Eventually, the story will be up for e-sale somewhere–Dan has allowed he'd handle it, even though he won't make anything on it. This is why, when you are a short story writer, unless you are Harlan Ellison, you don't go looking for an agent. Ten or fifteen percent of not much is, well, really not much.
But, hereunder the first scene in the new adventures of Roy the Demon, of whom I am growing more fond all the time. Might be a series of stories here, cobbled into a collection, and sold to the movies or TV for big bucks. Someday.
Never know ...
The teaser is Rated-R for language. If you are offended by such–what are you doing here?
Roy looked at his hand, then at the table. He had a hidden pair of jacks, and the flop gave him the third, so he’d made a set, hot damn!–but the turn card was a five, and there was a four and a six on the table.
When the river card was flipped up, it was a fucking trey.
Three, four, five, six, right there, bold as fucking brass.
There were half a dozen players: Larry, the swing shift supervisor in the Pit of Boiling Feces; Jeanette, who ran the Pitchfork-in-Ass Torment crew on Six; Billy Joe, from Legal; Solomon, who was in Actors, and Sweet Melissa, also on the South Gate, as was Roy. Melissa was sitting in for Mtumbo, who was visiting relatives in the recently-annexed Echo Park.
Fucking Texas Hold ‘em, and with that river card, somebody had maybe filled out a wheel, all they needed was a deuce or a seven, and that would turn his three jacks into a pile of old dog turds.
Roy concentrated on his cards, trying to change one of the jacks into a seven, but outside of a faint shimmer, nothing happened. Lot of cheaters in Hell, and the cards were proof against all but really big magic, which none of the demons at the table had.
Somebody opened the door to the casino, and a flash of bright orange strobed the poker room. Supposed to be a super-nova out there today, and it looked like it had arrived.
Jacks were always scary–lot of chips had gone down the toilet by betting they were good, even three of them, and with eight cards that would give somebody a straight, the smart move would be to muck the jacks and move on to the next hand.
But: Nobody was showing a two or a seven, no pairs high enough to threaten him even if they made a set, and he didn’t see a flush building. No pairs on the board. Crap. What to do?
Roy was just a gate keeper and no math whiz, but he knew there was a good chance that out of five players, somebody got the straight–eight fucking outs?
He needed a minute.
Roy stood and stretched, all seven-and-a-half feet of him, then scratched at his naked crotch.
Jeanette shook her head.
“What?” Roy said.
“I think she’s impressed with your savoir-faire, Roy,” Sweet Melissa said. “You gonna bet or keep playing pocket pool there?”
Roy sat. Nobody was giving him a tell he could read, they were a pretty tight bunch–if after a few million years you couldn’t make a decent poker face, you were hopeless–but maybe nobody tagged the straight? Be a shame to lose the time–there were chips amounting to forty hours already on the table, and the pot could mount up to more than a hundred if somebody wanted to try a bluff to steal it.
In the grand cosmic scheme of things, a week or two wasn’t squat against how long you’d be in Hell, but still, a week lying by a bubbling lake of lava under a warm sulphur breeze was way more fun than watching the gate–knowing that the ancient Mrs. Bentley from next door could show up at the kiosk at any moment to bitch about the hellhounds chasing her fucking cat Sylvester again. Last time that had happened, he’d had to sign a damned Contract to get Baskerville back–a little old lady had collected the fucking hellhound like it was nothing, which told you something right there–and while gate duty was better than stirring hot bubbling feces all day, there was nothing as good as somebody else having to sub for you and letting you do whatever you fucking pleased.
Still, the jacks could be good. He had to at least test the waters here.
“Eighty,” Roy said. He shoved chips into the pot. He was still ahead if he lost this hand.
Solomon raised a furry eyebrow. “You got the seven or the deuce?”
Roy kept his face impassive. He gave Solomon a look. “Bet, and find out.”
Solomon held his gaze for a moment, then grinned. “Nah. Either one beats me.” He tossed his cards into the muck.
Larry and Billy Joe had already folded. Jeanette looked at her cards, shook her head. “I think you’re bluffing Roy, but I’m out.”
So it was just Roy and Sweet Melissa. Maybe she’d fold, too.
She gave him a smile that would freeze boiling tungsten. “I’m all in.”
Well, fuck me with a rusty crowbar!
If he covered her bet, it would put him all in, too, and since he was up in the rotation, he’d be working Melissa’s shift for at least a week, given how the minutes were parsed. It was arcane, how that went, but, hey, it was Hell–everything was arcane. Whaddya gonna do?
“I don’t think you have that straight,” Roy said.
Melissa could have been carved from stone for all her expression showed. Then she smiled again. “You don’t think much at all, Roy, we all know that.”
Three jacks. A good hand with six players, but a straight on the board, lacking one card on either end? It was a gamble.
Then again, if he had to cover her shift, no big deal–it would be the same job, right?
“I call,” Roy said. He laid down his jacks.
And of course, Sweet Melissa, the poxy bitch, flipped over the seven of spades. “My, my. Look at that.”
Oh, well. Roy shook his head. “Win some, lose some.”
Sweet Melissa smiled. “Did I mention that I’ve been transferred? My last shift on the gate was yesterday.”
Roy felt his belly roil, as if something alive and unhappy to be in his stomach decided it was going to claw its way out. “Transferred?”
“Yeah.” She waited a second. Two seconds. “To Music.”
“Motherfucker,” Roy said.
“Worse than that,” Melissa said. “I used to work that section, too, and I know.”