John looks at his hands. He has to be careful with them, the way a pianist does. When he was first learning cards, they had become blistered. The blisters had broken and bled. He had kept on until calluses formed. He had cut and filed them off, made the skin smooth again. Now he keeps his fingertips smooth, the bends in his fingers, his palms, the web between his thumb and forefinger.
He marvels that he still does what he did while he was learning, repeating the same pressures and movements with the cards, against the cards. He riffles them, bends them with the same force, yet they do not build up into his skin in pain. They do not mar it - his fingers are smooth. And they must be for the subtler moves where a touch of a fingerpad or a hollow in a knucklebone must be sensitive enough to hold a single card in place or draw it from amongst its fellows.
His hands are naturally dry, but sometimes he sweats when the heat of his fever turns to cold. But to grasp the surface of a card with the traction of fingerprints his hands must hold exactly the right amount of moisture. Too dry and the cards slide. Too moist and the cards stick. Every night he rubs lotion well into the skin of his hands. Sometimes he covers them with lotions and holds them over a basin with steam from a kettle. Sometimes he pulls gloves on over lotion-covered hands.
John investigates and experiments with all types of lotions and creams. The gamblers discuss new products and formulae, seek them out, try them, compare. Some lotions work for one but not for another.
John's hands are strong. But the skin is soft, smooth, very sensitive. His touch is knowing and sure.
For guns, for cards. For cards, for guns.as per M. F. Andrews discussing this very thing in 1903.Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
Word Count: 812
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