The wolf grimaced slightly and bowed his head. "Take it."
There was a braying laugh from the other side of the table. "Haw! I knew it! For an actor, you don't bluff very well." He said as he pulled the pile of chips toward him.
"Jack, anyone ever tell you that you're intolerable when you're winning?" I said in mock seriousness.
He merely shrugged as he sorted out the red, white and blue chips. "Naw. They usually just think that I'm intolerable all the time."
We all grimaced a bit at that as we each tossed a white chip in as the ante for the next round. Looking at the menagerie, it was definitely not your ordinary poker game. In fact, it would have looked downright strange just about anywhere else. Except, of course, for the Blind Pig.
Dr. Bob gathered the cards together for his deal, shaking his equine head and grinning at the same time. The rest of us were looking at our rapidly dwindling chips, and Jack's ever growing pile. Wanderer was the worst off, with enough chips to stay in only a few more rounds if he didn't win a hand soon. I was running a close second to that. Doug, recently hired as a science writer for the paper and the newest member of this ever changing poker game, was doing a little better. Bob, mostly because he had the annoying habit of folding early in the hand, had a fair number of his chips left.
I leaned back in my chair a bit and signaled Edwina. "Can we get another round of drinks here?"
She walked over and leaned in. "Same thing for everyone?" she asked while she gathered our empty glasses and bowls.
"Sure, I could use another beer." Said Doug through his voder.
Dr. Bob shook his massive head as he finished the shuffle. "You might want to watch that, Doug. You probably weight less than a quarter what you used to. It's not going to take much to wipe you out." We'd all noted how quickly the alcohol seemed to be getting to him. After only two beers, his eyes were beginning to droop and despite to cool room his panting had increased.
Doug merely nodded absently and sighed as Edwina placed the glass bowl on the table for him. Fully altered into a coyote by the same disease that had affected the rest of us, he was forced to eat and drink like the canine he looked like. "I still hate this part." He said after a few laps.
Wanderer looked up from his own lapping. "You get used to it after a while. It's really not so bad."
Jack impatiently tapped his hand on the table top. "How long are you going to shuffle those cards?"
"Afraid that I'll wear off your marks?" Bob said even as he stopped shuffling and started dealing, face down at first. "Okay folks, the game is seven card stud, nothing wild. High card leads the bet." Mostly in deference to Doug, we'd been playing games where the cards remained on the table. Wanderer had been picking up his hole card so he could see it.
As soon as he finished the face down card, he started with the face ups. "Okay, seven for the raccoon, a nine for the jackass..."
Bob tilted his head curiously, "What? It's not a nine? Anyway, a six for Wiley," -Doug shot him a dirty look- "an eight for the lupine thespian, and dealer gets an ace," he said with a pleased tone. As the holder of the highest card, he tossed in a blue chip. "Ten dollars."
In reality there wasn't any money involved, just chips. Donnie had put his sizable foot down on that issue. There were members of the city government that would delight in shutting down this bar, and even a penny ante card game between friends could be enough to call in the bunko squad. It wasn't that none of us played for real money on occasion, we just did it at someone's house. But those games lacked the unique flavor of a game at the Pig.
The dealing of the next card left Doug with a pair of sixes showing, and he shoved a blue chip with his nose. The rest of us followed suit, cautiously matching the bet. As the next hand was dealt, Doug dipped his muzzle back into the bowl of beer and lapped up some more.
"Doug." warned Bob again, "you might want to lay off that for a little bit."
The coyote glanced up. "I have barely had anythink to drint since this happen." He was visably panting now, and it was obvious that he was having trouble with his voder. "Now left me ojoy it."
We all just looked at each other with a slight grin. He hadn't figured out just how much beer he could handle now, but he would soon enough. Bob dealt out the next round of cards, with Doug still showing the high hand. He shoved another blue chip into the pot with his nose, dripping a little drool onto the table.
As the next hand was dealt, Wanderer flipped his cards over. "You're a bloody cruel horse, Bob. These are the worst cards I've ever seen." He stood, stretched and glanced at the Lupine Boys table. "If you'll excuse me a moment, I need to talk to someone a sec. I'll be back before the next hand."
The more sober three of us just nodded as Bob dealt the next round of cards. With the fourth card dealt, I was showing a mixture of number and suits that would never beat Doug's pair of sixes. "Fold."
