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Just a Moment He can’t let himself be distracted from the game so he tries to ignore the surrounding noises: a woman laughing, a man yelling chips falling, bouncing, glasses clinking together. And above it all the air conditioners whirring and keeping the air at a comfortable temperature. Behind him and to the left is a roulette wheel. It spins; a cacophony of noise escapes as the ball takes off. In leaps and bounds it travels, red, black, red, black. As it cascades across the duotone landscape the ball’s bounces echo deafeningly. Gradually its movements become sluggish. Slowly, slowly, it comes to a halt, the final impact of ball against red seventeen swallowing up all other sounds. The poker player looks at his hand and sees a few faces. They return the stare. He places the cards face down. The air is being kept at a cool, constant seventy degrees but the poker player is perspiring. A bead of sweat gathers on his forehead and begins a journey. It covers the intervening vastness between each pore while gaining in girth and burning away an infinity of moments. Slowly, implacably, it moves. Pulled along by forces stronger than itself. So slowly. The little sweat droplet stops for a fraction of a fraction of a second (did it really stop?) between his eyebrows. Then, onward. An imperceptible shift in the landscape, ever-so-slight rise on the horizon, his nose looms ahead. The bead of sweat doesn’t let itself be daunted; it rolls on unperturbed. Slowly making its way to the precipice. Inching over the edge. Now dangling, over lips and chin and chest and stomach and legs. The moment hangs in the air, unending, as the little drop fights bitterly with gravity. The poker player wipes the sweat from his nose and the rest of his face with a handkerchief. He folds it, returns it to his pocket carefully. He picks up his hand. “I’ll raise.”

Just a Moment