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  #151  
Old 01-15-2017, 02:36 AM
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joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
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Default Re: New studio

Dave, the cars are located in a barn that is on ´private property. I have found that if I let my dog loose with his leash attached I can use him as an excuse for going places I shouldn’t. I went back to look at the cars a second time and studied them close-up. I think they are Fiats, I noticed they have suicide doors. I am not into mechanics, but to me they look like non repairable junk. I did find some old wine jugs that interest me to turn into terrariums.
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  #152  
Old 04-18-2017, 11:32 AM
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Default Four days with the public

“I think you need to get out of the house and do something different Joseph .You spent too much time at your computer writing, and when you are not doing that, you are painting.
There is an event in Sarzana over the Easter holidays .Why don’t you rent a table and display your art., maybe you will sell something.”
Selling something sounded like a fine idea as my studio walls have no more space to hang stuff. My wife is my life preserver, and, I think much smarter than me.
I agreed to spend four days in front of the public exhibiting, but only after we went to town and explored the situation. I was very pleased to see that my table would be under a plastic gazebo and it was to be located in front of the entrance to Fortress Firma Fede built in 1262 AD.
Later it was destroyed and rebuilt in fourteen eighty seven by Lorenzo De Medici. I could only think, how cool that was, so i agreed and paid the table rent of two hundred ten Euros. At the closing of the exhibition, my total sales were nine copies of “The Hermit and the Boy” book at seven Euros a copy. However I got nice a tan did an abstract thing that I found to be fun, met nice people, and, improved my Italian a bit. Also i got to finish the first draft of another short (3500) word story titled Princess Josephine.
I think I was the only artist with a table there, had lots of lookers wanting garage sale prices, and some nice comments.
My wife is looking into another exhibit called the “Genius of your Own Hands,” To be held along the beach in Lerici. Maybe I will attend? Here are a few pictures.
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  #153  
Old 05-16-2017, 04:43 AM
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Default Josephine

It has been a month that I have been working on this story that is titled “Josephine.” It started out based on the old joke “The talking frog” a joke that can be told in five minutes .Somewhere along the way my imagination took over and I ended up with a fictional story of 22 pages and 6,000 words. I am quite proud of this story and hope you will enjoy reading it as much as I did writing it. Also here is a new painting. “The Basket Weaver”

