The Cult of Following, Book Twoby Barbara Jaques / Humor
The Cult of Following
Editor: Moz Walls
Copy Editor: Lydia Davis
Cover: Ed Knox
Formatting: Elizabeth Freeman
First edition published April 2017
Copyright © 2017 Barbara Jaques
Table of Contents
1. FIVE CARD FLUSH
3. THE DISCUSSION GROUP
5. FUELLED BY HAM CHIM PENG
6. TONIGHT'S TOPIC
7. HAW PAR VILLA. AGAIN
9. SUNGEI BULOH
11. PATTING THE EXPATRIATE
14. EYE OF THE DAY
15. JOYANN'S DOGGY DELIGHTS
16. HESTER'S CREATIVITY
17. A MEN
18. WHEN THE BLANKET IS LONG ENOUGH
19. FOREVER YOUNG
20. UNTIL DEATH
21. AND THEN THERE WERE MANY
22. SAVE ME
23. THE PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS
25. THE TEMPLE ROOM
27. JOYANN MEETS THE BOY
28. ART'S SISTER
29. CRAYFISH TAKES ON CRAB
30. THANK GOD
EPILOGUE. THE BIGGEST MIRACLE
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
1. FIVE CARD FLUSH
Percy Field sighed. What was apparent to everyone was that he was bored of Norm asking them all to repeat the rules. ‘We’re not placing bets,’ he said for the fourth time, ‘just winning hands.’
‘But what about the dealer? What does the dealer do?’
‘Everyone is dealt a hand of seven cards, and after that, the game begins.’
Norman Sullivan’s focus shifted from studying the remainder of the pack in his hand, to meeting his hero’s weary gaze. ‘So it’s the same for the dealer?’ he asked, shuffling his chair closer to the table and away from the edge of the swimming pool. Though it was after dark, two young families were playing a game that occasionally sent plumes of water everywhere.
‘Precisely what I am saying, Norm; it’s the same for the dealer. You deal, just as you have, then you join the game like any other player.’ Scowling now, Percy’s sour gaze briefly visited the faces of others sitting around the table, shadowy in the low light.
‘For Christ’s sake, yes! Exactly like life, Norm, a random deal then off you go. Except life is harder than Rummy.’
‘You’re saying that life’s a game and a tough one?’
The frown deepened.
Norm watched as Percy began organising his cards into some kind of order. ‘Is that what you’re saying, Percy?’ he pressed.
Without raising his gaze, Percy responded to Norm’s repeated question with barely a grunt.
‘I like that,’ Norm declared, brightly, ‘we’re dealt a random hand and have to make the most of it.’
Percy silently slipped his cards into different positions, within the fan pinched between his fingers, visibly assessing and reassessing his hand.
Norm enjoyed the pleasant sensation flooding across his chest, as if the warm hands of the God he had always loved were caressing him. He considered that in his own morose way, Percy so often picked truth from circumstance, drawing metaphors that helped others rationalise the difficulties of life. He did it succinctly and with total confidence, Norm felt, brushing aside the frivolity of discussion. At that moment, with good friends gathered around the lovely pool that served his welcoming condo, playing cards – something he never dreamed he ever would – Norm felt change leaning upon him like never before.
While he’d been thinking, the game had begun and his turn had come.
‘Norm,’ Percy prompted.
Percy nodded to Norm’s hand.
‘Oh. Oh, hang on. One more moment. I haven’t worked out what to put down… so I need… what was it? Oh, I have it. A five card flush?’
‘That is the wrong game, Norman,’ came the patient voice of Joyann Tan. ‘We have moved on to something simpler.’ She smiled kindly, pretty brown eyes twinkling. ‘Perhaps if we take a short break, to refresh our glasses or use your bathroom, you might permit me to explain it again for you? Okay?’
Norm nodded in agreement, ‘But I feel a fool,’ he said, dully, ‘it’s probably very straightforward.’
‘It is,’ interjected Percy.
Joyann admonished him, ‘Percy, anything is straightforward once you know how.’
Without replying, Percy left the table and stretched his legs, reaching for a wine bottle as he did so.
Norm remained seated, waiting for Joyann to begin, wondering if it was the Singaporean way to offer such gentle patience, or simply the person she was.
‘May I look at your cards?’ she asked. ‘That way I might better demonstrate my meaning.’ She paused thoughtfully. ‘Actually, no; we can use mine, then you will be able to play your own cards as you see fit.’