Sawdust Joint

 “Come on,” he begged, wavering back and forth on one foot. “All I wanted was a couple of quid.” Some time earlier he slid a scuffed handful of coins onto the pool table woodwork at my local pub. Progressed up a scale of body parts he would eliminate from the proposed contest of a single game, beginning with his eye, in a hope of tempting me into a bet.  

 I had not gambled in years. As a boy, I went home with a pocket jingling and another lad went without his lunch. In my regret I entombed the coins in a metal tin and buried them at the foot of an oak tree. I vowed that I would never do it again. I always keep my word.

 “I told you at the start, I’m not a gambling man,” I reiterated, and placed his foot down next to the unblinking jelly of his eyeball. “But I felt your persistence should be rewarded.” I tried to remember what concession he had suggested next.

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