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The Gambler-A Short Story


The Gambler

It is the same every Friday night. The warm shower beats against aching muscles-shoulders, neck and arms; peels of wetness streaming down back, buttocks and legs...hairy, muscular legs.

He gets out of the tub, careful to step onto the blue and yellow striped mat, lest he leave a trail of moist footprints along the bathroom floor. Gazing into a mirror clouded with steam, he balls up one fist and wipes the glass clean with the fleshy part of his hand.

Staring at the green eyed reflection, he turns his head from side to side and scratches his jaw as if pondering whether to shave or not. But, the decision has already been made. Not to shave would be a decisive moment to change a routine established years ago.

He’s aloof to the fact that it makes him look ragged. Not rugged , as a younger man with less gray would present, but scruffy and unkempt. He certainly doesn’t agonize about the possible razor burn that occurs nuzzling up to someone, (anyone), with softer skin. It’d been far too long for any consideration of that. No, he doesn’t think of pleasing anyone but himself. It’s the prickly sensation that the stubs on his jowl create that is bothersome to him.

So, his shaving ritual begins. When he’s finished he inspects the results with a keen eye, adds a stinging splash of aftershave, and goes about the business of gathering up his clothes.

It’s Friday evening and as he zips up the fly of his too tight jeans, carefully tucking in the soft, black tail of his shirt, he looks around for his boots. Ostrich. Heels three inches or so. Old, but his meticulous care has maintained them in good condition. He pockets his wallet and his gaze follows the line of the single bureau settling on the ancient, silver dollar quietly waiting for him. His marker. His amulet.

Time to go.

He drives a hundred miles to meet the boys at the club for the weekly poker game. He goes to win. Never mind that he’s lost paychecks and more in the course of the night. He’s a winner. He’s a gambler.

Notes on the short story: The Gambler

In December 2007, my sister, who is a freelance writer, sent me two books in support of writing fiction: The Pocket Muse by Monica Wood. A wonderfully compact set of books filled with writing prompts of all types. I have: Endless Inspiration and Ideas & Inspirations for writing. She adds photos and tips for success throughout the pages. The Gambler was my first story written January 1, 2008. It is a flash fiction. Flash fiction is a type of writing that is derived from a prompt. The writer is expected to finish the story in a designated, but limited, time period. It is considered a useful tool to help writers overcome thought blocks and to spur on the creative muse.

In the prompt for this story, the directions were to "write about someone who thinks he is something he really is not". The perilous life of the gambler is that sort of person.

Kenny Rogers singing The Gambler

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Gambler's Anonymous

What is Gambler's Anonymous?

Gambler's Anonymous, or GA, is a 12 step program that offers nonjudgmental support for people who are compulsive gamblers. Based on the Alcoholic Anonymous 12 step program, people gather to share stories of their gambling addiction and the effects it has on their lives, as well as the lives of those closest to them.

If you think you may have a gambling addiction you can follow the link here to take a 20 question quiz.

If you would like additional information about Gambler's Anonymous or where to find a meeting follow the link here:

Remember: there is no shame in reaching out for help.

Gambling Hubs

Addiction resources for Gamblers


Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on April 05, 2013:

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Hi khmazz-it always tickles me when I read a comment like yours-thanks. If you enjoyed that one, you might also like to read my other short fiction: Getting to know you.

Kristen Mazzola from South Florida on April 04, 2013:

Awesome, well written, a fantastic read! Voted Up!

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on September 29, 2012:

Thanks, unknown spy-I'll do that. I actually was thinking about this movie again today. :)

Hi isenhower33--okay...what's YOUR recommendation? :) We're all ears.

Bobby Isenhower from Crothersville, IN on September 29, 2012:

Hey now if we're recommending movies i should be here for this :) ltms

DragonBallSuper on September 29, 2012:

You should watch the movie.. Very great one and worth recommending!

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on September 29, 2012:

Oh, yes...I saw the trailers for that, and part of the movie, but not the whole thing. Thanks! I was looking for something to watch this w/e. Thanks for stopping by. :)

DragonBallSuper on September 29, 2012:

Very nice! The title reminds me of the movie "21".

