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"The Jack of Hearts"

by Zaya | Score: 1800

I didn't see the fight breakout. A violent splash of warm alcohol hit the side of my face and snapped me out of my trance, the sound of shattering glass and chairs scraping across the floor registering soon after. I looked up just in time to see the spontaneous brawl headed my way. I narrowly dodged the collision, snatching up my drink with me. 

Reality had my attention now, as I'd been totally checked out before. I watched, unamused but taken off guard, as the two men continued to go at it before me. The bartender watched as well, hovering over them awkwardly, from behind. He was halfway between cowering in the corner and intervening to breakup the fight. I sighed and took a sip of the cheap whiskey held in my hand. My plans of brooding at the bar all night had been ruined. 

Just then, a small panicky feeling came over me. I frantically checked my pockets, and hoped those brutes at the bar hadn't cost me the most valuable item I'd owned. I passed my whiskey glass to my other hand and felt it then; thank goodness, it was in my hand all along. I smoothed over the folded corner of my tattered playing card, the one I never left home without. 

I studied the face of the card once again, probably for the millionth time. From just a simple glance, it would seem nothing more than a faded jack of hearts. But there was something too compelling to be ordinary about the way the man on the face of the card stared directly at you. Something unsure but intense in his printed gaze. 

I sighed and pocketed the card. I looked up again. The meek bartender had found somebody to breakup the fight for him. The aftermath consisted of a bar top drenched in alcohol and littered with broken glass, pieces of several broken chairs scattered across the floor, and a very noticeable crack in the blandly colored wall. No one was helping the pitiful bartender clean any of it up. Oh well.  A bar fight hadn't been in my agenda, and now I'd need to find someplace else to be miserable all night. I downed the rest of my whiskey and placed the empty glass on a dry spot on the bar counter. I left the bartender a generous tip, sliding the money underneath my glass and heading for the exit without a word. 

As I turned to the the door, an all too familiar looking stranger caught my eye and stopped me in my tracks. He stood in the doorway, looking all out of place. He was dressed too fancy to be in a rinky-dink bar in the back of some alley. He fidgeted at the bar entrance, eyes darting all around him. His dark hair was a mess, and his clothes made him look like he'd just been mugged. He continued to look all around him. It seemed he was expecting someone.

Then his eyes landed on mine. My breath hitched automatically as the recognition hit me. There was an intensity about the look in his eyes that I was sure I'd seen before. An intensity that was printed on the faded jack of hearts in my pocket. 

Completed challenges

The following challenges were completed during the writing exercise:

Begin Start typing to begin
Words Reach 50 words
Event A fight breaks out
Words Reach 100 words
Prop Include a playing card
Letter Use the letter X
Character An uncertain astronomer

This story was written using Taleforge, the free writing exercise app powered by The Story Shack. Curious? Try it yourself.

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