The Race Card

At first glance, it looked very much like all the others facedown on the table, which probably accounts for the otherwise odd fact that no one gasped when it appeared. It’s possible too that no one gasped because when guys get together in stag situations they tend to be extra careful to avoid displays of emotion that might make them seem like women. We were at Bobby Cravinho’s dark-paneled place in the Heights, the four of us regulars, and using Bobby’s vintage Coca-Cola deck, with the headshot of the happy vintage babe holding a Coke bottle in a swimming pool and the tagline Sign of Good Taste. It takes a pretty good eye to spot this particular joker-card, for the features of the girl in the bathing suit are just slightly altered, suggesting an indefinite mixed-race origin, though I have to say she looks, without question, way less than happy. In any case, suddenly prostrate in the middle of Bobby’s water-ringed, cigarette-singed, cork-top table, the card with its morphed visage possessed all the sour gravity of a Supreme Court justice.

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