The cards lingered for an airborne second, unsure of their purpose, before they dropped, turning over, revealing that everyone had in fact bluffed. The chips – green, blue and yellow were left standing, miniscule skyscrapers minus their architects. The hands that had shielded the cards were gone.
A heap of clothes was all that was left of each of the players. A fiercely fought poker game had been left stranded. To an onlooker, it would have looked extraordinary. But there was no onlooker. Having raised the stakes, the players themselves had all been raised to hell above.
Meanwhile, the excited man ripped off the cover with uncontrolled glee. He was determined to do it right tonight. It was a matter of tearing off the cover, giving it a pinch, and unrolling it. He had even timed himself, a tad less than five seconds.
Too many times he had tasted failure. The glazed over look of the woman, while in fervent anticipation of penetration, would in seconds cloud over with irritation, desperation, and finally something resembling pity. All the while the excited man would be fumbling about, in a race against himself.
Not tonight. He waited until the time was right.
Tear, pinch, unroll, descend.
The girl was gone. How long had he taken? Where was she?
This time, there was an onlooker, the excited man. No heap of clothes left behind though. The previously excited and now gone girl had been naked.
Elsewhere, possibly in South India, the piercing scream of “Last Order” catapulted a bunch of drunks into a passionate calculation. One would think it was the end of the world, the way they sprung into action. Those who were drinking alone argued amongst themselves. Surely, another two pegs!
The groups of two, three or more dove into a serious discussion as to how many each of them could take. The small fry, “mere kids” to the experienced lot drinking down their sorrows at the single tables and at the bar.
Billy Joel would have been proud.
The bartender moved from table to table. Rubbishing the tall claims the drunks made. Chiding and telling them off for thinking they can have two more. He noted everything down – wherever three, he noted two, wherever two, he wrote one and wherever one he wrote – get the bill. He took off into the bar to get the drinks.
The tray full, he strides back to the tables. He sweeps his gaze across the bar, he sees no expectant drunk looking back at him. The tables are all empty. His gaze meets the cashier who seems to be in a trance of his own.
The beer bubbled softly, popping itself out. The whiskey sat forlornly in the glasses. It ages tastefully in a casket, but once out of the bottle, it loses its grace and needs to find solace in a drunk’s throat.
Elsewhere, at a lonely desk by a window, a nib skidded off the page and tumbled onto the paper. It trailed a tangent from the word it was inscribing. The pen itself rolled over a couple of times, swaying one way and another and it then lay still. The ink in time finally dried. A few more words and the debut author’s dream would have been complete.
Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. – From the Bible.
Write Club Hyderabad – Journey to the End – September 9th, 2017.