Doug shoved another blue chip into the pot, followed by a red one. "Fump ten." He took a few more laps from the bowl, now not bothering to try and keep the foamy brew off his fur. "You knew." He said. "Thus stiff is a rot butter since I got scabies."
I glanced at Jack, barely concealing a grin. "I'm confused. Isn't that supposed to be you?"
He just shrugged. "Don't worry, I'll join him soon enough." He said as he drank more out of his gin glass.
Bob dealt the fifth card, ending with Doug showing three of a kind, something that it seemed to take him a moment to realize. As he did, he nosed two blue chips into the pile, but didn't bother to say anything. Bob looked over his cards and flipped them over. "That's it for me. Jack?"
Jack picked up his hidden cards and looked at them a moment. He looked up at Doug just in time to watch him unceremoniously slide onto the floor. Jack grinned and started counting on his fingers. "I make that three beers. Held out pretty well for a yote."
"I just hope that he remembers this next time." I said.
Wanderer walked back to the card table a moment later and grinned. "Perfect timing." He looked back over at his partners in crime in the corner. "Boys?" A pair of the wolfen walked across the crowded bar and picked up the heavily inebriated coyote. "Just like we discussed, nothing more. Got it?"
The pair nodded silently, but were grinning like only a wolf could do. I shot Wanderer a dark look. "What are they going to do?"
Wanderer leaned back a bit. "Well, we thought that it was time to introduce him to the oldest tradition of the Pig."
Bob's eyes opened wide, "You're not going to shave him like a French poodle, are you?"
Wanderer paused a moment, his head tilted curiously. "Why? What's wrong with that?"
"Wand..." I started, but he interrupted.
"Don't worry, don't worry. I made sure that they won't do that since that fiasco last year with Fox. But a little hairspray and theatrical make-up will give him a bit of a start in the morning," he said with a grin. I glanced up to the Lupine boys table, and already saw the group starting in on the oblivious science writer.
Jack laughed and looked at me, "I don't think that we'll have to worry about him remembering later."
I sighed as I stacked up my chips. "I guess we need a new fifth..." I'd barely gotten to words out when a familiar insectile form stepped over.
"I notice that Doug's getting a make over, so I assume that there's room to deal me in?" asked Dr. Derksen. We all voiced our ascent and he slid into Doug's chair, looking over at me as he got comfortable. "Where's Jon tonight? I usually see him around on Fridays."
I shook my head. "He took Maxine and Grace to the movies tonight, that new Disney cartoon."
Wanderer grimaced slightly, "What classic work are they butchering now?"
"I think they're doing 'The Iliad' this time." I shrugged as I gathered the cards from Bob for my deal. "Who's going to claim the pot? Or should be just let it ride to this hand?"
"Ah, let it ride." Said Bob. "Not like there's any real money involved."
I nodded and began tossing cards around the table. "Seeing as we all have hands now, the game is five card draw, nothing wild. Jacks or better to open."
I knew I was in trouble when as I glanced around the table. For the life of me, I couldn't read Bob's features and Jack always looked like he was thinking of some private joke. Wanderer was a better actor than most critics gave him credit for, and nobody but nobody could hope to read the expression on our favorite cockroach.
A table full of unreadable people and my face got more and more raccoon-like if I got emotional. I didn't have a prayer.
We played for about half an hour when we started hearing cheering from some people around the bar. A baseball game had just come on. Once the NFL had broken its unwritten rule against SCABS in the sport a couple years ago, the other sports had slowly followed suit. The Los
Angeles Dodgers had been the first baseball team, bringing aboard Jacob Waters. The young man was a SCAB whose only alteration was a set of rabbit ears. He had no extra ability associated with his SCABS, in fact he was a rather plucky runner, but he was a damn fine
hitter. He leading the league in home runs by a wide margin. The Dodgers were leading the Las Vegas Gamblers by four by the top of the first.
Another hand was dealt, and we started going around the table, with Jack and Bryan both passing. Without betraying a hint of emotion, Wanderer picked up two blue chips. "Twenty".
I hoped nobody saw my eyebrows rise at that. I glanced at my hand, looking at a pair of threes. Not good.
"Okay." Said Bob. "I'll see that." It went around the table, each of us throwing in two of the blue chips, but nobody daring to raise. Going around the table again, everyone took either two or three cards, but none got any more readable. I knew as soon as I got my three cards that it was time to put myself out of my misery. "Argh, fold."
