He was on his knees. Back crouched down so that it was only a bit above horizontal. His hands were pointed forward, but his arms were close to him, tucked in and forming a natural armor. His range of vision was just enough to see the moves of everyone in the game, and whenever any one slipped into his blind spot, his hand instinctively touched his pocket, feeling for his knife.
He blew on his hands. A cold mist tickled them.
He shook the dice and his hand rattled as they flew onto the cracked concrete. Six. He rubbed his hands and grabbed the dice again, tossing them all in one motion. Before he knew it he was on his feet… rolling and pouncing on the dice and rolling again, shifting into a dance.
“Gotta keep it moving. Gotta keep it moving. Cause if I don’t keep it moving. Well I just gotta keep it moving, ” he said as he kept rolling, as if dancing on match sticks.
Six. “Time to collect.”
“Man fuck this,” said Bobby.
He dashed and swept up the cash, throwing down 20 more in the same motion.
“Stop all that dancing man, can’t nobody see the game, ” said G Murdah as she matched him, tossing in twenty.
“That’s just how I shoot,” he shrugged.
“I’m just saying that you making it harder for other people to see.”
“Now come on, ain’t nobody ever said you can’t move when you roll, ” He said as he never stopped shuffling his feet. Her attempt to break his rhythm failed, and he rolled again, falling back into the dance. That gallows dance, that reaper’s shuffle.
Six again and his fingers tickled as he swept the dice back up. Rolling and rolling, running and running, giving into that devil’s luck in the balls of his feet, and in the tips of his fingers. Again he rolled a six, and he could have sworn the dice twinkled red as they landed on double threes. His heart leapt and his mouth couldn’t stop smiling. Normally so cool, so empty, so unreadable, brimming with an excitement like no other. An excitement like those ecstasies left to scriptures and sutras. Violent Ashura’s raving in his eyes.
“Man this some bull,” said G murdah.
“Hate the game,” he said sweeping up the money as he replaced it with 60.
“Hey Bobby, hey hey Bobby,”
“You heard me tell him about that dancing right? What is this America’s got talent?”
“Gonna match my 60 or what?” he said, continuing to shuffle his feet, not being fazed or breaking his flow at all.
G put down 40 and Bobby added 20.
It was 42 degrees outside, but he was covered in sweat and a protective layer of heat like a runner just completing a marathon.
“I’m heating up, ” he said as he danced with the dice, feinting a few times and withdrawing his hand just before release.
“Nah you ain’t heating up, ” said G.
“Damn straight, I’m already hot, ” he said as he rolled another 6.
G and Bobby glanced at each other. The clutter from the voices in the periphery, watching the game and placing side bets, quieted.
Normally he would be feeling for his knife, but this game was different. There was something more beautiful. Something more soulful. There was something more musical about this game that he submitted to like a man falling into ecstasy or possessed by a Bacchic wager.
He gave into the music and danced, rolling again and again, each time avoiding the dreadful 7, each time feeling the 6 on the tips of his fingers.
And there it was, another 6!
G murdah and Bobby glanced at each other. Nobody spoke a word. Only the sound of his panting could be heard.
“Come on? What’s the deal guys?” he said as he grabbed his money.
G murdah put down 600 dollars and Bobby put down 200. They both stared him in the eye.
Five seconds passed. The look in their eyes told him that they weren’t going to let him leave unless he matched them.
He put down the 800 and then picked up the dice again. He set them and blew on his hand before rolling. Six.
He picked up the dice and rolled again. Then again. Then again. Sweat crept down his spine. Somehow he was more excited than scared. More than once he saw the dice twinkle red. More than once he heard that Bacchic song. Again, again and again, dancing that cultic dance.
Six! His eyes gleamed and his heart surged. Pure ecstasy surrounded everything around him. Pure bliss and joy. A thousand angels cloaking him with their touch. And in that moment he was shot.
Smoke wisped out of the tip of G murdah’s gun as she grabbed the money and started yelling. Some people ran and some rushed to check his body for cash. Others pulled out guns and knives. Bobby stabbed G in the back and someone shot Bobby twice in the chest.
And in this scene where murder and mayhem became the rule, the dice floated up above them all. Two threes pointing upwards, counting six with a crimson glow.