Western short. Cowboys and cards, a volatile combination.
| A chair scraped. Spurs jangled. He stood up. Wasn’t all that tall. Kinda dark, skinny-like; snakey, I ‘spect you’d say. He looked right at me, sitting just across the table. Said, “You’re a cheat. A damn four-flushin’ cheat. You been cheatin’ all night.” He said it so hard spit sprayed from his lips.
The talk around the table got real quiet, the others leaning back a little. No need to horn in, they were thinking, I guess.
‘Course, I wasn’t a cheat; 5-card stud, no need to cheat, cards right there on the tabletop. I wasn’t cheating then; well not just yet, anyways. The Ace of Hearts I had palmed hadn’t even made its way into the game yet. But when the other ‘poke’s got a grievance and a .45 pistola pointing across the table at you, I guess you have to take it. Take the insult first, then take the gun.
First, though, a need to extricate myself from this late unpleasantness. About now would be a right-good time, I reckoned.
He said again, louder this time, all cutting-like, “How’s about I just shoot you right now? Right there where you sit, you damn cheat. Just turn over them cards there; we’ll see about your goddamn cheatin’, you lyin’ bastard.”
I considered on that for a moment. Now he was bringing my Ma into it. The accusation about my parentage was true enough, but there’s no call to rile a man. I said, quietly, “No need for that gun. Looka here.” Pushed the cards forward, flipping the faces.
I tilted up the brim of my hat with a finger, dropped my hand back down, and looking straight into the cowboy’s hooded eyes, said, “You gonna prove that lie? And that droopy eye of yours looks like the lip on a pussy to me.” No goin’ back now.
The table lifted atop my rising knees, and I took the close edge in my hands and flipped it up hard as I could; up, and out, and over, slamming against the cowboy’s gun and backing him up. His Colt barked twice, but the angle was all wrong, and the bullets put a couple of teeny skylights in the tin ceiling.
Damn noisy if you ask me. Disturbin’ the peace-like.
At that, my .44-40 Break-Top was clear of leather and doing the pointin', and the barkin'. The money and the cards sliding and fluttering to the floor with one of the cards landing on the dead man’s chest. Ace of Hearts, but not my palmed one, with a still-smoking hole through the middle.
I thought: Pretty good shootin’, considerin’. Didn’t even hit nobody else.