Saturday, September 18, 2010

Lady Luck - short poker story: part two of two

Continued... from previous post.

I had never seen her before, I kind of stared, she smiled even broader, and said, "All those chips..." All I could manage was “Oh.” She giggled and turned away walking out of the room. I quickly looked over the tough guys at the table to see if she was attached and if my luck just ran out. The only other guy beating the game like me was Jimmy Zees, who locked eyes and shook his head. I froze for a second. He smiled, "When you're hot... I guess you're hot, kid. That's our new waitress Dalia."

I played for as long as I could to make it seem like I wasn't hitting and running even though this Texas Hold em poker game was as soft as they come. I even gave some pots back to those losers when I had the best hand and just mucked. It was for my own security, to get invited back to games I had been crushing I took to giving a little back. I had to let them think they had a chance, but all I could think about was Dalia as I played on auto-pilot. Her legs walked through my mind a hundred times during that game, and that smile lit me up like a Christmas tree at midnight. Finally after one more small lost pot, I said this is starting to feel like online poker as though I wasn't mucking the winner and I had just got bad beated. That was my cue to leave. They still noticed I was leaving a winner.

I put them behind me, as I walked out front. The bar was just about settling down, with only a couple of friends of the establishment still nursing their last drinks when I stepped out of the game. The neon sign from outside glowed over Dalia with a brillant red aura when I saw her again. She was leaning over a table scrubbing nothing. I felt like I had taken a boot to the gut as I drank her in. I swallowed hard like a bluffer with his last dollar in the pot and worked up the nerve to walk up to... Dalia, that name danced through my brain.

She looked up and smiled, that wide inviting grin, that at once made feel at ease and at the same time gave me a cold sweat like I was flu-ridden. I blinked a few too many times, again like a guy trying to steal a pot with nothing, and returned the smile.

She said she had an extra beer and she was sure that Jimmy would let her share one with me before she closed up. I couldn't refuse, no way I was going to refuse, man was I running hot. She talked, I acted like I listened, actually, I did care what she said. Jimmy had already told her I was good folks not like the rest of the guys back there. Jimmy liked her, looked out for her, because she reminded him of his daughter he had told her. That made her laugh. Usually that was a bad line but with Jimmy it was true.

He had also told her I wasn’t the kind of guy to go missing for a week, or for a year, or forever. I was the kind of guy he'd want his daughter to talk to. While we sat, I don't remember what I said, but I do remember her laughing at my jokes, her hand dancing on the table top, and her slender fingers lightly brushing mine, first as if by chance and then with a light purpose. I remember her eyes opening wide, her pupils dilated, and a sweetness that drew me into her.

I couldn't even think about why she'd fall for a guy like me, I didn't consider her running an angle, or her running somebody else's angle. Instead I just soaked in the moment, every hair on my body prickling up, like I was watching an opera singer hold a note I couldn't dream of. I felt my heart started to beat at a weird pitch and I felt something I hadn't felt in years, not since I met my ex-us that first time, and then the cold sweat hit again. I knew what it was. It was love pure as the driven snow.

Then I could see in her eyes somehow she felt it too, a genuine love for a scamp like me, and every sensation doubled. I was drunk for her.

And then in my haze, a line from Sinatra that my daddy used to sing when I was a kid played through my head, "Luck be a lady, luck be a lady tonight." As we sat, I saw him singing it, smiling at me, and nodding his head at one of his vixens.

I shook my head and laughed half to myself half out loud.

"What's so funny?" Dalia asked.

"Lady Luck," I shook my head again.

Then I stood up, took one last long look at her, seering her face into my memory forever, doffed my cap at her, "I gotta go darling."

She said, "See you next week." Half as a statement, half as a question.

I half-turned only seeing those legs that made me chest thump, and lied, "I'll be seeing you," and walked out that bar, and I never looked back.

Dalia, was a once in a lifetime thing, a once in a lifetime lady, but unlike my daddy I knew and understood, lady luck or any of her sisters was the unluckiest thing that could happen to a gambler like us.

P.S. I'm still killing every game I sit in, I was probably the guy holding the stone cold nuts against you last night.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lady Luck--short poker story part one of two

I was ginning. I was on a rush like Darvin Moon at the World Series. Everything was hitting. You know players that say they haven't hit a set in months. I hadn't missed at least two sets in a session in over a year. They always held. The only sets over sets were the ones I was holding top set. I could see flops before they hit. I wasn't soul reading people I was telling the souls what they were going to be.

