Old Gray Bill

Catherine came to the old house on Oak Street in Spring, a month before her thirtieth birthday, just after she received masters degree in sociology and decided she never wanted to teach again.

Mrs. Sullivan, having once had seven children and a wealthy second husband, was left with a giant empty house with eight large bedrooms when the husband died and the children grew up and moved away.

The black and white picture on the mantle showed a buxom brunette with a knowing smile. The woman in the rocking chair on the porch had the ghost of that saucy looking girl in her, buried under the wrinkles and silver hair.

Mrs. Sullivan rented out seven of the bedrooms of the ancient townhouse and one of her many sons come by to check on things a few times a week.

That first year Catherine had seen many lodgers come and go. Most of their own free will, though a few were kicked out by police or Mrs. Sullivan’s son. There had only been one tenant who had been there as long as Catherine and that was Mr. Miller.

During her first week in Mrs. Sullivan’s house there was a boisterous college boy named Lester who knew all the gossip. Lester pointed at the room across from Catherine’s and explained that it was “Old Gray Bill’s” place.

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The Bet

If I learned one thing in life it’s this: never turn your back on someone who cheats at cards. There is a lotta things I can stomach, but all my life I’ve had a secret and overwhelming respect for playing cards. Maybe there is a mystery about them, like their ancestry to the Tarot, strange fingers of history and fiction tying them all the way to Egypt. Anyhow, where ever it came from I respected the game of poker and so when I saw Tommy Knuckles dealing from the bottom of the deck I knew it was going to be a long night.

Sometimes you step too deep into somebody else’s mess and then you go from being a bystander to being a liability. It isn’t a fun place to be, because sometimes you sit down at a table and even though you know the stakes are way to high, you have a knife in your back telling you to push on. Sometimes that knife is called love. Then again what do I know about love.
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