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Straight Flush

February 2024
1min read


I had been drawing to two pairs and inside straights all afternoon without success. My patience was dwindling along with my monthly wages. I could feel my irritability rising. Gambling made me sweat, and I disliked it. Gambling also made me distrustful, and I disliked that too. But weeks of patrolling Denmark Strait, rolling, heaving, and diving on a destroyer in those turbulent, freezing, and dangerous waters, reduced most emotions to indifference, and gambling was all that remained.

Suddenly I felt a surge of warmth, my heart raced, my palms moistened, my interest zoomed. I held the five, six, seven, eight of hearts and the jack of clubs. Bets were being placed, check, raise, raise again, then again. I added my money to the pot quietly, saying nothing, trying to show no emotion. The final cards were dealt. Slowly, ever so slowly, I shuffled my cards and then exposed them very carefully. It was there! My God, it was there! The nine of hearts was there. I had it. My straight flush.

Suddenly the tense silence was shattered by an alarm. It was general quarters. The players froze. The captain’s voice came over the public-address system: “We have just received word that Pearl Harbor has been bombed. Everyone to battle stations.” Cards and money were forgotten as we scrambled to our feet. I never found the bum who collected my pot.


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