Going around the table again, Jack tossed in another two blue and one red chip. Bryan followed his lead. Wanderer matched and raised, his wolfen features not betraying anything in his hand.
As it got to Bob, he glanced at he cards and at the pot, then neatly set his cards down. "Just not my night, is it?"
Jack shuffled once. "Bob, Bob, Bob. It's like they say: Unlucky at cards, and so homely too..." He grinned as he matched the raise and tossed in another blue chip.
Bryan ignored the pair as he quietly folded his own cards. "Too rich for me."
Wanderer matched the bet and tossed in a red chip. "I'll see and raise again."
Jack grinned, tossing in another chip. "That's as far as I go. Let's see your cards."
Wanderer broke into a grin for the first time since he picked up his cards. "Full house." He said as he showed us the trio of kings matched with a pair of tens.
Jack nodded. "Not bad, not bad. Though it is too bad that I have a straight flush." He said, breaking into a grin as he laid down the row of matched cards.
Wanderers muzzle hung open a second. "I don't believe this! That was the first good hand I've had all night," he said plaintively, slipping out of his mastered accent for a moment.
"What can I say? I'm lucky and handsome." replied Jack as he swept in the pot. His comments were punctuated with a cheer from the bar as the Dodgers scored again. "See?"
I handed him the cards. "Just deal."
We made it through three hands without incident. Then, for the first time that evening, Wanderer won a hand of five card draw. "Finally!" he said happily. "My luck is finally changing!"
That's when Donnie tapped him on the shoulder. Wanderer looked back at the bullish bartender. "How may I help you, my bullish friend?"
Donnie began signing, to which Wanderer shook his head. "Donnie, you know I can't understand sign..."
"He's saying," interrupted Bob, "That he wants to know exactly what the Lupine Boys are up to."
We all jerked our heads up just in time to hear the electric razor click on. Wanderer jumped up. "Hey! What are you doing?!" he started making his way through the tight knot of baseball viewers. "I told you nothing permanent!"
The rest of us at the table were grinning. It was clear that Wanderer was going to have to maintain a watch over the drunken coyote the rest of the night. I shook my head a bit. "You'd think that they'd have learned after what happened with Fox last year."
Bob swiveled his ears toward me. "That's the second time that's been mentioned. What happened to Fox?"
Bryan tapped one of his four hands on the table. "That's right, it happened while you were out of the loop, so to speak. Might as well let Fox tell you himself, though."
"The short of it," added Jack, "is that Fox makes darn sure he doesn't pass out in this place anymore."
Bob inclined his head, "Passed out? But Fox doesn't drink. How...?"
Bryan began shuffling the cards, "Never mind, just let him tell you when you see him."
Bob slid the cards over for his deal. "Okay, whatever you say. Should I deal the four of us or do we want a..." He never got a chance to finish the sentence.
A rather normal looking man stepped behind the vacated chair. "Is Wanderer coming back or can I get dealt in?"
Bob's lips pulled back in a smile. "Cheval! I haven't seen you in ages! How are things at Epona?"
The sometimes man, sometimes stallion slid into the chair. "You old horse doctor! When did you get your voicebox back?"
Bob shuffled the cards with a rhythmic slapping. "Not long ago, not long. Got a little help from a friend of Eric's. I'm still reinserting myself into things."
"Great to hear it. So, what's the game?" he glanced mournfully at Wanderer's rather tiny pile. "He wasn't doing so well, was he?"
Jack grinned, "Nope. Everyone seems to want to give me all their money tonight."
Bob stopped shuffling and smiled. "Okay folks, how about a little seven card stud?"
Four hands passed, and other than a small pot that I took with a straight, Jack managed to take it all. At the rate he was raking it in, he was going to clean us out in less than an hour.
What was most impressive about that feat was that he'd been putting down the gin like I'd never seen before. It wasn't until his fifth that I began to notice. By his tenth, I was suspicious.
Between hands, he stood and stretched happily. "I just need to use the little mule's room. I'll be right back."
As soon as he was out of earshot, I looked at the others. "Anyone notice that Jack's not the least bit inebriated?"
Bob looked at me with a bit of surprise. "You know, you're right! He's usually under the table by now."
Tony tapped his finger on the table. "I have my suspicions. Edwina?"
The waitress walked over. "Another drink?"
"Well, actually, yes. But something else. What we're most curious about is just what Jack's been drinking tonight? I thought that it was gin."
