of all the words of mice and men

mundane moments in a mundane life

There were three of us, but only two of us were here. The third lost a significant amount of money a few nights ago in a tough match. The score in that match hadn’t been close.

“Yeah. He can do it. He’s supposed to do it.”

Unspoken thoughts in our heads made us silent. What started as gambling had somehow evolved beyond. He had lost the same match before—even before the few nights ago, and even before that—but he would play again. He might lose, again, and if he did, he would play again. We knew it.

“God,” I muttered under my breath.

“I know.”

“When you gonna play?”

“I don’t know. He keeps changing the date on me, but I think sometime this month.”

“Good stuff.”

He’d played before. So, here he went again. It was a tough game. He had a chance, of course. We knew that. He’d won before. He’d lost twice.

“You got your match?”

“Yes.”

“You know how much you gonna bet?”

“No.”

“You like your chances?”

“Yes.”

“Anyone else like your chances?”

“No.”

In the close, thick air of the pool room, I began to chuckle. I snorted and then couldn’t help but laugh outright. He looked at me questioningly.

“Oh, God,” I said, wiping my eyes. “We’re ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. Stone cold ridiculous.”

“What?”

“His match, your match, my match. Fuck, that shit is, like, the fucking toughest action, ever.” I breathed deep. “If I look at it from the outside, if you guys were anyone else, it’s fucking crazy. I don’t like any of the matches. But, because it’s him and it’s you, and I know why you both have to play, I’m all, ‘Go forth and bust their asses!’ and I will always like your chances.”

We were adults but not grown up, empty of serious responsibility, and full of the brash confidence only the inexperience and perpetual optimism of youth can summon. It was a lovely, dangerous, fascinating, addictive place to be.

We went back to an amused and contented silence. His pocket buzzed. He pulled out the phone and read a message. He tapped a reply and replaced the phone in his pocket.

“He’s gonna play him again.” He looked at me when I smiled and shook my head. “But he says he won’t play him on his turf. He’ll have to come here.”

“Still tough action,” I said.

“Still tough action,” he agreed.

“What’d you tell him?”

“Bust him.”

We shook our heads and laughed at ourselves the same way countless older, wiser players with centuries of experience between them had done.