Chapter one
Josephine
There is a slow moving meandering river in Louisiana.
Amongst the stately old cypress trees sits a trailer house surrounded by empty beer cans ,two rusted pickup trucks, one old motorcycle,, and makeshift kennels with two coon hounds tied there .
Tom was sitting on its front porch working his way through his last six pack of Lone Star beer when he noticed several ripples in the muddy water. This movement excited him into action, for he knew the activity meant the annual migration of smelt was underway. Downing dregs from his can, he jumped up, grabbed his fishing pole and staggered down to the edge of the Atchafaleya River.
By the time dusk settled in .He had five bright silver smelt flopping in the bushes behind him. He put the last fish on a forked stick and was wondering if there was enough bacon fat to fry them in, when he heard faint crying coming from the willows that grew along the river bank. “What in the hell is that’” he said out loud.
Taking the fish and his pole; he went searching for the source of the pitiful wailing. He stopped... trying to get a sense of the direction the sound came from. He could clearly hear a female voice calling “Help, Help, someone please help me.” It was coming from behind a moss covered log nearby.
Being a cautious fellow, Tom took his time and carefully approached the log. He parted the branches, and then peered over the log. And saw, not a thing, no woman as he had suspected, just a small green frog. “Maybe I should not have drunk that last beer he said to the frog” and turned to go. “Oh no, please don’t go, I am a Princess, a real Princess, you must help Me.” said the frog with tears in its eyes. “Well I´ll be damned, it´s a talking frog. If that don´t beat all” Tom said in amazement.
He picked up the frog to look at it. In the evenings light he could see that the frog had long eyelashes, its lips were lovely and painted with a ruby colored gloss...Tom studied the frog intently then said “I can tell by your lips and eyelashes you may have been a Princess, and you’re certainly the damndest looking frog I ever laid eyes on”.
“That is because I am truly a very beautiful Princess, who has had a hex cast upon her. And you kind sir, can break this horrible spell by believing me. I will be forever grateful to the first handsome man to kiss me. “
Now Tom was a handsome man, and had had many experiences with women, all of them beautiful. Including the one, who had filed for divorce, then stripped him of everything.
The one who had emptied his bank account then run away with the banker, leaving him dead broke, , and living in a rundown trailer. As a result of this life changing catastrophe, Tom had made a solemn vow to never, ever, become emotionally involved with another woman.
He thought for a long while, and then answered the frog. “I have learned that women who think they are beautiful Princesses are a royal pain and are easy to find, but a talking frog could be a valuable asset in my lonely life.”
So Tom put the frog in his pocket, picked up his pole and fish, then made his way home to the trailer in time to feed his hounds the fish heads and cook his supper.
It was while he was drinking the last beer in the trailer that the frog in his pocket spoke again.”Sir, can you please tell me your name. “
Surprised by this, He wiped the beer from his chin, coughed to clear his throat and muttered,”It´s Thomas Polanski, but everyone around here calls me Tom. What was yours before you were turned into a frog?”
“Oh! Thomas, that was such a long time ago I have almost forgotten”. Pausing for a moment the frog sighed, then said, “I was Princess Josephine, Daughter of the Grand Duke of Luxembourg.”
“Interesting, very, interesting, Tom said, All the way from Luxembourg to the banks of the Atchafaleya River in Louisiana. Now that must have been a very long and exciting trip.”
“Long and terrible Thomas, so painful that I cannot discuss it,” Josephine sobbed.
In silence Tom cooked then ate his fish.
“Thomas, I am so hungry, would you please take me out of your pocket and place me on the table.
If you do I can catch all the flies that are buzzing around your leftover fish.
As a Princess I loved quail with yams and truffles and French Champagne, but as a frog I have developed an addiction to the taste of common houseflies.”
As Tom took the frog out of his pocket, he could not keep himself from laughing at the thought of quail, yams and truffles and Champagne served on a silver platter with crystal glasses.
Then he said to the frog, “I am going to take the skillet and plate out to the coon hounds to have them washed. Now you won´t run away while I’m gone will you?” The frog shivered at the thought of being out in the cold darkness. “No Thomas, there is no way I wish to be outside. Do you realize how many reptiles, birds and wild creatures want to make a meal out of a small green frog?”
Satisfied that his new discovery was going nowhere, he went out the door and gave the dishes to the dogs to lap clean, while he relieved his bursting bladder against the motorcycle.
When Tom returned, he found that the frog was sound asleep.
Without taking his muddy cowboy boots off, Tom flopped onto his unmade cot and fell instantly into a deep dreamless sleep.
Into his sub-consciousness came a beautiful sound of a woman singing. Her voice was pure and sweet; she sang to him of loneliness and lost love. So marvelous were the sounds that Tom awoke with tears on his face. In an instant he realized that it was the frog.
He lay there, enthralled by the sound of the voice.
Then he had an idea, perhaps the most brilliant idea to ever cross his mind. He was going to enter the Texas Has Talent contest in San Antonio.
He was not a bad guitar picker, and with a voice as great as this frog possessed, he was positive he could easily win the prize money.
All he needed was a guitar, and bus fare to San Antonio.
Tom could no longer sleep; his mind became a tornado of ideas. Finally, he came up with a plan.
He would sell his hounds, Jack and Jim, to the River Bottom Coon Hound Hunt Club, he was sure that they would bring at least seven hundred dollars, he would do it today.
At first light, Tom was up, fixed a cup of chicory coffee, opened a can of fried beans with pork, and then ignoring the mosquitoes walked out onto the porch, where he ate the beans straight out of the can.
He entered the trailer house, cursed the air conditioner for breaking down again. Stripped, turned on the shower and stepped into a stream of tepid water. As he was toweling off the frog hopped over to him.
“Thomas, please could I take a bath. This place is so hot, and my skin is so dry I am afraid it will soon begin to crack and shed.” Tom looked down at the small creature; and he felt a twinge of sympathy for it.
Immediately he took the frog and put it in the still draining water .He watched as it hopped around, obviously enjoying the bath water.
“Josephine, I have to go out, and won’t be back till nightfall, now you stay here, and when I return I shall bring you a box of crickets.”
“Oh Thomas, you are so very kind, I think I could easily fall in love with you. Would you kiss me before you go?” For a brief moment Tom considered.
The idea instantly faded as he thought of his ex wife.
“Not today Josephine, I am not ready for that, especially with a frog, I will be back.”
Having learned that a woman rarely listens to instructions, Tom shut the door and locked it.
He went to the hounds and turned them loose, squinted into the hot morning sun, and then he set off at a trot down the gravel road.
It was a two hour brisk walk to the Club house. He was optimistic, for he knew that his hounds were the best trackers in the county. Once the money started rolling in he could buy them back.
He smiled at the thought that he was going to pawn his dogs and bet on a sure thing.
It did not take the Claudel brothers long to find seven hundred dollars and take possession of Tom´s black and tan hounds.
Stuffing the roll of bills in his jeans pocket, Tom bent over to his faithful dogs, affectionately pulled their long ears, saying “I will be back boys.”
His first stop in town was Wild Bills Pawn & Guns. Wiping the sweat off his face, he opened the iron barred entrance door.
He found Bill parked in a wooden rocking chair, watching the Mobile, Alabama Monster Truck Rally on a wide screen TV. With a nod to Bill, he went over to several used guitars that hung from spikes driven into the back wall.
Tom looked them over, one in particular appealed to him. It was a Hondo five string acoustic, the same type that Les Paul and Mary Ford had used for years.
He took it down, tuned it, and then played a bit of “The House of the Rising Sun”. By now Bill sensing a possible sale, turned his attention to Tom and the guitar. “Give you real good deal on that one Tom, if you got enough cash?”
“Oh I got the cash Bill, depending on what you call a good deal.”
Bill found the energy to lift his two hundred and forty pounds out of his rocking chair and waddled over to Tom and look at the guitar.
It had been hanging on has wall for over six months and Bill was ready to deal.
“Didn’t know you could play one Tom, what do you want with a guitar?” Tom was not about to tell anyone his plans, much less about the frog. “Just for a bit of music to pass the lonely nights away down by the river.
Now...If you want to sell this cheap out of tune instrument, tell me you want fifty dollars for it and consider it sold.”
Bill scoffed at the offer. “Boy, that’s insulting; you can hang it back up and leave. I won’t take less than four hundred,”
Tom put the guitar back on the spike, turned to walk out the door muttering out loud. “I would have gone as much as one fifty.” He had his hand on the doorknob when Bill capitulated.
Tom walked down the street, the guitar slung over his shoulder. He made his way across the street and went into the Meow Bow Wow pet store, there he purchased a box of dried cricket and a plastic carry on traveling cage for the frog, then headed home.
As he was walking he thought of Les Paul and Mary Ford, He came to the conclusion that he and the frog needed a stage name. Something catchy, but what? Josephine was a great name but Josephine who…then he came up with Croaker, Tom Polanski did not sound like a good ending.
Then in another flash of genius it came to him, Tom Moans and Josephine Croaker was perfect.
The walk home was hot; the Louisiana sun beat down on him relentlessly, God …how he wanted a cold beer.
He stopped at a roadside store, bought a six-pack of cold Lone Star, two cans spam, and a loaf of Wonder bread...He sat in the shade of a moss covered oak tree, drank a beer, then made his way home to the trailer and Josephine.
The frog was sitting in a corner when Tom walked in; he put the beer in the fridge opened another one, and a tin of spam. “Oh Thomas, I am so happy that you have returned, it is terrible to be alone and thinking that you are forgotten.”
"Forgotten??? I could never forget you Josephine. You are always on my mind, and here are the grasshoppers I promised, also I have bought you a nice travelling cage.”
Josephine hopped into the cage looked around and croaked in ecstasy. "Oh Thomas, this is the safest place I have slept in over a month. You are adorable, and so thoughtful. Please kiss me. Then I can really show you, how very much I appreciate you.”
To tell you the truth… although Tom was tempted, He knew deep in is soul that it would be the greatest mistake to do so.
He said to her. "Not tonight Josephine, we have to get up early and be in town in time to catch the Greyhound bus. Tonight, I want to play the guitar and listen to you sing. Will you sing for me as you as you sang last night?"
“Will you kiss me after I have sung?” Josephine asked?
Tom did not answer her, but quickly changed the subject.
For he knew that even though Josephine was a frog, under that green skin she was still a woman, and he felt that he was skating on very thin ice.
His plan was to keep her a frog for as long as he could. After all, a frog is cheap to keep, but a woman, especially one that likes quail, yams and truffles would be very expensive.
As thing stood for the time being, he could use her talent to achieve his goal. And when they became as famous as he fantasized, never have to pay her one red cent.
There would be no manager taking a cut, no expensive hotels, or designer clothes and shoes to buy.
A singing frog suited him just fine.
He promised Josephine “After we have made a trip to San Antonio and you sing for me, I promise i will kiss you smack on those ruby red lips.”
Then the frog began to sing in French. Although he did not understand the words he knew instantly the song she was singing... Love Me Tender.
She sang it as it had never been sung before. He strummed along following her lead, but he honestly knew that he was not needed. He stopped playing and listened to her magnificent voice.
Chapter 2
San Antonio
Night was upon them when Tom stepped off the bus in down town San Antonio, travelling bag in one hand, Josephine in the other and the guitar over his shoulder. He started down the brightly lit avenue looking for a cheap accommodation for the night. After a ten minute walk he found The Half Moon Motel and rented a room for twenty eight dollars a night.
The hot room smelled of cheap perfume, stale cigarette smoke and Lysol disinfectant. The bed sagged, and the carpet had odd stains-He threw his bag on the bed, carefully placed Josephine on the dresser, then he turned on the AC.
It came to life with an annoying squeal. Tom kicked it hard and the noise went away.
He let Josephine out of her cage. Took her into the small bath room, sat her in the sink, and turned on the cold water. The frog croaked in relief as she splashed under the stream of water, while Tom stripped and took a shower.
He looked in the mirror deciding that he looked the part of a vagabond guitar picker. Talking to his reflection he said “Hang in there Tom Moans, your luck is about to change.”
Then he asked Josephine if she was hungry, “I am famished Tomas. But I do not want to eat crickets again; they are dry and have no flavor at all. There are a lot of flies in this room, if you could find some sugar to attract them; I will cheerfully snap them all up.” At this point Tom knew that a possible revolt was coming. He understood that once a woman wants something, she won’t stop until she has whatever it is she desires.
He dressed, telling Josephine to be patient while he went out to find some sugar. Outside the Golden Arches of McDonalds lit up the San Antonio night sky like a beacon for Tom.
Twenty minutes later, carrying a Big Mack, coffee, sugar, and French fries, he unlocked the door of his motel room. He took Josephine out of the sink, then tore open the packet of sugar and poured the contents into an ashtray .Placing it on the floor he said “Bon Appétit, Princess”, as the flies swarmed around it.
After eating her fill, Josephine hopped into her cage contentedly humming, then closed her green eyes and fell asleep...
Early next morning, Tom was standing in a queue of hopeful talent tryouts that extended at least three blocks from the entrance to the Aztec Theater. His carryon bag was on the sidewalk, the guitar on his shoulder, and Josephine snug in her cage.
After waiting impatiently for hours, he realized that the chance of getting and audition was slipping away minute by minute.
In desperation he said to the frog. “Will you please sing for me now Josephine?” She did not answer.
”Please, it is important that you sing now,” Tom pleaded.
“When are you going to kiss me Thomas? I do not like being a frog; I want to be Princess Josephine once more.”
“I understand dear Josephine, but you must remain a frog for only two more days. Then, I swear to you on my dear departed mother´s grave, I will give you the biggest kiss you have ever had.
Please! Josephine this is very important for both of us.”
“Well¨... Thomas, I don’t think it is proper for a Princess to be singing on the street.”
She hesitated a long while, finally she said. “I will sing Edith Piaf´s La Vie in Rose for you, but only If I can sit on your shoulder while you play the guitar.”
Tom realized his plan to keep the frog a secret was over. Not wanting to lose the only opportunity he had, he took her out of the cage, placed her on his shoulder and began tuning the guitar.
Then Josephine sang. She sang in a voice that stopped pedestrians, the traffic, and turned the crowd of aspiring artist into silent statues.
It was at this moment that the talent shows producer arrived in his chauffer driven limousine. Seeing the throng of people he told his chauffeur to stop.
He stepped out of the limousine and was overwhelmed by the voice coming from a small green frog sitting on the shoulder of a red neck country bumpkin.
Pushing his way through the throng and completely ignoring Tom, he said to the frog. “I am Arthur Ritties, producer of this talent show, and owner of the Aztec Theater. I would like to hear you sing another song for me.”
Josephine batted her long eyelashes and said. “No sir I will not. I am Princess Josephine, daughter of the Duke of Luxembourg. Singing on the street corner is not proper or becoming for a Princess.”
Arthur bowed deeply, saying as he did “Princess, if i take you to my penthouse suite will you sing for me there?”
Tom knowing that his dream was evaporating before his eyes took the frog from his shoulder in put her into the cage. “This is my frog and it goes nowhere without me.”
Now Arthur was no fool, and quickly apologized. “Of course, I want you to come also, after all the Princess is in your care. Please come to my limousine both of you.”
Putting friendly hand on Tom´s shoulder he led them to the waiting limo, and then said. “Please take us directly to the Four Seasons, Elmo.”Once comfortably seated, He turned to Tom, and with a charming smile said.
“Now tell me all about the Princess and how you met.” While Tom related his story, carefully avoiding any mention of a kiss, the Princess was completely occupied looking at the interior of the limo...
It had silent air conditioning , tan calf skin leather seats, a full bar with crystal wine glasses .The chauffer was dressed in a striking dark blue silk uniform and the air had a faint scent of Magnolia blossoms.
All this reminded her of the palace in Luxembourg.
Then, she compared the two men. One was in worn blue jeans, wearing battered Stetson and dusty cowboy boots.
The other dressed in a grey pinstriped Armani suit, pale grey silk shirt with a silver mounted turquoise bolo tie, black leather Italian loafers, and he smelled of expensive cologne.
Tomas was slim and tan, having seen him naked and she knew he was indeed well endowed and he smelled... well, he smelled like a man.
Arthur was pale, partially bald and had a paunch that over hung his belt, and he was obviously rich.
She was sure that if she insisted he joined a fitness program the paunch would rapidly shrink away.
“Tom, please take me out of this cage so it may better enjoy this ride.” Not having a choice, Tom reluctantly removed the frog from her cage. “Arthur? Do you by any chance like quail with yams and truffle?”
“Why Princess Josephine, it is one of my favorite dishes, but it must be served with cold fine French champagne.”
Josephine immediately hopped onto Arthur´s lap and began to sing. She sang of love found and happiness returned.
She sang all the way to the hotel, while Tom sat in numbed silence... Josephine was still singing when they entered Arthur´s penthouse suite.
Then suddenly she stopped. “I am so tired and dirty from this exhausting trip .Arthur, do you think I could take a nice bath while I am here in this lovely home of yours?”
“Why of course you may Princess; I will have my maid prepare one for you immediately.”
He pressed a button and from out of nowhere a Latino housekeeper appeared. “Rosa, please take the frog Princess Josephine to the master bath, and prepare for her a nice bath.”
“Si Señior” the maid answered, flashing a brilliant, but surprised smile at the small green frog.
While Rosa prepared her bath, Josephine sat in front of the dressing mirror, trying to remember what she once looked like...She directed the maid on exactly how she liked her bath...
Not too hot, with perfumed oil, and of course lavender bath salts. Just as she once had in the Luxemburg Palace.
Josephine chatted while she was soaking in the tub, coyly prying information from the maid.
“Your employer seems to be a very kind and polite man. Tell me Rosa have known Arthur a long time?”
That was all the inducement Rosa needed .By the time the bath was over Josephine knew Arthur´s age, marital status, family back ground, real estate holdings, and his net worth.
After the bath Rosa carefully lifted her out of the Italian tub, dried her off, and then rubbed her skin with a lanolin cream. Then took her back into the sitting room where the men sat in silence, smoking Cuban cigars and sipping on Vechio Romano brandy.
She felt positively euphoric, saying as the maid placed her on a pale green silk pillow. “Dear Thomas, you asked me how I was put into such a deplorable condition as you found me on the bank of the Atchafaleya River
I feel a bit tired, but well enough to tell you how that happened.”
Chapter 3
Josephine´s story
“I have always been the rebelious one of my family, even while I was studying English at The kings Collage in Cambridge I was reprimanded for swimming nude in the King George fountain.
When I was at the Luxembourg Palace, against my father and my mother´s wishes I spent my time playing in the garden with the son of the Royal Palace gardener. It was innocent play, but my family, especially my father, was sure that once I reached womanhood things would change.
On my seventeenth birthday he issued His ultimatum. I was forbidden from seeing the gardener´s son.
Naturally, I disobeyed his orders and soon became the family scandal. My father was absolutely furious with me. And my older sister, who was deeply in love and passionately involved with the gardener´s young son became outraged at the thought that I might steal away her secret lover.
She went to my father and convinced him that the best recourse to end my infatuation was for the two of us was to take a lengthy vacation to America. My father and my mother instantly approved of the trip. A week later we arrived in Miami Florida.
There my sister engaged a private companion to give us a tour of Disney World. Then later see the interesting cities of Sarasota, Tallahassee, Mobile, and New Orleans and then finally return home.
While we were visiting Disney World, my sister Dahlia took a great interest in the Beastly Kingdom and said that was where I belonged.
When we went to Sarasota, she became fascinated with the Ringling Circus Museum and told me that she considered me gross frog. .
In Tallahassee, she spent the whole day in the House of Witchcraft. While I visited The Church of the Little Flower and lit candles in hopes that it would help Dahlia to return to her senses.
I did not pay any attention to her comments, or her taste in entertainment, for I knew she had never really liked me.
And, Dahlia always had been fascinated by the books on sorcery and black magic in my Fathers library. When we arrived in Mobile, she insisted we visit The House of Horrors...
It was when we arrived in New Orleans I started to worry about Dahlia´s morbid fascination with voodoo and witchcraft, especially, when she invited a very dark skinned, strange French speaking Cajun man to accompany us to the Marti Gras Festivals.
As soon as we were settled into our suite at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, Dahlia and the man went to visit the grave of the witch Marie Laveau, then do some shopping. I had a light lunch and took a short beauty rest .When I was rested, I went out to explore the French Quarter and the many curiosity shops nearby.
Now I have come to the painful part of my story.
I am hungry and need to compose myself, would you gentile men please excuse me if postpone this narrative till later?
I am so hungry that my head aches.”
Thomas immediately jumped to his feet and took out the box of dried crickets from his carryon bag. Josephine rolled her eyes and stuck out her tongue. “Please Thomas no more crickets, I need a change of diet”
Arthur asked Josephine what she desired.
“I think that a meal of fresh earth worms would be wonderful Arthur, but... I suppose that would be impossible, and too much to ask of you.
Tom looked at Arthur, and Arthur stared at Tom, who shrugged his shoulders. Then he picked up his telephone, punched the speed dial.
Elmo was instantly on the line. “Elmo, I want a dozen fresh earth worms brought to my suite now.
How in the hell do I know where to find them? Just find them now.”
Tom interrupted Arthur. “He can find them in any bait shop, tell to get Red Wigglers, or night crawlers, they should satisfy her hunger.”
“Elmo the worm expert here says. “Go to a bait shop; get Red Wigglers or night crawlers”. “Hell, I don’t know where. Elmo, you’re the chauffer, just get them now.”
He hung up, smiled at Josephine and said," Your wish is my command Princess Josephine.”
It was not long before Elmo entered the suite, carrying a white takeout box “I swear Arthur, sometimes you amaze me.”
He started to hand the box to him, but Arthur pointed to the kitchen, telling him to take the box to Rosa and have her prepare the worms for “The Princess of Luxembourg.”
Shaking his large head and rolling his eyes, Elmo laughed and wanted to know how the Princess wanted them prepared. Then Josephine spoke up.
“Tell Rosa to cut them in small pieces then dress them with a teaspoon of olive oil”. At that point all three men roared with laughter.
The worms were served on a small porcelain dish precisely as she wanted .Josephine ate them with gusto when the plate was emptied she sighed, excused herself when she burped, then continued he story
“As I was browsing the shops along Bourbon Street I came to a fortune tellers hut. Out of curiosity and concern for my sister I went in to have my fortune told. The hut was lit by many colored candles and the smell of Sandal wood incense hung heavy in the air.
The fortune teller was a large black woman wearing a chartreuse headscarf of bright silk, and a large flowing robe of a dark violet color.
As soon as she saw me she said, “I have been expecting you Princess Josephine, come here and sit down, I shall read the Tarot cards for you.” Shocked that this voodoo woman knew my name I turned to leave.
I stopped dead in my tracks when she said “You are here about your older sister Dahlia are you not? Come sit down, for you are in grave danger and I want to help you.” As she read the cards she explained how each one told her that my sister had cast a spell cast on me and I was to turn into a frog tonight at midnight, that she wanted me to disappear into the swamps never to be seen again. “There is nothing I can do to prevent this from happening, for the witch doctor´s curse is too potent. But, there are also Gods powers that can, and will save you. Now you must go to the river and wait for His sign, when it come you will know what to do. Take this good luck token, keep it with you and remember; only love will cause you to survive.”
”Then she disappeared in a cloud of violet smoke.
It was at that moment that the night skies began to light up with enormous flashes of lightning.
I ran as fast as I could, fear and cannon peals of thunder motivating me to go to the river, the fortune teller’s words echoing in my mind as the rain driven by screaming hurricane winds came down in torrents. I had reached the river bank when the rushing waters became a river of mud, broken trees, and rocks.
It swept me off my feet, plunging me into the maelstrom. I was sucked under; I was drowning when the curse took effect.
One moment I was a Princess Josephine daughter of the Duke of Luxemburg struggling to stay alive, an instant later I was as you see me now, a small green frog,
Suddenly, I could swim, my webbed feet gave me power to fight the currents, I could hold my breath and stay submerged when large trees tried to crush the life out of me.
How, or when, I crawled out onto the bank of the Atchafaleya River I do not recall. Then she turned grey and fainted.
Rosa had been eaves dropping, as all good and dutiful maids and servants learn to do.
She rushed into the room, picked up the exhausted Josephine and carried her to her quarters, then bathed her with a cold compress.
“Over, and over she whispered, “Poor little Princess”, until Josephine had recovered. “Now you rest until you are better. Rosa will see that you are not disturbed.”
The two men stopped talking when Rosa came back into the room. Before they could ask, she told them that Josephine was resting and would be fine after a nice nap.
True to her word, Josephine was awake and the color green had returned to her skin when Rosa peered into the room to check on her. “My poor little Princess, are you feeling better?”
Chapter 4
Josephine Sings
“Yes Rosa, thank you for your concern, I am much better and telling what happened to me has lifted my spirits. Please take into the living room I am now ready to sing for your kind employer Arthur.”
They found the two men having a serious, hushed conversation when they entered. Both of them stood when Rosa placed Josephine on her silk cushion. She explained she was feeling much better and she was now going to sing. “I shall sing to you another song by my most favorite Artist, Edith Piaf. I can sing it to you in English, but I prefer the romantic language of the French...I shall imagine that I am at The Grand Theatre in Luxembourg City.
In the audience sits my father, The Royal Duke, my Mother, Duchess Anna , and sister Princess Dahlia and of course, you, Thomas, who took me from the swamp and I am eternally grateful to, and of course you Rosa, who cared for me, and most importantly you dear Arthur, with your kindness and hospitality.
The song is “Hymn to Love”
The little green frog began to sing. Her beautiful voice filled the penthouse. It penetrated the walls and escaped out the stained glass window onto the wind, which carried it over the city of San Antonio. It stopped its citizens in their tracks, children from crying, strangers in the midst of arguments, and drew lovers closer together. When she finished all the people in San Antonio were weeping.
Tom sat dumbfounded; Rosa clasped her hand to her breasts and prayed. Arthur applauded, rose from his chair saying “That was Magnificent” then he bent down and gently kissed the frog.
Instantly the Princess appeared, she took Arthurs hand kissed it and said,
“Dearest Arthur, I am now forever in your debt.”
Tom picked up his guitar, and his carryon bag, saying in a humbled voice. “I need to get home and see to my dogs” then started for the door.
Arthur stopped him. “Thomas, you are not going until you receive the prize money of fifty thousand dollars that you would have unquestionably won at “The Texas Has Talent contest.”
“You wait there until I can find my checkbook.”
He said to Elmo, “Pick up Tom´s belongings , stop by my bank, and then take him to New Orleans and his home on the Atchafaleya River ".
Tom looked at Princess Josephine then said. “As the song by Ronnie Millsap goes, “I WOULDN´T HAVE MISSED THIS FOR THE WORLD,”
She kissed him, and then she opened a small purse, took out a rose gold coin. Giving it to him she said.
“Before I was turned into a frog the Fortune teller gave me this coin as a good luck token. She told me that it would help protect me from evil and danger. Please take it with my gratitude and deepest affection.”
Then turned her back to him, went to the large stained glass window, put her hands on it and began to cry.
On the bank of the Atchafaleya river sits a man in a brand new air conditioned mobile home. Two coon hounds keeping him company. He looks at the coin in his hand and begins to write.
His story is of hope, love, disappointment and lost opportunity...He knows that it will one day become a best seller. The End.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg cover for Josephine 001.jpg (73.3 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg Josep'hine 001.jpg (90.2 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg Basket Weaver 00 001.jpg (57.1 KB, 0 views)
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  #154  
Old 07-19-2017, 07:02 AM
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Default New Studio Art Gallery