Edwina smiled uncomfortably. "Sure, what else would he have been drinking?"
Bryan twisted his head. "Out with it, Edwina."
She sighed heavily. "Okay, but you have to promise not to tell Jack I said anything." We all nodded. "He's been drinking very watered gin all night."
"You're kidding." Said Bob. "Jack wouldn't touch watered gin if he was dying of thirst in the desert."
The waitress shrugged. "It's true. He said that he wanted to put you all off your games tonight...."
"...And Jack sober is just what we wouldn't expect." Added Tony with a smile. "That lousy mule."
Bryan bent under the table and picked up his medical bag. "Just how much alcohol has he had tonight?"
She shrugged. "Donnie's been putting only enough gin in so that it would smell right to anyone with the nose to check it. Not much."
Bryan nodded, his antenna twitching oddly as he dug around the small black bag. "Got it!" he said happily as he pulled the small bottle from the case. "Perfect! Edwina, have Donnie put one capful of this into his next drink..."
"Bryan!" exclaimed Bob. "What are you doing? You can't mix medication and..."
Bob stared for a second then burst out laughing. "Oh, you're kidding! You carry that stuff in your medical bag?"
Bryan approximated a shrug, his mandibles quivering in what I've come to know as a smile. "I'd pack an EMT into this bag before coming in here if I could."
Tony frowned. "What's Aleimol?" I looked at Derksen with a questioning gaze myself.
Bryan hurriedly dropped his bag to the floor. "Never mind. Just do it, Edwina. There's an extra twenty in it for you."
She grinned. "Jack's only paying me ten." Then headed back to the bar with the vial.
"Anyone ever tell you that you have a real evil streak, Bryan?" asked Bob.
He nodded, "All the time."
Tony was about to open his mouth to ask again when Jack reappeared from the bathroom. He paused long enough to exchange pleasantries with Eric and Bud at the bar before moving back toward the game. Bryan hurriedly shuffled the cards and the rest of us tried to look natural. Jack picked up his glass as he sat and motioned to Edwina. "Can I get another?"
Bob had to hide his laugh in a coughing fit.
Jack didn't last the next hand. He drank about half of the watered gin and aleimol mixture almost as soon as Edwinia set it down in front of him and Bryan began dealing out for another hand of seven card.
To his credit, he lasted to the fifth card.
Jack had just tossed in a red chip and was reaching a blue one to match Tony's bet when he looked up with a slightly shocked look on his face. Without saying a word, he leapt to his feet and raced for the bathroom, one hand over his mouth.
The roach leaned back in satisfaction. "That went better than expected."
"Derksen, now will you tell me what aleimol is?" asked Tony.
Bryan nodded. "It's a chemical that induces severe nausea and vomiting when mixed with alcohol. It's usually used as a part of deterrent therapy for treating alcoholics."
Both Tony and I looked at him openmouthed a moment before we started laughing ourselves. "What are you doing with it here?" I asked.
"It makes great deterrent therapy for all sorts of things." He said. "That'll teach him not to be a bad winner." His mandibles quivered a bit with the last.
Tony picked up the deck. "How long does that stuff last?"
Bob shrugged. "Hard to say, but he'll be down for the night. Now we just need a..." He never got a chance to finish the sentence as a familiar red furred face popped into view.
"I see that our mule friend has taken his leave. Mind if I take his place?" asked Fox Cutter.
We all nodded. He sat and surveyed the pile in front of him. "Wow. Jack was having a good night. Why'd he leave in such a hurry?"
"It seems that watered gin doesn't agree with him." said Tony simply, with a suppressed grin.
Fox knew enough not to press the point. "So, what's the game, fellas?"
"For this hand," replied Tony, "seven card stud, nothing wild."
As he started dealing, Bob thumped his fingers on the tabletop. "Hey, Fox. What's this I hear about a run in between you and the Lupine Boys?"
He looked at Bob with a slight frown, like he couldn't figure out what Bob was talking about. Suddenly his eyes went wide and his head sagged. "Oh no, you heard about that?"
Bob shook his head as he tosses a couple chips in for the first bet. "Not really. Only that you passed out or something."
Fox shook his head. "Fell asleep is more like it." He looked at the others around the table. "You had to let him know, didn't you?" A light sigh as he tossed in a couple chips of his own. "I guess it's not like it's a secret. I was editing my last book, the one coming out next month in fact, when I decided I needed a change of scenery from my apartment. So, I packed up my laptop and came down here for the atmosphere."
