He sat in the wooden chair looking out across the room at people who hate him. I watched him shift in his seat, the prostate cancer obviously causing him some problems. The knot on his tie was exceptionally big. Old men tie their ties big, I thought.
He'd lost weight in the past year. Living through 18 months of pure hatred and cancer will do that to you. His once well-tailored suits hung on him when he shuffled in and out of the courthouse. His wife would walk beside him. His ex-wife would follow behind. The dynamic of the relationship was lost on me.
But that's not really what I was thinking about. That's just where I was at the moment.
My phone rang. Some insistant person on the other end of the line (like there really are phone lines anymore) wanted something and I promised they'd have it. Experience told me, though, that they didn't really want it as much as they thought they wanted it. They weren't really thinking about me at the moment. I wouldn't expect them to, anyway.
About fifteen miles north of us, in a grand gap between two small mountains, search teams had just found a body. They'd been looking for a hiker for three days. He was a 75-year-old man who had turned back from what had turned out to be an unexpectedly tough trek through the gap. He was supposed to wait for his party at the parking lot at the foot of the mountain. While an experienced hiker, he apparently got lost.
The tale seemed fairly familiar. In my reading of A Walk in the Woods, I remembered another experienced hiker who got lost, got hypothermia, and inexplicably jumped in a cold mountain stream. And died, of course.
And as sad as the story was and continued to be, that's not really what I was thinking about either.
Thinking back to my declaration that I was taking a live poker break, I keep finding myself repeating "Looks like I picked the right time to quit sniffing glue."
Almost upon making the declaration, life at Mt. Otis slipped into an unfamiliar land of turmoil. It was nothing serious like death, cancer, or man-on-beast adultery. But it was enough to make me glad I didn't have three poker games a week on my schedule.
Still, I dabbled online. I cashed in a big Party tournament. I watched my ring-game bankroll go up and down like a piston on some ancient pseudo-medical sex machine. I fell to sleep on many a night dreaming of the four nights I'll be spending in Vegas with the denizens of the internet poker writing elite. One fantasy finds me in a poker room where the bloggers have all taken seats at different tables. Every few minutes a blogger will stand up, scream "Hammer time!" and rake a massive pot to the disgust of the other tourists and locals at the table. Before the fantasy ends, the poker room manager has quietly offered us a $1000 freeroll tournament if we'll just stop pestering the other players with our 72offsuit.
Somehow the spirit of the trip has spilled over into my regular life. Where my traveling companions once thought one room would be too big to hold the small traveling party, we now probably don't have enough space to hold everyone. The room rates have skyrocketed in the past two weeks. I'm vowing to do my part by not sleeping for the first two nights, and if I do, I'll sleep in the bathrub, surrounded by empty cans of beer and spent cigarette butts.
But, those fantasies are future fodder and only what I can think about to get my mind off real life.
The past two weeks have forced the keepers of the Mt. Willis bankroll to make some major decisions. While nothing is official for the moment, the decision is imminent. The likely outcome will mean a lot of things, both good and bad. First, it will allow me to play more poker and do more writing. Second, it will cut into my poker and writing time.
Yeah, it's been that kind of month.
While I hate to be such a teasing vauge-abond, discretion requires I keep silent for the next couple of days. Bear with me.
Anyone who plays live knows that dealers have to contend with walkers, those people who hold their seats with chips but spend an indornaite amount of time walking around the casino. One night when I was playing in Atlantic City, a guy took the eight-seat to my left, put down his chips and bourbon, and left. I sat there for a full hour before he came back, played three hands, then left again.
That's sort of where I am right now. My chips are on the table, my drink is ready to be consumed, but I can't sit down quite yet.
In the meantime, BadBlood is organizing his bi-weekly homegame and tempting me to come off my break a week early. Frankly, it hasn't been much of a break to begin with. G-Rob is already pestering me to just admit that it hasn't been a break at all. We'll have to see what Mrs. Otis thinks about that.
In the meantime, I'm going to be staring at the cancer-ridden, much-hated, big-knotted man in the chair and wondering what will become of him in the coming days. Sadly, I already know what's happened to the man on the mountain.
I can only hope my fate will be better than theirs.
Oh, and it will be, by the way.