Free Shrimp Cocktail

Rickover looked down at his cards, trying to concentrate through the discomfort of the heat, trying to remember the last couple hands, trying to count cards. “Hit me.”

The demon snapped another card off the top of the deck and deposited it in front of Rickover, hissing, “Jack, bust. That’s another thousand years you owe me.”

Rickover didn’t swear at his bad luck; that would just have cost him more time. “Deal again.”

“My pleasure.” The demon dealt each of them a card face-up, and then likewise one face-down. “The dealer shows an ace; want to buy insurance?”

“How much?”

“Up to five hundred years.”


The demon looked at his hole card, and then turned over a Queen. “Blackjack.”

“Oh, of course.”

“Are you suggesting that I’m cheating, Mister Rickover?” The demon leaned in, steam coming from its nostrils. “I’m not the one at this table who cheats, am I?”


With a grin, the demon dealt again. After looking at the card, its toothsome grin expanded. “Rickover shows a pair of tens. Want to split?”


“Oh, I’ve been looking forward to this.” The demon turned to grab an enormous blade from the wall. “Now, hold very still.”

In Five Easy Lessons

He’s one of my guys. They come in because a wife or a girlfriend drags them kicking and screaming, but then it’s like, hey, this is fun, I’m really enjoying myself, and they stick around, even after the wife or girlfriend is out of the picture, or lost interest, or whatever. I mean, sometimes they keep coming because they have a thing for me, or for Becky or Wil, but since we’re super-careful about boundaries it’s never a problem.

Carlo is a problem; he’s not being a problem, like, he’s a perfect gentleman and everything.  He signed up because the V.A. doctor recommended it as part of his rehab, and he’s got that whole military I-will-finish-what-I-started thing, so he’s stuck around, maybe three months so far?

But I’m done, I’ve got it bad. All I want to do is finish a twirl and fall into his lap and kiss him.

A View To A Kill

“What do you see?”

Her voice was strained. “I see a girl. I see… she’s dancing, she’s wearing a formal dress like she’s at the prom.”

“Wrong time of year for—”

“I can’t tell when this is happening yet.” Her head tilted, her eyes crinkled as if she was listening for a distant sound. “It’s too warped to be the past. I think… I think she’s still alive. It feels like this is future.”

“Where?” If she was still alive, they could still do something. “See if you—”

“Oh God… he’s there; she just saw him. John, it’s happening now.”