Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Flashbacks Like Backdrafts

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-A CEO.

-A punkass.

-A girl. 

-Oh God, the girl.  It’s haunting.

-The CEO.   His inquiries.  His trepidation.  The details of the deal.

-A punkass I’m attempting to bluff...      

-The girl.  My introduction to her.   From South Carolina.  Out tonight with her cousin.  In CLE for 3 weeks to visit family.   So ungodly beautiful.  And oh so out of my league.  Like…

-The CEO.  Also out of my league.  

-And the bluff I’m running now against the best player at the table.  Fucking idiot move.  Or is it…? 

-The conversation.  Keep the best goddamn conversation you’ve carried in your entire life here.  You’ll have to.  It’s your only chance with her.  And don’t get caught looking at her legs…

-A voicemail from Monday.   “We’d like for you to go and speak to a “Leonard so-and-so” about opening up business accounts with...”

-7,5 suited.  Why is it always this hand I choose to explode with stupidity on?  7 fucking high?  I might as well play…

-2,7.  Twenty seven years old.  A teacher, grade school.  She’s talking about herself.  That’s good.  Ask more questions.  Move closer.  Listen.  Engage.  Don’t get caught looking at her legs…

-And who the hell is this Leonard so-and-so?   I handle consumer accounts.  Although…

-I’m positive this punkass has a medium pair.  Take it down pre-flop.  That’s the plan anyway.   I have to pay attention to…

-The girls.  They’re leaving now for the evening.  Nice to meet them.  2 cousins.  Fun times.  Kept it light. We’re going to go out again 2 nights from now.  All of us.  Good.  Groundwork.  The cousin from Carolina.    See her soon and… 

-“You’ll be accompanied on your visit by a colleague of your’s.  A “Mr. D.”  Now, he’ll be handling the technical questions Matt.  Your job is to get Leonard to engage...  Ok?”  

Engaging…

-The look that the punkass gives me after I 3-bet him.  Puzzled.  For a split second I think he may even 4-bet me.  And I…

-Hug the girls hello.  Finally.  Longest 2 days of my life.  The anticipation of waiting to see her again.  The gentlest touch of Carolina accent on her “hii”.  Tan, slender body.  Sandy brown hair and glistening blue eyes.  Yes, engaging…

-“Engage him.  Like, as in get him to open up...  Don’t blast him with the business.  That’s Mr. D’s job.  Ok?  Ask him about golf.  Poker.  WWII even.  See how he reacts…”  

-The punkass.  And my 3-bet to $40.   Would he re-raise me?   I’m sensing indecision from him.  Air wrought with tension.  Thin sliced.  Availing to…

-Her smile, at me.  Oh God she’s smiling at me.  Laughing.  Opening up like a flower.   Get another bottle of wine on the scene asap.   And don’t get caught looking at her legs.  That’s not part of the… 

-Strategy session.  A meeting with my colleague Mr. D.  A number cruncher.  A bit of a peaver.   Wankerish, but bright, and sharp as a tack.   We shake hands.   The two of us, and...

-A full minute passes.  The punkass is still looking at me curiously.  Like he’d been driving one of those miniature remote control cars down the street just before I ran it over with my car.  Purposely...

-Wine drunk.  My arm loosely around her as we sit at the patio- bar.  Is she leaning in towards me over time…?  Or is it the vino?  We laugh at the Ohio cousin.  She tells us funny stories about her husband and kids.   Carolina sets her wine glass down to brush her hair back over her left shoulder.  Exposing the neck of...

-“An accounting operation.  Not huge, but not small either.  We’ve been in talks with them for months but they won’t budge off PNC...”  Mr. D fills me in on Leonard’s operation.  Anyway, you’ve been in commercial banking for.. 5 years now, Rick says?  Or was that…?”

-A Punkass.  Pulling theatre shit.  Sitting there wasting my time before dropping in an inevitable call.   My eyes dart to his stack.  They’re drawn to…

-Her neck.  Like a vampire spying the vital vein it affects me.  The smell of her skin.  The cartwheels turning within me.  Oh, how I want to attack it.   The nape of it.  To kiss the length of it.  Drawn there like a magnet.  Degrees pointed to…

-“Zero.  0 years and 0 months, I’ve been in commercial banking…”   I tell my colleague,  the peavish wanker, Mr. D.   He looks at me curiously.  An awkward pause because…

-I’ve got no idea what I want this flop to be.  Low cards?  High cards?   What if my read is way off and he has A,K?   Fucking punkass.  I’ve got to stay…

-Non-committal.  Got to stay noncommittal with her here.  No need to go off professing love just yet.  The placement of my arm is enough to show I’m interested.   Let’s gage some…   

-Reaction.  Mr. D reacts better than I thought that he would to my comment.  No time in commercial banking Mr. D.  Zero.”   He shrugs.  A “fuck it” kind of shrug.  Myyy man. 

-2,2,3.   Interesting flop against a punkass.  He checks.

-She checks.  Her phone.  The Ohio cousin, before letting out an “ah shit.”   Something’s up with one of the kids.   She has to get home before the husband goes nuts.  But it’s not even…

-“Wednesday, noon.  That sound ok?”  Mr. D asks me.  “If Leonard confirms?  That work for you?”  Hesitation as I…

-Take around 4 seconds to study the 2,2,3 flop...   Then 8 seconds.  Then 12!  DO SOMETHING!

FUCK! 

-Think fast.  Not planning on the girls leaving so soon.  Not planning on anything really.   Fuck! She’s only here for 8 more days.  Fuck it.  Go for it.  Gotta play the hand fast now.  No choice.   Do NOT let her leave with her.  No more…

-Studying.  Commercial banking charts for hours.  Day and night.  Pouring over them.  Memorizing.  Regurgitating.  Speaking to the mirror.  Features.  Benefits.   Procedures and fees.  There’s a 50/50 chance we pull this off, Mr. D and I.  Maybe less than 50...

-Dollars.  I finally bet 50 dollars on the flop after about 20 seconds. 

“Bet’s $50.00,” The dealer confirms.  “$50 to go….”

-DON’T.   Let either girl say a word. 

Preempt.

Both girls turn to look at me.  Collective mouths, milliseconds from forming syllables.   But I get there first.

Go take care of the kid,” I tell Ohio.  Carolina and I are going to go walk the beach…”

OK…

A pause in time over this, my proposition.  Ohio’s mouth, still open, falls further so.  Carolina, visibly perplexed.   Uncertain at…     

-This tie.  Just tie your fuckin' tie Matt.  But I can’t.  3 attempts.  The nerves.   This was ridiculous.  How can they expect me to…?

