There was a time during high school when Ronn and Scott and I would get together at Nick's house and play role-playing games; Nick ran Gamma World and Star Frontiers and every week or so we would load up on peppered beef jerky and Dr. Pepper at the Stop n' Go down the street and have all-night gaming marathons. Nick's room was a converted garage so he had a sliding glass door on one side that looked out onto the driveway, and a door into the main house on the other side.

So we were gaming there one night, the floor covered with papers and many-sided dice, when the sliding door opened and a very old man in a suit shuffled in. He looked at us and gave a wheezing chuckle. "Yez boys shootin' craps?" he asked. His voice rasped as if he had gargled with red-hot gravel twice a day for his entire life.

"No," Nick said. "We're playing a game."

The old man chuckled again. "I saw the dice there and thought yez was shootin' craps." He shuffled to the door that lead to the house and went through it, closing it firmly behind him.

We looked at each other, and then at Nick. "That's my great-uncle," Nick explained.

"I'm guessing he smokes a lot," I said.

Nick shook his head. "Someone cut his throat one time while he was sleeping."

"Jesus! What happened?"

Nick shrugged. "He woke up and went to the hospital."

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