Authors: Sarah Price
GYPSY IN BLACK
Copyright © 2011 by
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Chapter Twenty Two
The silver coin clattered against the
, the metallic sound hollow in the silence
. It spun several
times before hitting the tin mug. With a sharp clack, the coin slid
backwards, resting in the center of the table. The old gypsy man
, his dark eyes gleaming in the orange glow of the lanterns,
stared intently at the Irishman seated across the table from him. The gypsy's
skin stretched tightly across his face with deep wrinkles under his eyes
He had seen many seasons in the sun, his face showing the hardship of the years traveling in all types of weather. But it was his eyes that gleamed, displaying
of many years of
hard travel filled with
He tapped a crooked finger
on the top
of his dirty and ripped playing
cards. Once, twice. Finally, he laid the cards face d
own on the dry, oak table as he
leaned back in his chair. It cre
aked under his weight.
He wasn’t a large man but the chair felt the weight of his years.
his hands behind his neck, the gyps
y tilted his head to the side.
A soft sucking sound escaped his parched l
ips. His mischievous
eyes never left the Irishman's face.
The Irishman, chewing on the
end of a soggy cigar, looked up
every so often.
His face was stark white and his
Taking the cigar
out of his mouth, the Irishman
exhaled a grey cloud of smoke.
glanced at the dark skinned
gypsy before diverting his eyes
again as t
he smoke cleared, th
e pungent odor of stale tobacco
staining the air. The Ir
ishman, oblivious to the smell,
rearranged his cards once, twice, then back again. With a pale,
hand, he reached for
the tin mug next to his elbow.
The yellow liquid poured ef
fortlessly into his mouth as he raised
the mug. Biting back the bitter
taste of the ale, the pale man
set the mug back down on the tab
le with a loud thud. He raised
his eyes again, meeting the c
oal black ones
ed back with a deep intensity that even her, the seasoned Irishman, felt was intimidating.
The gypsy waited until the I
rishman was once again absorbed
in his cards before slamming the
legs of his chair on the dusty
in the silence. All eyes fell upon his face but the gypsy pretended not to notice. It was a
act on his part.
and thick with a crisp, foreign
accent, his voice startled the Irishman. The old gypsy leaned
brushing against his face.
to the Irishman
playing the game or ought I to
the cards that grace your hand
Several of the younger
gypsies hovering near the table
chuckled out loud, one patting t
he older gypsy's shoulder.
you wish to continue?
The Irishman frowned. Al
ready he had lost so much. Too
much. Hesitating, the Irishm
an knew he had no choice but to
continue. He had to win back wha
t he had lost. Reluctantly, he
tossed his last coin beside the silver coin the gypsy
thrown on the table. The Irish
man shook his head, waiting for
the darker man to spread his car
like on the table. Four
tens stared up for the crowd ar
ound the gypsy to cheer and the
Irishman to curse. Damn gyps
ies, he thought. Disgusted, he
threw his cards onto the table, s
tanding up as he spoke with his
Aye, done wiped m
e out. I du
n't know how you do
The crowd separated, letting the Irishman walk behind the bar, refilling his tin mug
. Resting his hand on the co
Irishman met the old gypsy's victorious gaze.
The gypsy raised one eyebr
ow, feigning pity for the Irish
Gadjo, you must
have something more. Such luck
cannot stay so poor.
Two of the
taller gypsies leaning against
as his words
. The older g
ypsy seated at the table raised
his hand to silence them. The ro
om was immediately still as the
gypsy stood, his hand resting on the back of his chair. Not once
did his eyes tear away from the Irish tavern owner's.
He smiled out of the
corner of his eye, glancing at
a younger gypsy standing nearby.
The Irishman glanced at the
large pile of silver coins and
paper bills on the corner of the
table. Over a hundred dollars,
he thought with a grimace. Three
months earnings. As he raised
the mug to his mouth, he noticed t
he slight movement from the top
of the staircase. He squinted,
suddenly aware of his
. He hadn’t noticed her earlier. Now, he felt the weight of her presence.
was spying on the game again.
She would be displeased and
tain to bitch to him later. If
only he could win the money b
ack, he thought, that would keep her quiet.
Grunting to himself, the
Irishman met the gypsy's eyes aga
I tell ye, gypsy. I have
The younger man standing
next to the old gypsy drew the
Irishman's attention as he impatie
ntly shuffled his feet. He was a large man with a
n face and long wavy black hair
tied behind his neck with a piec
e of dirty leather. His grungy
blue blouse with flared sleeves, rolled up to the elbow, and black pants tucked into his black shiny high
announced that he, too, was part
of this gypsy band. The tavern
owner watched as the man leaned ov
er, whispering something in the o
lder gypsy's ear. The older
gypsy hesitated before giving a
stiff nod, waving the younger man
aside with his hand. The gleam
in the gambling gypsy's eyes grew
even brighter as he enticed the
tavern owner toward the table a
I think, gadjo, we work
something out if you sit again.
Curious, the Irishman downed his ale, refilling i
one last time
slowly walking back to the tabl
An older man standing nearby put his arm on the Irishman’s and whispered,
Don’t do it.
But the Irishman, made bold by an evening of drinking and gambling, merely shook the hand off of his arm and sat back down at the table.
crowded around the table, pushi
ng the excited townsmen aside.
The Irishman looked up at t
heir eager faces as he repeated
softly, mostly to himself
I have nothing, I tell you.
The gypsy gave the Irish
man the deck of cards. Without
speaking, the man took the cards
, shuffling them carefully. He
handed them back to the gypsy
. Quickly, the gypsy dealt two
hands of five cards, letting the
Irishman pick whichever hand he
desired. Setting the unused c
ards off to the side, the gypsy
leaned forward, his one hand on
the edge of the table while his
other rested on the knee of his
thin leather trousers.
I will b
et this entire pile of money...
He motioned absentmindedly to
the small pile of money to his r
You look at those cards
and tell me whether you wish to play by my rules, gadjo.
The man lifted his five
cards up, staring intently for
several long, silent minutes. His
face grew long as he memorized
each card. Finally, he set the cards down on the table, raising his eyes to meet the gypsy's. Cl
earing his throat, the man took
a deep breath.
And what are these rules? What is me wager?
The old gypsy sat back in his
chair and shrugged.
The Irish man gave a
Tis too easy!
Is your hand good?
The man sobered and leaned forward.
The gypsy shrugged again
moving his eyes away from the
Irishman's face for the first time.
Gathering up his confidence, the Irishman pound
ed on his
cards. The dull thudding of his f
ist against the table echoed in
Me hand is better!
For the third time, the gyp
How do I know?
His accent made his words slur
together. No one spoke as they
waited for the old gypsy to make
the next move. Looking up, the
gypsy met the tavern owner's fla
I will add a gold
chain to this pile of money if you
r cards are better than mine.
He pulled the neck of his dirty
and ripped blouse away from his
neck, exposing a thick, ugly scar that ran from his shoulder down
his chest. Hanging over the scar was a single
strand of gold
that glimmered in the lantern light.
The Irishman caught his breat
That gold must be worth at
least seventy five, if not more!
He lifted his
eyes off the
chain, suddenly aware of the chall
enge at stake. What did he own
worthy of such a wager?
ng I have worth that much is me
Several people gasped at his announcement. Out of the corner of his eye, he noticed his daughter st
epping slightly out
of the shadows. He was surp
rised she hadn't raced down the
stairs, making a scene in front of
these men. But, for the first
time, she behaved
, keeping to the shadows in order to remain
unseen by the gypsies.