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Road Trip to Alberta, Chapter Two

Road Trip to Alberta 2.5

I wish it had all played out differently! Of course of course of course I wish that! I have to leave Los Angeles now, there’s no choice, even Grandma seemed to know, probably before I did. She’s amazing. Soh Ju Chen had made it crystal clear – in really way, way too much detail – about what he was going to do to me if I ever stepped into the Endboss Cardroom again. Or did he extend that to all of Gardena?

I’m not sure what the boundary is, I may have to find out, but I don’t think he’s in the mood to talk. Honestly these muscle-bound spark-plug mohawk sportsbook Asians are pretty scary, like they are going to detonate on contact or something. (At least Soh Ju had good breath, don’t get me started on some of the Orientals. I told him about breathing exercises once when we were at Gila’s but he had just punched me in the stomach, lightly but kind of hard.)

Plus, Grandma had been patient for a long time. Despite the dementia, apoplexy and paralysis, she let me take my time.

Why?

CRAP! Well, we’re taking the 405 now. Should be okay at this hour.

Why did she let me take my time? Because I was happy. I know she knows it, she has empathy, I’m sure of it. I can feel it, even behind the oxygen mask and her favorite dark sunglasses.

I was happy, and I was happy because I was earning! Earning for the first time in my life! I was making money! I had stuff again! Really, I’ve never had such a run before.

Admittedly I have to thank Soh Ju for some of this. Funny, right? Not only did he give me helpful pointers (at least before the private game stuff and the RFI and glasses and stuff happened, damn why did I get so greedy) but he also got me onto the Endboss stream and its amazing games.

Whatever trouble is between Soh Ju and me now, I’ll always be grateful to him.

I was happy, because the funny things is, it wasn’t really about the money, or not all (I didn’t know how much I needed independence, perhaps.) For the first time, I was somebody. People knew me, respected me. Have you heard the intros?

“…with IAN SNIFTER on stream TONIGHT!” I can close my eyes and hear it, see it, smell it.

Respect. It’s why we play, why we gamble. I always tell people. Everything in poker is about respect. It’s how we keep score. Remember the Halloween Game… I can see my face, on stream itself…

JESUS that was close! “Hey FUCK YOU! These drivers, man. L.A. traffic is wild, it’s like driving in that matrix highway chase, or it’s just being stopped dead and having to watch some guy pick his nose for an hour. You gotta really keep your eyes open.

Still, how did we end up here? Just how did I get here? I’ve asked Grandma (and myself) many times, but aside from that expressive stare, those black eyes like two burnt chickpeas, she doesn’t have much to add.

One day, I found the brochure on the table. I understood immediately.

Up to that day, taking care hadn’t been easy, that’s just dead obvious, a cliché. Of course old people belong in nursing homes, that’s how we do it in today’s society. However, exceptions arise. I was willing to move into her place after the divorce and look after her.

You keep learning in life.

And now, when she really needs me to help her do the brave thing, to make her stand, I’m here, I’m going to be there. Wherever. Not stopping until I reach my brother’s place in the People’s Republic.

(It should be safe. I’m almost one hundred percent positive I never told Soh Juh about him or Canada.)

WHEN DOES THIS TRAFFIC MOVE? How the fuck did we get here? I check the route on mapquest. The route’s not changing at least and 405 is not moving. The sun’s going down. I don’t think I can put in many more miles today.

I look over my shoulder and sigh. There’s a driver picking her nose. She’d dark haired, hot, with those pencil-drawn eyebrows.

File that one away. The road is long but beautiful. I check on Grandma, she looks like she’s awake. Should I give her eyebrows? Does she want them? I just want her to be happy. Sometimes I really wish she’d speak. She’s so amazing.

At least we’ll get out of L.A. today. I think. Maybe.

I wonder if Soh Ju ever goes jogging here? No, that makes no sense!

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