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.