Saturday, March 9, 2013

Twenty-Six--Quincy's First Kidnapping (Part Two)

A brawny guy wearing a ski mask emerged from a corner, unlocked Quincy's cage, and beckoned him forward.  "Climb up onto it," he said, pointing toward the whirligig.  It was a replica of an old-school telephone pole, with two wooden arms near the top.  "Onto the arm," the guy said.  "I'll give you a boost."  He did.  Soon Quincy was straddling the whirligig.

The old man, who appeared to be running the show, was seated on the stationary bicycle.  An industrial strength rubber band connected the rear wheel to the bottom of the contraption.

"Pops, let me ride," said the guy in the ski mask.

"I ride," the old man spat, glowering.  He gripped the handlebars and strained, but there was no response, so he stood and jerked his weight from side to side as if riding up a steep hill.

Soon, the 120-pound-grandpa-powered whirligig was spinning like the slowest merry go round on the planet, one that would bore to tears even the most skittish three-year-old child.  As he rotated, Quincy saw a window . . . a door . . . his cage . . . a large flat-screen TV . . . an old man pedaling furiously on a bicycle . . . a man in a ski mask . . . and a woman in a distant corner.  Then he saw it all again in slow motion.  Each rotation, Grandpa's face resembled a bigger and redder balloon, as if he were blowing trumpet on a manic, experimental Coltrane song that would soon conclude with a standing ovation, and the trumpeter's death.

Quincy, in fact, believed he had the Touch of Death.  He had recently killed The Girl in the Front Row, the biggest crush of his high school years, and he worried now that he'd cause the old man to pedal himself to heart attack, so he asked, "Can I get down now?"

"No!" the old man rasped.

"But I want to show you how to win at poker."

"Not till you scream!"

"Okay."  He took a deep breath and hollered at the top of his lungs.

Grandpa abruptly stopped and leaned over the handle bars, his chest heaving.

"C'mon," Ski Mask said, motioning, and Quincy dropped two yards onto his feet.  As they headed together toward the flat screen, Ski Mask whispered, "Thanks."

"No problem," he whispered back.

The first thing Quincy noticed about the girl in the corner was her strawberry blonde hair.  Then he realized that she wasn't wearing a mask.  He tried to avoid looking at her, although he didn't know why.  She stepped forward to a desk that Quincy hadn't seen before.  On top of the desk was a laptop.  She sat, made a few mouseclicks, and suddenly PokerStars appeared on the flat screen.

"I could 24-table on this," Quincy marveled.

"Login," Strawberry demanded.

"TIPPERGORE.  All caps."





"What kind of password is that?"

"I wanted something easy to remember."

She shook her head, then clicked on the cashier button: $743,516.20.  Quincy thought, Lucky they didn't ask for my FullTilt account.  He figured he had four million on it.

She clicked the transfer button and was soon sending forty thousand to each of three accounts, one of them named Ballerboy16.

"Who's Ballerboy16?" Quincy asked.

"Me," Grandpa said from behind him.  His face was pouring with sweat.

"You're Ballerboy16?"

"Got a problem with that?"

"Why 16?"


"Why do you call yourself Ballerboy sixteen?"

"Well--" Grandpa began.

"The others were taken?" Quincy asked.


"Did you try Ballerboy with no number after it?"

"Yeah.  So what?"

"And Ballerboy1?"

"What's your obsession with Ballerboy?"

"So you are at least the sixteenth guy who chose Ballerboy.  Why not choose BallerOldMan?"

"Prepare the whirligig!"

"No thanks!"

"We all saw you scream!"

"Yes, sir."

"Like a girl scout who has just seen her first half-dead roadkill!"

"No more screaming please," Strawberry ordered.

"Hey, have you ever played against GorillaCock?" Quincy asked, trying to change the subject.

"Gorilla who?"


"Sounds like somebody overcompensating."

"Well anyway, if you do, that's my Dad."

"Well whoopdedoo for GorillaCock."

"And I just meant earlier--about Ballerboy?  That BallerOldMan would rule.  BallerOldMan sounds scary."

"You two fight like old friends," Strawberry said.  Then to Quincy: "What do we do now?"

"Check high stakes."

She did.  Scanning the tables, she said, "Nobody but good2cu."

"Take all of those tables," Quincy said quickly.

Soon, six tables appeared on the screen, and good2cu was sitting out at all of them.

"Who is this guy?" Grandpa asked.

"Just another loser," Quincy said.

They waited, attentively staring at the words "Sitting Out" underneath good2cu's name.  After a moment, Strawberry said, "Just so you know, the word 'loser' is a touchy word around here.  We're all losers.  We can admit that fact because we're past the denial stage.  We're sick, and we need help.  That's why we had to kidnap you."

"We're losers, and we're sick, and we need help, but we don't steal," Grandpa said.  "You'll get your money back.  One way or another."

Quincy pondered this for a moment.  "Isn't kidnapping worse than stealing?"

Grandpa retorted, "Is there a Commandment that says, 'Thou shalt not kidnap'?"

He didn't know how to respond.  After a bit, he said, "So if I show you how to win, you won't be losers anymore.  And you won't have a problem.  And you won't be sick.  And you won't need Gamblers Anonymous."

Strawberry remarked, "He not as dumb as he looks."

"You win at gambling," Grandpa said to Quincy.  "We lose at gambling.  That's the only difference between us."

Unable to resist, Quincy said, "Well, there are a couple other differences.  For starters, you're old, and I'm young."


"You're kidnappers.  I'm not."


"You've got whiskey breath.  I don't."

"He's not sitting out!" Strawberry exclaimed.  It was true.  "What do we do?"

"Let me sit."  She scrambled out of the way and Quincy took her place.