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on September 28, 2012:

Thanks Richard. With any addiction, the consequences are distaserous and sad. I've known people who are addicted to gambling, too. Great material for the story! Interesting, the writing prompt was not about 'gambling'. The prompt was actually: "Write about someone who thinks he is something other than what he is." The first thing that popped into my mind was my friend and his ideas about his poker skill. I've watched him actually lose paychecks, and he refused to hand it over to me. Of course, I just step aside then. I've suggested 12 step and it is 'No Way' that's not for me... Thanks for reading this and commenting.

Rich from Kentucky on September 27, 2012:

I've known a couple of folks whose lives have been ruined by gambling. There's another headed that way. The most I ever did was play the slots. Usually fairly cheap and time consuming. Your story describes all three very well in their preparation before heading to the casino here. They've spent their lives becoming successful, not they're ruining it. Yet, in their minds, they're only losing what they can afford to. Too bad their wives didn't see it that way. Great Hub!

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on April 22, 2012:

Thanks for stopping by to read this one dahoglund. It was a true writing challenge for me, but I imagine it would be even more challenging if I had a timer going and needed to complete it in under 50 minutes, haha.

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on April 21, 2012:

Good story. I have not really pared down much to the point of flash fiction. I do keep them pretty short though.

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on April 21, 2012:

Hahahaha thanks for reading-your uncle and mine!

Susan Zutautas from Ontario, Canada on April 21, 2012:

Denise, This is a wonderful story. As I was reading this I could see my uncle.

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on April 19, 2012:

Hahaha that's funny, RHW. A nice touch, I must say. :)

Thanks for stopping by and reading/commenting. Yep, they go down H A R D and some never get up again!

Kelly Umphenour from St. Louis, MO on April 19, 2012:

This is great! I think you did a fabulous job with the details. The scene played out just as it would be in real life.

I have a nice Ostrich purse that might go great with his boots and fleshy hands! Up and everything!

injurycase from North Pearl Street, Albany, New York on October 12, 2011:

same here. I do not even have the time to do so.. LOL! anyway, thanks and keep on posting!

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on October 02, 2011:

LOL I don't think I will have time, Gail, but thanks for the encouragement.

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on October 02, 2011:

I think you've got a flair for both! Would like to see you create some fiction for the upcoming contest.

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on October 02, 2011:

Hi Gail-it was a fun 'prompt' to write. I like doing those once in awhile to test my fiction writing skills. I do far better with memoir! LOL

Gail Sobotkin from South Carolina on October 01, 2011:

Very vivid, detailed and accurate description of a gambler who's completely out of touch with how others perceive him. Voted up and interesting.

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on September 09, 2011:

Thanks Shamani-I appreciate your feedback. Glad you enjoyed the story.

shamani67 on September 09, 2011:

Great story, loved it and was so well written. A great pleasure to read.

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on June 18, 2011:

LOL Thanks for your feedback AH. I enjoyed writing this piece--know a couple of folks like him. :)

attemptedhumour from Australia on June 18, 2011:

He's the epitome of almost every gambler. Full of swagger, but light on assets. A clever tale of caution.

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on February 10, 2011:

LOL Thanks, Will, glad you enjoyed. I'll read yours as well.

WillStarr from Phoenix, Arizona on February 10, 2011:

Great stuff!

I wrote one about a gambler myself:

Up and awesome!

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on November 10, 2010:

Dear Mache-- I am chuckling right now. When I wrote my comment back to you, I did not make a comment to 'correct' you. Your statement was fine and did not need correcting. My comment was a way of affirming what you already said--an agreement to your statement. Keep writing, it's too much fun to quit! :)

mache de la torre on November 10, 2010:

Stands corrected...I would know! LOL!

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on November 08, 2010:

Oh mache--that is so funny! Thanks for the comment. I guess you should say you would know, LOL

mache de la torre on November 08, 2010:

Hahaha, I should know, Denise, since I now work in a casino. I imagined the gambler as you described his face...its very lucid, very detailed...great writing.

