Skip to main content

Straight Flush

June 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.

Readers are invited to submit their personal “brushes with history, ” for which our regular rates will be paid on publication. Unfortunately, we cannot correspond about or return submissions.

Enjoy our work? Help us keep going.

Now in its 75th year, American Heritage relies on contributions from readers like you to survive. You can support this magazine of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it by donating today.