My Poker Pals

My buddy Stan called.

“Are you a snob?” he asked.

“I don’t think so,” I told him.

“Good,” he said, “that clears that up.”

A long moment of silence followed.

These moments are common during my conversations with Stan. I tell myself it helps to clear his head but in my more honest moments, I tell myself it is my head that needs clearing.

“Why do you ask?”

“There were doubts.”

After another long moment of silence, I asked, “Who has doubts?”

“Remember the guys we used to play cards with?”

“I do.”

“Remember Walt​?”

Who could forget him?

Walt lived in the basement of our building when Stan and I shared an apartment. There were no living areas in the basement but he lived there anyway.

Walt did not like paying rent.

He did not like working either.

What he liked was to get high and mooch off of others but he was such a lovable character that no one seemed to mind. Still he always managed to get himself into trouble.

When I went to work for the Minneapolis Police, I discovered that the Records Unit devoted an entire shelf to Walt.

It was a shrine of sorts.

Everyone, including the police, hoped that one day Walt would adjust to the world but he never did. He insisted that one day the world would adjust to him. When Colorado legalized his drug of choice, he moved out there. I suppose in that sense, he knew more about the world than we did.

“Never knew Walt to be judgmental,” I observed.

“He isn’t,” Stan said, “it was Sid who raised the question.”

Ah, Sidney. Another unforgettable character.

Sid was not as lovable as Walt because he tended to walk off with things that were not his.  In some quarters that is considered stealing, hence his MPD record packet, though considerable, was not as thick as Walt’s – but his Bureau of Corrections folder more than made up for it.

“Remember playing poker with Walt and Sid?” Stan asked.

I did.

“Well, I’m here with them now – but we bet you are too much of a snob to join us.”

“Uh Stan,” I asked, “are you in jail again?”

“Nothing serious,” he told me… then he put his hand over the receiver before coming back on the line, “and Sid says to tell you it wasn’t my fault.”

Again he muffled the phone….

“Nor his.”

“How is it that you are calling me?” I asked.  I know that jails confiscate cell phones.

“It’s Andy’s phone.”

That made sense.

Andy was another friend from the old neighborhood who also spent a great deal of time in jail – but that was because he became a defense attorney.

He keeps in regular touch with Stan, Walt and Sid.

“He has been playing cards with us all afternoon but he has to go – leaving an empty chair.”

“Uh Stan?”


“I’ll pass.”