The translation of Josephine into Italian is complete and will be in print soon, thanks to my loving wife.
The New Studio Art Gallery
Plans are under way to open an art gallery here in Italy, at this moment they are only plans.
There are permits, and approvals needed to be taken care of before it can become a reality. This project should be done about the time I have my 79th birthday, it is very exciting for me. Once again we will be moving to a newly constructed home with gallery space on the ground floor and living space on the second floor. I have more than enough art and engraving work as inventory to make a beautiful opening display.
The home is located on the main through fare in Fiumaretta and walking distance to the popular tourist beaches of the Liguria sea coast, and a marina full of expensive yachts. I am thinking it may be possible for me to act as a middle man and find commissions or take consignments for other engravers, as I said for the moment this only a plan. I am very optimistic and I rarely fail once it is an idea to make it into a reality.
A couple of new painting
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File Type: jpg Wild Flowers 001.jpg (115.9 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg 001.jpg (80.3 KB, 0 views)
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  #155  
Old 07-31-2017, 12:58 AM
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Default Art Gallery progress

Permits are complete, now it is waiting to see if my offer on the property go through. Meanwhile here is the preliminary drawing for the gallery sign.
Its size will be approximately 4x5 feet.
I have to thank Mr. Ken Hunt for the inspiration
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  #156  
Old 08-15-2017, 03:07 AM
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Default Re: New studio & art gallery

Contracts have now been signed, deposits made, now I have only the advertising billboard to make while I wait for the builder to complete his work. My contract here on this place will be finished in Dec. Then I will be able to move and start working on the gallery. Plan to open in May. Until then I will enjoy the beach and explore the restaurants .All of this new activity has been very motivational. Here is a print plate that I finished using a screwdriver made into a bulino tool to finish.
Attached Images
File Type: jpg Funaretto Studio 001.jpg (66.2 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg Funaretto Studio 009.jpg (56.0 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg Fiumaretta 005.jpg (60.5 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg 003.jpg (67.1 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg 006.JPG (137.0 KB, 0 views)
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  #157  
Old 08-18-2017, 09:11 PM
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Default Re: New studio & art gallery

Looks like you found a little piece of heaven there.
All the best of luck to you and thanks for sharing.
Jim
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  #158  
Old 08-31-2017, 05:04 AM
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Default Re: New studio

Thank you Jim for the nice comments, they made ne smile.
The force that motivates me
At dinner the other night my wife said, “Joseph, my friends on Face book want to know what is wrong, you look unhappy in the photos I post of you, and the frown on your face seems to be permanently etched there. Our banker and the neighbor have even asked me if you were angry.
All of this came as a surprise to me, as I consider i am fortunate to have been born in America, to be self employed for the last fifty years, and to be able to be a creative, free, and happy man. France´s question made me get up from the table, go to a mirror and look at my reflection. There staring back at me I saw a face with a frown and a mouth that never smiled.
I practiced smiling at the reflection and it looked silly. I tried a big grin, that looked idiotic, but a small lifting of my upper lip looked ok .Finally I gave up and returned to my dinner. ” How does this look? I asked as I lifted my lip a bit. “You look like you are in pain, try relaxing that frown." So I tried her advice the only way I could think of. I stopped thinking of my many new and (to me) exciting projects, relaxed my frown and lifted my upper lip. Franca laughed and said “That’s perfect, now you look happy.” Then I explained that the number of people I count as true friends is small, that I don´t like gossip and have spent my lifetime thinking and working in solitude, and I am happiest while discovering what I am capable of. Not reflecting on what I have already accomplished. Her answer “I know you are not going to change, but when my family comes to visit, or you have your picture taken, practice your new smile, you look much better.”
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  #159  
Old 10-24-2017, 01:44 AM
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Default Re: New studio

The Idea of having an art studio open to the public has brought new excitement into my life- I have some coins that I engraved displayed in framed cases, recently I came in contact with a print maker here in Italy and made an appointment to visit his studio. It is in the wine country near the town of Certaldo, located in the province of Tuscany, near Florence, about one hundred fifty kilometers from my home. Franca who is not only my interpreter, chauffer and trip advisor, found a castle to spend our first night in.
Castles are like Seven Eleven stores here in Italy, Every major town has at least one. The following day we set off in search of his studio to show him my engravings. The trip to his place took us through very scenic hills, vineyards dotted with wealthy villas, and old churches...Finding Walter´s home took several cell phone calls asking for directions as we wandered over very winding narrow un- named roads. Finally we arrived at our destination, were greeted by half a dozen cats, Walter and his wife Marlise. They invited us in for coffee while I showed him the plates and coins I hoped he could turn into prints for my gallery .I asked if he thought they could be printed. “Leave them with me and I will see what can be done”, he said.
That was two weeks ago, today he made the two hour drive to my home and delivered these. His studio is listed as Walter Sarfatti artist printmaker in Tuscany .Here is the results of the excellent work he did. The dimension of the coins and plates I had printed are small, ranging from 5 to 2.5 cm. They are going to be very limited signed editions and will be for sale at my gallery next summer. If they interest you, contact me at joseph4art@gmail.com leave a message. I will get back to you. Meanwhile, after seeing the prints I decided that I should return to engraving, I have made arrangements to visit my old school, “The Bottega Incisione Giovanelli” and see if I can buy the basic equipment needed to engrave, not that I expect to do any serious work but I think I can engrave plates and minor objects for printing at my new studio
Here are the images from Walter and a couple of recent paintings
Thank you,
Joseph engraver
Attached Images
File Type: jpg new prints 004.jpg (66.1 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg new prints 005.jpg (81.4 KB, 0 views)
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File Type: jpg new prints 011.jpg (52.7 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg Panama Bound.jpg (40.6 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg The Odd Duck 002.jpg (61.3 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg trip to Wine country of Certaldo 007.jpg (68.8 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg trip to Wine country (2).jpg (82.7 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg trip to Wine country (5).jpg (73.6 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg trip to Wine country (3).jpg (50.1 KB, 0 views)
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  #160  
Old 12-20-2017, 03:57 AM
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Default The move is over

Considering that I arrived in Italy with my wife, a dog and two suitcases, it is absolutely amazing how much stuff a person can accumulate in a short time. The move to our new residence is over, and it was almost more than I could handle. It took three trucks and four men nine hours to load and transport pots, pans , plants, all the furniture, boxes full of things I never knew we had, also a garden house with all its tools, my complete studio and of course the dogs bed. I am dropping my anchor here between the sea and the mountains, almost positive that I will never move again, until someone carries my corpse away for disposal-
It will take me a couple of months to organize it all, but come spring (The Studio of Joseph) will be open to the public. This past week I celebrated my seventy-ninth birth day and I can feel my age. I can say I never thought I would live this long, If I had known I would have taken better care of my body. Here are some pictures, and the start of a new painting that I am struggling with-
Attached Images
File Type: jpg 1.jpg (46.2 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg bed room balcony.jpg (54.4 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg View from kitchen balcony.jpg (40.0 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg my studio 004.jpg (65.6 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg 003.jpg (62.1 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg 3 Gallery space.jpg (26.6 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg 2The tool shed.jpg (79.3 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg The love´s of my life.JPG (186.1 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg 001.jpg (57.3 KB, 0 views)
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  #161  
Old 12-30-2017, 04:19 AM
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Default The death of the Christmas bunny rabbit

My family came to visit this weekend. When they exited their auto, the first one out was my nephew .He is a young man who is still a child at heart and has not yet learned that the pathway of life has many unexpected experiences .As I greeted him I saw that he was wearing a pair of Christmas present bunny slippers. My first warning to him was “Do not let the dog get them.
We had a wonderful dinner, took pictures shared hugs and kisses then all had a good night’s sleep
It was early the next morning when I saw Jack the dog racing around the yard with that rabbit he has been trying to catch for several years.
I could imagine what was going on in his dog mind. “I finally got you, you little furry creature and this time you will not escape me.”
I watched as he tore off one ear, and then the other. I tried to catch him as he raced around the yard, but to no avail: He was not going to give up this prize that had eluded him so many times on our walk in the country side. I called my nephew outside to help, but it was too late to rescue his slipper as jack began shaking the stuffing out of it. Out of sympathy I jokingly offered to take his slipper to a vet. By now I could not contain my laughter when I saw the pleased look on the dogs face and the sight of my nephew holding the remains of his bunny slipper. He did not appreciate my humor one bit as he was picking up the remains of his Christmas present. Still laughing so hard that tears were running down my cheeks I told him that I was sorry and he should take solace in the fact that the bunny was now in Gods caring hands. Somehow I could not grasp the fact that this twenty one year old was so distraught, it was then I realized that he had never once in his care free merry go round life felt the loss of loved ones or anything important. This incident was the biggest tragedy to ever happen to him
Then came the resurrection of the Christmas bunny rabbit .Little did I know that a Christmas miracle was to happen later that night? That evening Franca took matters into her caring hands, she took out her sewing basket. Using her wonderful skill she patiently worked late into the night, as my nephew watched in wonder. After two hours of skillful needle work, the Bunny rabbit slippers, sporting a few scars was brought back to life.
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File Type: jpg The Christmas Rabbit 002.jpg (58.3 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg The Christmas Rabbit 003.jpg (54.0 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg The Christmas Rabbit 008.jpg (68.7 KB, 0 views)
File Type: jpg The Christmas Rabbit 009.jpg (39.9 KB, 0 views)
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  #162  
Old 02-12-2018, 04:04 AM
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Default A new story about bad and good luck,murder and love

´Lucky Bob

Chapter 1

I had been playing Texas hold-em poker for three hours and was up about $ 6.000.00
the right time to cash out, take a walk, and then have a good meal.
The cashiers a very good looking gal with a charming smile and is friendly to me as always. The name tag Gina, pinned to her white blouse is all I know about her. The smile and bright brown eyes has me thinking I would like to know more.
There is something special about a person who smiles at you that instinctively makes you smile back.
“Do you want all this in cash or would you prefer to have the house hold it for you?”
She asked as she continued counting.
Not being short of money I told her to put it into my casino account, and then gave her a hundred for her smile as a tip. I went down to the lobby and walked the six blocks to my favorite Italian restaurant.
At the La Strega, I found a table in a corner where I had my back to the wall and a good view of the kitchen and the front door.
The life of any gambler has its dangers and I learned long ago that there are many shady people who have no qualms about sticking a gun or a knife in your face for quick easy bucks.
The waiter arrived with the menu; I ordered Osso buchi with sautéed onions, a side dish of whole wheat pasta with a light pesto sauce... While I waited for the wine steward, I got to thinking of Lucky Bob and the great meals we once had here. The gambling gossip was that he was broke, and I had not seen him in at least two years. I wondered where he was, and how he was doing.
I first met Bob as an adversary while playing at The Pepper Mill Casino in Reno and I liked him at first sight. He was a wild and very over weighted player, ruthless with his opponents, and the luckiest poker player I had ever run into.
It did not take me long to learn to stay out of any pot that he was involved in, in return he did the same with me.
I took the wine list and was looking for an 82 Barolo when I notice that there was a 76 Brunello Di Montalciino that seemed to be the perfect choice for my meal. It was pricey, but gambling money is so easily spent.
I called the waiter over and asked him to bring it to my table and decant it. When he brought it, I felt the bottle and found that it was at perfect temperature. He uncorked it, then poured me a taste. It was outstanding, and left to breathe a bit it would be most excellent with the veal shanks. The waiter suggested a salad of beet greens with olives. Once the order was final, I returned to my thoughts of Bob.
It had been at least five years since Bob and I last played poker together, he had stopped playing because he found it boring and had turned to horse racing to satisfy his gambling passions and had made a fortune.
Me, I was never one to trust a Jockey, trainer, or a stable hand, or even the horse, so I stuck to Texas Hold Em and relied on my own judgments...
The meal was everything I had anticipated and the wine was more than I could drink, so I left half the bottle for the waiter, ordered espresso with a shot of Cognac for dessert.
As I waited for the check I went to the restroom, washed up and pulled two hundred dollars out of the pocket sewn into my boot top.
Years ago when I was not wise to the ways of Vegas I had been mugged, since that time never carry much cash in my wallet, and I keep a very low profile.
Life in Vegas is a gamble, and I try to keep the odds in my favor. I never wear a watch or a ring, the only bit of flash I wear is a gold and silver belt buckle that was made for me by a master engraver who is a close personal friend .
After settling my bill, I went for a stroll down the main drag, past the glitter and gleam that beckons the fish into the pool where the hungry sharks patiently wait.
I am a solitary soul .When I am at the poker table I sit in silence and watch my opponents carefully, always looking for information that can give me that slight advantage.
The tremble of their hands, a change in the pitch of the voice, the constant looking at their hold cards as if looking can change the spots. There are many nuances that allow me to determine a players hand and skill; I take advantage of all of them.
Although I am a nice guy, I prefer to be underestimated at and away from the table. When I play poker,
I play for blood.
Outside, I turn onto a side street away from the traffic and gawking tourists and make my way to Al´s Bar.
Alfonso and I have known each other since the days he ran a game in the back room and I was his shill to keep the action at table working and the rake percentage high. Al introduced me to Bob before he became famous and known as Lucky Bob.
There, we had worked the table taking away money from the tourists or in the vernacular of gamblers “Strawberries” that flocked there looking for loose ex- virgins.
As the easy money came rolling in Bob spent it, I saved it.
He was not shy when it came to flash or spending cash. He wore tailored silk shirts, Christian Dior ties, Gucci shoes and Armani suits.
He had a gold engraved Rolex Oyster watch on one wrist, a matching yellow gold bracelet with Lucky Bob set in diamonds on the other, complimented with large opal pinky ring.
Compared to Bob I looked like the poor church mouse.
Al´s place is low key and quiet, sparingly lit with Tiffany style lamps .The bar has a nicely polished mesquite top with chrome and leather stools comfortably spaced .The only sound to interrupt the atmosphere was the musical ping of slot machines lined up along the back walls where the Holdem card table used to be.
It took a second to allow my eyes to adjust to the cool darkness inside of the bar. As I stood in the entrance Al spotted me and came out from behind the bar to give me a crooked smile, and a bear hug of affection. ”Joda Fish how are you my friend? It has been months since I last saw you; I see you are living the good life, put on a bit of weight haven’t you?”
Joda Fish is my sign in name at a poker rooms ,I think it has a nice ring to it, and sounds much better when announced over the speaker than “Joseph Wilson, Your seat at table six is now open”
“Come and sit down and tell me what you have been up to. What can I get you to drink?” Al asked.
I felt the slight bulge around my waist and decided that Al was right, I had put on a bit of extra weight. “Espresso, no sugar or cream seems like a good idea Al”.
While he was fixing coffee I asked about Lucky Bob.
“Lucky Bob! You don’t know what has happened to him? He is a broken man, lost everything at the race tracks, and owes Louie the bookie a fortune. You would not recognize him; he is living on the streets, panhandling for food money. Once in a while he comes in and I feed him and give him a drink or two.”
This news about my friend stunned me, Bob the luckiest man in Nevada, a legend, now living on the streets, a bum!
“My God, Al what has happened? He had a penthouse, cars and Midas’s fortune in cash and jewelry stashed away. How is it possible?”
Al shook his head, a sad look came over him and he shrugged his shoulders. “His luck stopped, one day his luck just disappeared and never returned.” All I could say was “Damn that is a truly disastrous turn of events Al”
Al nodded and continued. “The trouble was Bob wouldn’t accept it. He continued going to the track, bet huge on horses that were sure to win, but didn’t. It was the same thing at the card tables. Whatever cards he held would come out second best, even the tourists were slaughtering him.
Eventually he sold his penthouse, cars and pawned the jewelry to gamble with. He still believed his luck would return, but it never came back.”
To think that my friend, the luckiest gambler I ever met was now a derelict living and sleeping in some God forsaken place was more than I wanted to hear. I finished my coffee and told Al that it was time for me to try and get some sleep, and headed out the door.
At the door I turned to Al and said, “If you see or hear from Bob leave a message at the Horseshoe.”
After a restless night, I decided to take a trip to L.A. and play cards at the Hollywood Park Casino, just to get away from Las Vegas and the thought of Bob sleeping under a bridge somewhere.
But it did little good; I was not able to concentrate on the game. As a result I had four loosing sessions in a row and dropped a bundle of cash.
What I needed to do was get far away from this whole Vegas gaming scene and disappear for a while, see something new.
I had always wanted to try the casino´s in Europe. Why not go to Amsterdam and play at the New Holland for a while? Maybe get stoned at the Bulldog Tavern and check out the willing ladies in the red light district along the canal. Once I got the Idea in my mind and being free of any responsibilities it sounded reasonable.
L AX was a twenty minute cab ride away and flights to Amsterdam were often, I had my pass port, and clothes in my carryon bag, 10 grand in my boot and an American Express card in my wallet.
Not having a clue when I would be back in the States, I booked a first class ticket with an open date of return.

