Thursday, May 6, 2010

Bullpen Poker Night

"Johannes Hieronymus Kapsberger."

"Come again?" said Francisco Rodriguez.

"That's who just played that lute piece. 'Tocatta number 7,'" said Pedro Feliciano. It was bullpen poker night and Feliciano was hosting on floor 25 of the apartment building that towered over Brooklyn Heights. Feliciano's great and private passion was to turn the music up so loudly that it completely filled the room- so that if you walked, you would feel as if you were carving a path through it. But mostly Feliciano would sit in his large royal purple chair- all his furniture was purple- and look out his window while Arturo Toscanini, Anton Bruckner, Niccolo Piccinni or Luigi Boccherini enveloped him.

"Do you have any, like, hip-hop?" asked Tobi Stoner.

"Yes," said Feliciano, but he didn't put it on, or do anything but pour everyone more wine. Hisanori Takahashi dealt the next hand. He had a peculiar pause in between the moment he lifted the next card off the deck and the toss to its recipient. Everyone was mesmerized by this. All conversation stopped while he dealt. Stoner couldn't help thinking that he was reconsidering each card he dealt, while Feliciano felt the motion went perfectly with the staccato of of the piece that was playing. The silence lasted through the next round of betting, as folds, calls, and even a raise were conducted wordlessly.

The flop, with its three cards and three hitched dealings brought a new layer of silence. Feliciano staved off tears. More bets, folds, raises, still no words the entire hand, the only noise coming from the gentle whir of the refrigerator and an almost violent Bach fugue.

When the river dropped, the hand was down to Takahashi, Raul Valdes and Jenrry Mejia.

"What do you guys think happens when you die?" Not only were these the first words of the hand, they were the first words Jenrry Mejia had spoken all night.

Takahashi burst into fits of laughter, which would have sent him tumbling out of his chair had Rodriguez not saved him.

"The kid's just asking a question," said K-Rod.

"I know," said Takahashi. "I laugh because I have been there."

At that moment there was a knock on the door. The bullpen staff looked at each other ominously as Feliciano went to get the door.

"Special delivery," came a voice from the door.

"We haven't ordered anything," said Feliciano, and despite the wishes of everyone at the table. Fear sunk hard like a thick mustard. That could be anyone behind the door. And what Jenrry had just said about... and how Hisanori had responded...

"Really, cause I've got CUPCAKES!"

"It's Dan, Dan Warthen!" called Feliciano.

Everyone at the table broke into relived giggles.

"You've gotta try these," said Warthen, bringing a big box of them to the table. Barajas gave me one and they are just WOW! They're from the place on Court."

Levity and merriment ensued. K-Rod pretended to tackle Warthen, Takahashi did a dance where he bounced from one foot to the other while waving his arms around, Feliciano put on hip-hop, Tobi invoked his last name.

After a long while, they remembered the game.

"Where were we?" asked Manny Acosta.

"It was my bet," said Valdes. "It was down to me, Hisa and Jen."

"What happened to the rest of us?" said K-Rod.

"Jerry already used you. You're done!" shouted Takahashi. Everyone laughed. No one remembered the exchange that happened just before Warthen came in, but the fact that it had happened made them looser and more crazed for the rest of the night.

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