Note*** I posted an older poem that is back a ways in the blog. You can find it in the left hand module, entitled "a Personal Haunting". It sort of goes along with this "story", in a way. I'd appreciate any kind of critical feedback :) ***
I was dealt a bad hand from the beginning.
Through my nervous fingers each glossy surface glided smoothly from one palm to the next, rearranging themselves in meaningless order. My pupils focused avidly on the opposite end of the table, to the gentleman in the dark hat, sitting quietly in a shadowed silhouette. The lack of light surrounding our game made the visible blanket of night through the near window nearly explode the room in tones of cerulean, which produced an extraordinary effect of the separate faces of the seated players. Every gentle cheek and downcast eye stretched into a long countour and every slight smile morphed into a menace, as if they equally shared a secret. I kept my gaze averted to the gentleman' s narrow brim, imagining how it would be to trace with my fingertips that sharply crisp axis around his dark head. It was no mystery that at least one present at the event shared such a secret. His grim silence during the circumstances of casual whisperings and foretellings among the others made this quite evident. The real clue was the way in which he held his cards- each one aligned perfectly to the invisible lines running vertically from the ceiling to the table's surface. The man of mystery was only a temporary diversion to the fate laid out in my own two hands, for I soon realized that my turn was approaching.
They told me his name was Rex Burgle, though the majority of the company resorted to calling him Ex. Why not just Rex is a fact I never did acquire, still 'Ex' seemed more justified- a whole other name completely, a cover for the character dressed in black clothing. I was thankful for this- it would have been impossible to take him seriously with a name like Burgle. There were moments, briefly sweet, when he did in fact amuse the crowd by his silent moves and smooth shuffles. It was so obviously strange that he would sit there and not say a word while the guests' volume heightened with the minutes. And yet, the simplicity of the gentleman's tricks combined with mystery of such a visage confounded my observation. It occurred to my mind that he had been a part of me all along, some Master to a region of my soul unchartered. His posture indicated pride, his reticence hinted shame. Ex. I knew him well.
We gambled through the night. The bodies in between our two ends of the table were merely there in flesh, but colorful spirits of surrounding cities and voices. The familiar play of Poker transformed into Hearts, oh Hell! before I had time to gather my senses. Ex came to be my only opponent and ever more my greatest alibi. With every maneuver he urged me to play on, risking my whole share of winnings. My legs were numb under the table from the tense position in which I strained myself to breathe slowly, cautiously. Any sign of weakness would take me down, for his confidence dominated the back room of the casino. This place I never would have found myself under normal circumstances- under safer standards. I recalled only the shadow of a some hatted figure beckoning me into the doorway at which he stood, enticing my most secret longing, seducing the "natural man's" appetite. I followed and wound up here. I let myself drift off into a world of trusting disguises and now I hardly knew how to achieve escape.
Soon Ex sensed my apprehension, and in one quick swipe his hand fell, complete with a fully perfect suit, onto the cold mahogany and it was finished. The game was won in his favor, like always. That narrow brim raised like a ghost and two pitiless eyes the color of frosted lakes burrowed their way to the portion of courage still existent within my mortal being. Little by little his stare finished me off. Would it help to scream? None to listen meant none to hear. So I challenged my fear with counterfeit passion and allowed the shadow to take me over, wondering all the way if this was how it felt to be raped. Pain streak after pain streak, the line of gambles never ceased. All I wanted was my liberty back, yet Ex controlled my actions from every angle. His face now exposed, I collected memories from the course lines that shaped the wretched thing. So many memories. I could feel his cold breath on my back, and just as the quartz chandelier on the ceiling seemed to sway a little too far-removed from its metal hook, sleep embarked on haunting another's poor trance and I awoke.