It was insane, it didn't matter if I was playing Texas Hold'em poker live or online I was simply crushing it. I didn't even know how to play Omaha and I always seemed to get there whenever I'd be forced to play. Double suited and I'd usually hit the flush on an unpaired board.

Play hi-low, hello wheels with every suit on the board. What a fun time. I thought to myself I'm the king of the poker world. I moved up from 3 -6 limit, to 2 - 5 No limit hold'em to 100 - 200 in about the lifetime of a fruit fly. I was winning online poker tournaments like I was a superuser. Yet, even as I would sit down to print money my real life was in a tale spin.

You know that saying lucky in love unlucky in cards? I was the opposite, I couldn't miss when I played a card game so I played all the time. Next thing I know the missus became an ex-us and took my new lexus that I missed even more then her. Still who needs women when you are winning. Or for that matter anything else. For the first time in my life, I couldn't lose.

I spent freely out of my bankroll because why not. I felt like I was on the opposite of a twilight zone episode, some cheery dream that would never end, but deep in my core I feared the moment it would come crashing down. As my broke daddy used to tell me with every new step mommy I'd meet, "Enjoy it while you got it son... you'll understand one day." I knew there was always a sad ending to any Midas touch story but I didn't see mine coming, or know it would hit me like a freight train.

One night, I was playing late in the local den of thieves, behind the bar of Jimmy Zees a connected man with some of the deepest, loosest pockets in the city. I'm killing the game as I always do. I was in auto-pilot with my bluffs not being called and second nuts forced to stack off to me when I held the best of it.

Then lady luck walked through the door. I was in a giant pot with two low lifes from the port, one who smuggled dirty things into the city, and another one who was the captain of the police there but could more accurately be described as number one’s employee. We were playing stud, I had hit a 10 high straight, it looked like the captain had a straight of his own to the 6 or so, and the smuggler easily had two pair but I knew he wasn’t sitting on a boat. Not the way I was running. I put the rest of my chips in the middle. I felt a person walk up behind me and the hairs on my neck stood up in excitement. The partners in crime both pushed their chips to the center, I turned over the winner and they both mucked in disgust.

As I dragged the pot, I laid eyes on what was waiting behind me and surveyed this tall of drink of water with lips you could use as life preservers. "Who was that?!?" I thought as I haphazardly drew the chips in. She noticed my attention and sauntered over to me, in the shortest, sheerest mini-skirt a woman could put on without getting arrested. She softly touched my nose with her forefinger, "Must be your lucky day," she smiled, her teeth perfect, gleaming white, and lips luminescent even in the darkness.

To be continued.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Silverback Issue Two Gulf Coast Poker Magazine part three

My palms got sweaty and my shoulders got tighter with the anticipation of having to make a decision. It only took a half an hour for me to be on the spot. While they were dealing Texas Hold ‘Em Two Times bet the flop and then the turn as he always did, he shook the other two players out the hand, and only Silverback went with him to the river. This was the standard poker game for those two. Yet, it didn't feel standard at all to me.

Action on Two Times and he stared at Silverback’s cards and right through them, I knew he was waiting. Silverback had nothing, complete garbage, and was waiting to make a move if Two Times checked. I was frozen stiff I didn’t know who scared me more. Suddenly I was playing a game ofTexas Holdem in my mind.

Two Times eyes narrowed and then he scratched his nose and practically stared at me. Begrudingly, because I had to, I sent him a signal and as I did Silverback looked back at me, the look he gave me was chilling. It was a look I’d seen him do at the table. I felt like I was one of his opponents and he was staring into me reading my cards as though my eyes were a mirror.

Two Times checked and Silverback, holding his cards even more obviously, so everybody could see I could see what he held, bet. Two Times quickly folded.
Silverback slammed his cane into the table as though he was pissed he didn’t get a call, “I need a break. Kid, come with me.” I followed him to his office.

“Sit down!” he bellowed.

Did he know I had signaled, how could he?

“You think I’m stupid kid?” he put the bottom of his cane to my throat.

“No… No, sir,” I stammered.

“Good.” He pulled the cane away. “You did a good thing tonight. Him offering you money and bringing that thug in there to intimidate you, that took some balls to do what you did.”

