Bruno, Harvey, Dimitri and I, we go way back, as people remark. We do not see each other very often, but we all are very faithful friends.
The last time we were together we played a game of strip-poker.
Harvey lost the first hand.
He, by the way, the game we play is not about removing a piece of clothing but about revealing something about oneself the others do not yet know, he, Harvey, told us that despite the fact he was married with 3 children, he was gay.
A thick silence hovered the card table until the dealer shuffled the cards again.
Harvey lost two more rounds.
After Dimitri lost the next one, he told us he had raped a girl when he was twenty years old. He heard she’d become pregnant, he left the country and never heard of her again. Somewhere, there could be a child of his that he had not yet cuddled. His eyes misted.
Drinking became more intense.
Bruno’s hands started shaking when he lost the next turn. He admitted robbing at gun point a woman who was probably 80 years old, when he was in need of dope. He savagely knocked her up unconscious when she refused to let go of her purse.
Soon after that he joined the Army.
We were so surprised to find that out since of all of us Bruno is the gentlest.
One of us got up for a smoke, an other went to fetch some food from the fridge.
When we resumed the game, although I was the better poker player, I lost. The three heads, almost at the same time, swiveled towards me. I could feel the anticipation they felt to hear what I had to say.
After coughing, I told them I was an inveterate liar. Sort of. I was a story teller who had created their characters out of my imagination.
I was going to add something else when the door of the Gulag’s barrack was flung open by the guard who screamed: “Get up you lazy filthy bastards!
The cold air of the Kolyma winter made the baton of the sadistic guard less painful.