Five of Clubs: 'Moment's Respite'

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The tavern was old and musty, yet still somehow cozy and familiar. I walked in and sat down at the closest vacant table, telling the barkeep to get me a glass of milk. He looked at me funny as I said this, then walked away to fetch me my beverage.

Ten minutes later, a man walked in. He reeked of gin and despair, his raggedy clothes saying all they needed to about his social status. Still, he somehow found the money to pay the barkeep for his whiskey on the rocks. I cursed under my breath when I noticed him walking my way.

"Eh, boy, this 'ere seat taken?"

Not wishing to offend, I offered him a chair. He sat down. The smell of alcohol on him was palpable. It was him, not I who started the conversation.

"So, boy, where ya from?"

I looked into his scarred face, his sad, soulful eyes. "London, sir. Where are you from?"

He laughed a bit, then spit on the ground. "London, eh? You one'a them there Brits, is yeh?" He laughed and drank some more of his whiskey. At this point he used the bottle rather than a shot glass.

"Yes, sir. I am indeed from Britain."

"Well, Mr. God-save-the-Queen, how'sa 'boutsa story, eh? It's a good'un, I swear it. Heh."

Not wishing to be rude, I politely agreed.

"Well, boy-oh," he said, spitting another black glob onto the floor, "yeh damn well better pay attention."

---

"Three years ago I knew a guy named Quincy (looked just like ya, actually) who was with me 'n the boys on a mining expedition out California-way. Little British bastard was as cowardly as the come. I reckon he was more yeller than a canary! Still, he was a good guy. That tea shit you limeys make, that ain't too bad, I 'spose. Doesn't beat good ol' whiskey, though.

"Now this camp'a ours was a real nice place. Real peaceful like, see. Well, one day our friend Percy runs inta camp, hootin' and hollerin' up a storm. Turns out, see, Los Soldados de la Muerte were comin' into town."

"Excuse me, please explain. Who are they?" I asked. I was new to America, and was here only on matters of business.

"Well, see, they're a group'a real bad Mexican hombres. 'Soldiers'a Death' is what that fancy name'a theirs means. They was soldiers in the Mexican war when their whole damn platoon got marooned, or somethin' like that. They was angry as hell about losin' the war, I'll tell ya that much. Anywho, those guys, they was comin' our way, and them Mexican fellers only brought one thing with 'em: death. Hence the name, see?" He hocked another black phlegm ball from his throat.

"So, these fellers, they're gonna be here any moment. So, what the hell is there ta do? Can't hide; dirty bastards'll wreck the place 'n loot 'er up. So, we decide, we're gonna fight. Ain't no sense not fightin', ya see. So, I walk over to Might as well try. So, two hours we're waitin', til finally the first'a their heads pops up over the horizon. There had to be, forty, maybe fifty a' the bastards, all ridin' on in. So, we did the only sens'ble thing ta do: opened fire.

"Now, this battle, damn thing musta taken well over five hours'a fightin'. It was down to twelve of us miners, and they still had to have well over, um, thirty guys, I'll say. So, we decide no more bloodshed was necessary, and we made us a deal: a duel. One person from both sides. One shot to decide the winner'a this here battle."

I interjected. "Why didn't the Soldados kill you there, on the spot?"

"Well, that's a easy one: they have honor. Rare thing, 'specially out of a hotblooded Mexicano. But they had it alright, and they'd just killed 15'a our men, so the way they figgered it, might as well give us an out.

"So, Mr. Bigshot Mexican, he gets up ta the front, and he says in his accented English: 'Choose one of your own, putas, and send him to face me.' So, I started ta walk forward, on account of me leading this here expedition, but a hand comes onta my shoulder. It was Quincy! Little bastard steps forward.

"'I'll fight you, if you'll leave us be.' I couldn't believe it. He walked up ta me, and he says, 'Don't worry, I've got this all handled.'

"So he steps forward, and pulls out a shotgun. Damnedest thing: I'd never seen if 'fore then. It was all silver-like, with a black wood handle. On the handle was a little card, the Five'a Clubs, and that's when it hits me: that little Brit got his hands on a Card! I couldn't believe my eyes.

"Well, the Mexican waits, and just as the clock we had chimes off ta signify the draw, BOOM, a gun fires. What happened next, well, it was just damn spooky's what it is.

"It felt like time slowed down. I know, you think I'm crazy, or drunk, or any combination of the two, but I'm tellin' ya, time slowed down. All my boys felt it, too. It was so slow, we could actually watch the damn bullet flying through his leg! It hit 'im right on the kneecap, so damn hard it bent the leg backwards. Then, the leg seemed ta just turn inta mist, a bloody red mess that slowly rippled outward. I'd never seen a Gun shoot before, but mister, I wish I hadn't.

"So the Mexican feller falls to the ground, dead'a shock I think the doc said. The banditos ran as fast as they could ta get outta there. Never seen 'em ever again. As for Quincy... I don't know. He just sorta left. Figger he probly got outta there, once me and the boys knew 'e had a Gun. Frankly I'da LIKED him there, with that piece ta protect us!"

---

I sat in silence for a minute or two. Finally, I looked him in the eye and said, "I'm terribly sorry, but could you please help me with something?"

"Sure," he said, looking at the now empty bottle of whiskey. "What kinda favor?"

"I need help finding my brother."


-Warboss Krumpashredda


Wild Cards
Spades: 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - J - Q - K - A
Hearts: 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - J - Q - K - A
Clubs: 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - J - Q - K - A
Diamonds: 2 - 3 - 4 - 5 - 6 - 7 - 8 - 9 - 10 - J - Q - K - A
Jokers: Red Joker - Black Joker
Introduction - The World - Gameplay - Stories of the world
On the Attainment, Ownership and Passing of The Cards
Variant Rule: Hands