Nobody likes losing. My grandad knew this, but the extent to which a loser like Jarvin Mackerel would go was something he weren’t prepared for. I think that’s because he’d never dealt with no man like Jarvin before.

In that dirty little shack at that dirty little table, as my grandad threw down the three of a kind, ace high, the others sighed in despair. But not Jarvin. Grandad says he got the sight, whatever that means. Or he knew in any case what Grandad had did. He knew Grandad had cheated them all out of a fair game and money and houses and guns and cars. But Jarvin didn’t care no gun. He didn’t need one.

When he saw my grandad’s cards he roared, his thin arms and sunken chest raising up on toothpick legs. I mean, I weren’t there, but I can see it clear as day in here.

The others all resigned, thinking that my granddaddy had beaten them, but Jarvin says, “Oh, you don’t fool me, old Calhoun! I knews you was a cheat from a moment my eyes set on you.”

My Granddaddy, he just raise his arms and say, “Luck with me today, sir. Nothing can anybody do when lucks on your side.”

Jarvin didn’t like that one bit. Not at all, he didn’t. And I can see now that what my grandad did was wrong, cheating those poor men out of all the possessions they’d got in this world. But what Jarvin did to Grandad’s family aint right neither. It even more aint right cause I got nothing to do with that game of cards.

See when Graddaddy was getting set to leave, all the money and keys, guns and all swept into a bag, Jarvin grabbed his hand down on the table.

“You might have all,” says that Jarvin. “But you got no more heart and no more dream after this.” And saying that Jarvin stuck my grandad with a needle. My grandaddy pull his arm up and away and suck the bloody small hole in his wrist and as he did Jarvin reached into a black and weathered leather pouch at his side and flung a thick white powder into face. The way Grandad says it, it was a joking stuff, it worked its way into his lungs through his nose and into his eyes and blinded him and when he opened them and looked through water he saw not a man in front of him but a spirit and he knew that the spirit could see him to. Granddaddy says he can’t say what the spirit say to him, but he knew from the moment he heard the talk in his head that he were cursed by something bad. By something the witch doctor, Jarvin, had summoned up for him.

Before Granddaddy died he came to me and apologised for his cheating ways. He say, “Lewis, aint to place in heaven for men like me. Aint no place in hell neither, that’s what bad I’ve done by you and your mother through myself. But you caint dream or sleep or love. That’s my sin, being of such greed to pass that curse along to you.”

I didn’t rightly understand at the time as I were a young boy then. But when I come older I start to see that he were right. I couldn’t dream once and the older I got I couldn’t sleep neither, and because of that I stopped loving at all. Even Mama.


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