As I pretended to study some lousy paint'n of a horse, I watched fat ol' Billy Dalton in my
periph'rel vision. He grabbed two stacks of clay chips, blood red, and dropped 'em in the center of the
table. Billy was ugly as a burnt foot, 'an crooked'er than a dog's hind legs. You could tell he was breathin'
hard, an' sweatin' like a dumb ol' pig. I don't look at my cards, don't make no difference anyhow. "Kid"
Pickett and Ted Masterson were there also. "Kid" paid no attention to the game, as usual, as he rolled
himself a cig'rette in around three seconds flat, then struck a match and had it lit up in four. Ted Masterson,
an established businessman from Fort Worth, sat well-postured and hands-folded, and quietly watched
with genuine interest at every move we made. I'm pretty sure Doc was in the outhouse at that time, 'cause
his hat was coverin' up his money. We each had at least a thousand in front of us, 'cept for "Kid" who
hadn't won a hand, and I think I had seen Billy pinch a few reds.
"I'm gettin' old here, son" Billy said, hardly sounding confident, "Either ya got me or ya don't!" I done
watched a drip of sweat roll down his face, but I don't think that sorry, out-of-shape ol' fool was very
nervous. It all means nothin' though, really. Y'see, my dad always said that if you can't tell who the
sucker is, then it's probably you.
"You got me..." I said, consideratley tossin' my hand into the pile.
"Yeeea-hooo!" he hollered drunkenly, "I believe those are mine, pard'ner!" Billy scooped a small
mountain of chips his direction, and chucked me the cards. "Now deal me up another pair of those
ladies, guy" I juggled the suits and swiftly cut a fresh deck. I noticed Ted Masterson was pourin' himself
a drink, so I carefully slipped myself an ace off the bottom. Not knowin' this, Billy bet agressivley again
and again, and it ended up me an' him at a tremendous showdown.
"I raise you for all you got, you weasel!" roared Billy.
"I call it!" I snapped, "Aces full of threes, read em' an' weep!" I got out of my seat in preperation to collect
my pile of winnings when Billy interuppted me.
"Aaahh, but not so fast there, pard'ner! I believe if we be playin' Texas rules, then four of my threes can
beat that!" I waited for him to erupt into laughter, but instead he threw his hand face up on the felt.
"Yeeea-hooo!!" My ears rang as he joyfully raked his wealth.
"That's impossible!!" I slammed the table with both fists and the men were dazed. "You dirty, rotten,
slimey-ass crook! I'll put a bullet in ya fer' cheatin'!" Unfortunatley, attention was stirred when a single
playing card slid down my sleeve and soared onto the table.
"What the...?" Ted Masterson took off his glasses. "This bastard's been swindlin' us!" Before they could
clue in, I swiped handfuls of cash and fled the saloon, as bullets darted by my ears. I ended up runnin'
off to Arlington with some broad I met in Dallas and bought a ranch. It turns out one of Billy Dalton's
shots missed me and blew off Doc's head as he was comin' back and left him cold as a wagon tire . Last I
heard ol' Billy was hanged for murder of the second degree.
© Copyright 2016 byrniemac. All rights reserved.
Short Story / Westerns
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