A Deal with the Devil (cont.)Mature

"But to answer your question John, I was there on business. Anyway, where was I?" Jude scratched at his head.

"Horse betting with your psychic friend," Matthew blurted out, gulping down the last of the alcohol in his glass. That's one thing I always admired about the man; he kept track of conversation, and would often sound to the point. "Will you hurry it up, pal?"

"Okay, okay," Jude said, straightening out his jacket, "sheesh. I met Mr. Fleuric for some horse betting, and he did the same exact thing there as he did with the scandal; he predicted every outcome flawlessly, even down to the smallest detail. Hell of a thing, really. I had so many questions to ask him, but he didn't seem interested in talking about such a strange...miracle. Instead, he was more interested in making a significant wager."

"What made it significant?" I poured myself another drink, and polished the glass clean in seconds. Curiosity was burning in my gut.

"The bet was simple; whether I would win an Oscar this year, or not. With some of my breakthrough performances, and highly acclaimed roles, I am a bound to receive at least one. Hah! The tricky devil even let me decide which side to bet against - but the stakes! The stakes are the twist in this fizzling plot; he asked if I was willing to bet my life on it."

"And you said you would?"

"Of course, Matthew."

"You shouldn't risk what you can't afford to lose."

Jude laughed. "Coming from the world's richest bank owner, that's some mighty wise advice."

I interjected, "And Mr. Fleuric, what were his stakes?"

"The bastard said he would sign off the luxurious mansion," he claimed, his eyes as wide as a child's on Christmas, "you know, the one I was talking about, where the masquerade party was held. I've already discussed the value of the property with Thom, and his price was astronomical. I am glad I took him up on the wager!"

"You didn't..."

"I did John, I certainly did. He can't expect me to follow through, if by chance I don't win an Oscar. I doubt Mr. Fleuric would be so irrational as to murder me in order to claim his dues. But if I win, I guarantee you I will be demanding the deed." Jude laughed again, full of the joys that fortune provides.

"I didn't care to at first, to be honest, but to sweeten the deal, he mentioned a sudden change in luck would come my way if I accepted the wager. Luck, like the kind he had? If he knew a secret to it, I would have sold my soul on the spot!"

"One for the story books," Matthew sarcastically remarked, "you sure know how to captivate an audience, Jude. Are you ready John? I've heard enough, and it's late; you know how your wife gets - if you show up at sunrise reeking of bourbon, eyes as red as the devil's, she'll have your head."

"You're right about that, buddy. Let's get out of here." Matthew and I parted ways with the host of the evening. How strange it all seems now: to know that was the last time either of us would ever see Jude alive.

The End

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