|Posted on July 18, 2010 at 12:03 AM|
The poker game’s getting to be the highlight of this hump. Sometimes the waiting for death can be as stressful as loading your buds on the wopper afterwards. After six hours of patrol around Hill 726, our platoon is taking a well-deserved break under the rubber trees, overgrown with orchids and glossy leaf pucker brush, so-called because when you get within a foot of it the leaves fold up like puckered lips. The slow drip, drip, of an earlier rain the only noise on the hillside. Pat….pat….pat.
The No Smoking Sign is on. Also, no talking, coughing, farting, shut the fuck up mode, okay. Corporal Manley’s dealing seven-card stud. We’re laying in this patch of brush just off the main path. To the newbie, or stupid, it would look like any game trail back home. To the savvy, it’s a fucking highway for black pajamas and cone hats
I’ve got two eights and a king showing, and another eight and a trey down. Come on, baby, give Papa Morgan another king and I’ll be back even, instead of seven smokes down. Waiting for The Man to give us an Edward VIII, I bend an orchid over for a long pull. Son-of-a-bitch, what a fragrance: mixed with Ems gun oil, that there is nasal heaven, pussy on a stem.
Pvt. Larson gets a jack. Click, our RTO, radio transmission operator, draws a lady, for a pair showing, I get a fucking ten, and Manly Man turns an ace for a pair. Top, Sergeant Mullins waves me an open palm, we’ve got five minutes till boogey. Shit, I need an Edward or I’m fucked.
Manly Man flips two Marlboros in the pot. Larson frowns, then calls the bet with his jive-ass Cool Menthols. Click, grinning like he just picked the winner in the derby calls with two Winstons, then raises with two more. I look at Manley’s aces, then take a whiff of that orange orchid again.
I throw six Marlboro’s in the pot like I’m strolling in high cotton, take a whiff of Em, my M60 machine gun and exhale in orgasm. God I love the smell of gun oil on a lady.
The Man checks his hold cards, frowns like he’s on a bad date, then flips his Old Golds in like it’s his ranch, stock, and horse.
Manley deals the last cards down and dirty.
“Show ‘em Futher Muckers,” he whispers.
Larson throws his in cursing and crawls off for a leak. Click, grins wider, throws one more in. We ante up like it’s a tip at some high-dollar eatery. Click then flips up a hidden jack. He starts rubbing his greedy little radio-tuning fingers together. He looks like Ronald McDonald after an all-nighter of spin the bottle.
“Come to Papa, my fags of puffage,” he whispers.
“Hold on, Clickmeister,” says Manley, “I think these bullets just raped your ladies.” He’s reaching for the goods when I interrupt his spot in the limelight.
“Grab your own Rodney, Man,” I say, as I flip up a big-hearted Ruler of thy kingdom, “Full frickin castle, gents. Read ‘em and weep, kings over eights, my lads of fickle games.” I shove the mixed lot carefully into my satchel, like they’re the crown jewels of la la land.
Manley bums an Old Gold, then heads off on point, followed by Larson, Click, and then Top behind a couple of newbies. I click Em to burst, rub her serial number by habit, and swagger on down the highway, Morgan I and Queen Emmanuelle, Ruler of the Smokeless. All we need now is a burst of caps and a cold Grain Belt.