Before I could question he lifted his cane above my head where a row of televisions lined the wall above the doorframe.

“I got cameras for two blocks, ain’t nobody rolling up on here to steal from our game that gets away with it. You made the right decision scratching your nose. I hate cheaters. Hate ‘em. You know had you told him I had a decent hand you wouldn’t be sitting in my office right now. You’d be headed to a swamp. Not fun to sleep in a swamp you know," he let that settle in.

Then he continued conspiratorially, “What you are going to do now, is start signaling the truth. See, there a few golden rules in poker, like you can give a man a haircut every couple of weeks or so but you can only scalp him once. Ole Texas Dolly likes to say shear a sheep or skin it, same thing. I prefer scalping, rolls off the tongue. Another rule is you can ride a donkey every day but one day you ride that donkey too hard that donkey’s going to kick back. Well, I guess I rode him too hard. I forgot that you got to give him a carrot every now and then. Donkey’s got to eat too.

“Well, tonight, the donkey gets his treat. In fact, he’ll get his carrot for three more weeks, and then he’ll play the biggest pot he's ever played, and then that cheater is going to get his. That donkey’s going to get put down. You follow?”

“You want me to tip him off to your cards?”

“That’s right, and then one night you are going lie just like you did tonight. You'll signal I’m bluffing with nothing when I have him.”

“What about…” again I was in a corner.

“What about nothing. I’ll show him the tape, tell him if he ever cheats again, I’ll show everybody another tape. Man’s a politician. A married politician who shouldn’t be running around with waitresses from bars like mine and he certainly shouldn’t be trying to push my employees around. Two timing son of bitch”

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Silverback Issue Two Gulf Coast Poker Magazine part two

He looked around the street then got out of his car pretty certain we were alone.
“Silverback shows you his cards doesn’t he?” He smiled the smile most men give to their mother-in-laws when the meal they’ve just eaten was barely edible. I remember thinking how does this guy keep getting elected? To me he was as transparent as they come. He was the type of guy if he saw your hole cards he wouldn't say and thing and just rob you blind. The type that would be a super-user on those online poker

“No…not really.”

“Not really, so he doesn’t show them… but you see them?” The smile some how got bigger, “Huh, kid?”

“Sometimes… look, I’m not…”

“Don’t worry kid, I’m your councilman after all, you can trust me.” He reached out what he meant to be a comforting hand on my shoulder. I had to stop myself from stepping back from it in revulsion. He whispered, “You know what he’s got on me?”

“Got on you…”

“How he always seems to win a hand off me. I can never beat the guy. Never! What’s he got on me kid.”

“I don’t know,” I lied. “ I just read the cards on the table to him, I don’t follow what he’s doing.”

“Don’t lie to me kid, I see you watching his hands! How much does Silverback pay you? Whatever it is quadruple it, and that’s what I’ll pay you. All you have to do is scratch your nose when he’s got a big hand and touch anywhere else on your face when he doesn’t.”

“I’m sorry sir, but I can’t.” I started to turn and the comforting hand on my shoulder turned into a death grip.

“I’m sorry but you can son.” As he said that two large men got out the backseat of his car, “This is officer Mallory and officer Simpson. They are my private security. They make sure that certain things go my way. Do I need them to make sure you scratch your nose when you are supposed to?”


When I went in for my next shift, the bartender asked me what was eating me. I shrugged and got prepped for the evening session in a daze. The bartender saw me dragging my shoulders and said “Something’s bothering you kid, you don’t have to talk about it… but remember you’ll make that right decision, trust yourself you are a smart kid."

He continued, "If it’s some girl don’t worry she won’t be the only one to make you feel that way you’ll get over her and the 100 that come after her, believe me, if it’s your parents better to listen to them now then wake up one day and wish they could talk to you when they are gone, and if it’s something about the game, don’t forget that last boy that worked it ended up on a… milk carton.”

How could I forget, I thought to myself.

That night Two Times showed up with a pep in his step. He smiled a little too broadly at Silverback and even acknowledged me with a nod and a lingering eye lock. Tracking behind him was his friend officer Mallory who was sitting in the game too.

Him introduced himself as though we hadn't met and said "I normally like to play a good Sit and go but I'll try your game tonight." Silverback patted the man on the back in his welcoming way and then Mallory stuck out his huge paw toward me.

