Ironically, I had just visited the Basilique du Sacré-Cœur, a church dedicated to the sacred heart of Jesus, the Redeemer of our sins. As I strolled through the crowds, I decided to try my hand at the shell game and bet a small amount. The dealer was warm and had kind eyes. He told a joke, which I can’t recall now but it made me laugh, a genuine heartfelt laugh that made me drop my head and blush in slight embarrassment in front of the crowd. The man, from what I remember, was tall, thin, and dark, a full head of curly black hair. He called me beautiful and asked an onlooker to take a picture of the two of us together.
I thought the game was true fun. I never got the memo that it was seated in deceit. I was naive and preferred to assume the best about people. My confidence was boosted after my first win and I played again, this time lifting my hair off my neck and tying it in a loose knot to keep cool while I settled in. The sun was beaming, the sky a bright cerulean blue, smears of cotton dashed across it. The air was thick with wafting smells of cheeses and bread from the outdoor markets mixed with the dense stench of sweat coming off of the throngs. The small crowd gathered at the table cheered when I won the second time and the man shook his finger in unbelief saying he wanted the opportunity to redeem himself. He challenged me to a bigger bet and promised he would double my money if I won.