Cards of Death

by A. Knox

I'm practiced in the Cards of Death. Shck, shck. From 50 yards I can doff the head of a plastic mannequin with a cheap Bicycle brand playing card. Took some work, though. Look at the walls of my apartment -- lots of thin slits in the stucco. But throwing the cards, that's just wrist technique. A good part of my training was getting down "the look." When you are about to deal your enemy a Card of Death, you do not want to look as though you are inviting him or her to a friendly game of cribbage. It opens you up to ridicule, which can ruin your concentration. Oh, the number of hours I spent posing in front of a mirror, a card tucked between my index and middle finger just so! I've settled on a faintly supercilious expression, with one eyebrow slightly raised, for my "look." Something in the realm of Simon Yam, though crueller.

Opportunities to use this deadly new skill of mine are generally nil, but finally I get my chance. I'm hanging out at the Covered Wagon when some creepy pock-marked biker guy, taking a fancy to me, picks a fight with my boyfriend Donald. Donald, all too male himself, rises to the challenge. Two of the biker guy's cronies and I follow them out to the street. "I'm gonna mess up your pretty-boy face real bad, son," says the biker guy as his cronies come up behind Donald and grab his arms. Before the biker guy begins to pummel Donald, he turns to me and leers. But the leer turns to puzzlement when I give him "the look," then to surprise when, with three casual flicks of my wrist, I shred his leather vest. Thin streaks of blood dribble down shallow gashes on the biker's chest. For good measure, I launch two more cards -- the first cuts the hand of cronie #1 and the second slices a little more deeply than I intended the cheek of cronie #2. Cronie #2 howls and runs off. The other two hesitate a moment, then follow their friend. Donald stands, mouth agape.

I think, at last, I can dump this loser.

Copyright 1995
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