A night at the cardroom

The below is a short story from my days playing poker professionally in Portland. It is a story of just one of the MANY nights I came home from the card room a loser.

A night at the cardroom

And that night, I walked alone from the dimly lit card room. Down the steps, through the corridor, out the doors and into the spacious car park. The five minute drive home felt an eternity as I wallowed in an unconscionable pool of self-pity. Hours upon hours spent playing cards, and for what? To lose $800. To go nowhere. To go backwards. To gamble. And to lose.

As I drove home alone, a pervasive emptiness sat inside, which not even the grandest of experiences in that moment could have filled. A familiar voice harped on with a familiar tale:

What a loser! What are you doing with your life?

I pulled up outside the house, next to the cutty-grass bush. The garage was open. Stephanie sat on an upturned empty paint tub enjoying a cigarette. She asked why I was home so early, and I told her with smile contradicting the pervasive emptiness I felt inside, that things had not gone so well.

Her hands trembled. She was barely able to bring the cigarette to her mouth. It reminded me of my Opa, the way his hands would shake while he clutched a fork when he ate. Only Opa had good reason to shake. He’d seen three times the show Stephanie had.

We talked for an hour or so. About what, I can’t recall. Stephanie had another few cigarettes, and I more feelings of self-pity. Then she stood, and her entire being shook violently as if the ground were moving beneath her. I stood in stillness, watching her legs wobble like pieces of spaghetti. I asked whether she was okay, and she responded with a smile, “Yes, just a little wobbly, the MS plays up at night”.

I took her by the arm and she lent her weight into me. We walked together arm in arm from the garage, through the lounge, up the stairs, taking each step one, by one, by one, and then down the corridor and to her room. She thanked me for my help while she lay on her bed in a state of paralysis involuntarily challenged by the ceaseless shaking of her body.

I went downstairs, closed the garage door, and turned off the lights.

As I lay alone in bed something dawned on me… if I hadn’t lost $800, I might not have been home to lend Stephanie my arm.


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