He shook my hand more than sternly and I tried not to wince as it felt like every little bone was about to break.

The night started out strange, on some nights I could see most of Silverback’s hands and on other nights he’d guard them even from me, but on that evening I saw every single hand. Two Times was all smiles despite losing some hands to the other players at the table.

To be continued...

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Silverback Issue Two Gulf Coast Poker Magazine

In our last edition I found myself becoming an apprentice to the man they called Old Grey Bear or Silverback (a name favored by a couple of young criminals that played in the game). He was a crotchety 80 year old bar owner who wielded his cane more like a billy club than a crutch, and played poker in marathon sessions with the most upstanding men in the city as well as the most wanted. The Texas Hold'em Poker games were legendary in the city.

In his bar, it didn’t matter what your name was as long as you had the cash you could play. On that fateful day, I found myself being the old man’s eyes late at night when the smoke and the dim neon light from the beer signs made it hard for him to see because I had the guts to stand up to him and tell him what he thought he saw on the board wasn’t there. In some ways, that was my first mistake and in others that was my luckiest break.

I had a limited knowledge of the game and though it took me a while to learn the rules of stud, Pot Limit Omaha, and hold’em once I did, I saw that Silverback had this innate ability to bet when his opponents had nothing and get away from a hand when they had something. On his good nights, especially when he was running good, he’d dispense a piece of knowledge or a little kernel of truth about the game and I’d the application of it in the game.

One of the local politicians would bluff at a pot twice but never three times because he believed if a man could call him twice he’d have to have him beat. The others guys at the table didn’t catch on but Silverback did. He called the man Ol Two Times to his face and the man never realized the name was related to his poker leak. I’d watch Silverback call the first two bets with any two cards. If Two Times would bet the river he’d only play the strongest possible holdings, if Two Times checked Silverback would bet any hand he held regardless of how bad it was and win the pot.

Every once in a while Ol Two Times would fire a raise back at him, and sure enough Silverback would quickly move all his chips to the center of the table. It was fun to see him just own the man. No surprise that Two Times was the first player to approach me with an axe to grind with my devious boss. One early morning after my shift I walked out the bar and to the side street where my car was parked and his black Lexus crept up on me.

When I noticed it, I jumped as I thought I was going to get jumped. After a moment, he rolled down his tinted window smiling like a game show host, “It’s alright boy, just me. Your councilman.” I almost called him Ol Two Times, but I caught myself, only Silverback had that privilege.

“Tough break in there sir,” I nodded at him feeling sorry that the politician had lost a big pot when one of the more inexperienced players couldn’t get off a hand and caught a lucky river card to end his night.

“Yes, that seems to happen a lot these days, say kid, you want to grab a cup of coffee or beer somewhere,” he arched an eyebrow.

“I’m not… No, I’ve got to be headed home I’m expected… my mom…”

“Well, you got a second kid?”

“Okay..." This was starting to feel a bit menacing. I visualized the bad actors in a reactment of me marching off to my death. Still, running was a bit out of the question despite how much I the flight response was firing in my neurons.

To be continued...

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Do You See What I See (Part 2) Gulf Coast Poker Magazine Issue 1

“What do you see on that table, son?” The Grey Bear pointed to the five cards face up in the middle of green felt. “ I say that’s two clubs and a spade. They say that’s three clubs,” he hissed at me. “What do you see?”

One of the gangsters looked at me menacingly.

I hadn’t played much cards but I knew the suits at least or so I thought. Now, being asked this question I forgot everything. If somebody needed a poker school it was me. I peered at the five cards on the table, and got my bearings. That’s a heart, yes what else could it be, I thought to myself. That’s an Ace of… diamonds, definitely, that’s a 5 of clubs, an 8 of clubs… clubs right, spades look like shovels, yeah, clubs look like clovers and that’s a 9 of… clubs.

I turned to the old man about to answer and he put a giant paw on my shoulder and said, “Now, remember I said two clubs and a spade. “ He paused and seemed to grow taller and bigger with each passing moment. “They say three clubs. And, think real carefully about what you are about to say, son.” His breath was heavy with bourbon, his eyes bloodshot, but his voice didn’t waver and his grip was unflinching.
I looked again at the table, everybody looking at me, “It’s… three clubs.” I braced myself for a smack and told myself to roll with the punch if it came, I could probably make it to the door before he could get his cane on me, I plotted out how to elude the bouncer and thought I might just be able to make it out alive.

