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Vegas Friend

A Gay Poker Players Romance

by

Parker Avrile

♥♥♥

©2016 by Parker Avrile & Paris April Press

The text and cover design are protected under the US Copyright Act of 1976 and all other applicable international, federal, state and local laws, and all rights are reserved, including resale rights. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. Brief references to actual celebrities, products, and places are used fictitiously and in accordance with the rules of fair use. Nobody paid the author or the publisher for product placement.

Table of Contents

Vegas Friend

About the Author

Vegas Friend

I don't give my real name out the first time I meet somebody. Company policy. Today I was Nathan, a 23-year-old student taking a time-out from Columbia Law School. The curly hair works for a Nathan. So does the Brooklyn accent. I could have said I was twenty-two and had one fewer lie to remember, but you start going down the path of telling the truth and it gets too hard to keep track of who knows what and why.

It was the two-five no-limit table. Anybody who expects to hear truth in the poker room needs to get the hell out of Vegas.

Four in the afternoon, and everybody was wearing mirrorshades except for this seventy-year-old named Barry. He'd opted for some kind of rimless progressives with a urine-yellow tint. Probably thought it matched the five-carat canary diamond in his pinky ring.

"So what brings you to fabulous Las Vegas?" I asked him.

"I live here, motherfucker."

My business is making friends with old folks, but I could see I wasn't going to make any headway with Barry.

I dragged a six hundred dollar pot and decided to call it a day. I play well enough to hold my own but I wasn't going to be the next Phil Ivey. Hell, even Phil Ivey wasn't, these days. The poker boom was done, and you needed more than card smarts if you wanted to be America's next billionaire. But the tables were still a good place to meet the over-the-hill gang.

My false wallet was in my jeans on a chain, and my real wallet was zipped inside the hidden pocket of my leather jacket. You had to thread a maze to find your way out of the poker room to the exit that dumped you on Las Vegas Boulevard, and I'd learned the hard way to just keep walking, don't look right or left, shut down the ears so you don't hear those bells ringing. A bubble-gum light began to flash blue and red and white on top of a one-dollar video poker machine, and I walked even faster.

"Nathan."

At first I didn't even hear him. Not consciously. Then he was right next to me, his hand barely touching me on the elbow.

"Hey, Nathan."

"Hey." I recognized him as a man from the game I'd just left. He'd taken off the shades, revealing eyes the color of the purple glass flowers some homeless guy kept trying to sell me. Circle contacts, I thought. Just another way of hiding his real eyes. "Jason, right?"

"Yeah, sure."

Yeah, sure. I figured Jason was about as much his real name as Nathan was mine.

He had nice hands. Ever since I started playing cards, I noticed hands. He had those long tapered fingers. Good nails with a light polish. Most male poker players went for a clear top coat. A few of them liked to prove they were individuals by going with chipped Goth black. At first I thought Jason was a clear-polish kind of guy, but when he gestured, I caught a glimpse of glitter. I'm not saying I assume every hottie in glitter polish is gay, but yeah.

"You want to get a beer or something?" he asked.

"Or something." I looked him up and down, a look you didn't have to be a professional poker player to know how to read. He wore one of those shirts with the hem and the sleeves cut off ragged, to show off well-defined arms and a taut belly. He was older than I was, twenty-eight or thirty, something in that range, but he kept himself tight.

"This is a business proposal," he said.

"Well, thanks for offering, but I work for myself," I said.

It didn't stop Jason from taking my arm and steering me toward the nearest martini bar. Poker players don't get a lot of comps, so I don't often do my drinking in the casino unless somebody else is paying. Jason didn't laugh when I ordered a Lemon Drop, an expensive date-y drink, so he passed that test. I didn't laugh when he ordered some random draft when he could have had his choice of micro-brews, so maybe I passed a test too.

"What do you make playing two-five?" He wasn't really asking me a question. "Five or ten dollars an hour with a lot of variance? Sometimes you're up a thousand or six hundred, sometimes you're down eight hundred. Something like that."

"What are you, an accountant?"

"I'm a guy who thinks you're too smart to be making ten dollars an hour."

"I'm about even. What the fuck difference does it make to you?"

"We could team up."

