There’s No Such Thing as Dogs Playing Poker [Exceprt]

Last year, for TusCon, I had three short stories printed at Arizona Lithographers. They are now all for sale at the Green Bandit Press store. I’ve posted an excerpt from the first one here and the second here. I have one more to post for you all. If you’ve been enjoying these excerpts, please let me know, or buy the books. Once I have completed, well, a few more, I will compile them into a collection entitled “There’s No Such Thing as…”. I may post the collection on this site. But for now, purchasing them through the store is the only way to read these in full.

This one’s a little different, because Sam isn’t the narrator. The narrator is… well, you’ll see.

Excerpt from …Dogs Playing Poker by WHR Soland

Illustration by Adriel Begay

Illustration by Adriel Begay

This is being written under protest. That’s the first thing I want you to consider. So take everything I tell you with a grain of salt. Or a shaker and a lime chaser. My name is Brett Spencer, and I’m a psychic.

I’ve already lost you, haven’t I? No, I’m not “sensing” that I’ve lost you. That’s not how it works. I know I’ve lost you because no one reading this is going to believe for a moment that I’m psychic. Oh, sure. Some people claim they believe in psychics. Some people even shell out good money to phonies who read palms, Tarot cards, auras, and the like. People love to call into those radio and TV shows to have their fortune told. But no one really believes it. I called in to one of those shows once. It was fun. It was reassuring. The “psychic” told me things I wanted to hear, in vague generalities that were almost certain to come true. It made me feel special. It made me feel important. Most importantly, it was nice to have someone to talk to.

Because that’s what you don’t understand about being psychic. Unless there’s something for me to focus my brain on, I have other people’s thoughts floating through my head all the time. Have you ever sat down and written everything you thought in a long, flowing, stream-of-consciousness style? That’s nothing like what I have in my head. What I have in my head is the flotsam and jetsam that drifts through your brain, looking for something to connect with. Only when a person is totally focused are his thoughts coherent. And I mean totally focused. I can pick out the gist when they’re distracted, hell, sometimes I get even more useful information when their thoughts aren’t coherent. A snippet here or there. But most of the time, most people don’t think in complete sentences. Not even when they’re trying to form complete sentences. Which means my life is very noisy. I spend a lot of time alone. I take sleeping pills and lots of ibuprofen. If I’m going to go to some kind of social event, I need to go somewhere where people are concentrating.

That’s where poker comes in. I love playing poker with people, because nothing focuses the brain more than the potential loss of cash. It doesn’t actually take that much money to get people to focus. Typically, a twenty dollar buy in will do. I’m not saying that poker games are totally silent for me. Nothing is, if people are nearby. Poker players are thinking about their money, thinking about their cards, thinking about what they think other people’s cards are. And at the same time they’re thinking about how to behave as though they’re not thinking about any of that.

But trust me, there’s a lot less psychic noise in a room like that than in, for instance a library. I walked into a library once, and damn. I nearly collapsed. If I need time alone to myself to think, I have to drive out into nowhere. If I want company, I play poker.

I first met Jack Renard when a friend of his invited me to his weekly poker game.

Want more? You’ll have to order a copy.

/Green Bandit Out.

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