Gambler’s Diary: Jamming

Gambler's Diary: Jamming




the story of grandma, losing and having a stick up your ass.

Material things won’t give you much after enough time has passed. Some give some. Most none. We drove in silence. Only the steady hum of motor and wind. It was peaceful. I was autopiloting on an autopilot.  I was on the worst downswing of my career. Life wasn’t pointless, but a bit grey. Nature felt it too. It was cloudy and most of the snow had already melted. Grey. Grey everywhere.

 In a way it’s good to be able to lose more money than before. It shows that you’re evolving.

I grinned. Silver linings. You truly can find them everywhere.

We were on our way to see Grandma. She was already pushing her nineties and after her stroke a couple of years ago, she mentally sometimes was, and sometimes wasn’t there. Schrödinger’s Grandma. You never knew what you got until you got there. Mostly she wasn’t though.

Would you rather have lost the 500k and grandma alive or not have lost the money but grandma dead?

 “Don’t” I tried to silence my thoughts.

 You could save a lot more people with that money, you know. It would be almost immoral to pick otherwise.

“But I didn’t when I had it, did I now.”

 That isn’t the question though, is it? You know we put prices on lives daily.

My brain brought the statistics I had read somewhere. I didn’t know where, but I remembered the background and the font of the website. And the fact that I trusted it. I could see it in my head. A white background with black letters, reading: “1$ per shot, estimated to save one out of 4000.”

You’ve done the math already.

 Could you truly defend picking your almost ninety-year-old grandma over 125 humans?

 I sighed, sometimes It’s fucking exhausting to be me. I slammed my foot on the gas.

“Hey!” my brother yelled.

I stopped the acceleration and brought my car back to normal speed. I felt a little better. Clearly I was wrong earlier – some material things do bring pleasure.

Yeah, not that dark yet, but pretty fucking grey.


I opened the door to my Grans elder people common room. She sat there in front of a TV. On her own world. I approached her with my brother.

“Hey Granma!” we called out.

No reaction. We repeated, this time so loud, that the whole nursing home echoed.

She turned and smiled. She was there. Then confusion, and a second later, she was not. She was just happy to see someone visiting her.

You should come more often.

I gave her a hug.

“We came to see you, how are you?”


We chatted for a bit in a way that you do with the memory ill. You open a subject, they might reply to that, or to whatever else happened to them within the last ninety-or-so-years. Or start another conversation entirely. Something either so far beyond or below us that the conversation seems to be meaningless to all the participants. Occasionally, I thought I saw that old glimmer in her eyes but… I wasn’t sure. I could be making it up because I wanted to. People tend to believe things that they want to believe, and I for one, wanted to see some of my old grandma in there. I decided to try to break through:

“Grandma, you remember the old jamming accident?”

Her eyes lit up.



A decade earlier


The sun is slowly setting as I’m sitting next to my brother. There are beer and wine on the table. It’s almost ten in the evening but the sun is still out. Finnish Midsummer magic.



After a couple of beers my brother and I had had the brilliant idea of combining sauna with online poker. Twenty minutes each &repeat “until everyone is destroyed”. We were in round four and doing great. The alcohol hadn’t quite hit up yet and we were winning a lot. The act of playing twenty minutes, winning, and pocketing the money gave us both immense pleasure. We added to this by non-stop shit talking on the chat. 2010’s – the golden era of online poker.

“gtg bro, it’s saunatime – ciao” I typed in and left the table.

Back in Sauna.

“This might be our best plan yet; the only problem is that we are out of drinks” I said.

“Don’t worry. I think I know where Grandma’s booze stash is. I’ll try to locate it during next stint.” My brother replied.


I was playing when my brother came back. He had a plastic bag with him, and I could tell that he was clearly happy with himself. He unloaded the content of the bag on the table: One bottle of white wine.


He then grabbed further and revealed two bottles of Grandmas cloudberry liquor.

Oh wow.

Yes indeed.

The memories start to fade at this point. I’m sure we’re doing fine during the white wine, but after touching cloudberry liquor, it’s only bits and pieces. A streak of lost pots, and the night growing darker until… nothing.

I woke up still drunk. Someone was opening our little hut’s front door.

“Granma!” my brother yelled.

I was naked, nineteen and with a massive morning wood. My then, still very much conscious Grandma, was rampaging through the front door.

There was no time for apologies. Like a grievously wounded animal I had a limited number of options. Since I didn’t know where my clothes were, nor did I have the time to put them on. I covered myself with a blanket, rolled onto my belly to cover his stiffness and pretended to be asleep.

There’s a point in this time that I still remember vividly and come back to. Just before Grandma opened the last door to our room, and as I’m waiting for the inevitable schooling that’s about to happen, I’m feeling immeasurably smug. Within seconds I had created and executed a plan that had the most likely good outcome. In that moment, I’m very happy about myself.

It’s been proven that human memories are fragile and can be easily distorted through time. But this is how I remember it.

Grandma bursts through the last door, and practically flies in. She can smell the old alcohol and see the last cloudberry liqueur bottle empty on the nightstand. Scans for weaknesses; asses my brother, who’s closer but clearly up and has defensive measures, sees my supple nineteen-year-old-body. Face down, ass up – extremely vulnerable.

Out of the corner of my eye I can see Grandma coming in. Taking a couple of loud sniffs of the air and then rushing straight to me. She has something in her hand though. What the fuck is that?

“HERE COMES JAMMING!” She screams.

Now, Grandma midair, I realize that she’s wielding a rake handle, and that handle is pointed – and moving fast – straight for my ass.

I manage to move an inch before the attack hits. No time to fake that I’m asleep, she doesn’t care about that. The rake handle misses its mark by half an inch.

I scream.

“What the hell are you doing Grandma?! PUT DOWN THE RAKE HANDLE”

She – still poking – replies:

“You boys have not been good, have you?”

My brother can’t speak. This is the highlight of his existence. I try to get Grandma out by any means necessary, and after a couple of minutes, and about half a dozen pokes with the handle she leaves.

It takes a couple of more minutes before my brother calms down enough to speak:

“So, what did yesterday cost you?”

I open my laptop and see the results.

“About half of my bankroll and three quarters of my ass virginity.”


A decade later


I’m sure she was there. The old jammer of the multiverse. She smiled and laughed but couldn’t really communicate it back.

“Where did you find that rake handle?” I asked.

“Naaaah” she replied with a smile.

“Yeah, I wouldn’t tell either. Let’s keep a little mystery out there for the next generation.”

Her eyes lit up again, and she smiled.



My Grandma passed away peacefully in her sleep last Summer, before I could ever finish this text. She was the one who taught me card games when I was young, and despite being a horror on the rare occasions she was equipped with a rake handle, was pure love for the rest of the time. She will be missed.

Author: Justin Watson