Collusion at the poker table is a felony in Nevada but I never heard about anybody getting prosecuted for it. If the room caught on― and usually they didn't― they just had security escort you from the premises. So it was a fairly low risk way of making money, as long as the tourists you cheated refrained from perforating you with a Glock in the parking lot.

Didn't mean I wanted to get involved in it. Call me an arrogant piece of shit, but I like to think I don't need to cheat people to get their money.

"No, we couldn't," I said. Couldn't team up, I meant. There were other things I'd like to do with this hottie, but not that. You weren't meant to drink a Lemon Drop that fast, but I clanked the glass down on the counter and walked off.

Church was another good place to meet prospects. You could always meet a lonely older woman who wanted a nice-looking boy on her arm. I liked Luke for my Baptist name. "I had three brothers, Matthew, Mark, and Ringo," I'd say. It always got a laugh, especially from the Southern ladies of a certain age. Every single one of them would tell me they'd seen the Beatles play in City Park in New Orleans in 1964. For all I knew, one or two of them might have even been telling the truth.

♥♥♥

For a big city, Vegas is a small town. There's only a few poker rooms where serious people play, and you tend to float from place to place seeing the same faces over and over. I wasn't entirely surprised when I ran into Jason again a week or two later. The floorman dropped off my rack of chips at seat eight and I was just getting settled in when I noticed Jason in seat two dragging a fifteen hundred dollar pot. A nice win for a game that size. There were a lot of decent stacks on the table, a lot of money to get. But I sat back for a minute, playing cautiously, while I observed.

Oh. There he was. There were three other guys under thirty in the game, but Jason was working with the blond in seat five. I'm not great with accents, but I sort of arbitrarily decided he was a Czech. I could tell what was going on from the pattern of their play, maybe because I was looking for it. But it was so blatant it surprised me a little the others didn't see it. Jason entered almost every hand, and when the action got to the Czech, he always raised five times the initial bet and usually that was enough to force most of the players out. Then one time Jason bet, and it got to Czech, and Czech just smooth-called to let everybody else in.

Aces, I thought. Aces, kings, or queens. But I thought aces. He didn't mind facing down a big field.

I stayed out of it, but a lot of other people were impatient to play for cheap, and most of them called, and then some middle-aged guy with a lot of chips in front of him raised, and it got back to Jason and he re-raised, and that was the end of playing for cheap. So the action went back to Czech who smooth-called again and now the pot was too big to give up on without a fight, and so some other people called, and it was back to the middle-aged guy who re-re-raised.

Maybe the old dude was the one who had the aces. Aces or kings.

There was some more action but I was more interested in watching faces, the little twitches around the mouth you can't hide with dark glasses. Jason, who probably never had anything to begin with except a desire to build a pot, finally folded. Czech adjusted his dark glasses and pretended to fake being indecisive, and then he pushed all-in and everybody else folded around to the middle-aged dude who said, "Fuck."

Kings, I thought. Yeah, kings will cost you a lot of money but what you do? You have to play them.

He looked angry but everybody at the table knew there was too much money in the middle for him to fold. Including him. So he called, and the flop came Ace King Seven, so everybody knew Czech took the pot with his trip Aces even before he flipped over his pair.

The old dude flung down his Kings face-up in disgust and walked off.

Me, I didn't feel like being in this game any more. All the money on the table was now in front of Czech, and I had a feeling he wasn't giving it back to anybody except Jason, and only then to create the illusion of action. I stood and started racking up my chips. All I'd accomplished was to give away thirty or forty dollars five dollars at a time.

"Going already?" the dealer asked.

"I forgot about my court date."

"Oh yeah, you're the lawyer," she said. "I've always wanted to date a lawyer."

"What time do you get off?" It was our little joke, so funny she forgot to laugh.

I was already on the street when somebody took me by the arm. Jason. The eyes were green today. Emerald green with little flecks of gold in it.

"Hey, man. How's it going?"

"It's going," I said. "I see you found a partner."

"It's business. You and I could still be friends."

"Blondie know you still looking for friends?"

"He doesn't like to get physical," Jason said. "He's just about getting the money."

Jason had a little two-bedroom place with a tiny front lawn in Henderson. A homeowner's association type of neighborhood. The grass was a satiny shamrock green, which was only possible in Nevada with the efforts of a crew of landscapers. View of the mountains which weren't nearly as green. Personally I prefer a view of Manhattan but there's a reason I wasn't in Williamsburg any more.