-“CALL,” The punkass states boldly.   “I CALL.”  Like flop calls are going out of fucking business or something.  He’s boring a hole in me with his stare.   Screaming at me with it.  His “I Call” announcement seems to hold itself in midair over the table, as we…

-Both hug the Ohio cousin goodbye.  She rushes out.  The beach..   Carolina turns to look at me.  She smiles wryly.  Curious, like a kitten.  What are we up to?  Well, we’re going to find out in about…

-10 minutes.  9 now.  To Leonard’s office.  We would arrive directly 5 minutes ahead of time.  The professional standard of “meet.”   Not a minute earlier.  Mr. D drives on.  Whereas…

- I drive against the punkass.   Driving this fucking hand expediently into jam-bet delirium.  Fire- balling handfuls of my stack at him.  Oh the feeling.  Swept away in emotion as we...

-Walk hand in hand down the beach.  Lana Del Rey’s “Blue Jeans” starts to play softly from a phone.  Carolina.  The way she laughs.  The way she smells.  Those goddamn legs.  Beautiful toes in still- warm sand.   A half-lit moon above, providing a modest glow at the midnight hour.   Our pace slows as we...

-Pull into the parking lot.  Mr. D eerily silent.  Concentrating.  Going over his mental note pad.  Silently rehearsing his cues.  This was to be his last chance with the client.  No mas por fina el’ D.  The two of us.  And we move away from the car on toward...

-The turn.   It’s a 9.  2,2,3 9.  No flush possibility.  The punkass looks at me.  Studying me...

-Intently.  Her blue eyes contemplating mine as we freeze completely.  This song that plays now..   it stops us in our tracks.  Blue Jeans.”  Conversation trailing off, my sentence never finished.  Butterflies 10 thousand strong take off from within me.  The lyrics, like the vice grip of... 

-Leonard’s handshake.  A slight man, with one helluva clench.   His eyes meet mine as we sit down in his office.   He studies...

-The turn.  The punkass studies the fuck out of the turn card.  For minutes.  Like the 9 of clubs there was going to suddenly grow an arm, and throw itself across the room.  He checks.  And I reach...

-Toward the stray tress, just above her brow.  Brushing back the strand…  Revealing in entirety those Carolina blues.   Glints of the moonlight reflected there in her eyes.  Dazzling.  Angelic.  Eternal...  

-Mr D’s presentation wares on...   An eternity, to be more exact.  Boring the pants off of both Leonard and I.  Gruesome.  Terrible.  Board

-A 9 high board.  Staring back at me.  Gotta bet.  Gotta bet.  Fuck me, gotta bet.  Can’t take no 20 seconds this time.  No stalling.  Sell it.   Be brief...

-Over her lips.  The kiss.   A few seconds max.  And then on to the neck.  Blowing softly at the left ear to begin my delicate assault.  She quivers, moaning just audibly...

-As does Leonard.  Moan at Mr. D.  And his laborious presentation.  Not an audible moan, nor the pleasurable kind.  But detectable nonetheless.  We we’re losing...

-This pot to the punkass.  He was going to see right through my shit and insta shove.  I knew it.  But fuck it, and I slam down $125.00.   The air leaves the room.  We’re left in a vacuum.  Mentally I cringe, waiting for the re-action to my action.   Buckled...

-Her knees.  Our knees.   Dropping as one onto the beach towel below.  My lips to the small of her neck, at the shoulder line.  Delicate hands working their ways under my t-shirt.  Moving over my chest, caressing the hairs.  Fast. Tooo fast.  “0 to 60 in no seconds flat.”   The neck move.  As a gentleman I have to ask…

-“You ok…?”

Leonard looks at me.  Mr D. too.  I had interrupted him cold, Mr. D, in mid present. 

“Look.  Leonard.  You know our offering is the best on the table...”  I say, swallowing the mental lump in the back of my throat before continuing…

“Now you can sit there blasé Leonard, and listen to Mr. D until we’re all bored to friggin' tears or, you can sign the documents.  Today.  Save a bit of money, and the two of us will get out of your life forever.”   

Brute force...

-Is only way to deal with fucking punkasses.   Who didn’t insta- shove on me coincidentally.  But he is still thinking about it.  Shoving.  I’m positive he has Jacks now.  Excruciating situation for him.  We’re too deep- stacked to play these games and he knows it.  Punkass.   My bets, they ask a pretty important question.  And the answer...

-“Mmmhmm,” She whispers, reaching up and out from within, shedding my t-shirt.  
Heartbeats.  Beating in unison as that devilish song replays itself, no one at the controls of the phone to stop it.   Bodies, readying themselves for each other.  Fluid order to the removal of clothing articles.  Goosebumps, both of us.  Pauses. Taken to taste.  As gradually...

-Leonard takes in what I’d just said.  He studies me as if I was alien.  I begin to fear the worst.  How badly would this man react?  Some people can’t handle that much “forward” in an approach.  His glare.  Deliberately...

-The punkass counts out $125 in calling chips.  Shaken.  Totally unsure of what to do next.  Nobody wants to be bluffed.  Not fucking punkasses.  Not nobody.  Agony.  And ecstacty.  He calls.  Next card coming.  The river flows...

-And her back arches.  Through the hair on my head run delicate little fingers.  A sudden pinch, as the nail of her right hand digs into my shoulder from above.  The spot...

-A common ground.  Mutual respect.  No Bullshit Leo!  C’mon, and let’s do this thing.”  I wish to myself as hard as I can.  His eyes flash toward a ringing phone.  Leonard’s.   But just for a second before returning to mine.  I peer straight back...

-At him.  The punkass.   So positive he would fold 4th street.  Until he called.  Like a fucking punkass.  Obediently dropping his chips into the middle.  Languidly, looking back at me...

-In the light of the moon. Carolina’s eyes I meet, as I work my way back up from below.  Finer than glass.  Ethereal blue.  Miles and miles and miles.  I’m lost to her.  Totally gone.  Her back bows lightly as I pin her arms to the towel, moving at one last for the neck... 

-Leonard.  You’re so fucking close Leonard.  Just do it.  Fucking sign it already.  Or we’ll be here well past…

-3.   On the river.  2,2,3  9  3.   Check…

-With her.  One last time before…

-Leonard reaches for a pen to sign. 

-And I reach for my stack.

-“Babe…?”

She nods…

-“Leonard...?”   He nods…

-“All in..?”  

I nod.

-Gently positioning myself.

-To shake Leonard’s hand.   Looking up menacingly.

-At the punkass while looking down sweetly.

-At her.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Eyes

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They are everywhere.   Looking.    Peering.    Searching for something to focus on.

Animals have them.   The wolves.   Peering out from the woods on a moonless night.   Predator eyes.   A foggy yellow hew, emanating in their bloodthirsty stare.

