Going All In

by Stephanie C. Lyons-Keeley & Wayne J. Keeley

Three mismatched suburban couples, Steve and Katie, Marty and Erin, and Scarlett Three mismatched suburban couples, Steve and Katie, Marty and Erin, and Scarlett and C. Thomas have been neighbors and friends for years. During a pummeling Connecticut Nor’Easter, the members of the bored triptych engage in a friendly game of Texas Hold’em in front of the fire over more than a few bottles of Merlot. The impromptu get-together eventually leads to the institution of regular alcohol-driven, bi-weekly poker nights.

One evening on a lark, someone suggests an alternate payout – instead of pocket change, the winner may choose a player (other than his or her spouse) with whom to spend the night. The proposition takes shape, but complications arise as these things will.

All too quickly, friendships are strained and relationships begin to crumble. Lies are told, truths are exposed, and feelings are hurt. In the end, can anyone bear the weight of this wanton self-indulgence? They are six fully consenting adults, and after all, it’s only a game. Or is it?



Somebody was dead.

There was no doubt about it.

To the crowd of onlookers, the four state police cruisers parked haphazardly in the middle of the block might have been their tip-off. The synchronous, revolving red and blue lights imbued a strobe-like, Christmassy glow despite the humidity of the late September evening. With Indian summer still going strong, it felt more like July than what had already turned to autumn. The citizens of the tony, sleepy town of New Fairfield, Connecticut—a ’burb tightly tucked between the larger cities of Danbury and its neighboring Brewster, New York—were unused to this kind of activity. Ordinarily there never would be more than a single town police cruiser driving lazily through the streets, rarely citing anyone for an offense greater than blowing off a stop sign or using a hand-held mobile device.

It also might have been the presence of the volunteer fire truck which was only dispatched for emergencies, fire-related or otherwise. Then again, it might have been the handful of paramedics busying themselves in and around the city of Danbury’s ambulances. New Fairfield did not have any of their own. Or, it might have been the hum of the throng of onlookers themselves who filled the sidewalk-less street, spilling over onto neighbors’ lawns while they craned their necks to get a better look at the unfolding scene.

The atmosphere was downright electric.

It might have been all of those things that hissed of death in the air; visceral yet at the same time palpable, like the sight of the Grim Reaper’s scythe. But it became a certainty when two paramedics appeared in the doorway, deftly rolling a gurney from the house. On it was a body draped in a white sheet, belted tightly, as if they were trying to keep it safe from harm.

The low hum quickly turned to a buzz, pulsating through the crowd from front to back; at first questioning then demanding. The prattle of the onlookers became more intense by the minute. The confirmation of a death became supplanted by a headier, more potent possibility. Could it have been—murder?

Homicide was almost unheard of in New Fairfield. The exception, perhaps, was an incident a few years before when a beloved, retired elementary school teacher had shot his mail carrier. He had developed dementia and mistook him for an intruder. But that certainly was an anomaly; a definite aberration in the order of things. Indeed, New Fairfield did not have a homicide division or a coroner, instead relying upon Danbury to come in and clean up such messes.

"Going All In" by Stephanie C. Lyons-Keeley & Wayne J. Keeley



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