Friday , April 12 2024
When Vic lost another match and was now down $500, he began to make his move.

Flash Fiction: Backgammon

71e4IR46dWL._SL1010_The backgammon match was going just as Vic wanted. He’d played badly and was down $400. His opponent’s face was full of laughter, disbelief, and greed. Vic had made a bunch of dumb mistakes and was doing his best acting in months of the “Good grief” and“What was I thinking”? variety.

Sam, his opponent, was so brimming with self confidence that he’d even stopped Vic from making a few mistakes in the game. When Vic lost another match and was now down $500, he began to make his move. Sam, looking guilty about taking $500 from someone so inept, offered to let Vic play double or nothing.

Vic said he’d thinking about it while going to get ginger ale, explaining he was getting a stomachache and was embarrassed since clearly he was out of his element. At the bar he moved a few things around in his pockets

Back at the table, Vic opened his wallet “accidentally” too wide, letting Sam get a peak of all the cash in there.

Vic asked if Sam believes in luck. “Yes,” Sam said.

“I’m going to flip a coin and if it’s heads than I’ll play for $1,000,” he paused as he drank his soda, clearly showing this possibility made him uncomfortable as all that money was for his rent. “If it’s tails I play double or nothing.”

It was tails. Vic groaned then put the coin back in his pocket. The trick now was not to overdo it, not to show that he was intentionally bad before.

Instead, he spoke repeatedly of luck.“Wow, that’s just the dice I hoped for,” and “Oh, man, you’re getting all the bad dice I had before.”

Indeed, he was now giddy – “I’m now winning this game just because I’m getting lucky.”

A few moves into the game he turned the doubling cube at a point where he knew his opponent would take it. The opponent then redoubled and Vic groaned as the game had just went from $1,000 to $2,000 due to Vic’s doubling then $4,000 with Sam’s move. Vic, in between moves, counted and recounted his money and asked if he could make a phone call to ensure he had money lined up if he didn’t win. Sam agreed.

Vic’s game improved which he credited to lots of good luck saying it made up for all “bad luck” the first few games. He tried and succeeded to backgammon his opponent. Sam was in shock and disbelief.

Worried Sam might chicken out, Vic kept saying things like “Lady Luck has been good to me tonight,” and “I’ve never actually gotten a backgammon before – how much is it worth?”

Sam explained a backgammon triples the value of the game which, Sam sighed, means the game just went from $4,000 to $12,000.

Vic apologized. He offered to let Sam play double or nothing. By now it was Sam calling friends to line up the money to pay.

After they each showed each other they had $12,000 available to pay via PayPal, they played their final game. Once again Sam started out well, but Vic doubled him saying “I’m feeling lucky” and then redoubled him again. The game was now worth $48,000.

Vic chose not to attempt a backgammon this game not because it was impossible but because he didn’t want to appear so suspicious as to stop the transfer of money. Instead he just played for the gammon – doubling the value of the game – and got it. He kept repeating he was getting so lucky with the dice and just happened to be guessing where to put the pieces.

He won and said he needed to leave by midnight to get to his unspecified other job which was, of course, non-existent. This was just a way to get Sam to go ahead and, shaking his head, transfer the total amount of the two games into Vic’s PayPal account.

As Sam staggered to the bar having had one too many drinks – two of which Vic had bought Sam to thank him for helping him learn the game – Vic exited the place and left a nice tip.

Walking away Vic returned the coin –heads on both sides – into a bag he kept in his pocket, along with his special trick dice which he’d only used for five moves, with Sam not noticing because he was more focused on ordering an alcoholic drink to celebrate his good luck.

As he walked Vic deleted the voicemail from when he’d called himself mid-game.

Smiling he drove to his condo, already well paid off, and planned to comb the Internet for other suckers. Who needs a regular job when one can pull off stunts like this? He decided next time he’d call himself Bill or Sam.

Vic sang his version of Kenny Rogers’ classic,

“You’ve got to know when to roll ’em
Know when to roll ’em
Know when to walk away
Know when to run
You never count your money
When you’re sittin’ at the table
There’ll be time enough for countin’
When the game’s done.”

About Scott Butki

Scott Butki was a newspaper reporter for more than 10 years before making a career change into education... then into special education. He has been working in mental health for the last ten years. He lives in Austin. He reads at least 50 books a year and has about 15 author interviews each year and, yes, unlike tv hosts he actually reads each one. He is an in-house media critic, a recovering Tetris addict and a proud uncle. He has written articles on practically all topics from zoos to apples and almost everything in between.

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