Seemingly, even a car speeding along in the dead of dark has them.   Eyes.   Not humanoid of course, but imitation- by- headlight nonetheless.

There are the eyes at a sporting event.   Thousands of them.   Spectator eyes.   Some peering down at the action, some head- buried in iPhone or tablet device.

There are the eyes of the players...      

Striving to do their best.

Focused.

Competition eyes.    Professional eyes...

And yet.   

Among them, there are a few who rise above the rest.    The 1st class.

The Premier.   The Distinguished.   The Best of the Best.

Is there...?    Something different in those eyes that sets them apart...?

What are in those eyes?    Is it...?

Perfection?    Excellence eyes?

The superb?

The thirst to win at what they practice no- matter the situation?   Everything they see, they see clearly.  

The zone. 

The will to achieve.   The will to defy.   The will to win...

It's a mindset.     I can tell you that.

And it's projected through the eyes.

A window to the soul.   A measure of the heart.   The wherewithal to stave off pain and fatigue in the name of accomplishment.    Predator eyes, not so unlike that of the wolf...

Intimidation eyes.

Tiger Woods' eyes. 

Late on a Sunday afternoon, 18th hole.   The stare.   The way the glint of a late afternoon sun gets about to shimmering into the eyeballs, revealing the scary- soul of an incredibly steady, incredibly confident, gaze of a champion.

Michael Jordan eyes.  

The slow chewing of the gum as he glances with recognition from floor to scoreboard.   It's the know of the situation...    That's the thing of it!

The sheer- weight that's about to be placed on his shoulders.  The demands.  Passionate fans, crying out exuberantly for him to remedy the situation.   Because, as Marv Alberts states...

"The home team is down good friends...   can he do it!?

And Jordan knows...  

He knows that He, and He alone will take the final shot.  Destining forever the fate of he AND every one of his Chicago Bull teammates...

Forever.

And Ever.

The eyes.   Always gazing.   Searching.   Looking to win the situation while defeating personal and contiguous exhaustion...

Indeed.   You can see everything in those eyes.   

Phantom EYES.

Like the glowing- red eyes of a terminator...

"....can't be bargained with, can't be reasoned with.   Doesn't feel pity, or fear, or remorse.   And he absolutely will not stop, ever...."

Body.  Blown to bits save for the head and torso, but still clawing forward with one arm towards it's victim.    Eyes ablaze.    Hell-bent, on completing it's mission.

Indeed, there are few that have them...

The Champion eyes.

These are the eyes that haunt opponents to their souls.   

Do you have those eyes...?

Phil Ivey eyes.

Shark eyes.

"Dead, lifeless eyes...    Black.    Like a dolls eyes."   

"When he comes after you.   He doesn't seem to be livin'...    Until he bites ya.   And those black eyes, they roll over white.   The terrible high- pitched screamin' and hollerin'..."

"And then........"

"Then the ocean turn red......"

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The Ride Down On Gameday

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It's funny the way the day morph's itself...      In your own mind at least.

When you first awake, you know it.    I mean YOU KNOW IT, and you know it good...  

It's a Gameday.

Even before you have your first conscious thought, you know it.

"I have to...   mail that insurance payment.    Make sure to get an oil change.    Get the grass cut..."

All of these thoughts run second- fiddle to that aforementioned one, the one that always comes first.

It's the last thing on your mind before you fall asleep the day before.    And now here it is to greet you, peeking through the window like a ray of sunshine on a summer day.

Wakey Wakey... 

You open your eyes taking your first- full conscious breath...    And it hits you.   A bolt of adrenaline shoots down the length of your body with sudden recognition.

Wakey wakey...     It's Gamedaaaay.

That feeling.   It's been in your blood since you took that first fatal flop.   Those three little cards sliding out face- up on the table.    It's like the prick of a needle.    It's the fix.    Like a heroin addict, those three cards have the same effect.

The pupils suddenly dilate.    The heart, bumpbump-bumpbump...   spikes in gaining rhythm.   Felt in the chest, and now suddenly racing through the neck.

It's Gameday yes...

But it's not just any Game Day,  this one.     It's Thursday's GameDay.    And game days like this for me, are unlike all the rest...

For you had better be focused on Thursday's gameday.   I'm telling you.   Oh my.   Because if you're not...   you're liable to be scalped.   Uprooted and un-hinged.    Sent to the cleaner whilst your wallet does singe.    

The lineup.     

"Gambling Tornados!"  is an accurate description given by my friend Ryan.    And gambling tornados like none- other....   as they happen to be all of my good friends.

We've played against each other from the start.    We know each other's tactics.     Our betting patterns and raising schematics.     Head- nods and finger twitches.     Everything is exposed...    

Like the famous photo of Marilyn Monroe standing above that subway- ventilation grate....    There's no way to keep that dress down baby!    No fightn' it!    Not when you're playing over the fierce winds swirling around at this poker game.    

Ah!    But then, the true question becomes...   Who will be playing the role of the wind rushing through that grate...?    And who, will be playing the struggling Miss Monroe..?

The truth is, any player has the possibility of playing either role and at any given time.     The only veritable difference between the tornados, is their preparation, and then reactions...   when the roles become evident.

---

It's 1 hour til showtime now...   The ride down on Gameday.     The wind rushing past my head, windows down.  Even the air smells different on days like this.    Crisp.    Almost fragile.     Like a half of a sneeze will shatter it into a million pieces.     There's tension.    My mind drifts to the task at hand, fiery words echoing through my head...

You must be focused.

You must be calculated.

You must have discipline.

You Must not relent.....     Must not relent.....    Must not relent.

It's like a "second me" emerges...     A drill sergeant- like bastard.    Angry and fired-up, with no passion for loss or excuse.     He screams for precision, for entireness, for the chips of the weak...    And he will not tolerate mistakes.

This figment of my mind.   The one that keeps me focused.  The one that plays by all the rules of the game.   The one that always shows up, on the Ride Down on Gameday...

He's a sicko.   An f'ing nutjob.    A chimera particle somewhere in the depths of my mind, hell- bent on shitting excellence and pissing perfection.     He will not let me be.    Then again, I really wouldn't want him to go... 

I first met him in December of 2009.    Nearly 3 years ago.    The times were different then.    The lack of experience in my game was severely evident.   

I had played that evening's session like a fucking jackass.    MGM Grand Detroit.   So many mistakes.   All I wanted that night was to find a sleep that I hoped would clear my head.

And then he came to me...     This voice that lives deep within my conscious.

It was in that instant just before you've fallen completely under.    I remember laying in my bed, but I wasn't in my room any longer...     Had I finally snapped?

I was transported to some dark interrogation chamber.    Underground maybe?    I think so...  But how many levels down I had no way of knowing.