I wondered what the Czech's name was, what Jason's name was. Did Jason care what my real name was? He was too good a poker player to believe it was Nathan.

It was awkward when we first started reaching for each other. It had been awhile for me. I'm slow to warm up sometimes. You get used to playing a part, and it can be a little strange when you're with some hottie just out for a good time. It's just bodies getting naked, but sometimes it feels like more. This was one of those times.

"I like your mouth," Jason said.

"Don't talk," I said.

I liked his mouth too. He knew where to go with it. I might have come a little sooner than he expected, but he had an easy way of relaxing his throat and lips to take the pressure off. I squirmed around a little and felt myself getting stiff again. I eased out of his mouth and scooted down so that I could suck him some while sliding my hands around to pull his buns apart. They were firm and dimple-free, just the way I like it.

"Are you ready for this?" I asked.

"Fuck, am I ready."

Lube on my fingers, lube on his wriggling pink pucker. I wanted to tease him a little, make sure he was feeling the same urgency I was. When I found the right spot, it got loud. All the little "please, mans" and "oh fucks" changed into wordless screams. It was time to slide on the rubber and get down to business.

Then we were both screaming. He possessed an almost supernatural control of his internal muscles, allowing him to squeeze down hard from all directions at just the right moment. I think I saw my life flash before my eyes when we came.

♥♥♥

When Czech strolled in three hours later, I was wearing a white towel around my hips so I could mix up a smoothie in the blender. I used to have a juice bar that sold lots of peach and orange drinks in Fort Greene. Monty said it was my name on the business and I'd get everything when he passed on to the great beyond. But that's the trouble with making friends with old people for a living. They forget stuff. In Monty's case, he forgot he had a great-grandson.

"You still here," Czech said. The accent could have been sexy if he had any warmth in his voice.

"I didn't know I was supposed to clear out before the wifey got home. I didn't see a ring on his finger."

"Ha. Ha." It wasn't a genuine laugh. Each syllable was pronounced clearly and distinctly as if he was practicing the "ahhh" sound for his ESL class.

Jason padded into the kitchen barefoot, wearing a terrycloth robe with some palm trees embroidered on it to say it was the property of The Mirage. It was a long robe, but not as long as his golden legs. His hair was still damp around his face from the post-sex shower, which put the emphasis on his eyes. They were still emerald. The contacts must be the kind you can leave in for a few days.

"This is Nathan," he said. "Nathan, this is Wesley."

"Nice to meet you, Wesley," I said. "What do you do?"

"I'm a software analyst," he said. "The fuck you think I do?"

"Software analyst," I said. "I like that. I might use that." We all knew I was being sarcastic. The dweebier card counters at blackjack always said they were in software.

"Maybe I should start saying I'm a lawyer," Wesley said. "I've binged all the old episodes of L.A. Law and Boston Legal."

"Sure. We're all lawyers on this bus."

"Ha. Ha."

Jason had already finished his smoothie. I'd put some pine pollen in it to fuel us up for more action, but now we had Wesley here to cockblock us, so fuck it.

"I'm going to make like a tree," I said.

"What," Wesley said. They hadn't gotten to stupid fifth grader's puns in his English class.

"Make like a tree and leave," Jason said. He touched the corner of my mouth for a minute, just brushing me with a fingertip. It was like he wanted to kiss me but couldn't because of Wesley standing there. "I'll call you later."

"OK," I said. "Later."

♥♥♥

I met Barbara at a Wednesday night church meeting, but what happens on Wednesday stays back with Wednesday. On Thursday she wanted to play cards. There was a local's place far out on the southern strip where the poker room had a progressive bad beat jackpot built up to almost a quarter million dollars. I didn't like our chances of being on the lucky table, but she pointed out that it had to hit sometime. "We'll win it and split it," she said. She was originally from Alabama, and she always had a lot of positive energy in her voice.

"Sure. If anyone could win it, you could."

Seventy-two. The age where a woman doesn't like to drive at night but she can't sleep for over three hours at a time any more. I was happy to take the wheel of her silver Lexus, and she was happy to give me a couple hundred dollars to stake me in the one-two no-limit. The poker room was crowded, games going at every table, although everybody knew that the entire casino would empty out the minute one of the tables took down the jackpot.


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