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“I’m turning 4 tricks tonight,” she said over her cards back in the Salon, as they called it. She had an ace of spades and one of diamonds, a three of spades and a queen of clubs. The nine other cards in her hand were basically jokers.

“I’m turning one trick,” Suzika had said at the table with cigarette burns in it. And right now Suzika was walking up and down the block quite purposefully in her tight mauve dress and her very very high heels.

An early trick is easy when you have no hearts, and can play a low spade. Spades are black shriveled little inverted hearts, and they trump everything in this game.

After the first trick she went to the all night pharmacy; she bought a pack of cigarettes—Dromedary Royal Red—and some contact lens fluid for almost fifteen bucks. A queen of clubs is the queen of a big bush: the second trick took no longer than it takes to go around the block. She came back with two fives and bought an unfresh sandwich, some kettle-cooked original flavored Laid Chips, and a bottle of CaCoCola.

She ate the sandwich and crunched chips and sipped the Cack at a café closed down for the night. Her chair was chained to three others. Across the street she saw a Romantique Flower Delivery van whistle at Suzika. Then it performed a U-turn and pulled up to Suzika, who kept walking. The van followed along a bit and then drove off and Suzika was not on the street anymore.


There was a 24-hour drive through O’Donald’s across the street. There was a minivan as red as the ace of diamonds in the parking lot. Three tricks.

And Suzika was already back in the fluorescent Salon at the Palm Screen motel, drinking one of her club sodas and shuffling the deck for Spades as a fat gecko ate cockroach caviar behind the minifridge. She never did more than her one, but she always bummed cigarettes too. And, three, she was kind of boring.

Trick number four was John. He came every night and left if she wasn’t there. He was quite overweight and just liked to talk. He sweated and took pills to sweat less. But in this Miami heat, he sweated and the pills made his dick not work.

After some obligatory and doomed-to-fail mouth play, they would sit and talk for the rest of the hour. He would leave at three in the morning reeking of cigarettes, hers.

When she came back to the horrible little room the cards were shuffled and the other two were already in. They had been outrageous and bet 4 tricks each and not even gotten close. She and Suzika earned fifty points and the other two lost eighty.