Iowa

by J. Bradley

The toupee shouts something about American excellence as it waves its .357 Magnum around like a flag. Everyone except the dealer cowers beneath the card table. The dealer calms the toupee down through a combination of agreement, affirmation, and a soft sung rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. The other players refuse to look at the toupee and each other as they reclaim their seats.

The prince takes a Swiss Army knife out of his breast pocket, picks his teeth with it. The toupee shouts that if the prince believed in American excellence, he should be using a Bowie knife instead. The college dropout says he did that a few times, shows the toupee the scars on his gums. The dealer holds the .357 Magnum down before the toupee can pick it up again.

The toupee suggests something a little more high stakes, demands everyone at the table prove they can bleed like a good American should. The prince reminds the toupee how that game was invented by the Russians.

When the dealer reveals he has blackjack, the toupee sprays lighter fluid on its city of chips. The prince and the college dropout argue over what will reach the doused chips first: the dealer or the lit match.