"Tell us everything you're thinking," Grandpa ordered.


"Everything!  We gotta learn, remember?"

"Okay.  I'm thinking, 'Strawberry is hot.  Don't look at Strawberry.  Maybe Strawberry is a killer.'"

"Who the hell is Strawberry?" Strawberry asked.

Quincy raised or reraised on all of his $5/10 NL tables: his hands were jack-seven offsuit, pocket threes, six-four unsuited, queen-jack of clubs, ace-deuce offsuit, and four-three of diamonds.  Good2cu folded a couple, called a couple, and reraised a couple.  "'Is she wearing a bra?  I hope not.  Maybe I can see her in the reflection on the laptop . . .  Nope.'"  He shoved six-four and queen-jack preflop; good2cu folded both times.  "'Are they going to kill me?  If so, I hope it's Strawberry.  I hope she smothers me.  Maybe she'll kill me with her body . . . her breasts."  His continuation bets led to three good2cu folds.  "Will I get to see breasts before I die?  I'm glad Grandpa didn't die of a heart attack.'"  On the only hand that made it to the river--"I just want to see one breast, just one, it doesn't even have to be two of them"--Quincy's queen-jack hit two pair on a Q 4 2 7 J board, and he won a stack against AQ.

"Don't you think about the game?" Ski Mask asked.

"Sometimes.  But mostly I think about breasts.  I win the most when I think about breasts."

He was dealt two black kings and two red queens.  He folded the other hands to raises.  With kings, he saw a Q76 monotone heart flop, bet and reraised all in on the flop, and lost to good2cu's flopped flush.  With queens, he flopped middle set and won his stack back against ace-king suited on a A Q 3 flop.

"Keep thinking out loud," Grandpa instructed.

Strawberry said, "He seems to be up a thousand."

Quincy said, "I want to put a bad beat on him so he'll play $10/20, and then I want to put another bad beat on him so he'll play $25/50.  The only breasts I've seen are in the movies.  But they don't seem so impressive.  I bet actually touching them means more than seeing them.  How they feel is more important than how they look, I bet."

"You would win that bet," Grandpa said.

"Can dolphins communicate with people?" Quincy asked, raising or reraising on all of his tables with six trash hands.  "Do dolphins understand humans?  Is this why they chatter back at us?  Can we invent something to add to the dolphins throats that translates their words into English?"  Quincy found himself all in at three tables.  His hands were six-four offsuit, queen-deuce of spades, and nine-three offsuit.

With six-four, the board ran out like this A 9 T 5 7, and he lost.

With queen-deuce of spades, he flopped a flush and beat good2cu's pocket tens.

"Do dolphins have breasts?" he wondered.

With nine-three offsuit, the board ran out 3 3 6 A Q, and he beat ace queen.

"Two bad beats," Quincy said.  He quickly typed, 10/20?

Good2cu's response: K.

They opened up six more tables, and Quincy said, "Single White Female was great for breasts.  What a movie.  They shower with the bathroom door open.  What a good idea."

"Good hands!" Strawberry exclaimed, watching the screen.  "You're about to destroy this . . . this . . . loser!"

She was right.  Quincy had been dealt three pocket pairs--aces, jacks, and nines--as well as suited ace-king.  He folded his rags and raised or reraised all of his premium hands.  "Does a breast feel pillowy?  Is it firm or soft?"

"Firm and soft," said Grandpa.  "That's the beauty of them.  They're the yin and yang of wonder."  Good2cu called three of Quincy's raises, but good2cu went all in against Quincy's aces with pocket eights preflop and got no help.

"Can you sleep with your head on a breast?  Is it uncomfortable?"

"Yes, and yes," Strawberry said.

With the other three hands, Quincy was losing only with pocket nines, but he turned a set and good2cu was drawing dead.  Before the eyes of his kidnappers, six thousand dollars swept into Quincy's stacks over the span of six seconds.

"He won them all," Ski Mask reported in disbelief.

Seconds later, good2cu disappeared from all of the tables simultaneously.

"That was an alley fight," Grandpa said, "and the kid's not even paying attention!  He's too busy talking about tits."

"Up," Strawberry said to Quincy, and he stood.  She made a couple of mouse clicks and reported, "Nine thousand four hundred dollars.  That's how much he won.  In--" she checked her watch "--eight minutes."

Grandpa whistled.  They all turned to look at Quincy.  Then Grandpa said, "If I played poker thinking about tits all the time, I'd be broke in less than an hour."

"You'd be broke in less than an hour anyway," Ski Mask remarked.

The excitement of the moment slowly diminished in Grandpa's eyes.  He mumbled, "What are we thinking?  I can't play like that.  We can't learn that."

"Thinking about breasts wouldn't help me either," Strawberry said.

The group of kidnappers seemed at a standstill.  Quincy worried that if they didn't know what to do, they might have a conference, and if they had a conference, they might put him back in the cage.

So he said, "Why don't you keep the money?"

They had all lowered their heads together to begin whispering, but then six eyes turned toward him.

"Keep the money," Ski Mask repeated.

"Yeah.  That way it isn't stealing.  It's a gift."

"A gift," Ski Mask said.

Quincy nodded.

They bowed their heads together again and resumed whispering.  Then Grandpa and Strawberry approached him.

Grandpa said, "Kid, you just saved yourself from being gutted."

"I know a bluff when I see one," Quincy responded.

Strawberry's face burst into a smile.  "Oh Quincy, you're so darling," she said.  As she leaned over, she held her pose, her lips planted on his cheek, for a long, long moment.

Peering down the V of her pink blouse, he forgot to breathe.

No bra, the scent of jasmine, and a single perfect breast.

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