The Tree is Watered.
My decision to throw a game was a mixed success, and I shall run down the details of it for your amusement here.
Donning the aforementioned shambles of a tuxedo and having practiced my stumble-walk on the way to Ray's, I slurred a quick hello to him before making down an imagined tunnel to the bar. I could feel his eyes on my back as I clumsily mixed up a concoction which, through deft sleight of hand and clever use of the pouring thumb, contained nothing more potent than club soda, ice, and a wedge of lime. Just the thing to totter around with. Soon I sensed him sensing that just then was probably an opportune moment for a rematch, as it was rather early for him to be in his cups, yet here I was with my three sheets, etc. He patted his breast pocket, I pantomimed a greedy grabbing motion, and we were off.
It's not as easy to throw a game to Ray Smuckles as one might think. In the end I was forced to play far more precisely than usual, delicatetly missing my own shot while leaving him a lovely lag for a nice short one of his own. Naturally as his "luck" improved, he began to reward himself with a finger of this or two of that after each game, and always insisted that I take a snoot myself. I don't mind telling you that after a few rations of the Talisker I got a bit of a temper going and, annoyed with having to play so well just to engineer a loss, I began to slip and sink shots of my own. Sensing the tables turning, Ray, incorrigible gambler that he is, became tense and insatiable. Wagers rose as he attempted to regain his earlier glories, and I cut him off at a $5300 take, citing uncooperative pupils and an incipient nausea. As I wandered out of the garden, a bit sick at myself for fleecing him again so quickly, I wondered if my plan hadn't worked too well. Now he'll be calling me more often, the taste of those early victories forever fresh in his mind.
As I shut the gate I heard him bragging about having put a few over on "Poor Old Cornelius." At that I fingered the wad in my pocket and vowed that it would grow by leaps and bounds in the coming week.