He glanced at his cards, picking up his hole card a moment before tossing in two blue chips. "Well, it was going well for a while, but I was really exhausted. I'd been up against a deadline from my publisher and typing furiously for days. At some point, I remember looking intently at the screen at something, trying to decipher what I'd just typed."
He sighed again and looked across the bar, seeming to notice Doug's predicament for the first time. At the moment, the poor coyote looked like a refugee from the late 2000's, with the wild primary colors splashed all over his fur. They were using hairspray now to make it stand up on end. "I wish that's all they'd done to me." He looked at back at Bob. "I woke up basically bald."
"What?" laughed Bob.
"Just what is sounds like. Every part of my exposed fur was gone. To this day I don't know how they managed to do it without waking me up. All I know is that I woke up with my muzzle on the keyboard, 150 pages of the letter 'B' from where my nose had fallen, and my head, arms and
tail were all bare."
I remembered it. Fox was an easygoing guy, but that was a little over the top. Donnie had read the Lupine Boys the riot act over that little incident, though it was mostly because they'd tried to dispose of the bushel of red fur in the bar sink.
"Oh my God, that's terrible!" laughed Bob again.
"It gets worse." sighed Fox. "My publisher had just gotten me my first TV interview to push my books. I was supposed to go on the "Today" show two days later."
"I take it you cancelled." Asked Bob, now looking at his own hole card.
"I couldn't, and believe me, I tried. I'd been clamoring for months for my publisher to promote my books a little harder, and they'd gotten me this interview to shut me up. I was told, in no uncertain terms, to show up at the local affiliate for a satellite uplink or never ask again."
Fox sighed again, letting a little humor into his voice. "I looked like a cross between a fox and a Mexican hairless."
Bob flipped his cards over. "I fold. I assume that you did something in return?"
Now Fox openly grinned. "You might say that." He seemed to think a bit and then picked the notebook he'd brought into the bar up off the floor and started flipping through the pages. He finally came to the page that he was looking for and handed it to Bob. "The character descriptions for my latest novel."
Bob read it, his head turning to the Lupine Boys table a few time, the grin getting wider on his face until he finally burst out laughing. "You wouldn't!"
Fox just looked innocent as he swished his tail about. "Wouldn't I?" He tossed in another chip. "I call. Let's see your cards, Cheval."
Fox won that hand...
We went around the table twice without incident. With Jack gone from the table, the piles of chips started to even out a bit after Fox lost a couple of sizable bets. Tony was in the middle of telling us about a new branch of Epona opening near Orlando when we heard an electronic
"Damn," muttered Bryan as he leaned down to his back and retrieved the cellular phone. "Derksen here." He paused a moment. "Hi Randy, what's up? Uh huh... uh huh... How far apart? Oh boy, that close. Look, call an ambulance and Bob and I will meet you down at the hospital. What? Why? You can't do that. No. Look, you have to stand up to her... Sure, he's right here. Hold on." Derksen handed the phone across the table to Bob. "It's Randy. Peggy just went into
Bob's eyes opened a bit at that. "What? She's two months early." He said as he took the phone.
Bryan shrugged. "You want to argue with her about it?"
Bob mouthed 'No' as he took the phone.
Bryan stood and started to gather his coat and case. "Looks like we need to leave a bit early tonight."
"Is something wrong?" asked Tony.
Bryan shook his insect head. "I don't think so, but SCAB births can be tricky. If I had to guess, it's false labor."
I laughed, "So which one of you will tell her if that's the case?"
Bryan didn't hesitate. "Bob. At least he can match her for size." Bryan glanced over at Jack, who had eventually made it out of the bathroom after heaving enough to throw up every meal for the last three years. He was now curled up under the pool table, much to the annoyance of Bud, one of our resident polymorphs, and Zach, one of Zoomin' Beings couriers, who were trying to play a game. "I had planned on driving Jack home, but I guess I can't. Any of you bring a car tonight?"
Tony nodded. "I have my truck down the street. I'll take him."
Bob's voice started to rise. "Look, just call an ambulance... Randy, I don't care if she wants to give birth at home... Randy... Randy... Damn, Randy, put her on the phone. Peggy, this is Bob. Randy is going to call an ambulance and get you to the hospital... Peggy... Peggy... Peggy, I don't care! Look, if you want to be a part of the study, and have your medical bills paid for, then you'll let Randy call an ambulance! Fine, we'll meet you there. Bye." He clicked the line and sighed. "I'm gonna get it for that. But sometimes I feel sorry for that guy. Maybe motherhood will mellow her out."
