The excuse of card games
For years, four characters had gathered on the last Saturday of each month for a card game. The group consisted of James, the witty accountant who always had a quip at the ready, Abi, the quiet but observant librarian, Vis, the jovial retired teacher who told stories as easily as he played cards, and Sunil, the software engineer with a mind as sharp as the cards they shuffled.
At first glance, these gatherings seemed nothing more than a simple, congenial card game amongst friends. But for James, something had been gnawing at him over the months. He couldn't quite put his finger on it, but he had an inkling that someone was cheating. So, one fateful evening, as they gathered around the table with their poker chips and deck of cards, he decided to keep a close eye on each of his friends.
As the game began, James watched intently. Abi had always been a master at keeping her emotions in check, but he was sure there was a subtle change in her demeanor when she held a winning hand. Vis continued to share his delightful anecdotes, but James noticed his gaze often wandered to the cards on the table, as if he were memorizing them. And then there was Sunil, who seemed to be too quick in dealing and shuffling the cards. James couldn't shake the feeling that something was amiss.
Determined to uncover the truth, James decided to engage in some subtle detective work of his own. He devised a plan to introduce marked cards into the game, with invisible ink that only he could see with a pair of special glasses he had procured. James had spent weeks practicing his sleight of hand, and he was ready to catch the cheater red-handed.
The game continued, and James meticulously kept track of the cards with his hidden glasses. Slowly but surely, the evidence began to mount. Abi had been subtly glancing at the invisible markings on her cards, using them to her advantage. Vis, while maintaining his facade of storytelling, was using his memorized knowledge of the cards to make strategic bets. And Sunil, with his quick shuffling, was controlling the flow of the game and ensuring he always got the upper hand.
With a heavy heart, James decided to confront them. As the next round began, he cleared his throat and spoke, "I've noticed something quite interesting, my friends. It seems we've had some invisible ink making its way into our cards tonight." He produced the special glasses and put them on, revealing the markings on each card.
The room fell silent as James turned the spotlight on Abi, Vis, and Sunil. Their expressions ranged from surprise to guilt. Abi lowered her head, unable to meet James' accusing gaze. Vis's stories had abandoned him, leaving him stammering for an explanation. Sunil, his engineering mind working quickly, began to apologize profusely.
In the end, they all admitted to their transgressions. Abi confessed that she had been using the markings to her advantage, Vis admitted to his memory-assisted cheating, and Sunil apologized for manipulating the game with his quick hands.
The revelation was a turning point for the group. They decided to continue their monthly gatherings, but the card games were now played with a renewed sense of honesty and camaraderie. With the cheating behind them, they found that the true joy of their gatherings was not the competition, but the friendship they shared and the stories they told. And as the cards were shuffled once more, they knew that the game was no longer a battle of wits but a celebration of their enduring bond.