The first three installments of this peculiar little serial of mine can be found here, here and here.
"Nice night, big boy."
"You guess? You've got nearly three racks there, Tom."
"It wasn't hard."
"You want it to be hard?" she said, an eyebrow raised.
"I prefer a challenge."
"At your service."
He smiled, stacking his chips. "I don't think so, Gwen."
"Suit yourself. One for the road?"
He plugged a twenty into the bar-top video poker machine as they waited for their drinks.
"Got a Negative EV streak, huh?" she said.
"Don't all poker players have a little extra gamble?"
"Seriously. At least as far as cards go."
"What's your blind spot then?"
He chuckled, feigning hurt. On the video poker machine, he missed his two-card flush draw.
"You still love your wife, don't ya?"
"Yes," he said, quickly, without looking up.
"You'll take her back?"
"That's a different question."
"That's a yes."
Probably," he said, standing straight. "I don't know. Sometimes, I feel like I could and be okay with her. Other times...I just get these images, you know. I have no idea what this guy looks like, but I picture them together..."
"You have no idea. And I wonder if those would ever really go away."
"You should cut and run, Tom. And I'm not just saying that so you'll come back to my place tonight."
"I know, Gwen. You're not the first person to offer that advice."
"How are they handling it?"
"Hard to say. They're more emotional, moody, needy. My son clings to me like he thinks he'll never see me again."
"You're good with them, aren't you?"
"Better now." He knocked the video screen, his twenty now house property. "Goodnight, Gwen," he said turning away.
"'Night, Tom. See you next time?"
He walked a few feet, stopped and came back to her, reaching in his pocket en route. "Here," handing her his card. "Call me next time you're coming out."
"Will do," she said, smile at the corners of her mouth. He did leave this time. She looked down at the card.
"Twenty bucks says you're gonna break my heart...Thomas J. Hudson."