Twenty four hours later I checked in to the FIJF VLIEGT HOTEL which translates to The Five Flies in down town Amsterdam.
I admired the l Rembrandt etchings and wondered if they were originals on the way to my room, where I got the first restful night’s sleep in a week. This change of place was exactly what I needed.
The New Holland Casino is upscale, elegant but not garish and is located next to the popular Singlegracht Canal.
Unlike Vegas, the gamblers were loose, well dressed, and for the most part polite; it was a cosmopolitan strawberry patch ripe for picking. The card room was upstairs, small, the tables were set up with automatic card shufflers and the stakes at the no limit tables that open at nine P.M. were one and two euro blinds This suited me fine as I wanted to relax and get away from the stress of Vegas where the stakes were much higher. Even at this low limit game the players bet freely and the pot size was profitable. Three nights of poker and a day at the Van Gough museum and an extra 2,500 Euros in my boot, I checked out of the hotel, and then took the 6.25 A.M. High speed Thalys train to Paris, and The Aviation Club de France, located on the Avenue Champs Elyseés.
To be continued
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  #163  
Old 02-16-2018, 04:01 AM
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Default Lucky Bob

I had read about this famous club that was established in 1907 in The Card Player Magazine and knew that they had a strict dress code. As I was a jean´s, old boots and sweater type of guy. I decided that once got to Paris it was time to do a bit of shopping for a more appropriate wardrobe.
Finding a shop that sold western wear was not easy, but with the help of a cabbie I found what I was looking for in a shop named the Cowboy Dream located on Rue de Turbigo.
I am a quick shopper, if I like it I buy it. Two hours and fifteen hundred Euro later I had a 10x grey Stetson hat, a new pair of Caiman belly Tony Lama boots in a nice dark chocolate color, a grey calfskin, waist length jacket, a couple of white western cut shirts and a very nice silver bolo tie that complimented my belt buckle .As the clerk was organizing my new wardrobe into boxes and bags I handed him my old boots to pack and slipped on the new Tony Lama´s.
I do love gambling money; it is so easy to spend.
I asked the sales clerk who spoke perfect English to recommend me a good hotel near The Aviation Club. He said that the Amarante hotel was on the corner of George 5 Avenue and the Champs Elyseés. “It is only rated with four stars Monsieur, but I think you will find it quite suitable” As my French is limited to a few phrases, I asked him to call for a reservation for three nights in a single room and then call a cab to take me there.
When I entered the hotel Amarante I compared it to The Five Flies, The practical penny pinching Dutch without a doubt needed to take lessons in elegance from the French.
I signed in at the reception desk, left my passport as required, and then mailed Al a post card telling him where I was.
I was tired from travel and shopping. Even though it was mid afternoon and Paris was there for me to explore, I am a poker player and not a tourist, I went to bed.
The September sun had set when I opened my eyes and made my way to the toilet, turned on the bath water; heeded natures call, and then sank into the hot bath water to soak before shaving.
As I stood naked before a full length mirror I was pleased to see my waist had tightened up and the jelly roll was disappearing.
Although I was wide awake, I went back to bed and lay there thinking about the game of poker. I am not a believer in luck, although luck certainly does play a part in any gamble. I believe that the cards run in cycles.
When they are in your favor one should optimize .When they are not, you must realize it and play with caution. There are many times that you will throw away hand after hand to the point of boredom, good poker players call this “knitting a sweater.” If I enter and play twenty out of one hundred hands and win twelve and I have made no mistakes in judging my opponents, I will cash out winning a substantial amount.
My stomach began complaining, I do not like to eat before a game as I think more clearly on an empty stomach. Tonight however I intended to eat well before the game.
I stood in front of the mirror, dressed in my new duds, set the Stetson at a bit of a tilt, and admired the results.
Lucky Bob would have been impressed. Bob may have flash, but tonight I had style.
I stopped at the reception desk and handed the clerk my room key, then stepped out onto the Champs Elysees, paused, to study the street a moment, then started the twenty minute walk to the Aviation Club. My bank roll in my left boot, my wallet wedged tightly sideways in my back pocket.
The air was sharp with the city smell of diesel fumes as perfume. Settling my new Stetson tight on my head, I dodged the merry go round traffic of taxies, cars, trucks and motorbikes to cross over to the Arc De Triumph.
I walked down the Champs Elysees, past the bars, restaurants, coffee shops, strollers with their dogs, and the tourists.
Bob and once said. ”Never assume that you will not be a victim of the rats that prowl the streets of any city.” I thought of those words of wisdom as I enjoyed the sights, while keeping my eyes open, looking back once in a while. There were two teenagers following me, and I smelled rats as they came closer. “Wise guys” is what Bob called them.
The crowd on the side walk was thick, I slowed down, and suddenly one of them bumped me hard knocking my new Stetson to the sidewalk. I felt the other one digging my wallet out of my back pocket.
I turned, grabbed his wrist and brought the heel of my new boot down hard on his tennis shoe, He cried in pain, dropped my wallet on the walkway and went limping off with his pal to the gutters where t hey came from. I don’t think anyone noticed the whole two second incident
Once I had recovered the wallet and my Stetson, I made my way to the entrance of the Aviation Club where I was welcomed by the tuxedoed doorman. His first words were, “Monsieur are you J.R. from Dallas?” Lucky Bob would have laughed, I answered in all seriousness “No, I am Monsieur Wilson, from Las Vegas”.
Mr. Ronnie Moss enters my life.
I was about to enter and check my Stetson and jacket when another American man walked up to the doorman and asked if this was the Aviation Club. The doorman looked at him, sniffed as if the guy smelled bad and said. “Oui Monsieur, but you may not enter here dressed as you are, you must wear a tie, jacket and shoes. The doorman was spot on .This guy looked as if he worked on a farm .He was wearing a dirty white baseball hat, baggy tan pants, a loud plaid shirt and white tennis shoes and a canvass coat. I had seen many others dressed as he was in the Vegas casinos.
Knowing you cannot judge a book by its cover, I asked him where he was from.
I am from Wyoming, Cody Wyoming; I am here to play in the tournament, made reservations and flew over here to play. I have a suit, tie and dress shoes at my hotel, never expected the French to be so snobbish. Name is Moss, Ronnie Moss”. He extended his hand and I shook it, feeling the strength and calluses as I did so.
You can learn a lot about a person when you shake their hand. “I am Joe Wilson here on vacation, but I enjoy playing poker now and then.”
I like to know as much about another player as possible without seeming nosey.
”Ronnie, Are you by chance related to Jonny Moss?” he shook his head then said “You mean the man who won the first world series of poker and had that famous million dollar game against Nick the Greek? No I am not.”
That little voice in my head told me that Ronnie Moss knew more about poker than his appearance suggested. He then hailed a cab and said “I´ll be back, you have a good night.”
I turned and showed the doorman my passport entered the club, checked my Stetson and jacket with a very sexy girl also dressed in a tuxedo.
She held the hat in her hands, looked at in admiration then asked. “Are you from Dallas, Monsieur?” I was tempted to say yes, but my stomach was now ready to revolt from hunger. “No I am not. My name is Joe Wilson, and could you please direct me to the restaurant.”
She looked at the hat once more, took my jacket then said. “Please go to the top of the stairway and register with the guard.”
At that moment I realized the Stetson was creating a lot of interest with these French and might be an asset at the poker table. I nodded and said. “Thank you Miss. and I think I shall keep my hat on.”
Retrieving my new Stetson from her loving hands, I made my way up past the paintings and photographs of the daring men posed with their magnificent flying machines.
On the second floor there behind a desk sat another lovely young thing, also dressed in a tuxedo.
She welcomed me with another brilliant smile and asked for my passport.
I have played in many a casino, but never with so many check points manned by such lovely women. The thought occurred to me that it would be nice if security it LAX did the same.
After registering and paying a hundred Euro membership fee, she pointed to the tuxedoed gorilla standing at attention by an electronically operated glass door.
”He will let you in Monsieur, Good luck to you tonight.”
The gorilla said not a word, but he did glance at the Stetson as the door opened and I walked into the main room of the casino.
Then I saw it. It was over in one corner and as soon as I did, my stomach gave a gurgle of anticipation as I read the word, Restaurant, followed by four gold stars.
While waiting for the Maître di to come and welcome me, I took in the pleasant seating, all very spacious.
When he arrived I asked for a booth, which offered me a view of the entrance and my back to the wall, my preferred spot when dining out and sitting at a poker table.
He hesitated not for a second, nodded head, and led me to the booth I indicated. I thanked him as he handed me a leather bound menu and the large wine list.
I hate dining alone; I think it is one of the loneliest moments in my lifestyle. That is when I thought of Gina
I have enjoyed many brief romances, but never pursued a more permanent relationship. It seemed to me that each time I considered one, the refrains of an old country song “She got the goldmine and I got the shaft” would float into my mind.
I searched the menu for sea food, as I never like to eat a heavy meal immediately before sitting down to a game of poker. Finally I found a dish the appealed to me.
Seared Monkfish filets, with chestnuts:
Fennel, sautéed in fresh butter, served with blanched fig leaves, and a white Bordelaise sauce.
The meal now settled. I concentrated on the wine list. I prefer reds to whites, but for this meal I wanted something white, dry, and vibrant.
I selected a three year old Pouilly Fum´e, signaled the tuxedoed waiter that I was ready to order.
When the Sommelier arrived with the wine and it was opened and the first glass had been tasted. He bent down and whispered in my ear.”Monsieur, vous et J.R. from Dallas?”I smiled at the thought and having been asked the same question twice since my arrival. I could not help myself; I answered him in the same confidential whisper. “No, but J.R. Ewing is a very close personal friend of mine.”
To be Continued

Here is a new painting, for lack of a better name I call it "My Landscape".
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  #164  
Old 02-23-2018, 06:30 AM
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joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
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Default A Friendly Game Of Poker

