by Jim Farrar (1981)

He looked old. Though he was only forty-five he could have easily passed for seventy. The years in the office had taken his middle years. His eyes were glassy now and his hair, what was left of it, was a pasty white. The corners of his mouth were permanently downturned, his lips set in a perpetual frown. He'd cut himself shaving two days ago and little points of dried blood could still be seen on his upper neck, tiny wounds that were hidden by the shadow of his chin.

He looked at his cards. Not a single match, no consecutive cards of the same suit to be seen. His opponent looked at him; he stared back at her. She looked frightened. Sighing, she laid her cards on the table, neatly, in a perfect line by the discard pile. She knew he would throw the cards in his hand, as well as those left in the deck that were lying on the table, across the room, as he had the previous seven times she had won.

She braced herself and spoke softly, as though she really didn't want him to hear her. "Gin," she said, as his face began to redden.

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