OK, 71 days isn't a significant number, but it does give me an excuse to post the above poster to the new Indy film that's just been released. I defy anyone not to look at that and start humming the theme...
The Charming Monkey, Part 12
Fortis sat with a satisfied grin on his face. The cards hadn't even been dealt, and yet you would have thought he'd already won.
"Texas Hold 'em, house rules", said the dealer who started slide the cards across the green beige of the table. I liked poker. I relished in the chance to read people's faces; to try and play them. I was usually confident of taking the pot, but this monkey business had me spooked. I needed to play a few hands and try to get to know my opponent.
"Let's keep this civil", I said to Fortis, checking the two cards dealt to me. "Limit the bets for now".
"Not scared, are we Mr Cane?", he replied with a smirk.
"Well if you're as good as they say you are, I don't want the evening to end too early", I replied, faking a laugh. Fortis chuckled. It seems he also had perfected the skill.
The first hand was over quickly. I had nothing, but didn't fold. I needed to watch Fortis very closely. He won, but it was expected. As the hands played out, I kept losing. It was never a question of skill. I bluffed as good as I could, but Fortis always called it, even when he didn't have a right to. It was the strangest game of cards I had ever played. If we weren't playing with the casino's money, I would have sworn blind that it was fixed.
The game went on, and my pile of chips was decreasing rapidly. Vadas was looking uneasy in the corner of the room, and shot me the occasional glare. Two more cards lay in front of me: the Two of Spades and the Four of Diamonds. It looks like I was in for another miserable hand. I looked across at Fortis, who hadn't even looked at his cards. He was grinning. I chucked in a few chips, and Fortis followed. The three cards of the flop were laid out. The King of Spades was the first card out, followed by the Two of Clubs and the Five of Spades. A pair of deuces is all I had, Fortis checked his cards and I could tell from his expression that he had a lot more. I threw in some more chips, and again Fortis followed, raising the bet as well. A called it and motioned to the dealer, who dealt the next card. The Queen of Spades greeted the table. I had four spades, almost a flush.
It all rested on the final card, and I made my move. I calmly pushed my remaining chips into the post in the middle of the table. Fortis peered cautiously at me, and then smiled.
"All in, Mr Cane?", he said, "I took you to be a much less foolish man".
"Are you in, or out?", I replied curtly.
"Oh, most definitely in", he said, pushing his chips into the pile, "but I fear your confidence is misplaced".
"Is that so? Well how about raising the stakes?". Fortis looked stunned. Then looked at the bare space in front of me.
"You don't appear to have anything left to bet...", he said. I looked at Vadas.
"He'll raise you everything in the casino vault", Vadas said, sternly. I almost choked. Fortis's eyes lit up for a second, but then became wary.
"There's no way I'll be allowed to walk out of here with all that money when I win. You're just playing me. I'm not a fool, Vadas".
"You have my word, Mr Fortis", Vadas growled. "I trust Mr Cane's judgment, and if you do win, I will not only give you the money in the vault, but you can have the casino itself".