There was one light.    One very bright- ass light, and it was shining directly into my eyes.    I couldn't see a thing.    I was terrified.   I shook.   Somewhere a rusty faucet or maybe an old pipe was dripping.    Plunk...    Plop...   Plunk...   Every three seconds a drip.     Blinded and alone I sat there in silence.   

Then the terrifying voice.   It wasn't a human voice.   It sounded...  electronic.   Even a bit warbled.    Like the voice- sound you hear in a movie as the character sits at CIA headquarters, the questioning intonations coming from men in an adjacent room their voices totally camouflaged and transformed.     Computerized.     No way to tell one voice from the next, let alone discern a voice you might recognize from your past.

"Mr. Gecik..."    The voice flat- lined in a grave tone from a speaker above...

"Mr. Gecik....   It has come to our attention that you have failed more missions in the past few months than you've successfully completed.     Is this true Mr. Gecik....?"

My lips trembled at finding the words to answer his question...     It was true.

"We don't accept mitigation here Mr. Gecik.    We don't accept excuses,"   The voice reverberated on...   

I cringed.   The words he spoke were like a jack- hammer, driving through my insides and resting on my soul.

"We will not tolerate failure any longer.    You will be held accountable from now on Mr. Gecik...    for every facet of your game, for every ill- move you make, for every dime you spend that does not come back us, you will be held accountable..." 

There was a pause.

The maddening drip-drip-drip of that fucking faucet the only noise to break the eerie silence of this one-sided dialect.

"We'll be watching you very closely Mr. Gecik....   We do not like to lose.    Do you understand this fact Mr. Gecik...?"    The voice threatened, before eventually fading out.

Covered in sweat I awoke with a start.   Yes.   I understood....     Certainly not with the clarity that I understand now.    But I understood their meaning nonetheless...     Playtime was over.   It was time to start winning.     

Whether this phenomenon was the product of conscious thought, or the musings of a world soaked in dream I will never be able to say for certain.     But one thing is true....    I don't want to end up in that musty interrogation room ever again.   No matter which side they claim to be on.

Those guys.    Scary though they may be, only want the best.   That part of me at least, whoever those guys are up there, aren't there to hurt me.   In fact it's 100% the opposite.    They recognize the discipline and wherewithal necessary to execute +EV moves with every breath you take.   It's a will.    It's the like the best part of me is attempting to pull up the bootstraps of the worst of me...   The "lazy with my decisions, blame it on bad beats defeatist" side.    It's an unconscious rescue mission.      The fight to dispel personal demons and obliviate mediocrity...   

And in the days following this episode all the way up until now, that phantomized voice has been a part of me.   Especially on the ride down.    This second side of my supraliminal mind.   Always questioning my play.    Focusing me on preparation for the game ahead.    Molding my psyche.    On days like today.

On Gameday. 

--- 

It's 30 minutes til showtime now.   The lineup is set.     With an earlier glance at the computer I spied which of the tornados would be blowing into town this Thursday night.

Miles and miles of hand histories involving the attending players start pouring off my mental wire.   From games in years past to games from last month....  every detail stored is recalled, regurgitated and flashed at light speed before my wondering eyes.   Somewhere in the farthest reaches of my mind, the second me is preparing for the storm to come.

Betting patterns.   Tells.    Timelines.    Tilt ratios.    Every conceivable advantage is being reviewed up there.   When to bet.    What to bet.    Who will fold to my shenanigans, and who will struggle like hell to keep their dress from flying up past their ears.

20 minutes til showtime....     I swear I can feel the earth begin to tremble.    Somewhere out there the other tornados are beginning to gather.     They too recognize the significance of a game like today's.      The ramifications of loss, and the sick feelings of fiery rage one suffers over losing at the game to all of one's asshole friends.  

You must be focused.

You must be calculated.

You must have discipline.

You Must not relent.....     Must not relent.....     Must not relent...........   

The voice thunders continuously from within now.     Interminable.     Like a record skipping over and over and over again.    Hounding me.    Preparing me for the inclement weather swarming into the region.     On days like today...

On GameDay.

10 minutes til showtime...     Every animate object seems like it's presenting itself in two- dimensional form.    Like the pages of a storybook, every bush and blade of grass looks divergent, almost contradistinct.    Like my mind is computing, but reporting a full half- second behind.    Laaaag.    Not a slow connection, but the result of the millions of bites of data being processed in one- millionth of a second.     The most infamous villains in all of history...

Osama BradLaden.      Grayday Gadaffi.      Colin Jong Il.      Irwin Rommel Della Volpe.
Teddy TK Kaczinsky.      Timmy The Kid Kilbane.     Pontius Pilot Paoli...

One after the other the plans scroll by.    The tactics for dealing with each tornado being uploaded all at once.     The procedures.    The outlines for success projected and ready for execution like a highly specialized military op.      Compound storming,   tornado stomping.
     
8 minutes til showtime....  Lightening streaks across an ash- gray sky, each bolt preceded by the CRACK of stampeding thunder shots.   Trees that stood motionless, serene, just a few hours before begin to sway violently in the on-rushing winds.

My heart rate elevates steadily as I close in on my destination, both the physical and the mental.    bumpbump-bumpbump-bumpbump...  beats my heart....   gameday-gameday-gameday beats my mind.

My car ceases to exist, instead morphing into some sort of stealth helicopter.     The motion of the powerful rotors, the turbines beating along with the rhythm of my heart and mind.     gameday-gameday-gameday...   with each whooshing revolution.  

Swooping in now, not on the house of the host...    But a compound in Pakistan.     The final descent into the war zone that is Thursday's poker game.     And then....

Silence.    Everything stops all at once.    In an instant my mind suddenly slows.    

Where just a second ago the landscape of my conscience was littered with a thousand scenarios, now there is calm.    Cleared of it's clutter like a blank word document, only the cursor remains on screen.  

Blink.   Blink.   Blink.      

Upload complete.  

I shut off the car, stepping outside somehow surprised at the bright- blue sky up overhead.     Was it not jussst storming like the end of eternity out here..?     What happened?

I can't help but get the feeling this might be the work of that second me, the one with the voice.   Shoving me out of the way.   He's in control now.   He's the one with the instinct for this game.  I may as well go grab a beer and let him do his thing.     This is his scene.   A crime scene.   The normal Matt G need not apply...

I begin my ascent up the front walk.    Somewhere to the left a very animated man exits a large red pick-up truck.

"YE-YE-YE--YEEEEEAAA BITCHES...!!!"  He exclaims, as he stumbles up the drive.

"Moamar Grayday Gadaffi...,"  I can hear the second me think to himself in recognition of the figure now standing before us....   "What a Fucking tornado..."

"Why...   Hello Bitches!"  The man exclaims upon approach, a wave of his arm through the air...

