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Poker Night

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1 Poker Night on Thu Nov 16, 2017 9:33 pm

Gunnar

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The apartment lights permeate the night sky through the beige curtains above the pizzeria. The camera follows the light into the white walled kitchen. The appliances all match the plain white walls. A group of men are sitting in Matt's apartment. You all know Matt, or someone like him. He's the guy in your group of friends that's actually got his life all together, runs a local business. So there they are, gathered at Matt's for our weekly poker game. One man stands well above the rest.

Why don't you guys just give me your money now?

The guys all share a laugh as they settle around the table. Most of the guys were sitting there getting their beers, with the large man sitting down with a diet Pepsi. There are eight of them in all. A man with dark black hair and wearing a red shirt emblazoned with the words “50 Shades of Dough” in white letters. It’s safe to assume, this is Matt.

Matt: The name is the game is poker, boys, Texas Hold’em.  Consider this the main event.

A short, chubby man with a long blonde goatee speaks up.

Man: That's OK, Gunnar's used to that by now.

The large man sitting at the table answers with his think Icelandic accent coming through as he speaks.

Gunnar: You’re damned right, Gordon.

A few of the boys started bitching, while others started cashing in one hundred dollars for chips. Gunnsson casually sat in his chair, sipping his soda. Tonight was a night for him to unwind. The events of the past few days have taken a heavy toll on Gunnsson. His High Stakes Wrestling debut was going to be a big night for him, of course. But the stress of it was wearing him down. Gunnsson finally pulled out a hundred dollar bill and cashed it in for chips. The guys continued to talk amongst themselves.

Gordon: What’s the limit?

Matt: No limit.

Black man: So, all-in?

Matt: Of course there’s all in.

Gordon: I'm going to feel bad taking seven hundred dollars from you guys.

Black man: Hey, forget you, man. I'm taking the big one.

Gunnsson was quiet for most of the banter. The first time he stepped into a wrestling ring he had, indeed backed his words up. That was different. The wrestling scene in his native Iceland was virtually non-existent. His size alone won him many matches over those who just couldn’t physically match up. Gunnsson was the proverbial big fish in a small pound.

On whim, Gunnsson left Iceland and came to America. He had made his way doing manual labor until an American wrestling company was willing to give him a chance. That company is High Stakes Wrestling. Just then, Gunnsson was snapped back into reality.

Matt: Hey Gunnar, that was a nice win for you the other night!

The boys chipped in with a lot of laughs and pats on the back. Gunnsson seemed slightly distracted, as the boys usually left his wrestling career out of poker night.

Gunnar: I haven’t had a match yet.

Matt: You signed that contract. I’d consider that a win.

Gordon: Hey, when do you think you're going to get a shot at the title?

Gunnsson paused for a moment, thinking carefully before answering the boys.

Gunnar: That's not an issue right now. Right now, I have to worry about my match with Daniel Martin and he’s a big dude. Size alone won’t win me this one.

Matt started to deal the cards out.

Matt: So, Gunnar, what do you think is going to happen in the match?

Gunnar:  It’s hard to say. I haven’t gotten to spend as much time going over tapes as I would like to. I’ve been packing everything up. I leave for Vegas in the morning.

Matt: Do you think you'll win?

Gunnar: That’s a given, my friend. If you don’t go in thinking you are going to win, then you’ve already lost.

Gunnsson throws in 20 in chips.

Gunnar: Speaking of which, it’s time to beat all of you now.

Matt: We haven’t even dealt out the cards yet.

Gunnar: I know. That’s just how confident I am.

The boys all roared with excitement. They all then started laughing while they picked up their cards and looked at them. Gunnsson leaves his laying face down on the table. Another one of the boys pitched in with a comment.

Man: Well if anyone can win the match, you can.

Gunnar: I've won titles before, and hopefully I'll win and put myself in contention. Try and put myself in a position where I can say that I've done it again. I’m starting from scratch. And I am going to crush each and every wrestler they put in front of me under my boot. Literally, if need be.

There was again another loud praise of excitement. Matt dealt the rest of the cards and the first and second guy placed their blinds of 10 and 5. Gunnsson pulled his cards off of the table and took a good look at them. The first guy called his 20.

First guy: I got a good hand, boys!

Black man: Yeah, bull and you know it.

The black man threw his 20 in and the betting continued. The fifth guy in line said nothing. He merely raised the bet to twenty. Gunnsson sat there and contemplated what his first move would be. In the ring, he is quick on his feet, nimble for a big man. At poker, he is slow and deliberate. Somewhere along the line, someone threw in more chips. Gunnar throws in 30 more to match the bet.

Matt: Look at Gunny boy. He’s decided to play a little tonight! I thought you didn't have anything left in you!

Gunnar: Well, when I’m about to win 800 bucks, I suppose I can pitch in every now and then.

Gordon: How about you just give me a hundred dollars, Gunnar, and we'll call it a night?

Gunnar: You got a better chance of seeing Harvey Weinstein stay out of prison.

The guy sitting next to Gunnar kept smiling and laughing. He called the fifty.

Matt: I'll call.

Gunnsson made it a point not to say anything about the game. Of course, in poker, the fate of the game usually laid with the last card. Gunnsson has seen it time and time again, someone with a monster hand gets edged out on the river. It's like that in wrestling sometimes. You get someone who totally dominates his opponent, then loses to a quick roll up. Matt continued to flip over the cards as the game continued. The guys who had folded were floating around, running off into the kitchen or the bathroom to get or take care of whatever it was that they needed.

