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A gambler is a gambler, deep down in his DNA. It doesn't matter the size of the bet. 

A game, an argument, or even a life, the thrill is in the wager.

Winning by Zach Wilhide

The ropes were tight, slowly strangling my wrists and hands.  Thud. Each bump sent me up into the roof of the trunk.   There was a sticky wetness on the side of my head. A sharp metallic smell overpowered the tiny space.  Thud. 

My wrists chaffed and the ropes dug deeper rubbing off flesh.  Blood oozed down my hands.  

Thud.  Based on the bumps and the crunching we were on a gravel road.  Last thing I remember the Blazers were losing in the fourth quarter and I was going to be closer to paying off Malone.  Someone pounded on my door as Lillard hit a three and cut the Mavericks lead to 15.  I looked through the peephole and saw Sal and Rodney, Malone’s goons.  A gruff voice told me to open my fucking door and I obliged.  As soon as the lock turned, something hit me and everything went black.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.  I shouldn’t owe money to guys like Malone and you’d be absolutely right, but sometimes when things get rough and I need someone to float me a little bit I give a call to a guy who knows a guy who puts me in touch with Malone.  I wouldn’t say I had a gambling problem; sure, the court’s said that, my ex-wife and estranged daughter say that, but what the fuck do they know? 

We stop about three bumps later.  My two chauffeurs make their way to the back of the car.  The trunk opens with a slow screech of rusty metal.  I’m assaulted with the smell of rotting garbage.  Rough hands reach in and pull me out of the darkness and lean me up against the car that’s parked under the county dump’s single flickering light. 

“Gentleman, what can I do for you?” I ask with a shit-eating grin. Sal doubles me over with a punch to the gut.  Blood from my wrists drips onto the gravel.

“We ain’t here to joke, Lynch.  It’s time to pay.”  

“It’s cool, guys.  I have a dime on the Mavs-Blazers.  It’s in the fourth…something good’s going to happen. I can feel it.”

The goons exchanged looks that didn’t fill me with optimism. Rodney reached into his coat.

“Look, I get it, at least untie my hands.  There’re two of you and you have guns.  I’m 170 pounds soaking wet. I’m pretty sure you can handle me.”

Sal shrugged and Rodney pulled out a pocket knife and cut the rope around my wrists. 

“Thanks, that feels a whole lot better,” I said, rubbing my wrists and wiping the blood on my pants. “Now, as I was saying…”

“We don’t have time for your bullshit Lynch; you’ve been ducking Malone for over a month.  Either pay up now or Rodney will show you what happens to deadbeats.  Rodney’s hand crept back into his jacket.

“See the thing is… I don’t have the money yet. We have to wait about twenty minutes.”

“Twenty minutes from now ain’t now,” Rodney said pulling an expensive-looking 9mm from a shoulder holster. 

“Don’t I get a cigarette and a blindfold?  I’ve seen the movies.”

The two exchanged an exasperated look and Sal reached into his back pocket and pulled out a handkerchief.  I guess they were out of smokes. When Sal came over to tie on the blindfold I grabbed his arm, pulled him close and ripped his gun from his holster.  A surprised Rodney opened fire and shot Sal several times, spattering blood all over my face.  Dropping my goon shield, I lined up the sight and pulled the trigger.  A loud shot reduced Rodney to a red mess of brain and bone. 

I picked up the handkerchief and wiped the blood off my face.  After closing the trunk I climbed into the car.  By the time I found the game on the radio I was just in time to hear the hysterics of the Blazers’ improbable comeback. It’s funny, I thought as I pulled out of the dump, I’m out another ten grand and Malone isn’t going to be happy about his goons, but I feel like a winner tonight. 

Zach Wilhide has had stories published in Shotgun Honey and Near to the Knuckle. To contact him simply follow the sounds of heavy metal, foul language and weight plates slamming on the ground—he answers to the name of “Whyte Devil.”