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Remember The Deer Hunter? -- FWG Flash Fiction for 1/27/2024

I invented a new betting game for this one. Here's the prompt:

Remember The Deer Hunter?

Mike was up to four dice. His technique so far had been flawless, tossing the dice into the air, catching them, and slamming them to the table with his open palm. With every throw, a die was added, the bets got bigger, and the pot grew.

The game was simple: toss, catch, slam. All fours, fives, and sixes and you win. Any ones, twos, or threes and you lose. Bets to win paid two-to-one. Bets to lose split the pot—after the house took its rake, of course. The player could cash out after a successful slam and take what was left of the pot.

I’d seen Mike win with four dice before. We drank well that week. He’d never lost, of course. He was still alive, after all. A single low number didn’t just cost the player the pot. It cost him his life. Billy the Club stood behind him with his over-juiced cattle prod pointed at the base of Mike’s skull, ready to short-circuit his medulla. A jolt there stops the heart cold.

Once, when drunk, Mike told me he could feel the pits on the dice with his fingers and palm. A bad toss and he would drop the dice back into their bag, forfeiting the pot, but keeping his heart pumping.

The toss sent the four dice flipping, per the rules. Mike caught them and clenched his fist. His eyes glazed over as he felt for the tiny indentations. Billy counted down seconds. When he hit five, Mike’s left eyebrow shot up. At three, the fully charged prod buzzed. At one, Mike swallowed hard and slammed three fours and a six that was worn almost smooth.

Grinning, he swept up his winnings and grabbed the old die.

“Time to retire this one,” he told Billy.

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