In the beginning, it was him taking too many chances, and me trying to disregard them, so I could make sure I was strong enough for the finale. I was immature, but he was more, and despite the age difference (and how he said it would never work) he kept dealing his cards, and the larger the pack became, the more I wanted to keep playing.

I gambled my principal objectives of building a strong enough wall for myself, away, along with my ability to make shrewd decisions and my moral sense of judgement. After succeeding in encouraging me to wager every single particle of my skin (where I could take it all back at any given time), he smiled his plastic, croupier smile, and won everything I had laid down on the table. In addition to being the dealer, he was a player, and this is where I realised the game was horribly wrong.

But it was too late, and I was hooked. Every night I would sit at the gaming table, silver cigarette holder lodged permanently between left fore and middle finger, and a consistent pathetic hand in the right. After another inevitable loss, he'd take me in his arms and I'd slur, into his ears and across the nape of his neck, words I would never remember in the morning. He would suck on my liquor-laced lips, stealing away whatever fragment of myself I had thrown onto the table that night, and eventually I'd melt into him. At the time, I never knew what I was getting myself into. But he knew. He knew, because not only had he begun the game, but he was going to end it (and leave his winnings to redeem themselves, by themselves).

On the last night he produced his deck and instead of dealing, he fanned them out infront of me. The shimmering glaze that had blanketed the new pack of cards had rotted into a repulsive tinge of yellow, and the corners were more dog-eared and battered than the pages of my existence. I tapped loose ash out of the end of my cigarette, burning the surface of the queen of hearts (off with her head!), and demanded he deal the cards. I was impatient, and I wanted to play.
He gathered them up again, and gracefully shuffled through, the riffle, the overhand and finally the cut. He threw the cards back into my face, and they fell, slowly, in a disarray of black and red to the floor. Behind the veil of falling cards I could see his joker laugh, mocking me.

Alcoholics Anonymous (but only for the hooked, and the hopeless), was the piteous excuse for the cracked lips, bloodshot eyes and more or less broken-heart. The slur developed into high-pitched shrieks and erratic, gulping sobs that lacerated through the already broken players that flanked me.
Narcotics Anonymous, Smokers Anonymous, Help-I-Can't-Let-Go Anonymous, and a myriad of lies and deception, but I could only fool the people around me, and the truth slowly ate away at the little mortality I had left.

He played his game too well, and I followed and complied to the rules too easily. I was never prepared for the finale, and he made sure of that. I guess that's where he won, and I lost (everything).