The Goddess of Cribbage


The Goddess of CribbageA tickle stuck in her throat: It was this side of a choke. Heather trussed the silent woman’s hands together with a tight double-looped knot. She hadn’t meant for Fran to get in the way—it just sort of happened. Fran was her friend, her comrade-in-cards. She’d simply been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Fran moaned, and Heather’s tickle slid down to her belly—grinding there.

Heather turned and looked at the Goddess, eyes whiting up and rolling back into her head, moving back into the days before—so many days before.

She shit at cribbage. Shit—shit—shit—and it really pissed her off. Being the butt of jokes had been okay at first. Gave Heather a place in the great scheme of things. Neither a beggar nor a winner be… Heather couldn’t line up a decent cribbage hand if her life depended on it. It wasn’t bad ‘cept for when Doubles was the game. There wasn’t a turd in the group that wanted to grace her right side with a crib discard: It would always round out the competitions’ points and hurt theirs’. It was like she rubbed off on those who complemented her—toilet paper to shit, as it were.

Leastways, that’s what Ted said. Ted (even being her husband and all) did his best not to let the tourney-makers hook him up with Heather. Word was he had paid the grandmaster more than once to push her off to the side as a freewheel—loose goose—a player without a partner, so to speak. She had let him do it to her—even understood for a while.

She’d been watching that TV show: The one where all the people hung in space in a goddamned, living, eggplant-shaped thing. The one where Henson’s Muppets tried to steal the show and, Crichton—Crighton—or whatever the hell his name was gently washed over all the other characters with gems of charm and goodwill. She’d been practicing again when Ted’s preset remote control flicked the TV on some Dirty Harry movie he’d been planning to watch.

Fuck, she mumbled under her breath. Ted strolled in the room; Molson’s Golden in hand, and flopped down in his special chair. It had been her mother’s special chair before she died a hard death last year. Cancer ate her jaw away, leaving her to scribble her conversations on a notebook in the end.

Louise, her mother, left her two things when she died: the house and a key to a room in the cellar that she had never been allowed to enter; Dad’s Getaway, they had always called it. He fixed it up with a TV and a satellite hookup, a little fridge and a supply of beer, ice, and tonic. Nobody made it near the cellar door after Dad went downstairs to his Getaway. Nobody ever made it past the door of his Getaway, period.

He said he went there to meditate on his skills on nights before cribbage nights. Heather never understood how the hell he meditated—the television was usually blaring away, rocking the underside of the house, making it dance beneath their feet on the first floor. He ended up soundproofing the first and second floor; gutting the walls and stuffing insulation in even the interior walls, sealing them up with three-quarter-inch plywood; sleeping wasn’t hard after that. Dad made his living in the off-season at the cribbage tourneys. Winters, usually quiet, wind-swept times, were loud and raucous at least twice a week.

Ted guffawed through a Dirty-Harry highpoint. “You see that, Heather? C’mere—give Daddy a kiss.”

She wanted to slap him.  In her mind’s eye, she hauled back and whacked him, propelling the drip of Molson’s on his meaty lower lip across the room.  She held back.

Heather snapped back to the moment. Fran moaned again, gurgling something almost intelligible. She should never have butted in where she didn’t belong.

Heather wove her way down the stairs dragging Fran.  The Goddess waited.  Her father’s secret was out and she could picture him rolling over in his grave.  Think of it– a body in silent repose in a semblance of a crypt buried six feet down–eyes bursting open as she invaded what had once been his territory.

Fran groaned again and Heather upsided her head.  Fran fell silent.  The Goddess waited.  Heather would shine tonight in her cribbage game.  She placed the limp body in front of the idol, swiftly slashing the throat of her best friend.  Blood sprayed and she thought about the mess she would have to clean up later.

For now, Heather stepped over the body of her limp friend, gathered up her father’s cards and cribbage board, and left for the tourney.

Copyright 2017 Joyce Bowen


About the Author:  Joyce Bowen is a freelance writer and public speaker.  Inquiries can be made at

Sobre el autor: Joyce Bowen es un escritor independiente y orador público. Las consultas pueden hacerse en


My Patron site.  Please support my work.

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