October 21, 2009

The Eight of Diamonds

“I’ve decided to leave the deck,” announced the eight of diamonds dramatically one evening at the diamond dinner table.

Everybody looked at her.

“I want to become a bookmark,” she continued, spilling words quickly so as not to be interrupted. “They leave their books lying around open on their faces all the time. It’s criminal! Poor books. Their spines will be ruined.”

Everybody looked at her.

“A very noble thought, my dear,” said the queen calmly, adjusting her glittering diamond bracelets, “but surely, they’ll return you to the deck when they discover you in one of their books.”

“Not here!” said the eight, enthused. “Somewhere … else.”

“Oh, that narrows it down,” smirked the jack.

“Shut up! Shut up! Shut up!” reasoned the eight.

The king sighed and said, “Now, now, let’s have no fuss. Eight wants to be a bookmark. Nothing wrong with that. Joker can fill in for her. I say go, my dear, if you must.”

Everybody fluttered in amazement. Eight jumped up and hugged the king. The jack twisted jealously in his seat. All the little numbers, five and under, squealed with excitement. Six and seven leaned together, wide-eyed, whispering. The ace was sent to summon the joker. Nine and ten embraced eight and wished her luck.

“Be off then,” said the queen in a strangled voice while diamond tears ran down her face.

“It’s for the best,” said the king, patting the queen’s hand.

“She was always your favorite,” sobbed the queen without adding, “Mine, too.”

The eight fairly flew down the street after slipping out under the door. She peered in window after window until she saw a book lying opened face down on the marble mantel of a fireplace. In a flash she was under the door, onto the mantel and slipping under, up and into the book, slamming it closed.

“Oh, thank you, miss,” said the book, which happened to be Oliver Twist.

“My pleasure,” said the eight, supremely pleased.

And she was the family bookmark for the next two hundred years.

Moral: Sometimes playing cards prefer to be working cards.

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