Texas Hold 'Em
Zac parked in front of his second-storey garage apartment and turned off the ignition. He hated running late, even when it wasn't his fault. He jumped out of his four-year-old Jeep Wrangler and grabbed the gym bag beside him.
He wasn't surprised to find his friend Marco sitting on the top step. "Sorry," Zac said, stepping around Marco to unlock the door. "The team bus had a flat on the way home from Santa Cruz."
"No problem," Marco returned, standing. "Kent has me working way up north. I hoped you'd take pity on me and let me shower the stink off here instead of going all the way home."
Zac glanced over his shoulder at the filthy brick layer, and stepped inside his apartment. "As long as you promise to scrub the tub out when you're done. Last time I let you take a shower, I could've grown potatoes in there afterward."
Marco snorted. "Okey dokey, country boy." Marco started to walk towards the bathroom, but stopped. "Hey, uh, don't suppose I could borrow a pair of shorts or sweats or something?"
Zac rolled his eyes and tossed his keys on the table. A quick glance at the clock told him the rest of the guys would be there any minute. "Bottom drawer, but cinch up tight this time, will ya? I'd rather not spend all evening looking at the top of your bush."
Marco chuckled. "You love my sexy bush, and you know it." Marco gave Zac an air kiss and strolled away.
After cleaning up his breakfast dishes and wiping down the counter, Zac retreated to his bedroom. A quick change into a pair of faded red sweats and a Forty-Niners T-shirt and he was ready for poker night.
He heard the front door open and shut and knew it had to be Bobby. His oldest friend in the bay area, Bobby Quinn always made himself at home, no matter where he was. "Hey," Zac greeted as he walked into the kitchen.
Bobby already had his head stuck in the fridge. "Got anything to eat? The charter ran long and the snobs I took out didn't even offer their leftovers."
"Cookies, top shelf." Zac opened the storage closet and pulled out two of the extra dining chairs. "Should I put the leaf in the table? Seemed kinda crowded last time."
Bobby tried to answer around a mouthful of chocolate wafer cookies, spraying crumbs all over Zac's clean kitchen floor. Bobby grinned and swallowed. "Sorry, dude. Yeah. I'd like a little more elbow room."
Zac pointed towards the crumbs. "Clean those up, you pig." He opened the storage door once more and lifted out the heavy oak table leaf. He hadn't purchased much when he moved to California from Idaho, but as soon as he started the bi-weekly poker night with his friends, he'd gone out and bought a dining room set big enough to accommodate the six of them. Of course the set didn't match anything else he had, and it was too big for the small apartment, but he made it work. "Hey, see if I have any chips in the cupboard."
With the leaf in place, Zac arranged the chairs accordingly. He loved poker night. Hell, he loved his friends, even if some of them were a slovenly bunch.
"Half a bag of barbecue and some green onion," Bobby said, turning his nose up.
"Shit." Zac picked up the phone and called Kent.
"Baker," Kent answered.
"Hey, can you do me a big one and stop and get a couple bags of chips, maybe a bag of pretzels?" Zac asked.
"Sure. I was gonna stop and pick up some more beer anyway. Trey never brings enough, and Angelo only brings that flavoured pussy beer." Zac chuckled. "I'd have never put Angelo and the word pussy in the same sentence. Besides, it's just Mexican beer. He puts the lime in it, it doesn't come that way."
"Whatever," Kent drawled. "I'll be there in twenty, as long as the traffic gods are smiling on me."
Zac hung up the phone and turned back to Bobby. "I guess I'm not a very good host this week. I'll call and order some pizza later."
Bobby finished off the cookies in his hand and opened a bottle of water. "Serves them right. They should be bringing stuff. It's not fair for you to always fork over the cash to feed us."
Zac leaned his hip against the table and crossed his arms. "Yeah? And what did you bring?" He softened the question with a wry grin.
"My sparkling personality, and this smokin' hot bod," Bobby answered. "What more could a night with a bunch of queers need?"
"A nine-inch dick?"
Bobby grabbed his basket and snorted. "Got one of those right here."
Zac started laughing. "Yeah, sure."
Bobby started to unbutton his jeans. "Want me to prove it?"
Zac held up his hand. "No. I may not have had a date in a while, but I don't need you waving your willy around."
Bobby shrugged. "Your loss." He wandered out of the kitchen into the living room and flopped down on Zac's worn red couch.
"Turn on the news," Zac instructed, walking into the room. "They should have highlights from the game."
Bobby did so. "Sorry, forgot to ask. You guys win?"
"Of course," Zac said, puffing just a tad. His team was undefeated, and Zac had high hopes of making it all the way to the state championship.
The door opened and Trey walked in, carrying a case of beer. "Could I get a little help?"
Zac stood and easily lifted the beer out of his friend's hands. Trey was a fantastic guy but strong he wasn't. With a law degree in his hip pocket, Trey had decided to go against his family and become a teacher, much to his father's disapproval.
Zac took the beer into the kitchen and set it on the counter. Getting into the freezer, he pulled out the bag of ice he'd remembered to buy a couple of days earlier and carried it to the sink. After filling the sink with ice and bottles, he returned to the living room carrying four beers. He passed them out, eyeing Marco as he handed one over. "You clean the tub?"
"Yes, Mom," Marco answered. "I even hung up the towel."
Excerpt From: Slow-Play
“Is this what I pay you to do?”
