INT – night – card table in a discreetly lit, respectable-looking entertainment establishment
Helton sits at a table with seven others. All are nicely dressed, somewhat steam-punkish general style, and there are a lot of chips on the table. Helton has the smallest pile, but it’s substantial. He eyes his cards, and the lone 10 of spades in the center of the table, and tosses in a pair of chips. The next person folds silently, and the next puts in two to meet, and raises by three chips of a different kind. There are murmurs from the handful of onlookers around them.
Helton sits with five others at the table, his pile of chips is about average compared to the others at the table. He Pushes in a stack of 10 brightly colored chips next to the 3 of diamonds, adding to the pile already there, to many surprised exclamations by the onlookers, and the next guy slams down his card in disgust. The next guy around the table only has 10 chips of the same kind left. He nervously eyes the pot, his hand, his chips again, swallows, and pushes his stack in. The next guy folds. There are more onlookers.
Helton sits at a table with two guys left. There is a huge pot, and most of the remaining chips not in the pot are in front of Helton. The center card is a 9 of clubs. He carefully looks over the other two players stacks, and pushes in more than one of them has, to just match the other remaining player’s stack. The guy to his right trembles, realizing he’s forced out, not having enough chips. The guy to his left grimly pushes in his remaining chips. The largish crowd of onlookers exclaim and murmur.
Trembler: No. NO. You CAN’T force me out like this. You CAN’T!
Grim guy: Shut UP. You know the rules.
Trembler: You CAN’T!
Helton: If you can’t match, you’re out.
Trembler looks around at the other two players and the crowd desperately, looking for a way out of his bind, looking like he’d like to beg, but know it’s no use by itself.
Trembler: But… but… how, how-about-my-ship?
Helton and Grim guy both eye him. The surrounding crowd hushes to hear what happens next.
Helton: (flatly) Your ship.
Trembler: (starting scared, then getting more convinced) Yes. YES. I have a starship at the port over in Adelaide. I – I’ll put the title in the pot to match you. It’s worth far more than that, and-
He cuts himself off, as if fearing he’ll scare them into saying no.
Grim and Helton look at each other. Then at Trembler. At the pot. At each other.
Trembler: Hey, it’s not THAT unheard of – some famous ships have been won in card games!
Trembler pats his vest pocket. The crowd inhales in surprise.
Helton: Verify it before accepting?
Trembler gets out a slim packet of fancy paper with a credit-card sized hunk of plastic bonded into one corner. The dealer brings out a hand-held scanner unit. He scans Trembler’s face, and hand, then the title, scanning close to the corner smart-card. The unit beeps,
Inset: scan-unit reads “100 percent ownership of the twelve thousand ton starship Tajemnica verified.”
The dealer nods to the other players, indicating it’s his to bet.
Dealer: Are you pledging this ship as collateral for the bet on the table for this hand, of your own free will, and will transfer ownership to the winner, effective immediately, if you do not win fairly?
Trembler: (faintly) I do.
Dealer: Do both of you accept this asset title as a matching bet, going to the winner of this hand?
Helton: (Nodding) Yup.
Grim: (motionless) I… Yes.
The dealer nods places the title on top of the pot on the table.
Dealer: It’s a contract. All bets matched and called.
More crowd exclamations.
They all stare at each other.
Dealer: Show you cards now, please, gentlemen.
Trembler puts down his four cards. It’s a full house, using the center 9 to match his 9 of hearts, and a trio of fours. The crowd gasps and exclaims.
Grim smiles. He puts down his cards. ALSO a full house. The center 9 matches his 9 of spades, and he has a trio of jacks! Trembler starts to shake violently, sweat breaks out of his brow, but he doesn’t say a word, as everyone now stares at Helton.
Helton holds his hand silently for a moment. Looking at the pot. Then, ever so slowly, he puts them down, one at a time. 2 of spades. 2 of hearts. 2 of clubs… 2 of diamonds. The crowd explodes realizing that he won, beating TWO full houses. Grim just gets grimmer, and Trembler seems to faint dead away. The Dealer pushes the pile of chips towards Helton, who sits motionlessly, staring at the chips, with a growing smile.
Fade to black