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on November 07, 2010:

Hi Jed-thanks for the feedback. I'm not sure how it limits the story??? explain please. Other than the title being a dead give away, I liked the ending paragraph b/c of the message in between the lines...? If that makes any sense. Anyhow, thank you for taking the time to read it with the eye of the critic. I appreciate that. It's what helps the improvement of a writer, isn't it. :)

Hi Risa- nice to have you stop by and read the story. Thanks for your comment. Play with the words and sentences. Get a visual and then write what comes up in the description of the visual. My practice did not come over night. (see Mr. Jed Fisher's comment above yours). It is a craft that needs time, attention and honing. Keep working on it and what you are doing is developing your talent. :)

risatungol from Philippines on November 07, 2010:

Very nice short story! impeccable use of words... I hope i can write like that :) love it!

Jed Fisher from Oklahoma on November 07, 2010:

Overall a great story and I enjoyed reading it, thank you. I do feel the need to help with some constructive critisim, however. The first sentence limits the story too soon and could be more effective if it were moved to be the last sentence of the story instead. Again, thank you for a great story.

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on November 06, 2010:

Hahahahaha That's wonderful Travel! You made my day.

Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for your comments. :) Hope you read more of my work. I'll do the same for yours.

TravelinAsia from Thailand/Southeast Asia on November 06, 2010:

Great writing .. very poetic! I am just wondering if you wrote the story about me?

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on October 29, 2010:

Hi Kim, nice to see you here. :) I understand your busy schedule. I feel the same way. Thanks so much for the compliment. I appreciate it. I'll be waiting for your next chapter. Keep up the good work.

kaltopsyd from Trinidad originally, but now in the USA on October 29, 2010:

Oooh! I wish I had the ability to write like this. All my "short stories" end up as mini novels. I'm trying to control myself. :D haha. I love this flash fiction story. It was quite impressive to me actually.

I wish I had more time to read the Hubs of great writers such as yourself. But now I have classes again. :( I can't wait for the summer to catch up on your writings! :) Great job! Rated up and awesome!

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on October 25, 2010:

Hi Travel and De Greek--Glad you had the chance to stop by. Thanks for the comments. It was an interesting writing exercise to say the least. :) Always a story behind the story, eh?

De Greek from UK on October 25, 2010:

Very nice story :-)

travelespresso from Somewhere in this exciting world. on October 25, 2010:

You have "told" this story with such finesse and passion. I love it.

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on October 23, 2010:

Thanks Pam. :) How are you? Still busy pumping out hubs I see. I'm getting moved to day shift in about 2 wks. I'm looking forward to that.

Pamela Oglesby from Sunny Florida on October 23, 2010:

Great description of the gambler and his action. You definitely need to continue writing.

Denise Handlon (author) from North Carolina on October 23, 2010:

Thanks for reading the piece, everyone. The hubpages audience was the first exposure of this story. I appreciate all of the feedback.

@Linda-Oh, is that what that short piece is called? LOL 'Flash' Fiction...or is it named that b/c it is done 'on the spot'? I'm so new to this I am wide open to learning more about the craft.

@ankigarg-hello, nice to meet you. Thank you :)

@Krissy-Wow, thanks for commenting. Hugs to you.

@Travel--you were probably two steps ahead of me when I finished it in the early morning. I almost forgot about that song (although I love K.R and actually have a story of meeting him when I was 14 and getting his autograph on my arm!) I was attempting to squeeze the word count out and make the hub a little more interesting other than leaving just the short story. Thanks for your encouragement.

Ireno Alcala from Bicol, Philippines on October 23, 2010:

More stories, please!!! When I saw the HP alert on my e-mail regarding your hub, I immediately imagined that you'll include the video of Kenny Roger's the gambler. My guess is right^-^. Loved the song!

Krissy Parker on October 23, 2010:

I liked it! Now you have me wanting to read more -- hope he wins!

ankigarg87 on October 23, 2010:

Nice story !

Linda Jo Martin from Klamath River Valley, Northern California on October 23, 2010:

Flash fiction! I LOVE flash fiction and have written some myself. You give an excellent description of your gambler... I can see him through reading about his habits.

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