Tony was smiling and shaking his head. "Maybe. It's really kind of sad. She can be the nicest person in the world, and then turn into the meanest. I don't know how Randy puts up with her sometimes."
"I haven't seen him in the bar for a while." I noted.
Cheval nodded. "That's because Peggy hasn't let him out of her sight since she found out she was pregnant, except to send him to the store or let him go to work. I have a feeling that we'll see even less of him now."
Bryan looked at Bob, who was shrugging on his oversized jacket. "Ready to go?" Bob nodded and the pair walked off.
I picked up the cards and began shuffling. "Five... Four... Three... Two..."
Before I finished my quiet countdown, two forms suddenly appeared behind the vacated chairs. "Are the good doctors gone?" asked the furred form of Spots, one of the owners of Zoomin' Beings.
I nodded, "Yup, looks like Peggy is in labor, so they won't be back tonight."
"Oh boy. We'll never see Randy around here again," said the scaled form of the herpamorph Copernicus. "Hard to believe I feel more sorry for the norm than the SCAB."
I shuffled a bit more. "Me, too." I started dealing out the cards. "Five card draw, nothing wild."
Spots glanced back at the Lupine boys table. They had finished with Doug now, and he looked like something out of drug induced dream. Every hair on his body was sticking straight up in the air and painted in a variety of bright colors. Spots whistled between her teeth. "I really hope that stuff comes off. What'd he do to deserve that?"
Fox grinned. "He walked in the door."
Spots smiled and picked up her cards. "How's Jon doing, by the way? I haven't seen him since the wedding."
I shrugged. "He's good, but Maxine's running him ragged. He's trying to take care of her every whim, and she has a lot of them lately."
Copernicus tossed in a chip. "Are they still living with you?"
I nodded. "For the moment. But they are going to close escrow on a house pretty soon. My place isn't big enough for them, much less two more kids."
Tony nodded. "They've been looking for a place built by Epona. Grace is already in one of our schools."
The conversation wandered like that for a while we played. At least now I could read some of the expressions. Granted, Copernicus was basically impossible to read, but Tony was human at the moment, and Fox and Spots were both often given away by their tails.
Copernicus turned out to be having a pretty good night. He was bundled up a bit against the cool air coming in from the door as people entered and left the bar. "You want to move?" I asked him.
He shook his head. "Naw. I'm in a warm blooded body right now, but scales don't insulate well. I'm fine."
"Okay, your choice. Call."
He put down his hand. "Three eighths."
I smiled and laid out my cards. "Full house. Looks like my luck is getting better."
Just then, Donnie walked over and handed me a note. My smile froze as I read it. 'Paula called from the shelter. Splendor's looking for you.'
"Oh no," I muttered.
"What? What's wrong?" asked Spots.
I rubbed the bridge of my nose. "Splendor is looking for me. Serves me right for being late to the meeting. I've been on the board for the shelter the last couple years. And when the last presidents term ended, I got nominated. And since I was stuck in traffic, I was also elected." I looked around furtively. "I can't do this tonight. She raked me over the coals yesterday."
"Why?" asked Fox.
I smiled weakly, "When did Splendor last need a reason?" I looked at the door. "She's probably on her way in here. Fox, you mind doing me a favor?"
He nodded curiously. "Yeah, sure. What?"
I stood up. "Just come into the bathroom in a minute, gather my clothes up and meet me at my office in a couple of hours or so. It's only a couple miles from here."
He nodded, "I know, I've been there. What are you going to do?"
"I'm slipping out the bathroom window, and it's too small for me to climb out like this." I said as I made my way for the bathroom.
I was already willing the transformation as I entered, and was out of my clothes only a few moments later. I took a few deep breaths to clear my mind of the sharp pain that it always associated with it. As soon as that passed, I quickly shoved my clothes into a corner and
climbed up the plaster to the windowsill. I hated leaving the game like this, but if Splendor had something in her craw I wasn't going to be playing long anyway.
I heard another cheer from the sports fans as the Dodgers scored another run, and then I leapt off into the night.
Copyright 1997 by Brian Eirik Coe. If you want to post this anywhere else, please ask the author for permission first. Thank you.
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