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 Squall (and Poker)

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Remuda

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Posts : 750
Join date : 2013-08-25
Age : 42

PostSubject: Squall (and Poker)   Sat Sep 21, 2013 2:33 pm

Squall
“Ante up!"

As winds howled and rain poured buckets outside, five players inside respectively dropped a dollar coin into the pot, the clunk of metal thudding against the wooden table.  A quintet of cards to each was quickly dealt and assessed.

“Pass.”

“Pass.”

“Pass.”

“Open – for a dollar.”

The dark-haired opener threw a bill onto the pile.  Two others followed.  Another pair tossed their cards in, finished for the round.

The dealer had the deck at the ready. “How many?”

The opener started as a strong clap of thunder caught seemingly everyone in the saloon off guard, quieting conversation and music for several seconds before resuming – cautiously at first. A hand mowed his dark hair out of his brown eyes before seeking the familiar blue of his partner, who leaned against the bar. They connected as yet another rolling blow outside resonated with grimaces inside. Shared imperceptible nods signalled silent thanks for the shelter.

The opener sat, poker-faced. “One.”

“Three.”

“Two.”

The gambler who took three threw in his cards. “I’m out.”

The remaining pair sat opposite each other – the darker one‘s back to the door. His opponent's gaze subtly darted from cards beyond the opener to the outside. His expression unreadable, he focused on his hand.

The opener laid his cards face down in front of him. Counting out several bills, he added them to the pot. “Three dollars.”

The opponent repeated the motions. “I’ll see your three, and raise five.”

The dark-haired opener hesitated not.  “There's the five, and raise ten more.”

The opponent, again, “Ten, and raise another fifteen.”

The crowd edged closer – the game beckoning them as the proverbial moth to the flame. A hush descended, the weather cooperating for a moment as well.

The dealer interjected, “Check. Gentlemen, we’ve reached the three-raise limit.”

The opponent demanded, “Call!”

Brown eyes met blue again as the partner took a step forward from his perch at the bar, thumbs unlooping from the low slung gun belt as his arms fell to his side.

The opener revealed his hand. “Aces and eights.”

The opponent stared, stone-faced, waiting several seconds before disclosing his. “Aces and eights.”

The dealer spoke, “Two dead man’s hands – very unusual. Since you both also have a deuce, Smith’s spades beats McCall’s hearts.  Congratulations, Mr. Smith.”

Flashes of lightning briefly brightened the dark afternoon.  Mottled shadows danced on the whitewashed walls, framing the collective gasps and murmurings after a sudden quiet.

"McCall?”

“They hung him!”

“Jack McCall?”

"Couldn't be . . ."

The blue-eyed partner moved stealthily closer.

Smith regarded his opponent. “Just a coincidence, I’m sure.”

McCall met the stare. “Maybe.  Hickok also had his back to the door that day . . .”

The saloon doors blew open. A Colt appeared, quicker than the lightning outside. A dark-haired man dropped to the floor.


Author's Note: Jack McCall shot James Butler "Wild Bill" Hickok in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, on August 2, 1876, during a poker game. Hickok held a pair each of aces and eights, which hand has since become known as a "dead man's hand." McCall was tried and acquitted in Deadwood, then re-tried, found guilty, and hanged in Yankton, Dakota Territory – double jeopardy had been declared not to apply because Deadwood was an illegal settlement with no legally constituted law enforcement or court system.
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