A Dangerous Deal | Meredith Bezdek

Photo by Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash

A few shots of whiskey in, and I am already devouring the opponent in front of me. A game that tends to be won solely on luck, is not going in his favor. Could it be because I may have slipped some cash to the dealer? Or, it may be because I know the dealer well. Either way, I know I have this win in the bag, and this poor guy is about to lose about $500 worth of earnings. 

“Hit me.” I say one last time. The card dealer hides his smirk as he pulls the card. It’s a 3 of hearts. I won the game in the blink of an eye. My opponent looks at me in utter shock, since he decided to stay at 17 while I had taken the chance. The shock quickly turns into frustration as he shoves the wad of cash away from his side of the table and storms off without another word. I gently pick It’s nothing compared to my usual winnings, however this tournament is an open one, so it will do for now.  

“Who’s next?” I turn to my dealer. It’s now the championship round, and to no one’s surprise, I am a finalist. Blackjack can be an easy game to win, if one knows the right strategy.  

No one speaks up until a familiar woman steps forward. Her brown eyes darken as she meets my gaze head on. Her wrinkles in her face crinkled more as the staring continues. She’s the entire reason I signed up for this tournament. I need to win in order to keep my own work private. This hot-shot detective thinks she has it all figured out with me. She will soon find out that she is wrong. Her hopes of being promoted in the police force will soon crumble to pieces.  

She sits herself down across from me with a rigid posture and gives me a pointed look as she speaks to me in a low toned voice.  “It’s all or nothing, Nigel.” 

“Double or nothing, Jolene.” I gave her the look right back. Her eyes flicker with a challenge, as she straightens herself up in her chair, trying to seem as if she has everything under her control. My smile spreads as if I am the Cheshire Cat, ready to pounce.  

Jolene nods simply and holds her hand out for me to shake on the deal. I accept and allow the game to commence. I start off strong, knowing exactly how my dealer shuffled the cards. After about 4 cards, I was at 18 all over again.  

I look up to the dealer and nod. “Hit me.”  

He pulls a card of 2. I am exactly at 20. There is no way Jolene will win this. I made sure of it.  

“Seems you planned this out meticulously.” Jolene stares into my soul. She is the only one that knows of my wealth and status here. This, of course, would raddle anyone else if they were in my position, but not me.  

I simply sip my glass of whiskey. “Well, you always have to be prepared.” 

“I see,” she says softly. “However, you still need to hold up your end of the bargain.” Another card is placed in front of her. I see a 5.  

“I understand,” I say to her. “A deal is a deal.” 

“It’s time for those poor families to have some peace, after all the pain you have put them through. After all the dead ends we have had over the years; there is no doubt this will put them to rest. Finally, they will be able to breathe with this closure. ”  

I let out a small laugh. “Well, they will find closure in the afterlife.” 

As another card is pulled, Jolene stiffens her posture just slightly. No one else notices, except for me. I know her job is on the line with this deal, but for me, my identity and secrecy is all I am fighting for. The pleasure I will have when I defeat her in the game will be exquisite. Perhaps it will be a better feeling than seeing the pleading looks in my victim’s eyes.  

After a few more cards, Jolene is at 18, a very tricky place to be. She needs to beat me, or at least tie me in order to stay alive. No one can see the cards, not even me. My dealer, however, knows how much is at stake here. He knows that he cannot mess this up for me. I turn my gaze over to Jolene. She takes one more look between the cards and me before saying her command. “Hit me.”  

The dealer places the card down swiftly. Everyone, including me, looks at the verdict at hand.  

The card read 3 of diamonds.  

Jolene won.  

Jolene smiles down at me and claps her hands. “Well, it looks like I need access to your homes. A search warrant will be out in your name at dawn.”  

I look over at the dealer, whose eyes are more focused on the table. Immediately it occurs to me that he was paid off by Jolene. She went below the belt to win the game. I must commend her for her strong wit. She would make a great partner.  

Jolene looks so pleased with herself that she won the game. Her eyes shine with delight as she pulls her brown hair back from her face, revealing some slight wrinkles that have formed from this game. She thinks she has this all planned out, and that the game is over.  

But little does she know, I have a trick up my sleeve.  

I pull out my phone and dial up my assistant, who was waiting for my signal. With one word, I am going to set the world on fire.  


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