: The Dealer :

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an excerpt by Richard Burgin

The dealer is a giant with a body like a bear’s. I’m a good-sized man but the dealer is taller and substantially heavier. Big as he is, his voice is even bigger and compels you to listen to it. There’s something else that’s special about his voice. When he talks you believe what he’s saying, at least initially, which gives him a tremendous advantage. It’s a voice of absolute confidence.

I met him at the regular basketball game on the playground in Center City. At first he was just one of the players. On the playground the dealer told lots of jokes, mostly dirty ones about women that made the other players laugh. I laughed, too, but mine was forced. The dealer claimed he used to be a radio DJ in Boston where he knew lots of famous people in the entertainment and sports worlds and was now the lead singer in a local rock band. He had one of those lives where you never knew what was true and what wasn’t. It was just one strange thing after another—like a parade of strangeness—but the rock band part I knew was true. The dealer had a good singing voice, actually, and would often show it off in the most incongruous places. It was something I could never do.