Logic and AJ walked into their apartment. The lights were already on, illuminating the room in which they stood. On their right was a small kitchen, complete with a microwave and oven. Several empty packs of popcorn, curry and other ready meals littered the stained countertop. A white fridge stood next to the dishwasher, humming gently. The only other noise came from the television at the other end of the room, which was on and showing an episode of 'South Park'.
A red dingo was lying sprawled across the sofa, one arm behind his head, the other dangling over the sofa. He was shirtless, and wore green combat shorts, which reached to, just above his knees. The soft white fur on his chest fluttered a little with each huge snore that came from the long, wiry muzzle. All the lights were off, except for the light of the television, and the slow, blinking light of the fridge. A couple more empty packs of curry were lying scattered on the small table between the sofa and the television.
Logic and AJ looked at each other, and grinned. Logic reached out a hand, and flicked the light switch. The room was flooded with bright light, and the dingo woke with a yelp, falling off the sofa and landing in a heap on the stained carpet. Logic and AJ both burst out laughing as the dingo straightened up, brushing himself off.
'Very funny, guys. So how'd it go?'
Logic pulled the roll of banknotes out of his pocket.
'Looks like we have a roof over our heads for another month, guys. Plus, with an extra three hundred quid, we're in pocket for the first time in about half a year.'
The dingo whooped.
'Excellent! I reckon this calls for a celebration, don't you?'
Grinning, AJ produced the bottles that the barman had given them, and laid them on the table.
'I think I know a way we can celebrate, courtesy of our mate, the pervert barman. It really couldn't have happened to a nicer bloke, could it?'
'And with the barman's cash in his pocket, Logic should be able to woo the enchanting vixens of his dreams.'
Logic smiled wearily. He knew that this had been coming.
'I guess I can't hide anything from you, can I Diago?'
'I'm glad it's that way, or I might find clearing you out every time we play poker just a little more difficult.'
Everyone laughed. AJ picked up a beer and went over to one of the kitchen drawers to look for a bottle-opener.
'Talking of poker, how about a celebratory game over a beer?' He said, nose deep in a drawer.
Logic picked up a bottle.
'I'll drink to that, but can't I just give my cash to Diago and play for fun? It'd save me some time, and the mental torture of having to watch my money getting slowly taken off me.'
Diago grabbed a beer.
'Sorry mate, I guess you'll just have to get better at poker. You were unlucky that last round. If I hadn't got that flush on the river, you'd have beaten me hands down. Your luck's got to change sometime, right?'
'You're going to take everything I own eventually. Strange way to repay two guys who give you a place to sleep, stealing their life savings.'
AJ, having finally located the bottle opener, had already got stuck into his beer. He walked back over to the table and handed the utensil round. When all the bottles were open, the three touched their bottles together in a toast, and took a swig. As soon as the formalities were over, Diago left the room to fetch the poker set. Suddenly, AJ grabbed Logic's shoulder.
'Mate, I've just thought of something. Where are we supposed to get our drinks now? I mean, it's not like you're going to be welcomed back to the bar even before he realises you stitched him up, is it?'
Logic smiled, and patted his friend's arm.
'Don't worry; I've already worked that out. I found a great new place; you'll love it. I'll take you there tomorrow if you want.'
Diago returned with the chips and cards, and laid them on the table. Each took a thousand points worth of chips, and AJ dealt the first hands.
'So how did it actually go? I mean, how did you do it?' Diago asked as he inspected his cards. Logic toyed with his chips for a while before answering.
'It went well. I don't think he realized who we actually were, because of the dye and the face paint.'
'Yeah, I know. You two look like completely different people, and not just because of the fact that you've never been to a rave in your life, Logic, and for AJ to be a nerdy, socially awkward teenager, he would have to have a life transplant. The only reason I knew it was you was because I don't know too many other people who would deliberately wake me up like that, and then think it was funny.'
AJ drummed his fingers on his cards impatiently.
'Are either of you going to play, or are you just going to talk about how the con went? I'm getting old here.'
'I think we can do both, can't we? Don't worry; I'll let you tell Diago all about your bit and how great you were in a minute. Diago, it's your move.'
Diago threw a couple of chips into the middle, signifying that he was calling, and then turned to Logic again.
'So, what happened once you got in? What did you say to him?'
Logic mimicked Diago's move, then resumed the conversation.
'I told him there was a party going on, and asked for the beers. Once he asked for the money, I pretended to have left my wallet behind and asked him if I could take the beers and go and get it. When he refused, I left the iPod with him. I left the bar and left the beers outside. After we waited for about five minutes, AJ walked in. How exactly did that go, AJ?'
