• Meghan Douglass

The Poker Game

“Damn, you win again.”

The room was filled with a cloud of cigar smoke making the already scorching air more stifling. He preferred the atmosphere at home games but the hot wings here were devilishly good. The walls were painted a deep red, well he hoped it was paint, and the smell of burnt toast pervaded the area, although, he suspected it wasn’t toast he could smell.

Satan’s gravelly laughter grated on God’s nerves. It had been a bad month. He’d lost far too many souls to the underworld and there would be hell to pay with Saint Peter if he didn’t come back with a win.

It had become so challenging over the years to judge who deserved to go to Hell or who earned a place in Heaven. Human behaviour wasn’t as black and white as God had believed it would be when he designed the system, and the shades of grey made it all so confusing.

They had tried to use a weighted scoring system for everyone’s actions throughout their lifetime, but it had been so subjective, and they never agreed. In the end, the poker games had seemed the fairest way to go.

Once a week they played poker for the preceding week's souls. Not everyone had thought it was a good idea, and there were a few obvious blunders. Having Hitler wandering around in Heaven and Mother Theresa being tortured for eternity in the fiery depths of Hell wasn’t a great look for God. It was far from a perfect system, but it gave him something to do on a Friday night.

“Just one more round, give me a chance to win back a few.” God pleaded with his oldest friend.

“OK one more round, but Jesus Christ man, you’ll have to up your game.” At the jest, he was rocked with another wave of laughter while God rolled his eyes and began to deal.

Both stared at the cards in their hands as the devil’s minions wandered in and out. One poured out the last of the whisky from the carafe they had shared, and another plate of hot wings was served. Both sinful treats God could never get his hands on in Heaven.

“Ace high, full house.” God lay down his cards, ready to scoop up some chips and win back a little of his dignity.

“Not so fast, royal flush.” Satan gloated back and with one sweeping gesture cleared the table.

“You’re not cheating, are you?”

“I’m shocked you would even suggest such a thing.” Satan whipped back with a look of mock hurt on his face. He shifted the cards he’d stuck under the table. It wasn’t cheating in his eyes, just levelling the playing field a little, he was playing The God Almighty after all.

“Hmmm, OK… Same time next week at my place?”

“Sure thing, but can you get someone different for the catering? If I have to suffer through more tea cake and lemonade, I’ll scream.”

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