Vindalf’s Gift

Vindalf’s Gift

‘Twas the night before Christmas’, muttered Dan the Gangster Man, seeking some cleaver continuation.  ‘Twas the night before Christmas / They murdered a mouse / And the police came rampaging / Through garden and house’.  And then?  He knew an old spoof version: ‘My bed woke me up to see what was the matter’, but how to work it in?

‘Stop brooding’ he told himself.  ‘Go gambling in your favourite pub, the 42nd Foot’.  And while following his own advice, he took a short cut through a cloister marked with future tomb-slots, as well as some tombs already occupied.  He did not scare easily, and ghosts he saw as harmless even if they were real.

Then he heard his name spoken.  Listened and heard a young woman softly chanting “Dan, Dan, the Gangster Man.  Poor Dan, doomed to die”.  Very quietly he sneaked up behind her and whispered, “A fan of mine, are you?”

He had expecting to spook her, and then who knows what?  Some things were more fun than gambling, though only if the lady also found it so.  And he was pleased when she turned and gazed back calmly – he liked brave people.  But as a man who lived by violence, he never ceased to look about him.  And now he saw that behind her the tomb-slots now held tombs.  Worse, his own name was where she had been looking!

He closed his eyes, opened them, nothing there.  But his heart was still pounding.  He was definitely going gambling.

He walked into a merry game of Star-Wars Poker.  Knew himself smarter than all but a stranger calling himself Vindalf. Gamblers could use whatever name they liked, if their money was sound.  A fancy nickname mostly said ‘fool out of his depths’.  But the Dog Star Corporation had millions of citizens: this might be some card-sharp he’d never met before.

His worries eased when Vindalf played two Hutts and two Gungan as if were a good hand, not realizing that opposite alignments cancelled.  Soon afterwards the man staked most of his cash plus a document marked at 93 Guineas.

Dan had a great hand, two X-Wings and three Wookies, but bet cautiously so as not to show it.  Was mildly pleased when Vindalf dropped out and left when Harry took the bidding higher.  Not wishing to be too harsh with Harry, Dan called ‘show’.

Harry had Vader and Dark-Side Luke.  That would beat any combination with a Force-user, but surely not his hand.  But Harry started arguing, calling for the rules and fingering the winning.

Then stopped, looking scared.  Then grinned and said “All yours, Dan.”

What the hell?  Nervously, he took his winnings and opened Vindalf’s document.  The deeds to the very tomb-plot where he’d seen his own grave!

Copyright Gwydion M. Williams