Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 663
Keith has spent months mastering the game of poker. He goes home periodically for three or four days—for fatherhood, food, sex, and love—and is now making money with some consistency. Although he still feels the need to go back to his wife and son, Keith is at home in a casino. He does not study his fellow players and their “tells,” as most do; instead, he studies the cards. His personal habits are strict: he drinks very little alcohol, he only allows himself five hours of sleep each night, and he does not smoke the cigars he once enjoyed. When he travels, Keith always looks around him to see who might pose a threat.
At one tournament, Keith discovers Terry Chang is also now playing poker for a living. They meet standing in line for a tourney; Terry had spotted Keith on the circuit a week earlier. They talk about this life. Terry likes the fact that the casinos all know him and he is on their computers. Keith is not so sure. After they talk, each of them heads to his own table with no plans to meet. “Later” is an elusive term.
In New York, Lianne and Justin live their lives. Lianne wants the good pen she knows they used to have in the house, but Justin claims he has not seen it. Lianne teases that she may go to Paris with Keith soon, but her son knows she will never go.
Terry and Keith meet again by chance and discuss the high-stakes poker games soon to be held in Dallas and Phoenix. They will be playing five-card draw and five-card stud, their old games. Terry has a lighted cigarette in a nearby ashtray; he never used to smoke. In isolated moments, he is the same man who used to meet in Keith’s apartment. While Terry Chang was better at cards, he had been one of them and yet not one of them. Terry is planning to attend another high-stakes game in Los Angeles, but Keith is reasonably certain that is not the right environment for him. Terry thinks Rumsey used to be the lone cigarette smoker of the group, but Keith said Rumsey smoked cigars. Terry Chang seems loose and carefree, but he is “inflexibly in this life.”
On the day of the happening, Terry was working in midtown but hates to tell people that because it sounds like nothing. Terry Chang heard that after the towers collapsed, Rumsey’s mother took a shoe and a razor from her son’s apartment...
(The entire section contains 663 words.)
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