"Why...    Helllllo Miss Monroe..."   The sicko- headed second me replies, smiling to himself without missing a beat. 

Then we walk inside, the three of us.   The two me's and the newcomer he...    To join the other cyclone- winds that would form tonight's massive storm.     A tornado.    
On a day like today...

ON GAMEDAY.   

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Adjust Like Caesar

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In the year 52 B.C. the Emperor Caesar fought and won one of the most epic battles in early military history.   The battle for the Gallic town of Alesia.

Alesia was seated perfectly at the center of opportunity for expansion.   Expansion, that meant power.

At war with the Gauls for many years prior to this, Caesar saw Alesia as an opportunity to strike a death blow to the Gallic tribes he hated so greatly.

The metropolis itself was a heavily fortifified, hill-top town-center, surrounded by river valleys that would provide a perfect epicenter for regional domain.   Take Alesia, Caesar reasoned, and he could take out the Gauls for good...

But how to go about this?  

Alesia......?   A virtual fortress, oooozing of defense.......?    Seated way up on a hill, almost as high as a mountain...?

A formal frontal assault would have been hopeless, a literal up- hill battle with nearly 0% chance of success.   Surely a slaughter in the making, this strategy...

And the same for a distanced attack using aerial weapons.   For to get within range to launch and fire upwards, meant that the Gauls, having only to fire downwards, would have been in range of them almost 10 minutes beforehand.

And so Caesar mused on....   And he mused, and then he mused a bit more before he decided upon plan...   A plan that was as devious, as it was genius.

Caesar would conquer Alesia by "not attacking" the city at all.   At least, not in the literal sense of the word.    Instead, Caesar hoped to force the Gauls into surrender by starvation.

He considered....   There were about 80,000 Gallic men garrisoned in Alesia.   Together with the local civilian population of another 200,000 or so, this should not take more than a matter of months.    A-ha...

But!   To guarentee starvation, Caeser realized a complete perimeter blockade of the city would be needed...   100%  no gaps or weak spots, nothing left un-defenced.   Total unadulterated wall- style pallisades.   Locked In.   Trapped.    No food, no water.

So, without delay, Caesar ordered the construction of an encircling set of fortifications called a circumvallation around Alesia.  The details of this incredible feat are known from gatherings of Caesars own notes...

"We shall construct henceforth... about 11 miles of 14 foot- high fortifications.   And this line, shall be followed in-wards by two more fourteen-and-a-half foot wide ditches, each of them 14 -and-a-half feet deep...  

(some rather colossal shit being built here.   seriously, with hand tools... )

he continues...

And these (ditches) that are nearest to their fortification (facing Alesia) are to be filled with water from the surrounding rivers to be used as a moat.  And these fortifications will further be constructed with mantraps and deep holes in front of the ditches, each regularly spaced by flanking watch towers and staffed by artillery units...."

Working around the clock Caesar's troops built the 11 mile wall in only 19 sunsets.   And so the waiting began...   The wait to starve Alesia, then plunder her remains and possess the ultimate position for rule.

So.... ok?  I hear ya.   Time to get to the point right?   Why are we talking about Caesar in a poker blog?   

Well frankly,  I feel like sometimes conquering our new casino is a bit like Caesar's campaign for Alesia.   With the variables you have to put up with...    The short-buyers mainly.    But also the players that are so God Forasaken awful, you really have no idea whether your top pair is good.   Should I value bet this.....?    Or....?

And you cuss, as the idiot next to you wins a $500 pot with K,7.    Is it really that easy?

If this was a CPMG cash game would this somehow be easier?    Everyone has stacks there, everyone has multiple buy-ins.    You can just....     fire away.      But not here it appears.   It's a constant pair of hand- cuffs hampering your every move.

Take for instance the imaginery K,J of spades we've just picked up here.   Imagine with me... 

In position, nice.    A multitude of limpers on over to us...   what do we do?  

Suited broadway cards must be played, and played for a raise!

But....   The small blind.    With his 62 damn dollars, he'll push on a wim.    Idiot.   All-ins.   You have to play pots against big stacks to make money!    But you can't call the idiot's shove with K high for $62...?   Right...?

Noooo.   What we do want is Mr. $400 in there.   Now him we'll play with for a nice little raise.   Look at those stacks.    Yum!     A nice 9,10,Q flop with him having top two would be perfect!

Except the fucking SMALL BLIND KEEPS SHOVING every time we try to set- up this little scenario.   <----  it makes me fuming mad just thinking about it.    

This new casino...     The riches it contains, but look at the monthly results for many of us!   Disgusting.    Are we just running slow?    Are we playing bad?    Are we playing right, but need to tweek an area or two?   Where the fuck are the results!   Sherlock?  Watson?   You boys seen any results lying around?

How can we adjust?    What can we change damnit!?

How can we loot this modern day Alesia we've got here... ?      
    
What if we could just starve them out?   Like Caesar did, right?     Build our wall.    Sit and wait.   A one strategy cure all!   Then just rake in the winnings every trip downtown!    Hurray!

However.     It wasn't that easy in Caesar's case either.

Because just 9 short days into the starvation campaign of Alesia, a Roman scout rode into camp with dire news.    It appeared a roaming legion of Gauls  (60,000 of them!)  were thundering their way towards them in defence of Alesia.   And by the scouts estimation...  they would be upon them in only 15 days.  

Not.   Good.   News.

Caesar was FURIOUS that this rogue army might spoil his plans and rescue Alesia.   (very much like we get furious at rogue shortstacks.  we've got the phat stack trapped over there in Alesia ripe for the busting, and we can't even bump a pot up to 8 bucks without interference!)

But Caesar wasn't about to have his plans ruined by these unaccounted- for fiends....

And so...  Setting forth a murderous pace, Caesar ordered a second wall in the other direction to protect he and his troops, this one nearly 14 miles long...!     Nearly 3 miles longer than the 1st.    And this newer 14 miler would have to be built in 5 less days than the recently completed shorter one...  

Now, people tend to associate ancient history with a textbook, unintentionally miniaturizing things out of portion and reality, but seriously...  next time you step outside, look at a patch of grass and think about the amount of time and energy it would take just to plant two  20 ft.  tree trunks parallel to one another, at a depth of 5 ft. deep.   Let alone 14 miles of the shit, with 15 ft. pits in front of them!   

But Caesar was unwavering.   He stuck to his guns,  and he adjusted.

One wall to keep the people of Alesia at -bay to a food source.....   And one wall to keep 60,000 cavalry troops from coming to their rescue.   

So there also are we.  Because that's what it feels like sitting downtown a lot of the time.  Trapped between two armies.  The yummy stacked Alesians on starvation/ mistake watch, and the Shorties attempting to jam their shit stacks up our asses.

