Jake Breckon rubbed his eyes wearily the three course meal his wife, Alice, had made him was resting heavily on his stomach and weighing down equally heavy upon his eyelids. He couldn't let it get to him, he had a poker game to attend that evening. He was on a winning streak of late, not that he ever truly lost a great deal but for the past month he had more than doubled his stake every Friday in the backroom of the 'Coal House'. He noted the name with some irony, it certainly wasn't the smokeless variety of the said substance that had seemed to filter onto the market, indeed his eyes would often be stinging as he made his way back home through the rainy streets of Broadway.
Jake shuffled his chair out from underneath the dinner table and kissed his wife thanking her for the dinner. There was a single red rose in a small crystal cut vase in the centre of the dinner table, this, as well as the three-course meal, reminded him of his current lucky streak. He worked in a factory by day and the wage it provided was not as large as he had hoped he would be earning by his thirty-sixth year on the planet but when the deck fell right on a Friday night, life was good. He shuffled over to the bin and retrieved the full to bursting sack, unlocking the back door he made his way through the rain to deposit the rubbish in the wheelie bin. He replaced the liner in the kitchen bin and made his way upstairs after saying he was getting ready to go out bowling, he knew she knew he was lying, that's just the way things went.
As he was sorting through the cupboard searching for his old faded tan leather jacket a growing sense of unease mounted within him, usually he had an inkling or feeling about how the evening might go, they weren't always right but they were usually there. On this night there was nothing, like a blank slate in a café waiting for the days specials to be put on, which in a way was fine by Jake, he just wanted to know how much he could afford to spend.
When he came back downstairs his mind was no clearer, though the dinner table was, Alice had started on washing the pots. As he approached her she opened her arms so as not to cover him with the suds that coated the marigolds she was wearing.
'Have a good night dear, if you see Cliff can you ask him to send my regards to Kaye?' she said whilst they gave each other a peck on the cheek.
'Of course I will, wish me luck!' he replied, embracing her, regardless of the soapy gauntlets, and kissing her.
'Luck!' she simply said before a brief final kiss.
Jake had to laugh, if there was one thing he could count on Alice for it was that, she never failed to keep him amused. He made his way to the door with a final goodbye.
Walking down Broadway in the rain he found himself wondering if that one word 'Luck' would actually hold any bearing whatsoever on the night's events. Not that he doubted the sentiment behind it, marrying Alice Louise Chambers had been one of the happiest days of his life and he did indeed feel that he was the luckiest man alive being married to her, but something told him that wouldn't be enough tonight. Maybe all the real luck had disappeared over the nine years they had been married. No, disappeared was the wrong word it was more akin to a dried up riverbed. The water was still there, it just remained underground, for those who knew where to look at any rate. The dried up riverbed had retained its own brand of charm also, a sort of natural beauty if you will, and it wasn't as if some rain didn't fall every now and again. You have to put up with the droughts to truly appreciate the rain.
The Coal House was as dead as ever, Clive, the landlord, gestured Jake into the back when he arrived.
'Yer a little late tonight, I think they may have already kicked off, I'll tell ya what, you go back there make yerself cumfy. I'll bring yer a pint of yer usual through' Clive suggested with that constant, in the face of adversity, cheeriness that was so optimistic, Jake couldn't even begin to fathom how it was afforded.
He thanked Clive and made his way into the back. The very second he touched the door handle he got his inkling. The door swung inward, they were all round the table they looked up shocked as the tungsten lighting cut through the smoky haze that never truly seemed to leave the room.
'Well if it isn't Lucky Jake, we'd almost given you up as gone, you come to fleece us again?' Cliff greeted cheerfully.
Jake looked round the room at the faces of Clifford, Michael, David and Bradley (though in the Coal House's den they simply reverted back to Cliff, Mike, Dave and Brad) looking back. They were friendly faces one and all, as honest as the day was long but in their eyes he could read that this night wasn't going to be his.
There was a knock at the door before Clive came in with a pint of lager, Jake started for his pocket but was told it could go on his tab and that he could square up at the end of the evening. He thanked Clive as he left.
'You look a bit out a sorts, what's chewin at ya?' Brad asked.
'Nothing Brad, just thinking, oh by the way Cliff, Alice sends her regards to Kaye' Jake said while pulling out a chair and sitting down.
'Funny, Kaye said the very same thing to me regarding Alice' Cliff returned, they all laughed at the running joke.
'Your just in time for the second hand, you want in?' Mike asked miming a shuffle.
Jake wouldn't be getting his Friday roast this week and Alice wouldn't be getting her single red rose to put in the small crystal cut vase in the centre of the dinner table either, the dried up riverbed retained its charm though, even without the rain.
'Deal me in', Jake smiled, 'Deal me in'