Chance Takers' Club

by PriM
“Welcome to the Chance Taker’s Club, Mr Sullivan,” said the blonde woman, smiling cordially, handing him a golden key from behind the check-in counter. “You’ve the room with a theme.”

“Theme? What is…?

“It’s a surprise, Mr Sullivan,” Angel said cheerfully, cutting him off in mid sentence while catching his gaze on her name-tag. “The Club Manager will soon be in to greet you personally. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to contact me for anything that you may need. We are here to ensure the next seven days of your stay with us will be a memorable one.”

“Mr. Sullivan? David? Is that you in the flesh?

“Yes, I’m he.” David turned to stare back at the shocked expression of a smartly suited, young man. Dropping the handle on his trolley bag, the stranger rushed at him only to suddenly stop inches away. Hoping the midway halt was caused by the not-at-ease reflective sign over his face, David lifted his right arm, dreading a handshake too.

“I’m Kyle Jenkins. A Hat-Drawer. I’ve seen your photo on the Achiever’s Wall of Fame at The Chance Seeker’s College of Prospects. You were the youngest person to have won the Master Coin-Flipper title, right?’ Kyle continued, unbothered by his directness. “My fellow Coin-Flippers’ can’t seem to stop talking about you. Though I hear, you haven’t been practicing your gift in years.”

Kyle reached out to embrace him.

“Thank you for the compliment. Yes, I took a three year extended sabbatical,” he lied.

Remembering the Master title left him feeling flushed and guilty. Coin flipping was his forte. Without faltering, David could accurately predict the outcome- heads or tails, each time someone flipped a coin.

“Gentlemen, tea is served.” Angel pointed towards the passageway, leading them out of the foyer and into the garden area of the club. In an appealing manner, arrays of scrumptious tea-time delights, arranged over vintage peach lace tablecloth.

On receiving his invitation to the Chance Taker’s Club in the mail, he’d secretly jumped up with joy, picturing himself chatting up experts in the fields of Coin-Flippers', Hat-Drawers' and Playing Card-Readers'. The club was known for its exclusivity. Everyone who was a known somebody in the field of Chance Taker’s is invited to stay over at the club to pursue the slogan - Relax, Recuperate, Share!

“See that man over there? He is, The Master, in the field of Hat-Drawer’s, Mr. Frank Frederick.”

Following Kyle’s eyes with his, he caught a glimpse of an elderly man wearing a golf cap, smoking a pipe, deep in conversation with a man in a blue shirt whose back was to them. Hat-Drawers’ were skilled at remembering objects thrown into a hat, then they would predict the items as they’re being randomly drawn out by another.

“This is my second time back at the Chance Taker’s Club. Last year I learned a few tricks from Don Raj, a guru skilled in the reading of Playing Cards.”

The young man’s aura brought to mind his bygone years. Energetic, Eager. Enigmatic. Sipping on his ginger-cinnamon infused tea, David listened to Kyle tell his story.

Kyle’s childhood-to-adult stories were relatable. Most people found their gift unique and awing, whilst some bullying incidences occurred out of cynicism. His acceptance was subsequent to a win against the one who’d dared him to guess each of his pull. The bully’s bruised ego had left Kyle’s face black-and-blue. Nevertheless, the triumph had left him elated and influential.

“If I may ask, Mr, Sullivan, why did you stop practicing your gift?” Kyle bit into his chocolate-chip muffin.

Meeting up with like-minded individuals at the college had been the highlight of his life. David had won many accolades resulting in the college bestowing on him the title of ‘Master’. In the six months before graduation, it was customary to take upon a new protege with the same gift, to induct and share one’s experiences as a senior graduate. Losing to him was the sole reason he’d given up.

“I’d a bad experience,” replied David, sensing Kyle’s awareness on the matter.

Reluctantly, David decided to share his side of the story.