It was foggy and a drizzle of fine cold mist was falling as I stood in front of The Aviation Club at midnight, waiting for my cab to appear. This is my life as a professional poker player, up till the early morning hours then sleeping late into the day. It was twenty minutes before the cab arrived and the morning chill had penetrated my new leather jacket, then while climbing into the cab the crown of the Stetson hit the door frame but i managed to catch it before it hit the gutter.
Stetsons are fine for riding a horse on the open range but not climbing into a Renault. As the cab took me to my hotel, I decided that tomorrow I needed to do a bit more shopping.
I awoke very late, looked out the window and found that the drizzle and fog were still there. My bowels were telling me that it was time to move.
As I pushed the lever of the toilet and watched the Monkfish disappear in a whirlpool of water; I couldn’t help but smile at the thought that nature eventually turns the best of everything into crap.
Showered, shaved, and feeling rested. I made my way down to the hotel´s restaurant.
While waiting to be seated I thought of lucky Bob, and wondered if the day would come that the cards held the same misfortune in my future.
The hostess greeted me with a welcoming smile that again reminded me of Gina.
As I was smiling back at her I saw Mr. Ronnie Moss sitting alone at the nearby table, in the act of drowning a plate of French fries in catsup that accompanied a large hamburger, and a bottle of Coca Cola.
My first impulse was to turn and leave, unfortunately as he bit into the hamburger he looked my way and then he waved.
I nodded in recognition as he motioned me over to his table. As I started to make my way across the restaurant´s beautiful cross grain parquet’ floor, I stopped a moment to admire the chess board pattern of walnut, oak and ebony.
By this time Mr. Moss had swallowed his mouthful of hamburger and was on his feet holding out his hand. “Mr. Wilson, what a surprise. Come, sit down and have some lunch with me.”
As my options at that moment were limited, I smiled and shook his hand.
“What are you doing here?” We asked each other simultaneously .Again, we both answered in unison. “I am staying here.”
He laughed and said “Well I will be damned”
“Me too” I answered,
Mr. Moss took another large bite of his burger and washed it down with iced coca cola. “You don’t mind if I eat, been starving for some good American food since I got here.”
I busied myself looking at the lunch menu and did not answer.
The waiter came to the table; I ordered a cappuccino to start.
Not being too hungry I decided on smoked ham, brie, sliced red onion, and tomato dressed with Dijon mustard on a baguette of freshly baked white bread. By now the burger was gone and the French fries had all but disappeared from Mr. Moss´s plate.
“Are you playing cards tonight Mr. Moss?”
“I most certainly am, and call me Ronnie.”
“Okay; how did you do last night Ronnie?” As I have mentioned, I want to know all I can about my adversaries, and I had a feeling Ronnie Moss might be one to be careful of.
I had noticed that Ronnie never sat up straight in his seat. That his head with its bulging green eyes was bent forward as if it were too heavy and his shoulders had a permanent droop. He looked to me like a man that had a lifetime sitting at a card table.
He took the white linen napkin that was now catsup stained, wiped his mouth and hands, then leaned my way said."You may want to speak up; I am a bit hard of hearing”. I asked again “HOW DID YOU DO LAST NIGHT?”
“Oh I did just fine, one hundred thirty entries and I finished in second place.” He continued, “These French are a wild bunch of players, but between you and me, they are not good players." How about you? Cleaned up the table did you?”
My lunch arrived and I drank my cappuccino before answering him. “No, I was not lucky last night, but I did managed to cover my dinner expenses.”
He looked at me then said the words that told me Ronnie Moss was not an average card player here on vacation. “I don’t believe in luck, I believe in percentages and the mathematical odds,” I picked up my sandwich and said. “Really, why is that?” I took a bite of the most unforgettable combination of simple ingredients I could think of. While I ate, Ronnie Moss told me a bit more about himself. “I have a analytical mind, I was a jet Jockey in Viet Nam, flew F 104 C fighters, never crashed, never was hit by enemy fire, flew over two hundred sorties, mostly strafing and napalm. Treacherously low level stuff, and because I don’t believe in luck I am here safe and sound, except for a bit of deafness caused by jet engines and the twenty millimeter cannon gun fire.”
Well, I have to say I was impressed with Mr. Moss. I could see that he was proud of his military experiences and wished to continue talking about himself.
I dressed my salad with balsamic vinegar and olive oil added a bit of grated parmesan cheese. Then i stopped and looked at Mr. Ronnie Moss in a different light. “You have had some interesting experiences Ronnie. Are you playing a tournament tonight also?”
“No I don’t care to sit that long tonight as my back is not up to another six hour session. Too many hours sitting in the pilot´s seat in front of instrument panels. I do intend to play tonight at the no limit table.”
This was Interesting, Ronnie Moss and me were soon going to try and cut one or the other’s throats at a “friendly” game of cards-
The meal was over and I felt that there was little more information to be gained in continuing my conversation with the intriguing Mr. Moss.
Wanting to gain his confidence I reached across the table, put my hand on his wrist, smiled, and offered to buy his lunch.
He looked at me, then laughed and said “As we like to gamble let’s flip a coin.” He reached into his pocket and extracted a silver dollar. “Heads I pay, tails you pay.” Without waiting for me to reply he sent the coin spinning into the air, deftly caught it and opened his fist. “Heads I pay.”
He smiled and then showed me the coin´s obverse side. “I never lose on this bet; this is a two headed coin.” We both laughed. “Ronnie I will see you at the game tonight.

To be continued
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Old 03-07-2018, 08:00 AM
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Default Re: New studio

It was still wet outside; a bitter wind had sprung up, blowing newspapers and leaves along the empty streets. At reception I borrowed an umbrella, asked where I would find a man’s clothing shop.
Then I left to go shopping for a warm wool sweater, rain coat, and a beret.
When I returned to the hotel, I went up to my room and lay down to consider and think of how best to play Moss.
I always avoid alcohol and eating a large meal before playing in a high stakes game, hunger sharpens my thinking and observation of the action taking place at the table
I wanted Moss seated on my right my right, that way I would have the positional advantage.
Of course Moss would be able to take advantage and try to steal my opening blind bets with a large raise.
Provided that the table would have the customary seven or eight player I decided that the optimum place for me to sit would be three seats in front of Moss.
I am a player who rarely bluffs, never lose my temper, or control, and never chase the money I have put into a pot if my cards are not favorable.
It was still windy outside and still misting. I dressed in wool slacks, white shirt, and plain blue tie, sweater and then pulled on my comfortable old boots.
Standing in front of the mirror I adjusted my new sweater and wind proof beret.
Satisfied that I no longer looked like a walking target, I picked up the Stetson, placed in back in its box. With the rain coat over my arm I walked down to lobby where I asked the receptionist to write me a note in French which I placed inside the hat box. As I was standing there, Moss appeared from the elevator.
I spoke first. “Good evening Ronnie, I see you are dressed for the club.” He looked down at his baggy brown suit then adjusted his tie, grinned and said “Never was much of dresser, always believed that clothing was to prevent food from getting your skin dirty.”
I wanted to say “It shows” but instead asked if he was walking to the club.
“No I am going by cab. Want to go with me?”
It was perfect. Moss would be seated at the table before me, giving me the opportunity to select a seat to my advantage. I shook my head, “No Ronnie, I want to stretch my legs a bit, thanks for the offer, but I think I will walk.” I put on my raincoat and went outside.
It was cool; but the drizzling rain had stopped, the streets wet and the traffic light. I made my way to the tunnel that took me under the roundabout of the Arch De Triumph and walked towards the Aviation club, hat box under my arm.
At the entrance stood the same doorman as the night before, He did not recognize me as he accepted my membership card and politely opened the door. When I walked up to the counter to check my raincoat, the girl with that wonderful smile and so fascinated with J.R. recognized me instantly. “Good evening monsieur, I see that tonight you look quite French, I think I like you better in western clothes.” As it took off the raincoat I said “Feathers always make the beautiful bird, as does a woman´s smile.” Confused, she said.” I do not understand what you mean Monsieur” I handed her the raincoat, then the hatbox. “This is a present for you. The note will explain.”
”Je vous donne ceci comme un remerciement vous pre´sentez pour votre beau sourire”
J.R. Ewing, from Dallas, Texas
As she opened the box and began to read the note, I turned and went up the stairway wearing my new beret.
While standing before the same tuxedoed gorilla as he examined my passport and new membership card I noticed that he did not recognize me. Then he opened the door to the casino gaming room. Ignoring the restaurant sign, I went directly to the card room and found Moss sitting at a full table.
He was in deep concentration and did not notice my arrival.
I found a seat at the bar that gave me the chance to observe Moss in action. I watched every move he made trying to find some small telling information that would help me. Some small detail I could capitalizes on.
I watched as he looked at his two cards, memorized them, and then placed that silver coin on top of them for protection.
I had been watching for the better part of forty five minutes when I saw his tell.
He would slide the coin off of the cards when his hand was weak and he intended to fold. If he had a strong hand, that coin never moved.
He also had the habit of stacking his winning in one pile and his buy- in separated in another.
He was keeping track of his winning´s. I could see that Moss was having a very good night.
Like Moss, I do not believe in luck, but I believe in keen observation of my adversaries every move.
A seat opened for me. It put Moss two seats to my right which was not perfect position, but at least gave me a buffer when he attacked my blind wagers.
I knew he would do so at every opportunity. Just as I intended to do with the players on me left.
I was ready for Moss; I bought fifteen thousand Euros in chips and took my seat. For me the game and how I played it would depend on the fall of the first three cards...
I sat down to the most boring run of cards I had had since leaving the Hollywood Park Casino in Los Angles.
I do not enter a game unless my first two cards are above eight and a nine. And they must be of the same suit or at least able to make a straight.
If the first three cards that fall are not completely compatible and do not give me several different options I will check, and then fold if an opponent bets into me.
Should all players check, I will take a free draw then reassess my odds?
Winning at Poker requires the patience of a cat waiting for a mouse. Losing at Poker requires the temperament of an angry, frustrated bull trying to gore his adversary, while charging into the concealed sword.
Poker is a game of logic and mathematics. Not one of pure luck and arrogant bluster.
While I sat waiting for the cycle of cards to change I watched every player at the table, learning as much as possible about them.
The dealer shuffled and cut the deck discarded the top card and deftly sent each player their two cards. I watched as Moss looked at his hold cards, called, and raised one thousand Euros, then placed that tell tale silver dollar in their center.
I looked at my cards, first a seven and then a two. This combination was fondly referred to as a “Montana Banana” by Lucky Bob as they had the same chance of winning as banana´s did growing in Montana.
Folding my hand I watched as the other players entered into the pot and the dealer turned the first three cards face up on the green felt table. (Called the board)
There are times that I believe the Devil himself stacks the deck in hopes of tempting me to play badly.
The three cards on the table are two, jack, two then followed by a seven on the turn and then an ace, which would have given me a full house and the winning hand. After the final bets were made and all the cards were exposed Moss took the pot with a pair of aces and jacks.
At this point in the game I was down four thousand in chips. I took a break away from the table, went to the bar and drank a double espresso loaded with four spoons of brown sugar.
Bob always said,
“One of the biggest mistakes a poker player can make is not to add chips to their stack and continue to play, for when the winning hand comes; they cannot come out with guns blazing, because they are out of bullets to fight with.”
At the cashier´s cage i bought twenty thousand more Euro´s in chips, and returned to my seat.
Moss looked at my two new racks of chips, grinned in satisfaction and then he whispered. ”Running a bit short are you Joe?”
I shrugged, shook my head and sat back in my chair, saying as I did. “It looks to be profitable for me Ronnie, but I can see you are doing well.”
The dealer sent the cards flying to each player. I took a quick look at them; A jack with the trey, known in poker slang as a” gay waiter”, into the discards they went as I forfeited another one thousand Euro blind bet.
Many players when they are not involved in the wagering turn to the TV or fiddle with their stack of chips to determine if they are winning or losing.
Not me, I watch and listened to everything.
I had noticed that the Frenchman three seats to my left would frequently check a good hand and raise the pot when the betting returned to him. I also could hear his voice raise an octave.
Then I picked up two cards, the Ace and five of spade´s in the” button” position which is the last betting position.
The Frenchman raised the pot one thousand Euro´s driving out the next two players. The player next to Moss called without hesitation and Moss, who had placed that coin directly in the center of his cards glanced at the Frenchman, picked a large stack of his chips, thought another minute then raised the pot two thousand more, folding the man directly to my right.
At this point it was impossible for me to guess what cards the Frenchman, the other player, or Moss was holding.
My cards were good, with potential, but until I saw the first three cards of the flop l was investing in a “blind pig”.
I looked at the Frenchman´s stack of chips and estimated he had about five thousand left in front of him. I did not think he would re-raise Moss pre-flop.
I called, and put the three thousand in the pot. The Frenchman hesitated then called. The next player swore and threw his hand away. The dealer burned the top card, and then turned over the flop. As I said earlier I never look at the flop, I look at my opponents reaction. Moss´s eyes narrowed as he studied the ace of hearts and the two and four of spades now lying in front of the dealer. These three cards were better than I had expected. They gave me a pair of aces, along with the flush draw and a gut shot at a straight. The Frenchman bet, putting half of his remaining chips into the pot.
To my surprise Moss called without raising.
I now had a clue as to what cards Moss had under that two headed silver dollar and I was sure one of them was not an ace. I called the Frenchman‘s bet.
Sometimes in the game of poker the cards come as if by mental telepathy.
AS the dealer turned the King of spade´s, I watched Moss sit up in his chair, looked at his chips, then at my stack.
I knew at that moment his hole cards were a pair of kings. I also knew if the last card did not pair the board, and the odds against that happening were greatly in my favor, Ronnie Moss was about to be hooked by Joda Fish with an ace high spade flush.
The Frenchman pushed all his remaining chips into the pot.
I still had no idea what he had, but whatever it was, the only thing that could take the pot from me was if the board paired.
Moss took his time then raised the pot to fifteen thousand.
For the first time in three hours of playing I spoke to Moss.”Is there a Mac Donald´s nearby, Ronnie?
He looked at me, shook his head as if he heard wrong, then answered. “There is one just down the street a block.” I said, “That is good to know Ronnie as I think I am about to go broke.”
I was not sure that Moss would call my raise as I pushed my whole stack into the middle of the table.
When big game fishing and a marlin rises to the bait, many times it will grab the bait and run with it. Then it will drop it and swim away.
I have found that a couple of twitches on the line are enough to entice it to swallow the hook.
I tipped part of my stack in feigned nervousness on the table. It is an old trick that Lucky Bob taught me years ago. Moss called without hesitation. The dealer turned the seven of hearts as the last card then Moss turned over the pair of Kings. I showed him the spade flush, and the dealer pushed the mountain of chips to me. As I stacked the chips into racks Moss laughed loudly. “Joe, I was sure you were bluffing, that was the slickest move I have ever seen. I am hungry, let´s go and find that Mac Donald´s. You are buying”.
While Moss and I waited for the cashier to count and change my chips into cash he said, “How long will you be staying in Paris, Joe?”
“Ronnie, I think I will leave tomorrow, take the train to Monte Carlo and see what it is like.”
“Joe, my friend, do you know that they don’t play poker there? Only Black Jack, Roulette Slots, and Baccarat, but no Texas Hold Em. Been there once, lost my shirt at the Baccarat table.
I have played poker in London, Berlin, Madrid, Amsterdam Antwerp, and Brussels but I have not yet played in Vienna.”The conversation was interrupted when the cashier said. “Monsieur, do you want all this in cash?
I had more than enough cash in my boot.
I answered him, “No, here is the routing number for my bank. Please send the money there.”
As Ronnie was in the men´s room I decided to go downstairs and retrieve my rain coat. There was a new girl with blond hair, nice breasts and another beautiful smile behind the counter, I gave her my claim stub, picked up my coat, said “merci” then gave her three hundred Euros as a tip and went outside to wait for Moss.
I have always been a generous tipper. Not because I want to be liked or remembered but simply because I learned to understand that money was easily coming my way, while for so many others it is difficult to come by.
I was once with Lucky Bob as he gave one waitress a two thousand dollar tip for a four dollar late night eggs sandwich and a cup of coffee. She was not pretty, although I am sure that once she had been. Her hair was turning grey and her skin had lost the glow of youth. When she saw the money, she protested that it was too much and could not take it. Bob took her hand and placed the money firmly in it, saying as he did so, “I have just won more than forty thousand dollars in five hours tonight. If I cannot afford to share some of my luck with you, what kind of a person would I be? Now you take it, but don’t you put a single dime into one of those crooked damned slot machines.”
Later that night as I was standing on the balcony of my penthouse, looking at the street below, I saw that very same woman. She was sitting on the curb below me. I watched as she took off her shoes and massaged her feet. Then she took her tips out of her purse and began counting them. I understood my friend Lucky Bob.


