the gambler’s deed

by Maximiliano “Max” Gonzalez

Rotten, a drawing by Yana Danzig (grade 11)
audio: read by the author

We open with a man’s (THE GAMBLER’S) voice over on a darkened  screen: 


(slowly, hauntingly) Yes… Yes… I  killed him. 

 CUT TO:  


The lights then suddenly flicker on, and we are treated to  the bleeding corpse of a MAN, wearing only his pajamas. Red  blood is splattered everywhere on the white sheets of the bed  where the dead man lay. The narration continues. 


What caused me to commit this horrid,  

despicable act? What on Earth pushed  

me over the edge in this sudden act of  

destruction, this act of murdering the  

body and eliminating the soul of  

another human being and sending it to  

the lost sands of time and history?  

Well… it all began on the day he  

invited me to be his friend.  


We then cut to the gambler lying on the sidewalk with nothing  more than a small blanket, an undershirt, and some shorts. 


I was recently released from what the  

doctors there called a “mental  

hospital”. They said I was sent there  

in the first place so I could be cured  

of my “paranoid tendencies”. I know  

they’re lying. Why else would they  

just imprison me, an innocent man, for  

no reason and send me out with nothing  

more than a spare change of clothes  

and a blanket? I swear I’m innocent. I  

swear I was innocent of everything!  

Well… until now…. 

We cut to a close-up of the gambler’s face, eyes wide open  staring at the evening sky. 


I was busy contemplating the  

circumstances of my current situation,  


Suddenly, the shadow of another man appears right in front of  him. He proceeds to sit up and acknowledge him. 


… he showed up. 


(generally cheerful and good-natured)  


The man is dressed in a suit. The gambler treats him with  indifference at first. 


I was just taking a walk around, when  

I noticed you lying on the cold floor,  

all alone and with absolutely nothing. 

The gambler now perks up, having now great interest in the  man.


The man was a fool of the highest  

degree. Why would he, a complete  

stranger to me, come all this way just  

to speak with a lone, dirt-poor man  

without a home? Who was he? Has he  

come for me? Is this the manifestation  

of Death appearing right before me  

with a cheerful smile and a joyful  

disposition? I ask again, who was he?  

Nevertheless, while he spoke, I  

noticed he had some sort of charm  

that… intrigued me. 


Listen, I run a boarding house nearby,  

but I’ve never received any occupants  

willing to stay. Would you like to  

stay at my place? (stuttering) A-at  

least for the next couple of days.  

It’s clear that this sidewalk is no  

suitable place to stay. You could very  

well die! 

The gambler becomes very pensive. 


My life transpired into a cross-roads 

at this point. Now I am sure Death is  

standing with me. I could either die a  

slow and agonizing death from the  

forces of Nature and the impulses of  

Hunger, or die a much more quick death  

at the hands of this stranger. This  

stranger who came from Nowhere and is  

now the decider, the judge, the  

executioner of my fate. 

Suddenly, the gambler gets up. 


You want to come? 

The gambler nods. 


Oh, how wonderful! Maybe I’ll make a  

new friend in you. 

The two proceed to walk together along the sidewalk. 


But I couldn’t resist. I needed to  

know what would become of me. I’m  

tempting fate just so I could attain  

knowledge. Knowledge of his identity.  

Knowledge of what this madman would  

do–will do… to me. Who was he? 



A wipe transition occurs. We see the gambler, apparently  having been given great hospitality by the man, complete with a sandwich, a bowl of crackers, and some apple juice. He is  sitting at a table with a good view of the outside. The  gambler, however, has a rather apprehensive look on his face.  The man approaches the gambler. 


How’s everything going with you? Are  

you doing alright? 

The gambler nods. 


Would you like anything else to eat? 

The gambler shakes his head. 


Okay. (pause) Listen, I have a deck of  

cards in my room where I often play  

Solitaire. I don’t often get the  

opportunity to play with other people,  

so–and I’m just asking out of sheer  

curiosity–would you like to play a  

card game with me? 

The gambler gives a pensive look. The man leans closer to  him. 


I mean, we could even make it into a  

casino-type game. I could get a cup,  

fill it with a bunch of quarters, and  

then we could… 

The man’s voice fades out while he continues talking.  


Why is he acting like this? I still  

can’t fathom why he is acting so  

kindly to a hobo like me. I was  

convinced that this man was going to  

kill me. He’s just luring me into a  

false state of comfort, setting the  

trap for my inevitable demise at the  

hands of this madman. But my desire to  

learn about him was insatiable. I  

wanted to know more. I needed to know  



…be fun! So what do you say? 

The man reaches his arm as if he is asking for a handshake.  The gambler reaches out his hand, reluctantly at first, but  then confidently shakes his hand. 


Oh, splendid! Let me get the cards.  

I’ll be right back. 

The man leaves the table to get the cards. 


Well, after all, I supposed that a  

card game would help sooth my desires  

and fears for a little while. Besides,  

I needed the money. 

 CUT TO:  

We then cut to the man setting the cup of quarters onto the  table. The man places the deck of cards onto the table, and  begins shuffling.


Do you know how to play War? 

The gambler nods. 


Alright then. The winner gets to keep  

all of the coins in the cup. Aces are  

high; 2s are low. Shall we begin? 

The gambler nods again. 



He gives the gambler his portion of the deck. The two proceed  to play. 