The smack didn’t come.

He paused, red with anger. He lifted his head and pounded the furthest card, the 9 of clubs with his cane. “Fine,” he grimaced. The table waited with me, and then the politician began to nervously laugh, the others followed suit. The old man turned even redder and then started laughing too. “It’s a good thing you mothertruckers aren’t cheating me in my own place. Kid, push this to that man over there.” He flung some hundreds to the table. He tucked another in my top pocket, “Now, get me a bourbon and branch, and get comfortable we’re playing some cards. You just became my eyes…”

“Your-your eyes?”

“Yah, so you better get that squeak out of your voice, so I don’t have to get somebody else to be my ears .”

I was dazed.

“Get moving!” he bellowed.

I did as he asked and walked out toward the bartender for the Bourbon and Branch.
I told him what happened, “You did good kid,” he nodded.

“But he lost the hand.”

“Right, and you had the balls to tell him that. And truth is he didn’t care if he lost the hand, he probably knew that he lost the hand, he just wanted to make sure you were honest and more importantly not a coward.”

I still wasn’t getting it.

The bartender laughed at my ignorance and continued, “Now… he knows if you can stand up to him and you and can tell him the truth, he won’t have to worry about one of those thugs getting to you and one day you lying to him about a river card in the future. Course, he could have just told you about the last kid that did that.”

“The last kid?”

“Yeah, the last kid that told him what the cards were and was dumb enough to lie about a river card. You can only find him on a milk carton.” He let that sink in. “See why I told you not to go back there? Now get him his bourbon and branch before he gets any angrier.”

Friday, March 26, 2010

Do You See What I See (Part 1) Gulf Coast Poker Magazine Issue 1

Do You See What I See?

The old man beckoned me into the back room with a hurried, flippant wave. I had been cleaning tables and bar-backing for a week and he barely did more than grunt at me when I had done something right, and he just fired me evil glares when I mis-stepped. I wasn’t worried about being fired when I spilled a tray of beer bottles I was more afraid for my life. I had seen the old man come out the smoky back room and splinter two wooden canes on the door frame and rattle off a string of expletives that would make a porn star cringe, but somehow I had escaped his wrath. Fortunately to that point I answered to the bartender and just avoided the man they called Old Grey Bear.

I had seen the men that filtered in and out of that room throughout the night, they came when the bar was open and when the bar was closed, and they were the type that scared most people and I could tell he scared them. The Texas Hold 'em and Omaha poker game never seemed to stop it only ebbed and flowed, and it wasn’t unusual to see a guy walk in on my Tuesday shift and walk out when I returned for work on Thursday. The bartender told me the old man wasn’t so much a bar owner, as he was a guy who owned a bar so he could play poker and that’s all he did.

But I only watched the comings and goings, from a distance, as the only piece of advice I was given by the bartender was not to EVER go in there and the knowing look he gave me when he said it was chilling.

So, when the old man sternly stomped his cane and saw me pass by the half-closed door I froze in my tracks. He looked over his reading glasses and peered at me like a big cat in thin cover eyeing a limping member of the heard.

It got worse, “Boy! In here. Now!” he bellowed.

I swallowed hard, stole a glance back at the bartender, who shrugged helplessly, and I walked into the back room. The acrid cigarette and heavy cigar smoke hung like a fog over the room. It wasn’t so much poorly lit, as it was just the smoke captured the light in its thickness and made it feel like the last intact room of a house ablaze.

The old man flipped his cane upward, grabbed its base, whipped it behind him and in one quick motion captured a wayward chair with its hook, and pulled it to him. He pounded on the chair with the shaft and glared at me, “Sit.”
I tried not to look at the other men, but all eyes were on me. A well known local politician nodded like I was holding a baby for him to kiss not like I was spotting him sitting with the other thugs at the table. They included several guys who looked like they had gotten their fortune from pharmaceuticals, but weren’t pharmacists, and they eyeballed me with disdain. I scanned a couple of other familiar faces, I couldn’t quite place, and before I could look any longer, the old man pounded the chair again, “I said SIT!”

I did.

