Day 2: Still treading water.

Alton politely excused himself, and idly cleaned up the rest of the Last Laugh Café while his customers finished their conversation. It was a small location, but a good one. It was on the corner ground floor of the Tyler Building, one of the larger office towers in Champion. The lunch hour rush was a promising source of income, but the rent was commeasurate, forcing Alton to keep the shop open later in the evening. Originally, he'd planned that he could just close the front doors early, draw the blinds, and then slide a few of the heavy plastic tables together, and throw a thick tablecloth over them to cover the garish colour scheme (the interior decorator had insisted it was "vibrant"). Then, he would slide the wicker chairs aside, and roll in a few high quality stools -- he always felt more comfortable leaning forward. A few of his friends would knock on the delivery door in the back, and he would lead them through the kitchen and all its clutter (he'd thought up this part while watching "Goodfellas"). Then, they'd bring out their drinks, a deck of playing cards, and some poker chips. He'd bring some snacks to the table, and they'd fight for the pot with some old-fashioned dealer's choice until the wee hours of the night.

That was everything he could have wanted: a means of income, a way to entertain and provide for his friends, and a simple way to enjoy his free time. And, the cards. Nothing as sterile as Texas Hold'em -- the cards would be scuffed, worn, and frayed. They'd be held in hand, gripped tight in the stress of a big hand... and no one would give it a second thought. No one would be counting patterns, no one would be crying foul whenever someone's hand shifted a millimetre, and no one would cash their chips and run the instant they saw Alton shuffling the deck one-handed.

Trust in the company of gamblers. In Alton's mind, there was no better way to prove that he'd become a success in life.

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Canadian explorer. Chemist by training, biologist by nature. Long-time supporter and participant in National Novel Writing Month. Known as "Aquadeo" in most Internet circles. Also known as "that guy with the pants" to people who have seen me in certain pants.