I admit that I did find some… relative  

enjoyment with playing a simple little  

card game with this man. But my mind  

was as active as ever, desperately  

analyzing his every move for  

anything–ANYTHING–that would seem off.  

He was gleefully counting the minutes  

I had left on this Earth before he  

sent me to the netherworld, I swear.  

His smile says it all. 


(plays down a card) Oh look! We have  

the same face value. You know what  

that means!

The gambler looks up sharply, with fear. He stares directly  at the man. The man places three cards face down, and then  one face up. The gambler follows suit. 


I. De. Clare. War! Oh, look! (with a  

genuine smile) You won the war!  

(chuckles) You’re pretty good at this  

game, who knew. 

The gambler gives a nervous look, and then resumes the game. 


I can tell that his defense was  

starting to fall. He’s trying to  

initiate a conversation with me so  

that my mental fortitude stoops to his  

level. He’s a fool! He can never  

outsmart me in this game of death, no  

matter how smart he pretends to be.  

His nonsensical comments only grew  

from there. 


(while shuffling his cards) Do you  

want to know why I established this  

boarding house? Well, it’s quite  

simple. I’ve always wanted to do some  

goodwill to people in this relatively  

cruel world, and perhaps establishing  

a place where the homeless and  

economically destitute can temporarily  

stay is a good start. I even have an  

official legal permit, although I  

don’t currently have it at hand. It’s  

somewhere in this house, I swear. 

The man places his now-shuffled cards on the table and  continues playing.


Lies. All lies! He’s just like all  

those doctors back at the medical  

prison. It made me wonder whether… all  

humans are liars. I’m I a liar? No.  

No, no, no. Impossible! He’s the liar!  

And all good liars know how to  

manipulate their brethren. 

At this point, the two men have finished playing, with the  gambler emerging as the victor. The man proceeds to give the  cup of quarters to the gambler. 


Congratulations on winning! That was  

fun, wasn’t it? 

The gambler says nothing, only with eyes staring perpetually  at him. 


Hmm, not the type who talks often, I  

see. Very well then. (the two get up  

from their chairs, and walk towards  

the stairwell) I suppose it’s time for  

us to go to sleep. Your room is  

upstairs; second door to the right. 

The gambler proceeds to walk up the stairwell. 


Oh, and by the way. My name is  

Leopold. Let me know if you need  

anything. Goodnight!

The gambler holds onto the railing as he climbs up the  stairs, continually staring at Leopold. Leopold walks in the  direction of his room, but not before turning off the living  room light switch, leaving the house in perpetual darkness. 



We are now in the gambler’s boarding house room. The clock in  his room ticks on as the minutes pass by. The gambler has not  gotten any sleep, and he is just staring at the door of his  room, in anxious fear. 


I was expecting him. I’ve never felt  

so excited before. This sense of  

adrenaline rushing through my veins,  

the all-intrusive and recurring  

desires and thoughts of my brain  

racing around within the confines of  

my own mind was all so foreign to me.  

And as I lay there on that bed I  

couldn’t help but think that my life  

had just come full circle. I was born  

on a bed in the hospital, and now I  

was going to die on a bed, whether it  

be this one or, assuming that the man  

downstairs fails to kill me  

immediately, on a bed in the ambulance  

or the hospital itself. I was ready to  

die. But when would he come? 

The gambler turns to look outside. 


But I looked. I looked at the beauty  

of the outside, the beauty of the  

brightly-lit moon, the beauty of  

neighbors in peaceful slumber awaiting  

or dreaming about the opportunities  

life has to offer, the beauty of all  

the stars in the universe, individual

worlds we have yet to conquer and fill  

with our wildest imaginations and  

visions. (pause) And yet I won’t have  

the chance to experience any of it.  

He’s going to rid me of the  

experience. The experience of being. 

The gambler then proceeds to get up, with a neutral, yet  petrified face towards the door. As the gambler continues to  narrate, he walks through the door, down the stairwell, and  towards Leopold’s room. 

 CUT TO:  



Well, no matter. Death is only a  

natural process one must go through at  

some point in time, as is birth. I was  

never asked to be born, and I  

certainly wasn’t asked to be killed.  

But then again, neither was he. Quite  

honestly I felt a twinge of pity for  

this man who helped grant me some  

respite from the cruel forces of the  

outside. He truly seemed to be at  

peace with the beauty of life in a way  

that I never would be. But then again,  

doubt always crept in. 

 CUT TO:  


The gambler is now in Leopold’s room, and is now slowly  walking towards his bed. 


I’m known for being doubtful, dare I  

even say paranoid. The wardens at the  

prison would always mock me for it.  

But, like they say, every human being              on this planet has one ultimate end  

goal: to survive. Whether it be  

through tactics such as lying,  

stealing, or even killing, humanity,  

much like all the other animals, have  

always desired to survive and outlive  

each other in order to explore, and  

then control the universe. 

The gambler is now standing directly in front of a sleeping  Leopold. 


I’m, sadly, no exception to this. I’ve  

gambled my life away in a frugal  

attempt to survive. 

At this point the gambler is staring directly at Leopold,  sleeping away peacefully on his bed. He stands there for  about ten seconds, and then suddenly leaps onto the bed with  Leopold below, letting out an anguished, bloodcurdling scream  in the process. Leopold jumps in fear as the gambler lands on  top of him. When that happens, the screen cuts to black, and  the sounds of banging, struggle, and the bed moving are  heard. This lasts for another 8-10 seconds until the noises  stop. Roll credits.