THE OBVERSE SIDE OF MOSS
Moss still had not arrived, so I stepped outside to get some fresh air and see what the weather was like. It had stopped raining and a pleasant breeze had dried the pavement. It was a beautiful September night. I put the raincoat over my arm and looked up at the night sky. The moon was partially hiding behind a widow´s veil of silver clouds.
I was wondering what the weather was like in Vegas when Moss appeared. He put his hand on my shoulder and said, “Let’s go find that hamburger my friend.” Then we started walking down the boulevard. Moss still had his hand on my shoulder as he said, “So tell me where you are from Joe. And how did you end up in Paris?” I did not mind the questions, but the hand on my shoulder did not feel right. As a matter of fact it made me uncomfortable.
I stopped in mid stride and the hand fell away.”I am from Las Vegas, Ronnie, and I came here to play poker.” I could tell that my answer came as a bit of surprise. “Oh, then you are not a tourist?” “No I am not Ronnie, I make my living playing poker and it takes me time to make up my mind who is, and who is not a friend.”
We continued our walk in silence while I wondered what wine would go well with two beef patties, special sauce, pickles, and lettuce on a sesame seed bun. “Ronnie, tell me about you. How did you end up in Paris, and I was wondering how it is that you have been to so many places to play poker, do you have a private jet?” He laughed then said, “No private Jet, but I travel free to anywhere Continental Airlines parks their planes. After Viet Nam, I went to work as a copilot for UPS Air Transport. I stayed with them for eight years until I was promoted to Captain. That is when Continental came to me and asked me to join with them flying commercial 747´s to Europe. I would still be flying with them, but a year ago I had a small piece cholesterol lodge in the vein that feeds blood to the optic nerve in my right eye. It left me permanently blind in that eye and that ended my flying days...Still I have many privileges, and with my Captains uniform on I don’t have to wait to board any flight I choose. I don’t miss the flying but I sure miss the hot stewardesses and the wild sex .My next destination is Vienna, if you want go with me I can fix it so you can fly for free.”
“That’s an interesting thought Ronnie, let me mull it over tonight and tomorrow I will give you an answer.
I have one other question. How much does a 747 cost? “Two hundred and ninety million dollars last I knew, my friend."
We arrived at the entrance of McDonalds or Mcdo as the French call it. There were no golden arches rising above the Champs Elyseés in competition with the Arch de Triumph, only the logo on each side of the sidewalk dining area and the name in stone relief on the two story renovated building. The lower floor and the street were packed with young people even at this late hour.
I stood there taking in the whole chaotic spectacle and muttered, “Capitalism has won over culture again.” “What did you say?” Asked Moss
“Nothing Ronnie, I was just thinking out loud, let´s find a place to sit, somewhere upstairs if it is possible. My stomach is rubbing against my backbone and my bladder needs relief.”
On the second floor the crowd was less, Moss picked a table near the windows overlooking the boulevard with a view of the Eiffel tower in the distance. It was not a seat that I would have chosen, but the view was nice.
Sitting next to us were four hormonally exuberant young braless girls wearing provocative short skirts and colorful tee shirts, laughing and flirting with two men at the adjacent table. Once we were seated, I excused myself and went to the restroom to relieve my bladder and freshen up. As I stood studying my reflection the mirror I saw that the stress of the years at poker table´s had aged me. I thought, “How long are you going to keep playing, how much money you need to live comfortably?” I answered out loud,” I don’t know?” then left to Join Moss.
Moss did not see me as I made my way back to the table; he was talking with one of the giggling girls, and showing her his two faced coin. The moment he saw me he stopped, put the coin back in his pocket and returned to our table, grinned, then began obscenely pushing his tongue in and out of his mouth as he sat down.
Disbelieving what I was seeing I asked, “What in the hell are you doing Moss?
“Calm down Joe,, I am just playing a little game with that hot one in the red skirt, just a little game to see if she is prime game” Then stuck out his tongue and licked his lips.
The girl who I thought to be no more than fourteen suddenly got up from her table of friends came over to Moss, her eyes blazing with anger and said.
“Monsieur, you are a fat! Disgusting pig!” then reached out to slap him.
With the reflexes of a cat Moss caught her wrist and twisted until she cried with pain, smiled, then let her go. I had seen all I needed to know that Moss and I were very soon to part from each ones company. As I sat down I said. “Sorry Ronnie, I don’t know what I have come down with, but I feel nauseous. I cannot handle a Big Mac right now. I think I need to take a cab back to the hotel.” Picking up my raincoat, I said, “It is time for me to call it a night.”
Ronnie looked disappointed then said, “Think about Vienna wont you?”
Once outside I stopped, and inhaled until my lungs were full, closed my eyes and told myself to relax; after repeating the routine three more times I felt better.
Dodging the traffic I crossed the boulevard with the intention of walking down to the Seine and Eiffel tower, hoping to find some food more to my liking.
I had not gone a hundred meters when the most delicious aroma of baking bread found me. Ahead of me there was a brightly lit kiosk with pizza’s, meat pies and baguettes for sale .The man in attendance was dark skinned, his hair and beard black, dressed in colorful wool Jebba and a white round felt hat that looked a bit like my Beret. I assumed that he was one of the many Middle East refugees now living in France. When I asked him for a slice of pizza that looked as if it were fresh out the propane fired oven behind him, he spoke to me in perfect English, “Are you from
England Sir?” “No, I come from America.” He clapped his hands, “America! How wonderful, I have many members of my family in your country and one day I hope to be there also. I am from Gafsa Tunisia, but came to France years before the revolt now called The Arab Spring; It started there you know. Please sir, take a seat,” He said indicating a small square plastic table next to his kiosk.
I placed my raincoat over the chair then sat down as he asked me if I was familiar with Tunisia. I shook my head and said I knew little about his homeland. ”In that case may I recommend to you one of my country’s favorite foods.” Then without hesitating he brought me a pita bread filled with tomato, lettuce and ping pong sized balls fried to a golden brown topped off with a creamy sauce and a glass of cold Sauterne wine, “This is Falafel, please eat sir, it is very inexpensive.
I am honored to serve to you for free.” I thanked him, took his offering and said,” I shall consider this an appetizer, would you also bring me a slice of pizza with ham, onion and artichokes and another glass of this wine?” By the time he returned with the pizza, I had already finished the appetizer. Pleased to see that I enjoyed his gift, he smiled and asked if I would like another. My mouth was full of pizza so I shook my head, swallowed, then asked him to bring me one of his meat filled pastries, and another glass of wine.
Feeling much better I asked for the bill. He made a slight bow and said that there was no bill, but he would be happy if I gave him ten Euros. As I paid him with three five Euro notes the Eiffel tower suddenly turned into a giant Christmas tree. Seeing the surprise look on my face he laughed, “It lights up every hour, I think the French are a bit crazy but it is their country.”

O´MENS OF BAD LUCK
Here is a new abstract painting also
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Old 03-14-2018, 09:42 AM
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Default Re: Omens of bad luck

Thanking him, I picked up my raincoat then continued my walk down to the Seine. At the river side I found a bench and sat down to think about my future and enjoy the gardens, flowers, the quiet, and the lovers walking along the broad sidewalks.
The night air had turned cold. I put on my rain coat, as I did I noticed that one of the pockets had something in it. I could not imagine what it could be, as I pulled out a plain white envelope with the name Monsieur Wilson in script across it. Instantly knew that it had to be from the girl back at the Aviation Club. I felt the envelope, it was full. “Damn” I said out loud, “Don’t tell me she has given me money to pay for that hat.”I opened the envelope fully expecting that I would have to go back to the club and insist she keep her money. Instead I found a note and a red silk handkerchief .I read the note written in English with beautiful calligraphy, “Dear monsieur Wilson,
I have no words to tell you how much I appreciated you generous gift. My brother is a passionate fan of the TV series Dallas. I shall give him the hat for his sixteenth birthday. Your note I shall have framed and keep as a memento .I wish you good fortune in all of your life´s endeavors.
Marcella Guibert, Paris France”
Folding the note I placed it back into the envelope and took out the handkerchief. I held it to my face and inhaled the fragrance of jasmine. I sat there several minutes feeling the silk against my skin and the scent of the delicate perfume in my nostrils. I unfolded the handkerchief and discovered there was a white dolphin embroidered with silk in one of its corners. The Eiffel tower lit up at that moment breaking the spell. Slowly and with much care I placed the handkerchief into its envelope and placed it my shirt pocket, Stood, and began my walk back to the hotel.

While looking into the darkened shop windows along George V Avenue, I saw the reflection of a man.
For an instant I did not recognize the figure wearing the black raincoat as me. I thought I was seeing Lucky Bob, looking sad and lost. Hoping for luck and wishing he had someone who really cared. The image brought me to the moment of bitter truth. I am the same as Bob, wandering from one poker table to the next. Never making friends, for all the hundreds of players I meet are adversaries, hoping I will lose planning, strategies against me, oh, they smile, tell Jokes and stories and say “nice hand” when I took their money, just as I did when they took money away from me.
For some reason I thought again of the cashier back at the Horseshoe Casino, maybe it was the perfumed handkerchief in my pocket or the warm and friendly smile she gave me every time I saw her when I bought or cashed in chips.
I really did not know, hell, I did not even know her last name or if she was married, but I was going to make the effort to find out when I got back to Las Vegas.
I had been standing in front of my reflection for several minutes when the alley cat appeared out of the shadows and into the orange glare of a street light nearby.
It was playing with a mouse. I watched as it turned his prey loose, waited as the little grey creature ran towards the dark shadows and freedom, only to be caught then brought back into the light squeaking in terror. Suddenly the cat saw me, focused its yellow eyes on me, arched it back, snarled, then grabbed the mouse in its jaws and disappeared into the nights mist.
I am not a believer in superstitions, however this scene caused a cold shiver to run through my body, and I hurried towards the hotel determined to take a hot bath and get a good night´s rest.
As soon as I entered my room, I stripped off my boots and clothes, and then shaved as the tub was filling. I felt the chill leave my body, enjoying the luxury of the hot water while I came to a decision. I decided to return to Los Angeles.
Having settled that problem, I got out of the tub and dried off as the water drained away, along with my thoughts of Moss and that damned alley cat. Naked I went to bed and instantly fell asleep, but awoke early covered with cold sweat from a very disturbing dream.
The Dream
I was walking in the moon light .It was night; I was in a park surrounded by a garden of Hibiscus. There was a small pool; it was filled with fragrant pale blue Hyacinth and lotus flowers. by the edge of the pool was a large brown mushroom growing out of the blood drenched earth, Upon it a toad was perched in deadly silence .Only The pupils of his bulging eyes followed the movements of small butterflies attracted to the flowers as they danced in fascination of a glittering silver coin, suspended around the toad’s thick throat and neck. It was the same coin Moss carried, hanging from a chain composed of human bones.
I watched as the toads tongue flicked in and out until suddenly, he caught one small, bright red, dancing butterfly, crushing it and swallowing it instantly.