And unfortunately, there is no one strategy cure- all like some folks dream of.    It would be nice....

But I think if we concentrate 110% on our situations, really use our reading skills when people look at their cards, and we stick to our guns...

The winners will emerge, having adjusted like Caesar.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Matt "eeee"

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I was peeing.   That's what I was doing.

Over in the southeastern- most corner of the Motorcity casino hotel, level 1.  Not actually in the corner obviously, but in the restrooms all the way in the back, right next to the bar.  The biggest bar, in fact, between their multi- levels of Gaming floors.

That's when one of those ultra euphoric, phantasmagoric feelings hit me.  You know the ones I mean?  Insta chills, hair on the back of your neck stands straight- up style of feelings.  Heart flutterations.  Weak in the knees, weak in the gut.  A little bit o' off- center there, in the back by your butt.

Tummy tulti-mations mofeeeeasy!   That's the type exactly.  Like an f'ing Cirque de Solei troop is performing their saturday night routine somewhere down in there.

Why?  Because there was a drawing going on...  A promotion.  A Pro-miggity motion bitches.  Free money in the air...   Free money, in the City of DEEEEtroit!

Thats right.  Swipe your card between 2 and 6 pm every friday in February.... and BOOM!  Your ass was entered.   Entered BRO!    Just like that.

Sweepstakes style.  Name's in a drum.  20 lucky recipients would leave the Big Corner Bar that night with between $500 to $5,000 more dollars than they had wandered over here with.  3 minutes to claim it, a life- time to frame it.

But it's 7:38pm, and the drawings had started at 7.   It was taking flipping forever. 

I was sure I had missed my allowed 3 orbits of absenteeism at the poker table that I'd left to come up here.  Maybe if they were playing slow?  An all-in on every hand?  A good long think between every street? 

No.  Impossible.  Surely when I arrived back in the poker room and glanced towards my empty chair, my chips would be bagged and flagged for receivership upon identication over at the Cage.

But fuck it.  The drawing.  Free money.  In the city of Deeetroit bitches.   Hell, you never know.   These are how all good stories find their roots...  or at least, how they tend to begin.

But I had to pee.   Bad.   Really bad.   The beers I had polished off upon my arrival were seeking asylum somewhere outside the Motherland.

"Da, Da the motherlundLund of the czars, Mothaaar Russia!" I chuckled to myself in an idiot Russki accent as I glanced down in mild amusement at my own pee stream. 

"Gone Vasili!"  I continued to myself,   "Gone from this place of Snow, Harsh cigarettes, and Stermfeisted Vodka!"

Shit! 

Quick pause.

I glance nervously at the old guy peeing two urinals away.  As always, I'm suddenly paranoid that I had spoken aloud some part, or even all of my little muse.  

This time it was the Russians talking their shit up in my head.   Last pee was a friggn' Aussie, arguing with a Swede.   "W.T.F Mate?"

Aaaaand phew!  It's a full 1.5 seconds of raw tension passage before I'm satisfied.

I hadn't...  it appeared.... spoken aloud, or at least if I had, this particular gentleman chose not to acknowledge that a total stranger was standing off to his port side, conversing with his pee stream in a Russian accent.

I grinned like an ass at myself, then continued...

"Fine Zen!   Vladimir Robinivich of Chelyabinsk, and all that is ruutten in the potato making Lunds of God's sweet- nectered Vvvvudka!  YA Defectin' ass of an ox, yaaa leeetle...!"  

And that's when abruptly, this somewhat heated conversation between me and my 55 seconds of urination came to a screeching hault.   

Somewhere just outside the bathroom they'd called the name of the $5,000 winner.... And it sounded like Matt eeeee.  <---  The f'ing "eeee" sound was unintelligible though.  

What?  Come again?  Speak LOUDER promotions lady...  oh caller of the show!   It could have been anything she had said.   Damnit.  Damnit! 

"Matt G????   Or was that Matt E?   Did they just call a Matt f'ing B?"  I shouted at the gentleman 2 urinals down, who earlier, may or may not have heard me arguing with my defecting army of pee droplets.

And....  He ignored me!  No response from the old bastard.

Fucker.  Or maybe he wasn't a fucker...  It's possible he was just in deep conversation with himself and his own pee stream, and didn't hear me.  In an Indian accent maybe?  Far- fetched?   Yes.   But there are people in the world that do such things...

ahem

I half-assed my hand washing duties and broke into a light jog.   I had to get to a TV screen to find out what that last initial was of the lucky bastard they'd just called.  

"Matt."   I DID indeed hear that tiddly- bit of info plain as day when it came off the intercom.

"Da, Da... Vvvvell surely they've got the first name righ..."

"Ah Piss off Vasili!!!  Ya bloody wanker.  Not Now!"  I told the Russky in my head, using my Brit voice this time before the former got any further.   "Ya bloody Vodka guzzling mum- bugger you."

But he had a point.  The Russki did.  Your first name getting called was almost half the battle wasn't it?  And after that, it was just lining up that last initial and confirming the last four #'s on your player's club card.   Then....  BOOM!   Cash in the bank,  up in the city of DEEEEtroit Bitches! 

The nearest TV was right outside the bathroom, up overhead.  I missed it though.   Instead, I was steering my dashing body to the one waaaaaay over yonder by the craps tables.  At least 60 yards to the north.

It was the first one I glimpsed upon bathroom exi-tation.  But there were people everywhere,  and they were blocking my f'ing path.

1st in the way was a meandering cattle herd.   Giii-Hi-normously fat Laquisha, Shanice, and Lashanda.  Ohhh shit.  And so I dodged to the right like a bullet, lickety split!

To the Right.... and right into a Big White Bastard Cowboy Hank type in his "tacky as fuck" white- ass cowboy boots with pink encrusted tassly frumpets.   The cigar he was smoking nearly put my eye out. 

"Move!   MOVEEEE!!!!"  I now screamed within my head.  "Clear the damn path ya A-Holes!  Possible winner coming through here!  I got nearly one-half of this big girl all locked up.... and I gots to get through to see what letter that "eeee" sound they had announced stood for!

Stealthly, like a bull- semen drinking Panther on horse steroids, I dodged past Cowboy Hank with a hard maneuver to the left.

"STAAARBOARD HOOOOPER!!!  AIN'T YA WATCHIN' IT?????"  I could hear Quint from the movie Jaws reverbrating through my skull, frantically directing me onward...  

"Turn Her!   TURN HER!!  STEADY NOW!!  TO STAAAARBOARD SIDE I SAY !!!"

I turned her, hard.  Staaaarboard side, but the ship heaved up short two seconds later...

"WHEEL.....OF..... FORTUNE!!!"  I got screamed at, right in my face.