Matt: OK, boys, last card. It's all or nothing.

A few of the men were getting visibly annoyed at the fact that Matt was making a big show of flipping over the last card. Gunnsson, however, is sitting there with the same even leveled expression he's been showing all game. The most important thing in both poker and wrestling is you need to be able to quickly assess a situation and deal with it accordingly. Of course poker, much like wrestling, depends on the other players involved.

Matt: I'll flip first.

Matt had pocket nine’s from the get go. That gave him three of a kind 9’s. Matt looked at Gunnsson and then at the other guy. He didn't show any emotion, he was more than likely waiting for Gunnar to flip his cards.

Man: Well, do you want to flip first? Or would you like me too?

Gunnar: First to act, first to show. Flip it.

Man: Alright!

The man hesitated a bit and I became a bit nervous. Gunnsson's mind wondered from the game for a moment, his mind wondered off to his upcoming match. He was brought back the loud big sigh of relief as the flipped his cards. Matt stood up to get a better look at them. The man stood up as well. Three aces showed and Matt sat down, defeated. The man stared a hole through Gunnsson, who at this point was showing a look of disappointment.

Man: Well, I did it. Flip your cards already!

Gunnsson flipped his cards and revealed his flush, staring directly at his opponent. He said nothing. He just stood there staring at Gunnsson who immediately sat back down in his chair and kicked his feet up on the table. Matt reached for the pot and pushed it in Gunnsson's direction. The guy was stunned and he simply upped and walked away. The other guys cheered for Gunnsson and gave him pats on the back as he counted the money and shoved it in his pocket. Matt shook Gunnsson's hand and smiled.

Matt: Good job, man.

Gunnar: Thanks.

After the commotion ended, the rest of the guys met up in the living room to continue watching the game. Matt and Gunnar continued their conversation talking about this and that. Gunnar said his goodbyes, gathered some things and stepped outside with Matt. Outside, it was dark and there was a brisk wind. Gunnsson and Matt stood there in silence for a brief moment. Gunnsson reached into his pocket and pulled out the money he'd just won.

Gunnar: Here, take it.

Gunnsson handed the money to Matt, who looked rather confused.

Gunnar: I don't need it. You keep it.

Matt: Are you sure?

Gunnar: I probably owe it to you anyway. Put it into the restaurant.

Matt: I don't know what to say.

Gunnar: Don't say anything. Just take care of things and use the money for something important. Besides, I gotta go earn that money I got for signing the contract. Take it easy man, I got to get up, send the movers on their way and a flight to catch.

Matt: Good luck, man.

Gunnsson turns to Matt, his face completely serious.

Gunnar: This isn't poker, Matt. This is wrestling. In the ring, I don't need it. Luck, now there's something new to me. Perhaps I'll need it this week, and then again, perhaps I won't. But I’d rather put my faith in myself.

Gunnsson pats Matt on the back and walks over to his car and climbs in, driving off into the distance.

SOMETIME LATER

It is a cold, grey morning. The sun seems to be fighting the break through the large mass of clouds, but to no avail. The overcast sky seems appropriate, and the camera pans down to a near empty cemetery. The massive Gunnar Gunnsson walks down the main entrance, lined with giant oak trees that stand like silent sentinels looking over the souls of those that have passed. The camera follows a few paces behind Gunnar, keeping with his slow, methodical pace. Gunnar walks to a large monolith in the center of the graveyard. He takes a few moments to take it in before turning towards the camera.

Gunnar Gunnsson: This monolith… this is a symbol. It is a symbol of myself. When I stand in the ring, I look down at each and every opponent that I face. But Daniel Martin, you are special. You are that rare, magical unicorn that has an advantage over me. I know that I can’t take anyone in High Stakes lightly, but you especially. You are the one man on the roster that could possibly match my strength. I respect that. I really do. But that is the extent of the respect I will show you. Because this match isn’t about you, this match is about me. This match is about introducing Gunnar Gunnsson to the world. It is my job to go out to that ring and to take out the only other big dog in this pound. That part of the job I can handle.

Gunnar scoffs in disgust.

Gunnar: The part of the job I can’t handle is trying to sell this match. I cannot, in good consciousness, tell people that this will be a good match. I can’t tell the office. I can’t tell the audience. I can’t tell a single person that this will be a good match because this will be a mercy killing. I can sit here and say that I am bigger, more powerful, and anything else you can think of. But I want you to challenge me. I want you to prove that you think you are more powerful. I want you to prove that you think you can outsmart me in the ring. I want you to come at me with everything you’ve got. And, I want you to fail.

Gunnar begins walks around the cemetery, walking past various headstones as he continues to speak.

Gunnar: I know we don’t always get what we want in life. But I recognize the value in your effort. I can sit here and put myself over all day. But the fact of the matter is that the harder you fight, the better I look. It’s as easy as that. You are a stepping stone. You are one mere rung on the ladder than I am destined to climb. I cannot, and will not allow you to prevent me from doing what I came here to do.

Gunnsson stops and leans on a particularly tall headstone, folding his arms and resting his head on one them.

Gunnar: Do you know how I got the name “The Nordic Nightmare”? Because I knock your ass out and then I haunt you dreams like an Icelandic Freddy Krueger. See you at the show, buttercup.

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