The Hand You Don’t Play

Posted: June 28, 2014 by writingsprint in Dubrillion Burning, Science fiction
Tags: , , , , , ,

Just thought I’d whip together something fun for tonight. I love poker movies like Rounders.

Post #42 of the Dubrillion Burning series

Sutter turned the next to last of the river cards — four of diamonds. The river showed ace of hearts, four of diamonds, three of diamonds, jack of clubs. The tricky part of playing Devil Poker was that the fifth card wasn’t turned over until the players decided whether or not they were in. Raffa had the jack of diamonds and the jack of hearts as his hole cards.

Sutter threw in his chips. “Five hundred.” Raffa heard the brush of an Imperial accent in his voice again. He’d placed weak bets off the flop and the turns. He was acting like he had a flush.

Raffa put his hands behind his on his belt, nodding slowly. He was thinking. It was also his signal to Corso, who stood nursing a beer behind him, to look for trouble.

Teddy, a skinny Corellian with bad breath, tossed down his cards, swearing something close to “pig dog donkey bugger” in Gutter slang. Damon, a blond gun runner from Tatooine, folded too.

Beryl smiled sweetly. She always did when she was about to take your money. “Five,” she said, staying in. Beryl had placed the same bets all the way through. Raffa was guessing she had a straight, topping at the ace.

“I’m in, and I’ll raise you two thousand,” Raffa said.

Sutter smiled. “This is a dangerous game you’re playing, Mr. Korsaro.” There. A light twang in the word game. He wanted Raffa to hear it. Raffa saw someone in the crowd behind Sutter with good sight lines who became still.

“Really? I call it Tuesday night.” Where Sutter couldn’t see, Raffa brushed the edge of his blaster with his thumb.

Sutter pushed his chips in. “Ten thousand. All in.”

Beryl tossed down her cards. “Fucker!”

It wasn’t worth it. Raffa had more credits than that, but not here. To match his bet, Raffa had to put up the Comet. Sutter didn’t have the flush. With a bet like that, he was just done playing cards.

Raffa tossed down his cards. “Buy something nice.”

Sutter grinned, teeth spreading back to his ears like rows of bullets. Damon sat back in his chair. Teddy got up to get a drink. Raffa’s eyes never left Sutter.

Beryl reached across the table and flipped their cards and the Devil. Jack of Spades. Raffa had four of a kind, and Sutter almost had a flush.

“You had him!”

“For money, I’d make that play. For the Comet?” He shook his head.

“Well played, captain,” Sutter said.

“Well bankrolled, Imperial.”

Beryl froze. Sutter gestured toward the private booths. “Will you join me for a drink?”

It had sounded generous. It wasn’t a request. Beryl’s hand drifted toward her blaster. Raffa stood up. “If you’re buying? Sure.” His eyes ticked to Beryl. He waved her off below the table.

Two more Imperials waited in the booth, a Lyrian and a Cormian. Raffa ate some of the chips and guacamole in the middle of the table.

“They have the best guac in the galaxy here, don’t they?” Raffa said.

Raffa clapped Sutter on the back. If they were feigning friendship he might as well have fun with it. “So. You guys here long? Here to check out the dog races? I hear they allow bio-mods. Six legs, eight legs. If they can run, they’re legal.”

Sutter said, “Same as you. We’re here on a job. I like this station. My friends, not so much.”

Raffa held out his hands to the Lyrian. “Raffa Korsaro.”

“Tosha,” the Lyrian said. She shook Raffa’s hand, looking like she’d swallowed a gallon of bile. She didn’t like playing games. Inflexible. Easy to outfox but don’t fight her straight-up.

Raffa held out his hand to the Cormian. The Cormian reached for him with a funny set to his shoulder and his hand fixed like a claw. Raffa held back his hand. He said, “My friend, don’t move if you don’t want to die.” The Cormian’s eye twitched. On the other side of the bar, Corso had his pistol halfway out of its holster. He might burn Raffa’s arm but he could put a shot between the Cormian’s eyes from here.

Sutter chuckled. “Victor, there’s no need for that. Mr. Korsaro is our friend.”

Raffa grabbed Victor’s hand and shook it like they were old friends. He slapped his arm. Victor looked sick. He was a deadly weapon, good at killing.

Raffa sat down. A sweaty, breathless waiter with a dirty towel over his shoulder walked over. Some of the stains on the towel were red. Sutter said, “Give us a bottle of 24-year old Dantooine whiskey.”

Damn it. They even had that in their files? What else? His underwear size?

“We don’t have anything that good,” the waiter said.

“I hear the firewater here is good,” Raffa said.

“Firewater, then,” Sutter said. The waiter walked off. Sutter turned to Raffa. “You know when to walk away from a bad hand.”

“Depends on the stakes.”

“Your princess isn’t doing well. Her luck may get worse soon.”

“She’s a queen. I like her odds.”

  1. A.D. Everard says:

    I enjoyed this! Love the last line especially. It made me smile.


    • This hints at Raffa’s story arc. At this point in the story, things will get worse before they get better for Risha, and there’ll be the temptation to bail out on a losing hand.


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