Chapter 5

Órdago (all-or-nothing card bet)

Illustration de Paloma Agüera

Like every afternoon around the same time, he enters the Bar Cafeteria El Hórreo and asks for a soda and the newspaper. The waiter serves him the drink with some olives at the counter and reminds him, as he does every day, to be careful, these are the one with kernels. A bit later, like every afternoon around the same time, the usual ones sit down to play cards at the table under the television. They ask for a playmat, some gaming tokens and a drink that is a mixture of alcohol and soda for each of them.

– “So what? Are you going to play?” – asks the one who shuffles the cards to the guy at the counter who is staggering with a soda in his hands – “There is one missing today”.

He puts down the newspaper, which he was only able to glimpse, and when he tries to put the glass back on the counter, it falls.

– “Damn!” – he hears someone complaining from the kitchen –  “Again…”

The guy with the soda who just broke the glass apologizes and, in an unbalanced way, approaches the table where they are already waiting for him to deal the cards. Four cards per head and there is no room to discard any card. 

– “I send the big one.”

– “I see” – replies the one with the soda.

An hour later, and a couple of drinks later, the guy with the soda and his partner are comfortably winning. Other customers move around the table as spectators, comment on some of the moves and wait for their turn when one of the pairs loses.

– “I can’t play with this guy anymore” – says one of the losers – “He makes gestures and then denies them, that’s renouncing!”

The spectators and the cook, the one who was complaining about the broken glass, confirm the renounce and support the idea of never letting him play again.

– “But can’t you see it’s because of his disease” – the waiter replies.

The accused, who keeps moving in his chair, wants to say something but he mumbles and cannot be understood.

– “Look at him! Even when he’s not playing, he’s making gestures” comments a spectator while everyone in the room laughs. 

The guy with the soda, who now has more facial tics than when he started the game, manages to get up and, after a couple of wobbles, makes room to get out of the group of people who keep laughing at him.

The waiter, who is admonishing the rest of the customers, reminds the guy with a soda, as he does every day, to be careful with the step but, before he finishes the sentence, the patient has already fallen and all those watching from inside are frightened for a few seconds, then pretend to get up, but end up moving on with their game. 

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