Monday, October 5, 2015

Pokergeist! You've Never Met a Ghost Like This Created by Michael Phillip Cash

 Clutch shifted in his seat, his hemorrhoids making their presence known. They burned his ass more than the cocky kid sitting opposite him. He looked over to his opponent who was sunk low in his seat, his face swallowed by the gray hoodie he wore. Adam "The Ant" Antonowski, boy wonder, who rose from the ranks of online card games, had beaten out a seemingly impossible one hundred sixty-five thousand players to earn a coveted seat at the International Series of Poker. His pimply face peeked out from under oversized sunglasses. Clutch sneered contemptuously at him. They let everybody play today. The kid did look bug-eyed with those enormous glasses. Adam curled his hands protectively over his cards, his cards, his bitten-down fingernails repulsive.
"Rookie," Clutch muttered under his breath, his lips barely moving.
"Looks like Clutch Henderson is praying, folks," Kevin Franklyn said into his mike from where he sat in a small room watching the game. He was a former champion turned seasoned sportscaster on the poker circuit...
Stu James shook his head. "Clutch could be at his last prayers; this kid is the terminator..."
"Let's see if Clutch can exterminate the Ant," Kevin replied...

The Ant glanced out at the stark light in the picture windows. Heat shimmered in the desert, making the horizon look smeared and indistinct. The Strip was jammed already, a long line of red taillights filled the road as cars made their way down Las Vegan Boulevard.
The ants go marching one by one...Ant hummed the nursery song in his head, lost in the moment...
"How does it feel to rise from relative obscurity and find yourself face-to-face with the one and only Clutch Henderson?"
"Look, this story is about me, right?" The Ant jabbed his finger into Stu's face. "Not him. I'm the greatest player. I'm gonna create my own legacy, and it's gonna be tonight."

Kevin struggled to get down on his knees. "Clutch...Clutch." He shook the old man's shoulder. His face drained of color. "Get an ambulance," he screamed. He looked closely at Clutch. "Help..." he said sadly, knowing it was too late for an ambulance. They needed a hearse.



The 2015 New York Screenplay Contest Winner
Grand Prize - "Pokergeist” written by Michael Phillip Cash for Comedy

By Michael Phillip Cash

No, he wanted to scream, but his own
voice seemed foreign, the words
coming out jumbled and thick. No,
my dream died.
He watched the room
recede, the world strangely quiet,
as the floor came up to meet this chin.
The Ant turned to see the older man
fall. Oh, he thought as he heard
Clutch's head connect with the floor.
That's gotta hurt.He turned to his adoring fans and
pumped his fist into the air, the
bracelet gripped in his clenched hand.
It had been at last year's International Series of Poker when Clutch Henderson had been close, but not good enough to clutch the win. It would have been a great letdown for him after all his years of experience, to have a new on-line kid taking the winning bracelet that was supposed to have been his...  Would have been, but he died there just after they had announced Ant as the winner...

A year later, another man was looking to make his mark in poker--at least enough to make decent money to live on...  Telly Martin had worked at the casino, but it had been bought by another firm and he was out of a job. Telly and Gretchen were living together at the time, but they'd had to move into a cheap motel until he could get back on his feet...

Gretchen was taking as many shifts at the bar where she worked, but she had a boss who was interested in her performing at a private party and he wasn't taking a no for an answer...

But when Telly talked about trying it one more time--maybe even entering the series, Gretchen was goodhearted enough to tell him to try it for a month...then he could apply to drive a cab at least... They had used their only savings and he started to play, mostly losing more than he won. In fact some of the regulars started teasing and giving him a hard time...
Telly gathered up the remainder of his chips, his face flush with embarrassment. "I'm glad I provided you all with an evening's entertainment," he mumbled. He looked around the table at their wizened faces. Most had skin so tough it looked like his old baseball mitt buried in the closet at home. Half of them smoked, the other half drank, and who knew what the hell the zombie woman did in her spare time. Did he really want to do this?
"Sorry if I interrupted the flow of the game," he apologized.
"A word of advice," Cigar Chomper called out in a grizzled voice.
"Yes?" Telly paused expectantly, touched that the man would help him out.
The old buy cleared his throat, the table stilled, and he sang, "You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em..." The table erupted in glee at his rendition of the Kenny Rogers classic, and even Tell chuckled, laughing at both them and himself.
"Oh, right, thanks a lot." He stuffed the chips into his pocket and waved farewell, smiling sheepishly. "I'll keep that in mind..."

Telly stood outside the Bellagio, the soaring music matching the movement of the fountains. Spouts of water shot up with each rich note sung by Andrea Bocello, and he wondered, too, if it was indeed time for him to say good-bye. He was miserable at this game...
That twenty was his stake for a game tomorrow. He was done, finito, kaput. Back to the grind. First thing tomorrow, he's have to start looking for a job. He'd tried and failed. It was time to return to reality. It's time for daydreaming to go back, where it came from--your head, he thought ruefully.

But while Telly was telling himself to get over his dream, there was somebody else there who was strolling down The Strip...and was watching Telly. He, too, was a man--the spirit of Clutch Henderson-- who'd had a dream but he was not yet ready to give it up!

And it was there, by the Bellagio fountains, that it happened...two dreams on one penny...Telly and Clutch became partners in their dreams...
He pushed his hands deeper into his pockets and felt the hard surface of a coin. It was a penny. That was it, his last penny. He laughed ironically. A chill danced up his spine, and a cool current of air enveloped him.
Raising the coin, he considered Abraham Lincoln's face. Honest Abe. Honest Telly. What had being honest ever done for him? Between you and me, Abe, being honest didn't work out too well for you either.
He flipped the coin high so that it spiraled in the air above him. "I just want to win something. Anything. I don't want to be a loser anymore."
The music muted, and all Clutch heard were Telly's mumbled words. Telly's wish intruded into his thoughts. He looked at the dude's vomit-covered shoes and then glanced balefully at his own. He felt something for this loser, as if Brittney's vomit connected them in some way.
Clutch watched the coin fly and then reached out to grab the penny in midair. The wish crystallized in the air, creating an electrical current between them. Clutch's heart expanded. He didn't want to be a loser either. They were attached by more than just vomit, he realized with a smile. He pushed the coin to fly high and wide, arcing over the tall shooting water. "Truth is, I want one more shot at the bracelet?" he shouted...

I'm loving the humorous undertones to Cash's latest books (Remember Witch's Protection Program?!!!) There is not too much, nor too little...and it's always relevant to the story itself as opposed to gratuitous comedy which can be boring when overdone. This overview is just enough to give you a thirst for the story, but, believe me, there is a full family drama waiting for readers with each main character having family issues to contend with, mostly about addiction to cards, and need for money! Two things that seem to go together quite often.

The "heavenly" component is mainly about Clutch, who needs to learn his life needs to be realized, first, and then, forgiven, before he can cross over. Telly is not happy to have been caught up in a relationship with Clutch, yet as the novel moves forward, there are issues addressed for family members for both of these men...

Especially within Cash's surprise ending that could never be anticipated! Very cool! I really, really enjoyed this one! I believe you will too! Check it out...


Born and raised on Long Island, Michael has always had a fascination with horror writing and found footage films. He wanted to incorporate both with his debut novel, Brood X. Earning a degree in English and an MBA, he has worked various jobs before settling into being a full-time author. He currently resides on Long Island with his wife and children.

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