Jack of Hearts: 'Stranger'

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Well, I'd been loitering on the roof of the General Store for a while, making love to that bottle of whisky for only the Lord knows how long, when I see the queerest fellow hook his way 'round the corner and head straight for the damn gamblin' house.

He was 'bout middlin' height, middlin' build, middlin' ever'thing really, right down to his shoelaces. The one thing that really stood out to me was that grin, and believe you me, that grin is branded into my mind 'til the very day I start pushing up daisies. All pearly whites, wolfish, and just brimmin' with the kind of mischief that sets ladies to swoonin', only magnified about a hunnert times over. Ain't no shame in admittin' that if my bread were buttered on the other side, I woulda been smitten with him from the second I saw him. Funny thing though, it's the only thing I really remember about his face...

Anyhow, so he comes saunterin' down the street like he had God's own luck, that damn grin plastered on his face, and who should step out of the saloon but ol' Big James Worthington his own self! The bastards about six foot and change, and he reckons himself a hotshot 'cuz he owns the saloon and the mill ta' boot, and he likes to collect 'prosperity fees' from us folk. Likes scarin us shitless with his posse all kitted up with the meanest lookin' slugthrowers money ever bought, and his taxes ain't light either. Needless to say, we ain't too fond of him. So he comes outta the saloon with all seven of his boys and his wife hot on his heels.

Now Rose is just the most gorgeous little flower ya ever setcher eyes on. Got married off to the ass cuz her daddy can't afford his gamblin debts. Normally I wouldn't mention it, for decencies sake, but after seein what happened I reckon its probably important.

So there they are, the stranger and James, and hot shot James looks hopping mad, like he's seen this clown before and he wants nothin more than to tear his damn throat out. Meanwhile, stranger just keeps on a grinnin. Big James decides he's gonna start hollerin'.

"I told you to get the hell out of my town and stay away from my people you rat bastard, you hear me! I'll cut you in-," but his blusterin' gets cut short as stranger opens his mouth to speak a few quiet words.

"They say only two things are guaranteed: death and taxes."

My God, that stranger's voice. Damn near dropped off the roof when I heard it. He said those words quieter than most people talk in a house, and they echoed through the whole damn square. Stopped James cold. And the sound of it! I don't know how to describe it. He sounded like an old blues singer ate a big bowl of gravel fer breakfast and washed it down with a tall glass of the thickest, darkest buckwheat honey ya ever saw. Well everyone's damn near stunned at this point, and Rose is eyein' stranger like he's some kind of fancy dinner. He keeps talkin'.

"I hear you deal in the latter business, Mr. Worthington," and with not even a howdy do suddenly he's got a damn Card in his hand. Thing was gorgeous. Some kind of seven-shooter, all dolled up with blue steel and the shiniest maple I ever saw, with an engraved red J on the handle. He kinda casually points it in the posse's general direction and they all drop dead faster than I can blink with a crack and a half from that piece. Neat little holes right between the eyes on all seven of 'em.

Well James is pissed, natcherly, and he raises his big rifle slugger. "Yer outta bullets, pretty boy."

"Not quite, James. You should be careful around me. I deal in the former business, you see." He dropped his Card to the ground - almost seemed like blasphemin' to me - and raises his hands. He forms one into a gun shape and makes a little "bang" noise with his mouth, winking at Rose.

She pulls out a penknife on her husband, and everything goes crazy.

By nightfall, James is dead, a knife wound in his neck, and Rose gets her neck broken on a fuckin' gallows.

The stranger? Got away scot-free.

Damn slingers.


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