It was a slot machine.  STARBOARD MANUEVER DENIED MOTHERFUCKERS! 

Skull fuggerishness, and damnit to hell!   Maybe I could squeeze behind...

BUT NOOO!!  There was no room to squeeze behind the blaring machine and it's Geriatic user.   Not 1 ft., not 6 inches or 4....  just  98 yr. old Trudy in her motorized chair.

Frenzied,  Frazzled and fuckheaded I glared, if this was just a casual loop I wouldn't have cared.

I reversed my course with the speed of a jackal, careful not to spill my drink, not even a spackle.

Enough of the rhyming, you idiot, you doof, I had to get to the television on the far side, and I was being aloof.

Careful.  Careful!

My path now reversed, I plotted new course, cuz if I knocked over a waitress I'd feel like the ass of a horse.

In my head, a Dutchman was screaming...

"If we win this one brother, In my pants i'll be creaming!"

I reached the TV with just a minute to spare, but then glanced up at it, with a heartbroken glare...


MATT "C".      ID# 970652108. 

It read. 

Now.   It pains me to say it, I wish i'd thought something else Instead, But I wished ol' Matt "C..."

...would get stampeded by promotion- folk....  and flattened til dead!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Magic Place

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There is a place that I go.   It is one of the most wonderful places in all the world.

With the weather getting fridgid like it is, it's a place where I can go to escape the cold, and let the worries of the world melt away... into the void,  into nonexistance...   For 25 minutes at a time at least.

I can't wait to get to this place on a daily basis.  This magical place of mine, although...

It does requires a bit of work to get there.   Some travel.   Not the hardcore get on the highway and leave the county kind of travel...  but a bit of hittin' the ol' road nonetheless.

There are time constraints.   The magic place isn't open 24/7 or anything, but most days, excluding the holidays, the place is open for business year- round.

Ah yes, the magic place...   And the people I meet.  The people I see,  and the experiences we all relate. 

Some of the people are merely passers- by.  Travelers.  A brief stop on the endless road of life.   One- timers, with little more than a bit of time of their hands.

And then...   there's the regulars.

You see, i've become accustomed to the schedules of some of them, those that like this magical place, just as well I... 

The ones that enjoy it's cleansing powers...  It's ability to take tired limbs and restore them to strength.  Like a healing spring, or a small plot of heaven...  These are the ones that recognize the fortitude of the magic place, and it's presage of the divine. 

Take old Bob for instance...

Bob knows right when the magic place opens it's doors for business.  He follows the hours of operation closely.  He's there right from the beginning...   5:30 AM.   Standing in line with the 30 somethings as they open the doors, shivering his old- man- ass off.   He can't wait to get in there.  And I don't blame him one bit...  

"Morning Bob!"  The A.M. staff comments cheerfully, as he enters the building each wistful morn. 

If Bob's on a good day, he might reply in spoken word...

"Hi-yuh,"  He says simply, in a quiet tone.  Or maybe just a sleepy, "Hull-o...."  But that's all you'll get from him.   Nothing more, nothing less...

A greeting with a bit of that "Old Person Spin" on things.   The "yuh" after "Hi," or the refusal to acknowledge that the word "Hello" has an "E" in the middle of all those letters, not a "U," like way he says it.

At any rate,  he's the friendliest of sorts....  And even when he foregoes the spoken word of his approach, Bob, opting instead for a simple acknowledging grunt, noone finds it the least bit offensive, or out of the ordinary... 

He is,  "Friendly Bob" after all, and the place wouldn't be the same without him.

Now, I'm partial to early morning visits to the place myself.  The serenity and the calm...  the quiescance.  It's about the only time I can guarentee true peace of the mind.  No chatter, no blaring music, in fact very little sound at all. 

Bob's in there, but he doesn't count.  Not really.

It's just that getting to the magic place so incredibly early requires a good bit of scheduling.  Sometimes a bit of coincidence.  Either I'm still up from the night before, or something goofys happened...  and I've gone to bed much earlier than normal. 

Regardless.  Bob and I.

Getting a jump on the day while it's still in it's infancy.   Most folks haven't even hit the snooze button for the first time when we're in there.   The fallacious news that can sometimes accompany the rest of the day hasn't had a chance to hit circulation.  Not yet.

The barrage of text messages, rush hour traffic, the bad beat stories... Those are for the hours yet to come.

Bob and I...

Notably, it took almost a year and a half before Bob even said one word to me.  Can you imagine?  Being in the same room with someone 40 times throughout a calender year for 25 minutes a pop, and not hearing them say a single word.   That's 1,000 minutes if you're doing the math at home.  16.66 Hours...  In silence.

When he finally spoke to me, I thought I was hearing things...

"Are you uhh, using the Business section?"  He asked of me, one random morning.

I was so in- tune with my relaxation, I hardly heard him at all.

"Say again...?"  I replied, in that somewhat manner of a haze that accompanies the early morn.

"The Business section... of the paper there.  Are you through with it?"  He asks again, quiet as a mouse.

"Oh...  Oh, of course Bob,"  I reply as I hand it over. 

I was as surprised as he, that I had spoken his name.  I cringed, hoping it wasn't a mistake.

His head cocked ever so slightly to the left at the use of it.  His name.  Just barely noticeable, an amused sort of look in his eye... 

"Who was this young man?"  I could tell he was thinking... 

"Using his name, outright.  How did Ithis unnamed sharer of the magic place, even come to know it?  Did he know me?  Had we met someplace... and he'd somehow forgotten this fact?"

"It doesn't matter, I just do,"  My glance in return seemed to say, as I met his gaze with as welcoming a smile as I could manage.  Simple as that...

And from that time forward, we began to make small talk...   About this and that and the other thing. 

I learned that he was an accountant back in his working days.  A part of a small firm, consisting of five.  His wife had passed, back in 98'.  He had had 3 kids.  Two of them were up in Seattle, the third living locally.  A daughter.  2 kids of her own, all grown up.

"We email back and forth, the grandkids and I,"  He filled me in one morning as he spoke in that soft tone of his. 

"But..."  He hesitated,  "But my arthritis... it's getting difficult to type.  I...,"  He trailed off, "I guess it's father time, reminding me of the fate that befalls us all... A-yuh, I believe that's what it is."

I nod, but his remark gave me an idea...

"Bob...,"  I began, wracking my brain for whatever the fuck that software was called that I'd seen advertised on the T.V...  

"Have you ever tried that speech recognition software?  Dragon it's called, I think.  You speak into a headset, then the words appear on the screen for you..."

"Ah-yuh?  I didn't know there was such a thing...?"  He questioned me with a sideways glance.

"I'll have to check that out,"  He countered, as he stood to leave the room, a twinkle in his eye.  "A-yuh... I will check that out for sure...

