Queen of Spades, Jack of Diamonds

With a flick of her wrist she dealt the cards in a complicated pattern of her own devising, cracking each own down crisply on the cheap laminate of the table.

“Nine of clubs in the first place,” she muttered, “nine of clubs.” Brad leaned forward and stared at the upside down display, brows puckered. “You’re in my light.”

“Sorry.” He dragged on his cigarette and stared out the window. The night was smothering, airless. Even his smoke seemed to curl always downward, dragged to the floor by the intolerable pressure of the air. “Dammit, it’s gone out again.”

“Nine of clubs in the seventh place,” she said.

“You’ve already had the nine of clubs. What kind of deck are you using?”

“Pinochle,” she said, eyes busy among the cards.

“Pinochle… how the hell do you tell fortunes like that? What the hell kind of future are you going to get with a truncated deck?”

She kept dealing the cards, spreading their thin pasteboard over more and more of the table. “I’m not looking to tell the future,” she whispered, but he was trying to light his cigarette again, and wasn’t listening to her anymore; anyway, that was what the cards said.