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Poker Face

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Fraser has a poker face.

Well, damn it all.

I don’t know why I’m surprised by that.  This is the guy who can stand sentry duty and not blink when tourists throw things at him or feel him up.  He don’t respond to insults; he’s a champion at giving you the runaround when he wants to.  When I socked him in the mouth, he barely batted an eye.

Maybe I just liked thinking there was something Fraser wasn’t perfect at.  One stupid thing where I was better than him.

Maybe I liked thinking that at least I knew where I stood with him.

‘Cause now I have no friggin’ clue.

All those lines I throw out from time to time, testing the waters.  He bats ‘em right back, every time, like we’re just joking, like it don’t mean anything.  Since Fraser’s the guy with no poker face, it was easy enough to figure what that meant.  He wasn’t interested in anything but being buddies—was so uninterested that it didn’t even occur to him that I might have anything else in mind.  Innocent, uncomplicated Fraser.  And, you know, fine.  Not perfect, but fine.  Buddies is fine, I’ll take buddies.

But now. . .  Fraser’s got a poker face, and who knows what the hell he’s thinking? 

I thought Denny Scarpa had him hooked, and I was about ready to take her apart.  But he was playing her all down the line—the long johns, the “delightful kiss”—didn’t mean a thing.  Or did it?  Is Fraser the kind of guy who can kiss and not mean it?  Or the kind of guy who can like someone enough to kiss her, and act on it, and then close a trap on her cool as you please?

And what the hell does it mean when he touches me?  When he returns my lines with the same offhand earnestness that he uses for everything—shellac bugs, Inuit rock sculpture, calculating bullet trajectories in his head.  “I love you,” “And I, you.”

I’m screwed.

I lay down my two pair, Kings high.  Fraser’s got a full house, of course he does.

“I’ll take that air now, Ray,” he says, and his face gives me no hint how to take that.  Just a joke?  One of those times when he suddenly gets all literal-minded and expects me to actually give him a bottle of air?  Is he flirting, inviting, testing. . . ? 

Is he just playing with me?  Or worse, playing me?

Does he mean anything by it at all?

“I’m tapped out,” I say, as casual as I can.  Just a friendly little joke, nothing else going on here.

I’m standing pat, buddy.

You’re too good for me.