This is a story when Mom played cards:
“Split these two decks and shuffle this half,” Mom faced me, solid seventy-four-year-old figure, both elbows bent, both hands moving and shuffling fifty four cards. Her long gray hair was twisted messily into a ponytail clipped up on the back of her head. She’s worn the same Indian print skirt for three days.
“The dirt won’t show….Twenty for you, I like to see you count them in fives and turn the last one over.” Once Mom got going with “Spite and Malice”, the cards controlled the moments.
I know she’s going to whip me and I’ll owe her money. Oh, the pain…Where’s my wallet? ? We’ll play for ten cents a card. How does she know I have the two? There are 110 cards here and she’s only got six in her hand.
“Hot shit!” Mom pulled a run from out of those six cards faster than I can fan my cards out neatly. I watch her conjure up a need.
“Come on, four…” She picks her card up off the deck.
“See that four?” It’s a four, luck or what? Mom slapped down her cards.
“Sorry about that.” She gave me that look as she sat among random stacks of paper on her dining room table that she’s moved from a brown paper bag time and again, using half a paper towel to blow her nose, whipped me with her logical mind. I was defenseless. As she snapped down her Ace, Mom looks up at me.
“We didn’t play cards when you were little, did we? I worked and on weekends, you were with friends.
I shrugged, reached for my wallet, pulled out 65 cents from the coin section, placed it in the silver chalice where she held all the winnings.
“Give it time.” She shuffled the deck and then spread them on the tabletop.
“Help me mix them up. This game is so well engineered. We can play it all day and not get tired.”
I watched her gather up the cards from the table and put them back in their clear plastic bed. She used her best cards for me.