'I went in and stood by the counter until he came to serve me. He'd left the iPod on the counter, so I moved closer to it and pretended to be interested in it. When he came over, I asked him if I could pick it up. He said yes, so I picked it up, fiddled with it a bit, switched it on and off, and then asked him how much he wanted for it. He looked a bit surprised, and then said it wasn't his. I told him that it was a limited edition model, and that I'd pay over two thousand for it. I swear, he nearly pissed himself when I told him, and it wasn't exactly hard to tell what he was thinking. I left him the number, told him to tell you to give me a call, then turned round and walked out.'
AJ tossed a couple of chips into the middle and then leaned back in his chair.
'Your move again, Logic. Tell us how you took his money.'
Logic rapped the table with his fist, and then continued the story.
'I waited for a bit after AJ had left, and then I went back in. I took a twenty out of my pocket and put it on the counter, but he wasn't interested, and gave it back to me. I asked for the iPod back, and he then asked me how much I wanted for the iPod. He was so focused on the two thousand; he didn't seem to care about the beers at all. He just kept staring at the iPod in my hand, and he was breathing really quickly too. His breath absolutely stank; it was all I could do not to gag. He offered me four hundred, but I pushed him up to seven. Once we agreed a price, he cleared himself out and gave me the money. I gave him the fifty quid cheapo we found on eBay, and walked right out of the door!'
Both the two others laughed, but stopped quickly as the floor beneath them shook.
'Quiet down up there! Honestly, kids these days...'
The cockroach continued rambling on, firstly about how teenagers these days were like feral beasts, drinking and gambling their life away, then about how morally corrupt society was, then about how much better things were in her day. They ignored her for the most part, though they waited for a while before continuing, playing silently. Logic thought about what the old lady was saying, and tried not to pay to much attention to it, thinking about just how much of it was actually true.
Pretty soon, it was the end of the first hand, and all that was left was the last round of betting and the showdown. In the middle of the table were two sevens, an eight, an ace and a king. Logic had a king and a three, and was confident that AJ didn't have anything better. AJ was trying to bluff all he could, but there was a droop to his ears which Logic had known long enough to be a tell-tale sign that he had a poor hand. Diago, however, was as still as a statue, with only his eyes moving as he scanned his two opponents. Logic had no idea what he had, choosing instead to look at his pile of chips instead of meeting that steely, penetrating gaze. Eventually, Logic made a move.
He decided to check, once again rapping his knuckles on the table.
Diago did likewise, his face emotionless as he turned to AJ, in order to see what he did.
AJ took a long time to decide. He checked his cards repeatedly, looking at the pile of three hundred chips in the middle of the table. After he had glanced at his cards for the fourth time, and had looked at both Logic and Diago (taking care to avoid Diago's eyes), he reached down, and pushed all of his remaining chips into the middle of the table.
Inside, Logic was stunned. He was sure that he had read AJ correctly, but he had never known him to make such a bold move before. He stole a glance at Diago, trying to gauge his reaction, but he might as well have tried to outstare the single king, which lay facedown on the table in front of him.
'Logic, I know I'm a handsome guy, but can you ogle me some other time? I'm trying to play a game of poker here.'
Logic started and tried to think. He had a two pair, which was usually a decent hand but when you counted the pair in the middle, really wasn't that good. If AJ had anything better than a king pair, he was done for. If he went all in now, he would be risking everything. He picked up his cards and threw them into the middle of the table.
'Screw it, I fold.'
All eyes were now on Diago, as he checked his cards, and then moved his entire pile into the middle as well.
'All in. Show me what you've got, AJ.'
As soon as Diago had moved his chips into the middle, even Logic had seen the change in AJ's mood. From steely-eyed determination and reckless confidence, he suddenly looked unsure, and checked his cards again before he laid them on the table. He had a pair of eights.
'Full house. Beat that, Diago' he said as he folded his arms, and fixed his eyes on Diago's cards. Diago took some time to respond, before he reached over with one hand, and flipped both of his cards over.
He had a pair of aces.
'Full house, AJ. Looks like you're out.'
AJ stared at Diago's hand for what seemed like a couple of minutes, then flung his hand into the middle, stood up angrily, grabbed a beer and stalked off into the next room, a single middle finger raised over his shoulder communicating that he was not altogether happy with Diago's good luck. Logic thought of going to talk to AJ, but turned to Diago as the dingo started to take his chips and shuffle for the next hand. Diago was still completely emotionless, as though he was in a trance, the sort of trance which only gambling with cards could inspire in him. Diago slid two cards across the table to Logic, and then checked his own.