Not being able to go back to sleep I turned on the TV; found the French channel 24 to watch the mornings world news in English, until the time came to call the concierge to make arrangements for the first available flight out of Charles De Gaulle International to LAX, California.
With his promise that he would do his best, and ring me up when he had a seat for me, I hung up and started packing my belongings. That was the moment I heard the voice in the background from the news commentator say that the nude body of brutally mutilated and strangled young girl was discovered by a grounds keeper in The Jardins Du Champs Elyseés early this morning. Her Identity was being withheld pending notification to her family by the Gendarme.
I was shocked, the first thought that came to my mind was could Moss be involved?
I needed to know now, in bathrobe and bare feet I ran out of the room and down the stairs to the lobby and asked if Moss had returned. The concierge looked at me and said, “Monsieur Moss was arrested and escorted, in handcuffs, by the police from the hotel two hours ago.”
Standing there half naked I began to tremble. The sudden thought that Moss could possibly be involved in this murder left me speechless in the middle of the lobby, “Are you alright monsieur?”
“All right! Do I look as if I am all right to you? No I am not all right. I heard on the TV that a girl has been murdered in the park nearby and I had my suspicions that Moss is involved, which you have now confirmed. I came down here to confront him and hear what he had to say, but now that I know he is in police custody I shall return to my room and continue packing my valise. Have you been able to find me a flight yet?”
Staring at my bare feet the Concierge shook his head. “I am so sorry Mr. Wilson. What with all the excitement this morning it slipped my mind. I shall take care of the matter this instant.”
Suddenly understanding how ridiculous I looked, I apologized to the Receptionist, the Concierge and the group of tourists who were also staring at me, then made a hasty retreat up the stairs and back to my room only to find that I had locked myself out.
At that moment the concierge arrived to let me in, saying as he did, “It was very obvious that you had no key with you Monsieur. We do our best to see that the guests at the Amarante Hotel needs are anticipated.”I shook his hand and apologized once more.
“No need to apologize Mr. Wilson, it is a gruesome murder and she was so young, it is a shame, but life can be so unfairly cruel.
I shall find you a flight within the next hour. It should not be a problem as today is the eleventh of September.” I entered my room as he closed the door behind me and shut off the TV.
Sitting on the bed with my mind spinning, I could only think of the girls I had seen at McDonalds.
I wondered what had happened after I had left. It was a bad and fatal turn of the cards. None of it made any sense to me. I took a deep breath, exhaled, dressed, finished packing my valise, and then went down to the lobby to settle my bill.
In the lobby there had gathered several newspaper reporters, all of them questioning the concierge about the hotels American guest Mr. Moss.
When he saw me, he raised his hands in a hopeless gesture and shook his head, “I am sorry Mr. Wilson things are totally out of my control. I have failed to find you a flight.”Not wanting to become involved I responded to him with the same gesture saying, “Don’t worry I am able to care of myself.” I presented the receptionist my credit card and watched the vultures prancing around the overwhelmed concierge while she processed my card, gave me a receipt, then returned my passport.
I stepped out of the hotel looking for a cab, I did not have to wait long; one going in the opposite direction made a U turn in the middle of the traffic then pulled up in front of the hotel.
Not waiting for the driver to get out, I opened the door, started to toss my valise on the back seat when the stench of body sweat, stale wine and Goulioses cigarettes hit me. Closing the car door I waved the cabby off. He sat there motor running still expecting me to get in, then blew his horn, gave me the finger and drove off in a cloud of exhaust fumes.
I walked back to the curb saying out loud, “It has to be that damned cat last night.” Soon another cab stopped and it passed the smell test. I climbed in and said, “Charles De Gaulle and take your time please.” As the cabby made his way through the streets packed with cars, trucks, motorcycles and bicycles even this early in the day, I closed my eyes tried to relax. Then I remembered my rain coat,
It was still in the hotel room and decided I would need to call the concierge after I had a seat reserved for my flight home.
So it was that on September eleventh, seventeen years after two thousand nine hundred and seventy seven innocents died in a terrorist attack on the United States of America, I went to the American Air Lines kiosk with my ticket and asked if there would be a seat available for me on a plane to LAX. The queue at the desk consisted of a group of six Orientals that I presumed to be Japanese, one old man in a wheel chair, his granddaughter, and me. The concierge was correct, the International hub was eerily quiet, within an hour I had my boarding pass on the 09:30 AM flight leaving from terminal 2T with an arrival time 22:.55 in Los Angeles the next day. I could not have found a better day to fly. I took off my belt and silver buckle put it in the valise, and then handed it over to be checked in.
Walking down the nearly deserted corridor to Immigration and customs my friend ´s words came to me.
My friend the engraver has a philosophic opinion about people. We were sitting in his shop one day discussing the paranoia that people were experiencing over the coming of the end of the world in the 21st century year. When I asked him his opinion on the matter, He said without a trace of humor, “If you could take fear, ignorance, superstition, and deceit, and condense them down to a can of soup, eighty five percent of the world´s population would evaporate.”
Immigration and customs also were not overwhelmed with disgruntled tourists and in a matter of ten minutes I stood before the electronic gate to hell, dreading the, “Hands in the air and take off your boots, sir.” Very much to my surprise, I passed the examination without a problem and entered into the boarding area with relief in my heart and a boot full of cash.
Stopping at the first telephone, I dug out the checkout receipt with the number of the hotel on it and made my call. The receptionist answered and I asked for the concierge telling her as I did that I was Mr. Joseph Wilson.
While I waited for him to come on line I decided not to ask about Moss, after all it was none of my business, and having made a fool out of myself onetime, I wanted to keep it that way.
Several minutes passed, I was about to forget the call and leave the raincoat to the housecleaner when he answered, “Mr. Wilson, have you trouble in booking a flight, what can I do for you?”
“No, no, everything is fine, and you were right, the airport is a ghost city, The reason I am calling is that I forgot a raincoat in my room this morning and I wanted to tell you that if it suits your needs to keep it,” “Thank you, Mr. Wilson, you are most thoughtful, and is it not lucky that our maid found several very pornographic magazines in Mr. Moss´s closet and confided this to her friend the receptionist.
It was she who saw him enter the hotel early this morning with blood on his shirt, she called me, and when I had heard her story, I naturally called the police to come here to investigate.
It seems that he is a very evil man, and may have killed many other young girls in Europe. I do not know all the details and what I tell you is very confidential, but I expect that something this horrific will be in all the news soon”.
As there is no underestimating the fascination for gore people have, I had heard enough, so I said goodbye to the talkative concierge and hung up, then called Las Vegas to talk with Alfonso. He answered with his customary greeting, “Al´s Bar, She aint here, and I don’t know where he is either. It´s your dime what else do you have on your mind?” My ever practical friend Alfonso, “Al, its Joe da Fish, are you still trying to drive away your paying customers?” He laughed and said, “Only the ones who want a short loan or more credit on their tab, paying customers just show up.
I got your post card, are you still in Paris?”
“Al, I am here at the airport, leaving in a few hours and will be back in Vegas in a couple of days.
The reason I am calling is I need some advice. I want to make a good impression on a woman I hardly know, but would like to get to know better. As I am here, I was thinking of bringing her a present, but I haven’t any idea what to buy. You are expert of the workings of the feminine mind, as there is no time to write Dear Abby for advice; I thought you could help me out.”I could imagine him with a grin from ear to ear as he said. “That is a no brainer pal; buy a nice, but not too expensive pair of earrings, no diamonds, rubies, pearls or emeralds, and a small bottle of expensive French perfume. When you see her, give her the earrings and keep the perfume. If the next day she is wearing the earrings that means she is interested in you, then you give her the perfume, no earrings means you have struck out, but, you still have the perfume for trading stock .You now owe me one hundred dollars for advice to the lovelorn, have a safe trip.” Before I could say thanks, or ask about Bob the line went dead.
Placing the phone on its cradle I then walked down the corridor looking in the shops that have always been a mystery to me, and an aphrodisiac to women. Handbags ,designer shoes, dresses, silk lingerie and scarves, perfumes, jewelry, and elegant coats all displayed and priced with the aim of overdrawing credit cards.
I went into the first shop that had a large display of necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings and other dangling things and found a woman who looked like she was a fashion model from Vogue Magazine.
I asked to see earrings that were not over three hundred dollars. She looked disappointed but smiled gracefully and pulled out a tray of small gold, silver, and glittering gemstones designed to be hung on a woman´s ears.
I wanted to get this over with as fast as possible. There was one pair that I instantly liked, pointing I asked. ‘’What about those?”
“These sir, are hand crafted with black Pietersite stones set in platinum, designed with French clasps. They are a bit over three hundred dollars Monsieur.” Joda Fish was about to swallow the hook,” How much over three hundred?” was my next obvious question. “They are only four hundred ninety five duty free Euro, Monsieur, but I am sure that they will bring much pleasure to the person you give them to, and are worth every centime.” I took the bait, she had set the hook. Taking out my credit card I heard myself say, “I will take them, and now can you tell me what perfume I should buy to go with this present.”
As she was debiting my account she asked, “Is this person your wife?” The very thought made my leg tingle, “No she is just a friend.”
“Well monsieur, if you wish her to be much more than just a friend, I would recommend my favorite nighttime perfume, by Houbigant, it is called Quelques Fleurs. It is very difficult to get and a bit expensive, but I am sure a small bottle will be immensely appreciated by your friend.
I have some right over there if you would like to look and test its fragrance.” After having swallowed the hook, I was now being led to the gaff.
Another eight hundred Euro later, I walked out the door with two small gift wrapped packages that fit easily in a mini plastic carry-on bag emblazoned with Fleurs de lis, saying to myself.
“What the hell, its only gambling money”.
With what I hoped would be welcomed gifts in my hand, I continued my stroll down long bright carpets, past more shops that I am sure the owners of them would have welcomed me with sunshine smiles. I soon found the “Coiffeur Pour Dames & Messieurs” beauty salon where I could get a shampoo, haircut, shave, and manicure for the amazing sum of only eighty eight Euro. As there was no queue waiting to take advantage of this wonderful opportunity, only two dowager´s were being sheared of their hair and money at the moment, I decided there on the spot to join the crowd, so I took off my beret put it in the shopping bag and sat down to wait my turn.
From the moment I sat down till I walked out; hair washed, trimmed, blow dried with every single strand cemented in place with gel, my fingernails manicured and eye brows trimmed to absolute perfection, and my face as smooth as a newborn baby bottom, I had killed another hour and forty minutes.
Continuing to leave a trail of money in my wake, I stopped to eat a Mc Fish burger accompanied with a small plastic bottle of water and a tab of only nineteen Euros.
I made it to my departure gate, just as the loud speaker announced the first boarding call, and was welcomed aboard by a cheerful stewardess with tired eyes, too much makeup, and her hair done in French braids, found my seat, took off my boots and buckled up for the long flight home.
After announcements, emergency instructions, the captains weather report and takeoff, the stewardess stopped by to ask if I wanted anything to make my flight more comfortable. I had been waiting for this moment since I buckled up. “ I would love Canadian Club whiskey in four of those cute little bottles, a glass of water, a package of peanuts, a pillow, and a blanket, and please don’t wake me until we land in L.A.”
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  #167  
Old 03-18-2018, 02:30 PM
Big-Un Big-Un is offline
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Default Re: Omens of bad luck

Joseph, I quit playing poker when I lost with a king-high straight flush, she had an ace-high straight flush, playing Texas Hold-em. Never again!
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Old 03-18-2018, 06:27 PM
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Default Re: New studio

Ace High straight Flush is Called A ROYAL FLUSH.
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Old 03-19-2018, 09:20 AM
Big-Un Big-Un is offline
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Default Re: New studio

yeah, I know, just a brain fart thinking about it, very painful memory.
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  #170  
Old 03-20-2018, 01:53 PM
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joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
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Default Re: New studio

. Omens of bad luck
I have always been a good winning player. For me the game is a mental exercise. I now play on line only for fun, not real cash In the last three years I have gone from a ranking of 1800 to a rank of 900 and had won over five million chips in the game.
Since I started publishing this story I have lost all but 1450 chips and am now ranked somewhere around1500. .I think Lucky Bob has put a hex on me-Hopefully when writing this story is done ,spring will be here, my gallery will be ready And, I will have engraving tools to work with ,and new inspirations to paint from-
Meanwhile, here is the next episode of Lucky Bob. I hope you enjoy it,
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Old 03-20-2018, 02:08 PM
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joseph engraver joseph engraver is offline
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Back in the U.S.A.
I am not sure if it was the jolt of the jets wheels hitting the tarmac, the roar of the twin Rolls Royce engines or the screaming of the kid behind me that brought me out of my whiskey induced coma.
I sat in my seat, eyes closed as the headache hit me, and the taste of acid burned my pallet, while the jet taxied to the arrival gate.
I opened my blood shot eyes and waited, while the other passengers rushed to disembark; cell phones glued to one ear as they called loved ones and friends to tell them that they were safe. I heard the voice of the stewardess saying,
“We are here Sir, and how do you feel today?’’ I looked up into her face and groaned, “I drank all four of those little bottles didn’t I?” ‘’You did Sir, and you snored quite loudly. Welcome to Las Angeles.”
As I tried putting my boots back on, I blew her a kiss and said, “And you dear are funny, do you have any gum or mints?” She handed me a stick of gum and said, “Make sure you take all of your belongings with you when you find the strength to get up and leave. Have a breathtaking day, and thank you for flying with us.” It was a good thing she did, as I would have forgotten my presents.
After disembarking, my first stop was the closest water fountain, where I tried to rinse out the cotton in my mouth, then to the urinal and then the washbasin. Feeling as though I was going to live, I stood in front of the mirror, where I saw a man who looked like hell; I swore to myself that I would never, ever, again drink blended whiskey.
Recovered enough to make it to the first Star Bucks, I ordered a latte to settle my stomach, a double espresso to help my headache and a rye muffin to keep them down. With my vision cleared and feeling slightly better I found the stamina to make it down to baggage claim to find my valise.
I normally would have taken a cab out to the Hollywood Casino, but at the moment I had no desire to sit down at card games; instead I took the train over to domestic departures.
Flights to Las Vegas depart every hour. I took the first one out, and was turning the key to my penthouse door two hours later. Inside, I stripped down to my shorts took four Excedrin and crawled into my bed and instantly fell into sweet, black oblivion.
It was broad daylight when I finally opened my eyes. The hangover was gone and I knew that I would live to see another day, provided that I found some food and espresso very soon.
While the coffee brewed, I fried four eggs and thawed out a couple of English muffins, then turned on the computer to check my mail while I ate.
That is the moment when I knew exactly how empty my life really was. I had been gone for ten days and my inbox was empty. I checked the answering machine for messages; not even one call.
Ten years at the Casino poker tables had bought many one-night stands, a nice penthouse, and a bank account with a two million, eight hundred thousand dollars in it and not one person but my Mom who really cared a damn. I had three friends: one who was now broke and living on the streets somewhere, the second, the owner of a hooker bar, who I really liked but honestly did not know, and my engraving friend who was now happily married, with two kids and had no time for small talk.
I shut down the computer, finished the coffee and washed my one plate, had a hot shower, dressed, rode the elevator down to the street, leaving the emptiness of my life behind as I stepped out into the flash and glitter of The Boulevard and Las Vegas.
Living in downtown Vegas makes my gambling life easy. Everything I need I can walk or take a cab to. Wanting to think and shake this new found depression, I walked the four mile strip past The Aladdin, Bally´s, The Flamingo, Mirage, Bellagio, Caesars Palace, Circus Circus, The Eldorado Club, Excalibur, and Binion´s Horse Shoe, where the world series of poker is held and I spend part of my time. Then continued on past the Mandalay Bay, the MGM Grand, to the Paris Las Vegas Hotel where I turned onto Blue Diamond road where Al´s Bar is located.
The walk and fresh air had chased away my doldrums, and the welcome grin the Al gave me cheered me up, “Welcome back Joe. Have you come to pay me the lonely heart consultation money you owe me? Or did you go broke spending it on those new boots and perfume?”
I dug out my wallet and found a C note and gave it to him as I took a seat.
“What about it Joe, Did you make a killing at the casinos in Europe?”
I don’t like to talk about my winnings or losses playing cards, so I said,” I did OK, made enough to pay your extortionist fee, buy these boots, the earrings and the perfume,”
Bob ´s luck returns
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  #172  
Old 03-29-2018, 12:58 PM
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Default Bob´s luck returns

“Al. Have you seen Bob?” “Yes, I have, and I want to tell you the damndest story.
Bob came in here four days ago all excited about finding a dollar bill on the sidewalk out front. His eyes were full of tears and he was yelling over and over “My luck is back. I know it´s back change this bill and give me coins for the slot machine over there,”
“I did as he asked. He went to drop it in the number seven machine. Joe you know that machine has not ever paid out in years.
“Don’t do it Bob” I hollered from the bar.
He turned around and said in a voice full of confidence, “Al, if I hit the jackpot you can call me Lucky Bob. If I lose, my shadow will never darken your door again.”
“He dropped the coins into the slot and pulled the handle. Well, that machines odds of hitting the jackpot are seven hundred fifty to one.
Bob never even looked at the wheels as they spun around. He stood there with his arms folded just waiting .I damned near fainted when the bells and light began to flash. He had hit the jackpot for five hundred dollars. When I gave him the cash he broke down in tears and said, “Al, I am on a roll, from now on when you see me, please call me Lucky Bob.”
“Then he left and I have not seen him since. Now tell me was it interesting playing in Europe?”
Al´s question opened the door to the story of Moss. I guess we must have talked about it for an hour or so. Then Al´ s bar business began to pick up. ”Joe, you never know the evil that lurks in the minds of mad men do you?
It looks like the time for me get working and water the thirsty herd. Oh, before you give that girl those earrings, pick up a thank you card and write something personal on it. That might help you and don’t thank me, it is all part of my service, Pal”

Taking my leave, I headed for the Horse Shoe Casino to see the girl with the beautiful smile and find out her last name. The walk and conversation with Al had cleared my mind; my normal self confidence had returned. I was also relieved to know Lucky Bob was still in town, alive, kicking and still betting on his self. As a matter of fact I had not felt this good in a long time.
My normal poker routine is to sit down at a table in The Horse Shoe Casino around nine in the morning, looking to find the tired players who are stuck deep in a losing streak and had spent the entire night trying to get back their money. I play against them for three or four hours, then no matter if I won or lost money, cash out.
After lunch, I spend time in my penthouse working on my oil paintings or writing in the log book, where I make notations on other player’s styles and tells. I keep a meticulous record of my wins, losses, and hours spent at every game I play, then I take a nap and play from eight to twelve or one A.M
This December, I will be forty, and I am lonely, maybe I am going through the mid-life crises, or perhaps going insane. I am bored to death playing poker, I need to find that person missing to make my life complete. A good, honest woman that I can take to a museum, lunch, movie, the park and one day settle down. Maybe raises a family. I am envious of my engraver friend and the life he now leads with his wife and their newest son.
I know that I am going to have to find something besides mowing a lawn to keep me interested and occupied. Or I will end up sitting in Al´s bar drinking my life away.
I decided to see if the girl with the friendly smile was at the cashier’s cage.
Using the pretext of withdrawing money from my account, I entered The Horse Shoe Casino, made my way past all the lonely people drinking free booze and mindlessly playing the slots. I went up the stairs to the poker room, where I was immediately welcomed by Bill Hancock the floor man.
”Joda Fish you haven’t been in for a couple of weeks, I got a seat open at the 10/20 pot limit game,
You buy in for a thousand and play for two hours the house will comp you an extra two hundred in chips.”
This is not an uncommon deal for regulars, when the house wants to keep a game in action and there are less than six players at the table. After all the house rake of three percent quickly adds up when the pots average more than a thousand dollars.
I shake Bill´s hand and decline the offer as I look at the cashier´s cage, and see she is not there.
I ask Bill, “Do you know the brunette with dark brown eyes who works the cage?”
“You must mean Gina, sure I know her, sweet gal, she started here five months ago, her dad is Gino Giovanelli, the pit boss at the dice tables, and he has been here forever.
If you are thinking of putting the make on her you are out of luck. A dozen guys have already tried and struck out. I understand she is involved with a boxer named Jack and he is living with her.”
I now know her name and that she is not married, it is a start, I am not afraid to compete when I want to win.
“It is a faint heart that never wins the fair maiden”
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  #173  
Old 04-05-2018, 04:01 AM
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Default Re: New studio