From his position on the lounge chair, Bobby Quinn opened his eyes and stared up at the silhouette of his brother Brad. God he hated the sonofabitch. “I’m not out on a charter, so you aren’t paying me at all.”
“So why aren’t you out busting your balls to get a charter?”
Bobby sat up and gestured towards the virtually empty marina. “It’s Wednesday. Do you see a lot of tourists around?”
Brad made that little sound in his throat Bobby hated. “Could be something to do with the location, or maybe I need to find a captain who’s willing to get out and drum up business.”
Standing, Bobby’s hands clenched into fists. “You threatening me? Your own brother?”
Brad stuck his hands in his designer suit pockets and shrugged. “Half-brother. Besides, it’s business.”
Bobby knew Brad was lying. It wasn’t business at all. Since the day he’d been born, Brad had hated his guts. Was it his fault their mutual father had fucked his secretary and then divorced his wife when his mistress, aka Bobby’s mother, turned up pregnant?
From the way Brad treated him, Bobby guessed his half-brother’s answer to the question would be a resounding yes. “And just where am I supposed to find people who can afford the prices you’re charging for a day out on the ocean?”
Brad shrugged again in that ‘I can’t be bothered with details’ way he had. “That’s your problem.”
“Is there anything else you need?” Bobby asked, ready for the conversation to be over.
Brad walked around the 1970 Grand Banks trawler. “Nope. Just checking up on my investment, making sure you’re doing the required upkeep on her.”
“Fuck you,” he seethed.
Bobby had spent eight years, and every penny he had, restoring the fifty-foot trawler back to its original glory, only to have Brad swoop in and buy it from the bank when he missed a couple of payments. He knew the only reason his brother had done it was to piss him off. Bobby was left with no choice but to work for Brad in order to care for the boat he’d come to love. The Gypsy meant everything to him, and Brad knew it.
“What about your quarters? Are you keeping them clean like I instructed?” Brad asked.
Two seconds away from pushing him into the Pacific Ocean, Bobby climbed down to the main deck and across the gang plank. He heard Brad yelling after him, but he didn’t dare turn around.
Bobby stormed his way towards the parking lot and hopped into his rusted 1983 Jeep. He turned off Capistrano Road onto Highway One and headed north. Dammit. He knew Brad would try to get him to move the boat closer to San Francisco, but the bay wasn’t where he wanted to be. He liked the open waters of the Pacific, and he sure as hell liked the people of Pillar Point better than the snobs he’d run into in San Francisco.
He had no idea where he was going, until he arrived at Baker Construction. Pulling to a stop, he waved at Bill, the guard on duty, who opened the heavy steal gate to let him pass. He was lucky Kent had room at the back of the lot for him to store his boat. He wove in and out of the various pieces of construction equipment and supplies, until he reached My Second Chance.
A 1966 Pacemaker 53’ Flush Deck yacht, My Second Chance was no where near ocean-worthy. Bobby still had several years, and more than a few thousand dollars, before that particular dream would become a reality.
He parked beside the make-shift scaffolding he and his buddies had erected to hold the old girl upright, and climbed the ladder. Once aboard, Bobby went below deck and looked around. He hadn’t done nearly enough work to the old yacht in the two years he’d had her. Of course he knew the reason. He’d had his heart broken when he’d lost The Gypsy.
Thinking the emptiness could be replaced, he’d saved his money and purchased My Second Chance. As he looked around the salon he realised it hadn’t happened. Hell, maybe he should just sell it?
Living and working almost an hour away from where the boat was stored didn’t give him enough time to work on it. Bobby picked up his sanding block and began to work on a small section of the woodwork.
Two hours later, he set the block down and picked up a piece of cheesecloth, running it over the smooth mahogany. He felt better than he had in a week. Getting to his feet, he sat in the cracked leather chair and surveyed what he’d managed to accomplish. He knew restoring the interior of the yacht wouldn’t get her into the water any faster, but then he didn’t have the money to put her into the ocean anyway.
As he studied the small cabin, he took inventory of everything yet to be done. It was liveable the way it was, but liveable had never been good enough before. What was the point of restoring, if you didn’t do it right.
His cell phone rang, bringing him out of his thoughts. Bobby reached into his shorts’ pocket and looked at the display.
“Hey,” he answered.
“Hey, buddy. Eric wanted me to call and make sure everything was still set for Dr. Peters’ cruise?” Zac asked.
“Far as I know. Of course, I might not have a job in the morning.”
“Yeah. Same old, same old.”
“He’s such an asshole.”
“He’s such an asshole.”
Bobby agreed wholeheartedly. “Unfortunately, unless I wanna find another job and place to live, I’m kinda stuck dealing with his bullshit.”
Bobby’s gaze took in the yacht’s interior once again. He knew if it came down to it, living aboard My Second Chance was an option, but the thought of completely abandoning The Gypsy made him ill.
“Eric’s working late at the hospital. You feel like grabbing a bite?”
“I don’t know. I’m at Kent’s working on the boat, and I’ve got about an inch of sawdust in my hair.”
“Cool. I’ll grab some burgers and join you. I haven’t been out there since Eric and I met.”
Bobby chuckled. “Yeah, well, don’t expect to see a lot of changes. I’ve been too busy lately to get up here very often.”
“Don’t worry. I won’t bust your balls too bad. See ya in about an hour.”
Bobby hung up and tossed the phone onto one of the built-in shelves. If he worked his ass off for the next hour, maybe he wouldn’t be quite so embarrassed to have Zac see the minimal progress he’d made.