I had never said a word to the owner, this old man, a combustible pitbull of rage, who could probably take most 20 year olds in a fight even though he was 80 something, and suddenly I was seated next to him in a game that featured stacks of hundred dollar bills, more money than had ever passed in and out of my pockets in my lifetime.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

What's Cracklin below (follow up to What's Cracklin')

Jackson, from Jackson, studied each of our faces, we leaned in like kids on our first camping trip the wind picking up at just the right moment, whistling in Jackson's pregnant pause. Jackson, glanced a steely gaze at the corporal, "Kegs of beer.... a whole mess of monkey spiders." He started laughing busting our balls again.

Tony, who preached patience in poker but most needed poker school out of any of us to learn it, spoke "No there's not. It's full of experiments."

The volume lowered to conspiratorial again and everybody edged toward Tony. Jackson was disbelieving, "Experiments?' pointing a knife my way, "You've been reading too many of his books..."

"No, I did go into the hatch last week," Tony pulled out a key chain, "turns out the key to the sheds works on the lock on the hatch too."

We looked at the Corporal, he shrugged it was true.

"Well, what did you see?" Jackson pressed, "Out with it private. Experiments on what? People?"

"No..." he shook his head "They figured out how to turn steel into gold."

"What's that... Alchemy?" the corporal asked.

"I guess."

"No," I had to interject "that's impossible, alchemy has been a pipe dream for centuries, and besides the belief was that you'd transmute an element close to Gold on the periodic table into gold... not steel, maybe platinum or even better lead. True, Persians did attempt this, and as a side effect created modern chemistry but alchemy has been debunked"

"Listen to Professor smarty pants" Jackson mocked, "You learn that in college too where they taught you how to unhook a bra, do a keg stand, and add two plus two?"

"I read a lot. Matter of fact, I'm reading a book on alchemy right now, which is where Tony probably got his inspiration for this ghost story, huh Tony?"

"I don't know what book is your foot locker, I don't have a key to that," Tony said. "But I do have a key to the hatch." He held in it the air and we got quiet again. As we did the wind grew louder and it swayed the key tempting us.

Slowly, we all looked at the Corporal, even disbelieving me.

He shifted uneasily from side to side, "Well, alright boys," he seemed inspired. "See what I'm going to do is call an end to this little poker game right here. And you see this pot right here, I figure you all forgot to ante an extra $20, and since I'm winning this pot without a showdown, I'll just take it and head to bed. Know what I mean." He started pulling the money from our stacks.

"No way partner we don't got no extra ante," Jackson stood up "and even if we do I got Kings full. How you going to beat that Corporal." He flung his cards to the table.

"That's a nice hand but see I got a royal flush and you can believe me and you can award me the pot and go into that hatch without me showing or "knowing" what you are up to... If I have to spell it out to you, you can also not believe me that I have a royal flush and I'll fold, you'll win the hand without these antes and we'll play poker all night instead?"

Jackson fumed getting it, "That's a big pot."

Corporal nodded, "It is."

"Maybe you should just keep the extra antes. Sure seems like you are asking me to give up a lot more than these guys... Know what I mean."

"That is true. But that's poker. Sometimes you are the fire hydrant and sometimes you are the dog. Look at it this way, Jackson from Jackson, sounds like there is a bigger pot down below. And in case any of you guys bring anything back I want my share too. Know what I mean?" The corporal swiped up his money and stood eyeing each of us.

We nodded. As soon as the Corporal was out of ear shot, we all quietly got up and followed Tony toward the hatch. When we first made camp months ago nine tanks sat in a perimeter around the hatch with one turrent facing every direction, but now after months of inactivity and apparent disinterest from the Iraqis, only one tank remained, and the rest were sent elsewhere. We knew the crew inside was probably sleeping or playing poker too.

The perimeter had long since stopped looking outward and they damned sure weren't going to start looking inside the facility so we walked pretty freely toward the hatch. I immediately noticed the sand that had built up on the hatch since we'd been there was displaced and only a thin film of sand sat on it now. Tony or somebody else had definitely been in it.

He slotted the key into the lock, turned it, and eased the massive lock open. It clanged loudly agains the hatch. We all warily looked to see if anybody had heard.

"Wait til you see this guys," Tony smiled.

He pulled the hatch open and clicked on his flashlight, we followed suit and stepped down into the long dark, damp flight of stairs.

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