I make my living gambling and am wary of making an error in judgment, so when I returned to the penthouse I sat down in front of the computer and did a search on Gina Giovanelli.
I looked into her driving record, credit report, police report, whether she had been married or divorced.
You may say I was snooping, but I considered it more a need to find out what Gina was as a person. I know too many people who had their live and finances destroyed by becoming involved with the wrong person and I was not going to make that stupid mistake at this point in my life. In an hour I knew she owned her home out on Blue Diamond Ridge, would be thirty three years old on December nineteenth, never married, and had never been arrested for drunk driving, that she drove a ten year old Jeep Wrangler, never involved in domestic disputes or violence. And her credit was rated as excellent. The last thing I did was check the phone directory; her number and found two other Giovanelli were listed.
“Dear Gina, while I was travelling in Europe, I found these earrings and I thought about you.
Joda Fish”
“Dear Gina, I hope you like these.
Joda Fish”
I must have written a dozen Dear Gina notes. All of them I deleted, before I decided that Al´s note idea was not how I think and act. I am a direct approach guy, I made up my mind to see her and just say, “Gina, I like your smile and the color of your eyes and would like to know you better. Would you go out to lunch sometime?”
There is a small canvas on the easel; I had not worked on in a month. It is the unfinished profile of a man who´s face is composed of puzzle pieces done in ice cold blue, burnt sienna and red darkened with black, all separated by jagged lines of white. I will title it A Fractured Man.
I enjoy the thought process involved in painting; it is my escape into another world of contemplation and color. Picking up a brush, a tube of violet and one of cerulean blue I mixed them directly on the canvas- I was finishing the background when the phone rang.
I let the answering machine take the call, and then I heard Al say, “Call me, it is about Moss”.
When the background was done I signed the work; J. Wilson, cleaned my brush, put away the paints and stacked the painting against the wall along with fifty or so others, then I called Al.
As soon as he picked up the phone I said, “It´s me Al.”
“Joe; you need to buy a copy of today’s USA Today. Moss has made the front page. They are calling him the Trans-Continental Strangler; he is being investigated for a bunch of young girl rapes and murders all over Europe and England.
It says that he was picking up young prostitutes just a few hours before he was scheduled to fly back to the States. After killing them, he would change into his Captains uniform, breeze through airport security, and be thousands of miles away before the bodies were discovered.
Now you can say that you played poker against a real killer.”
“Thanks for the info Al, but what about Bob?” “Now that is the wildest story about luck that you will ever hear. Got to go to work, stop by soon and I will tell you all about it.” And he hung up.
It all made sense now, the look on Moss´s face at McDonalds, his comment about how he did not miss flying but missed the stewardess and the sex, and the uncomfortable feeling I had when he put his hand on my shoulder.
Cheats, liar’s, drifters, ex cons, hookers, thieves and serial killers, they are all drawn to that oval of green felt, each hoping to make easy money.
You never can tell who will sit down at a poker table. For my sanity and health; I was now positive I needed to quit the game.
I could see no sense in procrastinating. I picked up the phone and dialed the Horse Shoe Casino, then had the operator to connect me to Gina Giovanelli at the poker room cashiers cage. I tried to think of some excuse for calling but found none. She answered, I found myself tongue tied and hung up.
This is not going to work Joseph Wilson. You are going to make a fool out of yourself, Think it through, use the good common sense you have, and put a plan together.
What the hell, you are not a child, you are only going to ask a woman out for lunch .Take a shower, clear you mind, dress and make the effort to see if she has any interest in you.
After my shower, I stood in front of the mirror, Pulled in my gut and flexed my not too impressive bicep muscles, decided that I needed to exercise more. The hours sitting at the poker tables were not conducive to fitness. “I wonder what that boxer Jack looks like.” I said to the reflection as I shaved.
I went to my closet and tried to decide what to wear.
Realizing as I did so, that this must be a universal dilemma shared by both sexes.
Reason took hold of my thoughts, I put on a pair of worn jeans, a white shirt, my new boots and a grey cashmere sweater, added a dash of cologne and topped everything off with my beret, then taking the pretty little box with the ear rings went out the door ..
Gina was busy counting a large pile of money as I walked up to the cage. I stood there for a moment watching her and thinking how attractive she was. When she looked up and saw me her hand immediately went up to her hair to check that it was just right. Then came that smile, that warm welcoming infatuating smile that l had been thinking of for the last three weeks. Our eyes met and instantly I knew that she was pleased to see me again.
“Joe, where have you been? It is not like you to be away from the tables for this long. I was beginning to wonder if you were O.K...”
“Hi Gina, the woman with the most beautiful smile in Las Vegas, I have been on a road trip to Europe, and it is nice to be back in town. I brought you a small present from Paris”.
Not waiting for her to answer me I gave her the fancy little box with the ear rings. She opened it, admired them, and then she put them on, saying as she did. “How beautiful they are Joe, and how thoughtful you are for thinking of me, I love them.”
Bingo, I made it to first base.
“Gina, I was wondering if you would have lunch with me when you finish your shift,”
She gave me a beautiful smile, shook her head ¸saying as she did.
“I am sorry Joe, I would love to, but after I get off I have to go home and feed my dog Jack, and then take him for his run. Boxers are great pets but they go crazy if they don’t get a chance to run and do their thing after being cooped up all morning. Do you like dogs?”
What could I say?
“I love dogs, I had one when I was a kid and she was my best friend. Her name was Lucy. It hurt me so when she died that I never wanted to have another. Now that I live in a place where no pets are allowed, owning one is out of the question.
Would you consider going out to dinner? I know a great restaurant and the owner is a friend, you can bring Jack.”
Again she smiled at the thought of taking the dog, and I was happy that my concern over a boxer named Jack could be taken care of by a rare T bone steak.
“I will consider it Joe, but only if you will go for a run with me and Jack when I get off work.
He is not friendly to strangers and you need to get to know each other before going to a public place like a restaurant.”
Run? She had not said a leisurely walk in the park. I had not move at more than a brisk walk in years; I surely could not run more than a hundred feet before collapsing from exhaustion.
Gina had just raised the stakes and I had to call, bluff, or fold.
I decided a bluff was my only option. “I think that is a great idea, but, I don’t think these cowboy boots are best for running through the park.”
“I don’t go to the park Joe, there are too many dogs there and Jack can be aggressive if he is challenged.
I take him for his run in the foothills near my home where the air is fresh and I can look for arrowheads and spear points in a creek bottom there.
You won’t have to run, and the boots will protect you from scorpions and rattlesnakes. It is so beautiful there; I get off in three hours. Do you want to go?”
Damn the Scorpions, poisonous snakes, lizards, horned toads and dead Indian spirits. I said "I would like that very much"
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  #174  
Old 04-05-2018, 04:18 AM
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Default Re: New studio

Painting of "The Fractured Man"
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Old 04-12-2018, 09:37 AM
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Default Pals are not made at the poker table

I will play cards until you get off, maybe I can win enough to buy a good bottle of wine for our dinner date tonight.” Date, Did I say date?’’ I have-not asked a woman out for a date in years. I walked over to the card room; Bill Hancock came up to me, smiling like the Cheshire cat. ‘’I see you haven’t struck out with Gina, The way she looked at you tells me that Jack the boxer has got competition.” I shook his hand and laughed out loud and decided to not explain Jack,
“Competition is my game Bill, that son of a dog doesn’t have a chance, I am charming, smarter, dress better, and have a larger bank account. He may be eating out of Gina´s hand for now, give me time and he will be sleeping outside...Do you have a seat open in a nice friendly game where I can relax and wait for her to get off work?
“You mean you actually got her to go out, I give you credit Joe, I have watched a dozen guys ask her out and she turned every single one of them down. I have a 20 40 pot limit game at table eight that I think you will find interesting. There are two smart hustlers working as partners, ramming and jamming the game and making life miserable for the other players .Do feel up to giving them a lesson in card game etiquette?
“For you Bill I will be happy to try, this brings back memories of my youth when Lucky Bob and I would work the games at Al´s Bar. When a seat opens to the left of them bring me a rack of chips .
Meanwhile I am hungry and would like an order of beer batter onion rings, Halibut cheeks and coleslaw salad, with a bottle of water. I will eat over by the railing where I can see what these wise guys are up to. If things go well they should be house broke by the time Gina gets off.”
My lunch came, crisp, hot and golden brown and as I enjoyed every bite as I watched, unobserved the play, and the action taking place at table eight. The hustlers were working over a young player who looked to be about twenty, for some reason I immediately felt a kinship for this smart, determined kid who was most likely losing his next car payment.
Their hustle was plain to see. When the one wearing the sunglasses had a good hand he would pick up one chip put it back on his stack and check the bet to his partner with the Marijuana leaf embroidered on his hat, who would make the first bet, the kid and the rest of the players would call. Sunglasses would raise, Marijuana hat would re- raise making it too expensive and the kid would fold his hand. The kid was being played like a trout on a hook and destined to lose his dwindling stack of chips.
I know, I had been there many years ago.
Bill came over with my rack of chips and I took the now empty chair of another of the hustler’s victims. My seat put me beside and to the left of the kid.
He looked at me and smiled as he said “Welcome to Hell, my name is Johnny Marino, this is a tough game and those two guys are really lucky.” I shook his hand, noticing as I did that it was cold and wet with nervous sweat.
Then I announced to the players there. “Good afternoon, my name is Joseph Wilson; I am from Salt Lake City, here for a convention of artists.” Sun glasses grinned and nodded to Marijuana hat who let out a roar of laughter and said, “Nice of you to join us Joseph, I´m Jimmy Bob, I will trade my hat for your French chapeau, Are you a Mormon?”
“As a matter of fact Jimmy I am, now, I know that Mormon’s are not supposed to gamble, but as they say. What goes on in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas.” Sunglasses that was now also having a fit of laughter said, “Aint that the gospel truth, sit down Joseph the Mormon, or is it moron and let ´s play cards.
It was not long before I was winning a small amount of money and drew the hand I had waited for, any small pair, these happened to be threes.
Sunglasses bet, Jimmy Bob raised, the kid dropped out, I called. Sunglasses raised the pot again and as expected Jimmy Bob took the last raise, again I called both bets. The dealer turned the first three cards, none of which helped me. I watched as Sunglasses picked up that one chip then put it back on his stack and checked the bet to his partner who as expected bet. Any poker player would have folded that pair of threes, but I was not playing to win this hand: I was putting advertising chum into the water. When the final bets were made I had invested what I was ahead in the game. With great pride I turned over my pair of threes as if I expected they were the winning hand. The dealer pushed the pot to Sunglasses who had three queens. As he stacked his winnings he said to Marijuana Jimmy Bob, “Can you believe it the Artist re- raised me with a pair of threes, frigging unbelievable, just unbelievable?”
The kid then spoke to me in a whisper “Mister, you better go play a slot machine; you are over your head here.” I turned to him and whispered back, “They now think I am an idiot.”
It was not much longer before I held what is called “The Mortal Nuts” a hand that cannot be beaten, As the bets and raises were put into the pot I said to Sunglasses,” You are too good, this is my last hand so I may as well go for broke, then I raised what was the biggest pot of the afternoon. He smiled and said “Well it was nice to know you Mormon,” as he and Jimmy Bob put the last of their chips into the pot.
”I have a king high straight. Unless you have the king and the ace you lose,” I looked at my cards as if in total surprise then said, “How did you know? By gosh that is exactly what I have, and you, have what is commonly known as the village idiots end of the straight.”
Sunglasses threw his cards at the dealer, Marijuana hat swore, and kicked his chair, and then both got up to depart, Sunglasses turned to me and snarled “Well Mr. Mormon, stick around town and you and I will see each other again, and Pal it aint gonna be your best day”, At that point Marijuana Hat laughed and then they departed out the door.
The kid shook my hand,” That was beautifully played Sir. It was a pleasure to watch”.
I called Bill Hancock for three more racks to put the chips in. Then I did something I have never done before, I gave this advice to the kid.
I said, “Johnny, if you want to play poker and win, read every book you can find on the game, study them and learn. And until you do, stay out of games you cannot afford. Take care, and don’t ever believe in Lady Luck. She is fickle and will eventually let you down.” Picking up my chips I started to the cage to turn them into cash, Bill stopped me and shook my hand, saying as he did so, “Well that didn’t take you long to break the game, and a very nice win for a pot limit game, but I would watch out for those two thugs, they have a very bad reputation.
”Thanks Bill, I always do, and I made enough to take Gina and the boxer out to dinner tonight.”
“Joe you are something else, I have to give you credit, inviting him to eat with both of you is a smart move, that gives her a chance to see you both together, women just love to be competed over, even more than they love to comparison shop.”
Gina still had an hour left on her shift when I cashed in my winnings. She was very professional at her work and never commented on poker players wins or loses, that is one of the many reasons that I admired her.
As she handed me the cash she said, “Joe, I decided that it would be best if I drove back to my home to change clothes, freshen up and get Jack, then I can meet you in front of the Casino.”
It was at this moment I remembered the perfume. So I said. “I have a better idea, why don’t I meet you in front of my apartment, that way I can pick up my camera. I want to take photos of you and Jack. I live a couple of blocks from here in the Star Dust penthouse. You tell me what time and I will meet you out front, OK.”
Again she gave me that wonderful alluring smile as she said, “What a great idea, I never think to take my camera with me, and that gives me time to go home and prepare myself. I will pick you up at six thirty. See you then.”
Our conversation was interrupted by the kid who came up to the cage to cash in his remaining chips. I said hello to him and left as he started to tell Gina all about the pot I had won.
It is a nice feeling to be someone’s hero.
Life is full of the unexpected.
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