform and equal. The dealer, the winner and the loser forged into one grand spectacle of sheer human disillusionment.

They didn’t mind the stale food or the cold tea. Even the waiter pitied them and resigned on his right to pick loose change from the dim gloom of their pockets. After the 16th game, a number of distinct rubs and smudges on the backs of multiple cards and some restless sighs, the gaunt fellow to the right shuffled the cards into a neat block and pushed it back into the packet. ‘So long’ was the final declaration of a conversation who’s sole premise and total remainder was ‘Hello’ and then the three split into the dark night outside.

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