PMM’s Birthday Party! – A Deck Of Cards by Melanie Browne

I light a cigarette and look under the bed for my playing cards. I always find them stashed away in unusual places. I think Tommy must be hiding them as some kind of game. I find them and lie across the lonely bed, spreading the cards out to look at them.

On the back of each card,an Indian in a canoe paddles across the river, the moonlight Illuminating his lone feather.

Tommy wants me to get in on the deal he’s got going. Wants me in on the action.

He wants me to distract a roomful of men while he grabs the cash and disappears.

I don’t know though, it sounds dangerous. He brought me a revolver that once belonged to Emiliano Zapata. Maybe it belonged to his second cousin. I don’t know. Tommy says it was expensive.

He says he’s going to teach me how to shoot it. I told him I was afraid of guns. He told me I would soon get over that fear.

I get lost looking at the cards and feel myself drifting in the canoe along with the Indian when I suddenly hear Tommy turn his key in the lock . He sets his bag by the front door.

“Baby,” he says.

He looks at me for a minute.

“Get Dressed,” he commands.

I pull on a short skirt and cleavage -baring top. I slip into a pair of heels and grab my purse.

Tommy doesn’t know I brought along the revolver, or that it’s loaded. After a short drive we pull into the dark parking lot of a seedy looking apartment complex. We walk up a flight of stairs and

Tommy knocks on the door. After about 10 minutes the door cracks open and I see an older man yell something to the other people inside .He lets us in. The apartment is crowded and smoke is everywhere. There are about 7 card tables, with men sitting in lawn chairs and other mismatched furniture. One table is in the kitchen. There are trays of chicken Tamales and beans and rice. Tommy drags me into the kitchen.

He takes out a cigarette and hands it to me, and several men reach over to light it. Tommy seems pleased. There are no extra chairs so Tommy kneels down next to a man dealing cards.

“Socialize, baby,” he tells me. I look around at strange faces and I’m not quite sure what Tommy means by socialize, so I walk down the hall to try to locate the bathroom. I reapply my lipstick and pull my blouse a little lower. I hear the men laughing. I walk back to the kitchen and one of the men hands me a beer so I nurse my beer for a while waiting for Tommy to give me some kind of a signal for whatever the hell it is I’m supposed to do. I watch the men lay their hands down. Tommy has a lousy hand. He sees me watching him and darts his eyes towards the other room. I walk into the main room slowly. I swivel my hips. Some of the men are distracted. I smile.

I hear Tommy scream.

A big guy standing closest to the door blocks it with his arms. I pull the revolver out of my handbag as several of the men also pull weapons from their clothes. I point the Zapata revolver at the big guys face and he opens the door as the sound of gunshots ring in my ears. I run as fast as I can towards the highway and when I think I am safe I walk until I reach a convenience store. I call a friend to pick me up and she drops me back at my place. I don’t tell her about Tommy. I pick up my cards and start to lay them across the bedspread again. I fall asleep and me and The Indian paddle upriver, the moon still high in the night sky.

Melanie BrowneCo-editor of Leaf Garden press
Heaven is a Giant Pawn Shop/ Poems by Melanie Browne

& has a new mag The Literary Burlesque:

3 thoughts on “PMM’s Birthday Party! – A Deck Of Cards by Melanie Browne”

  1. Tommy’s idea was perhaps not the wisest. Definitely lose-lose type situation. She should truly count her blessings, but probably shouldn’t wait up for Tommy… Enjoyed this–lots of suspense–great buildup.

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