Coin flipping had been David’s first love; till he met Rachel. She was two years younger to him, a Playing Cards Reader. Believing in the right chance, he’d waited for his to tell her how smitten he was.Their regular activities included him helping her practice her card reading skills. Randomly placing the cards faced down, then choosing ten cards from the spread and arranging them further in the order he desired, he would encourage her to predict the sequence of the cards. John, his protegee, rich, haughty and muscular, was everything, David wasn’t. Noticing his keen interest in Rachel, he’d shrugged it off as an innocent crush.

John had decided to host a graduation party at his residence in the pretext of expressing gratitude towards his mentor. Not realizing it was a trap, David had agreed to attend. Rachel had already informed him she would be going along with her girlfriends. With high hopes, David entered the room, to catch Rachel dancing in his arms. To further aggravate David’s temper, he’d mocked and proclaimed himself worthier than the Master Coin-Flipper in public and challenged him to a Coin flipping competition. David had accepted, knowing very well who the expert between them was.

But, that night it’d all changed. David had guessed three wins-of- ten attempted flips. On the fourth attempt, he’d felt a block in his thoughts, which had led to his further predictions being deemed, inaccurate. Losing to John had bruised his self-confidence. He’d walked out of the party, packed his bag and left his dorm room without saying goodbye to anyone.

The next day, he’d vowed never to use his skill again.

“Your gift is your identity, Mr Sullivan.” Kyle sympathetic expression comforting him. “Not tapping into it can leave you empty and worthless. Don’t let the John’s of the world rob you of your skill.”

Rising to go make a cup of tea, David now stood face-to-face with his nemesis, John.

“David, my old friend, I’m surprised to see you here.” Dressed in a blue shirt, John’s smug look wasn’t one he’d missed in years. “I heard you’ve given up on your gift to become a salesman? Are you up for a challenge; right here, right now?”

Say NO, screamed his inner voice.


Within half an hour, the competition between David and John was underway. Choosing who would go first in a Coin flipping competition was not an easy heads or tails decision. Master Frank Frederick picked John’s name from a hat.

John’s final score was fifteen wins-of-twenty attempted flips. Raising his hands to acknowledge the applauds from the spectators, David wiped the sweat on his forehead with the back of his hand. Aiming for twenty wins-of twenty attempted flips, to reclaim his Master title post break time, he faced his opponent. Kyle, their referee, blew his whistle signalling the start. As John flipped the coin for the thirteenth time, David’s thoughts went blank. He fainted.

On opening his eyes, Kyle’s grinning face appeared.

“Mr. Sullivan, you are awake. Just in time to watch the drama unfold.”

Thanking Kyle, he sat up to catch a glimpse of John, shouting obscenities at the people standing around to watch him being escorted out by security guards.

“What happened?

“Well, Mr. Sullivan, John cheated. He used a coin with the same head’s on both side. Your thoughts were affected and you blacked out. I think, that must have been how he won the last time too. Congratulations,you’re truly, the one and only Master Coin-Flipper.”

Beaming with pride, walking upright, David continued nodding, thanking everyone who patted and praised him. Unlocking his room with the golden key, he switched on the lights, enthralled with the gold-themed décor and the golden coin-shaped bed. A soft knock on the door interrupted his nap.

“Hello, Mr Sullivan. I’m Rachel, the Club Manager. I’m checking to see if you like your room.”

“Rachel?” Clenching her fist, she rocked her body.

“You remember me? You left without saying goodbye. I sent you the invite, hoping you’d come, so I could hit you”

Chuckling at her sarcasm and feistiness, he replied, “Rachel, my apologies. Please come in and let me explain.”

The wedding venue at The Chance Taker’s Club was bustling as the guests made their way to their seats. He watched as Rachel walked down the aisle in her stunning white gown, holding a bouquet of red roses. He’d read too much into an innocent dance routine, leaving jealousy and pride to rule his ego. Pursuing his gift, David took up a teaching job at the college. Six months with Rachel back in his life, wasn’t enough to make up for lost time. Learning from his past, he didn’t wait for the perfect chance. He just bent down on both knees and asked, wishing for them to be together, for eternity.
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