"Long day, John?"
John Loke nodded slowly, his chin not hurrying to meet his chest, his eyes not rushing to rise back to their usual level. His exhaustion was obvious in his every movement, it was etched into his face.
John's day had begun early that morning, he'd had many errands to run before he could come to the table that night: a trip to the bank, a stop at the liquor store, more phone calls than he could remember.
He eased himself into his leather chair, donned his sunglasses and pulled out a cigar. He had never lit a cigar in all the nights they had gathered for this ritual of money, secrets and lies. He just chewed it thoughtfully, rolling it from one side of his mouth to the other like a lollipop.
He had missed a few nights along the way, never explaining why and he was never asked. You either showed up with your money, or you didn't.
John Loke was a man of few words, respected by all the souls gathered around that table and liked by a few. His head was always shaved to a reflective gleam and he never wore a watch. He never tipped his hand, he knew a bluff when he saw one and he played poker as though ice flowed through his veins.
The man known as John Loke was ready to play.
But this was not John Loke.