Then he vanished...  Out from the magic place, out deep into the chilly morning air.  His visit concluded for this particular day.

And I didn't see him again for a good long time...   Not because he wasn't there, but because I wasn't, not at that time of day at least, the primordial dawn of the early morn...

Which brings me to the Afternoon... and the rambunctious crowd that meets here then.

The inhabitants.  Typically a bit older.  Not in such a bustling hurry maybe, but much the same as the A.M.'ers nonetheless.  Ah, except for one thing...  which wasn't so much a thing, as a who...

The who, being Boisterous ol' Bill.

Billy.  Bill-bit... Bill-Doe... Boistrous Bill... I heard him referred to by many different names before I put two and two together.  They were talking about the same guy.... Ah ha!   Any crazy combo it seemed, using the letters "B" and "I" and two "L's," was a reference to the main man in the magic place during these, the afternoon hours...

A crazy sunofagun from Mobile, Alabama.  That's who.  A defense attorney back in his heyday...  With a drawl that would put the Bush brother's own to shame.  

Bill was miles different from Old Bob.   Miles?  Shoot...  I should say a millenia.

Where as old Bob hardly spoke a word, ol' Boistrous Bill would talk yer ear off from the second you stepped into the magic place, til the time you left it.   About anything and everything, it didn't matter at all.

Politics, the new model sedan he'd seen at the auto show last week... Opinions, conjectures, inclinations, and views...  All of the above to be sure.

Floods, wars, the economy, typhoons in Japan, "That dumpy, tattooed fuck-bucket that cheated on whats her name?  You know who I mean boys..."  He would drawl...  "That sweetheart from the movies... law's yes, what's her name...?"

"Ah- yuh!  Why, you mean Sandy Bullock there Bill, is that who you mean...?"  Someone else would reply to him, helping his rant along as it got well on it's way...  

"And the fuck-bucket...   James is his last name, fella that builds all them fancy motorcycles and cars on the T.V."

"That's them!"  Bill would decree, as his preaching motor revved high, reaching 4th gear. 

"I Can't imagine... I say, I CANNOT IMAGINE, what that Dick Bisquit was thinkin'.   Why... that Saaandy Buhhh- lock, wouldn't harm a fly buzzin' around in the kitchen, she sure wouldn't.  What a sweetheart,  law's yes, she is... a real sweety, sweet as they come, That's a fact...!"

"Mmm-hmmmm, MMM-HMMM,"  Another of the old timers would agree, smartly realizing "mmm-hmm" was about all the words he'd get in edgewise,  fore' ol Bill had his final say on the matter.

"Pisses me off to all of hell in heaven, law's yes it does, to think about what he done to her...  Poor sweet Sandy...  uhh, erm whats her name againnnn...?

"Bullock, Bill... er' names Bullock there...  Saaandy Bullock!"

"BOO- LOCK!  That's right!   Right as rain, matter o' fact it is!   That poor, sweet, dear Sandy BUH-Lockkk, the one from the movies, law's yes, wouldn't harm a fly,  not her!"

"Nope!  No Way,  Not her Bill!"  The others would chorus back, in stern consent of what he's just said.  "Not a fly!  Certainly not that dear, sweet Sandy Bullock... she wouldn't!"

And so it went on in the afternoons...

Boisterous Bill holding court, just like the glory days of his yore.   His jury of old timer's, like a choir in a baptist church, "Mmm-mmm ing', and Amen-ing to his every word.... Law's yes, when ol' Bill was up on his pulpit.  Yes indeedy, in the times of the good ol' afternoon.   That's exactly how it was...

And that, brings me to evening times in the magic place.

7:30 til round about 9:45pm, when they begin to close things down for the day.  

That's when you can find another old fella there in the magic place, guy by the name of Frank.

Franky, as the evening- folk refer to him.   Not nearly as quiet as old Bob, and certainly not as loud as Boisterous ol' Bill...   No, Franky it seemed was right there in the middle somewhere.

Sometimes speaking readily, sometimes staying mute.  An interesting old bird that Franky was.

And he was a good bit different than other two too, in that he always had a bit of advice for anyone willing to listen to it.  

"You might try this...,"  Frank would offer, upon over- hearing some conversation or another.   Not shy like old Bob from the morning times, not dusty, or rude, or crude like ol' Bill in the afternoon as he sat, preaching to his invisible masses. 

No, Franky was just Franky, through and positively through.

And he was helpful too...   on more than one occasion.

Whether it was planning an alternate route to avoid a closed road, or an offering about what might be causing that "tinking" noise in the engine of your car, Frank knew about just about everything...

A journeyman by and large,  Frank had made his way in the world doing it up... and exploring it all.  An optimist.   His stories,  always perfectly prefaced by some interesting fact...

"... was the end of the Tet offensive, 74', up on hill 2218, that's where I learnt it.  The tactic I'm relating here today..."

Not that he was talking about the war, but the fact that he'd heard there was work to be had, when once again they all returned home.

"There'll be all kinds of opportunities if you put your mind to it fellas.  Use what you learnt, and you can never go wrong!"   That was his motto.

Though a struggle at first, he found what he was looking for. 

In New York.   Upstate in fact.   Using his skills...  he worked as a mechanic, a chef, even a pilot... til his eyesight began to fail.

Franky. 

Ever the optimist.  Just trying to survive.   Struggling to live on, in a world of political turmoil.   A world that wasn't always the kindest...  to the boy's comin' back home.

But he never held a grudge.   Not Franky.   Not ever.   Instead, using his patience to eventually teach high school kids the in's and out's of the periodic table.  After all the years of searching, through instructing a chemistry class, he'd finally found his call...

Now, it may seem silly to go off describing a dirty old sauna as some enchanted place...   But with the lessons I've learned there, that isn't the case...
 
From old Bob, the merits of silence.   The fact that one should be seen, not heard.  The loudest lesson of all it turned out....  was not, all that loud at all.

And ol' Bill... boistrous as he was, let the world know just what he was thinking.  Whether the economy, or the war, or the floods... or even what that fuck- bucket did to poor Sandy Bullock... There was never a doubt where he stood on it....  no, never a doubt at all.

Finally, came Franky... whose path was not a clear call.   But he never lost faith that he'd find his way, if what he continued to give........ was to give everything his all.


The End.


This story is dedicated to my good friends Bob and Franky who I was saddened to hear both passed-on during the holiday week between Christmas and New Year's.  Thank you both for the conversation, the kind words of encouragement, and all the lessons you've passed on to those of us in the younger generation.

The Westlake Rec Center will never be the same without you.  And the sauna, I will always think of as "The Magic Place," where I was fortunate enough to have spent time with you.  

R.I.P   Dear friends.  God Bless.