Ten of Diamonds: 'Vagabond'

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Ten of Diamonds 'The Vagabond'

Now, every bartender from here ta New Orleans has a Card story. It's pretty much a requirement out here, and I've certainly got my very own, which I will share wit' you folks tonight.

It was the summer of '91, and about ten at night when he walked in. A young man, a thin man, whip thin in fact. He looked too Goddamned young to carry one of those things, maybe twenty-seven at the outside. I didn't ask. Didn't wanna know the answer he'd give.

He wore a hat, wide brimmed and ringed with a piece of red silk all fancy like, but other than that it was like most out here, like the ones you wear tonight. His brown duster was faded by the sun and ragged at the tail, his tan trousers were patched and stitched together, his leather gloves were cracked and worn, his boots carried the dust of a hundred miles in their treads and his burgundy shirt was stained and torn. A gun belt encircled his waist, full of bullets for the gun in the quick-draw holster on his hip.

A blind man could see he had a Card.

He came over to the bar, sat on one of the stools, that one you're sitting on, Rollins, right in front of me. It was only then, when he tipped his hat up that I got a good look at 'im. He didn't look special at all. His skin was tanned, not naturally, cause you could see the tan lines between his sleeves and gloves. Lank dark brown hair, so dark you'd swear to God it was black hung to his shoulders. Green eyes ringed below by dark circles from tiredness so thick you'd swear blind it was Injun warpaint. He hadn't shaved in a couple of days, that's fer sure. Hadn't washed neither.

When he spoke, his voice was tired, weary, like he'd seen so dammed much in his short life. He was a Brit, not posh like their queen, but well spoken. Pronounced his words all proper like.

"Two fingers of the Irish whiskey, if you would."

I poured his drink for him and slid it across the bar. He took it, sipped it, made some noise of appreciation, and set back down again.

"So, fella, where're headed?" I said.

He took a moment to reply. "West, I suppose. That's the way this thing drags me, after all." He tugged his Card out its holster, and placed it between the two of us. Now it was a thing of mighty beauty. A Colt Single Action Army, the metal glinting in the candlelight and the worn oak handle engraved on one side with a Diamond and the other side a 10. The smell of gun oil rising from it made my eyes water.

He smirked at my wide-eyed look, and sipped his drink again. "What's your name, sir?"

"Pardon?"

"I asked for your name. Quite politely, as it happens."

"Oh, well. My name is Solomon. Solomon Buckwheat."

He grinned at me, a wide, giddy grin. "Whatever is so funny to you, Mister...?"

"I don't really give my name out. You can call me the Winter Soldier. Most people do, or they shorten it to something like Sol or Solly. That, and my real name is that boring I'd put you to sleep with a syllable of it. I mean, who names their son Bartholomew? Sorry, I digress. In answer to your question, I'm grinning because your name is the most American name I have ever heard."

Well now I didn't know what to say to that, havin' never set foot outside town before, so I just asked about his strange name in return. You know what he replied? Some quote from an old writer 'round the time of the Revolution.

"'These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.' I always thought of myself as the antithesis of those summertime patriots, since I'm certainly not lacking in determination or the will to go on. Not thanks to this." He patted the Card. "Would you guess I picked this up in Nottingham. The one in England, not the one in...well, I forget the state. You're aware of the powers these things have?"

"Yup. I heard the stories, like most folk out here."

"Well, mine, Mister Buckwheat, if I can truly call it mine, has a very special power. From the moment I found it, it's been pulling me westwards. If I don't travel at least ten miles a day, it starts to hurt me. Migraines, nausea, nosebleeds, the works. I haven't slept in the same bed twice in four years. I cannot stop. That's why I call it the Vagabond, you see, because it just won't settle."

He let that sink in for a moment or two, 'fore he drained his drink, stood up and said: "Well, I'd best be going. This old ball and chain will want to be gone by dawn, so I'll need my forty winks. Goodbye, Mister Buckwheat." The Card went back in his holster, and a silver dollar appeared on the bar. With a tip of his hat, he was gone.

Now, that was going on nine years ago this July, and I ain't heard hide nor hair of him since. Believe me, I'm glad, but I'm also a mite concerned. Those Cards are supposed ta bring bad fortune to all who cross their path, but nothing happen when he came. No bodies, no theft, no famine or plague an' no wrath of the Lord. Don't rightly know why, but I'm still waiting for the other shoe to drop.

All I know is this. I wouldn't get in that man's way, not for a million bucks. I like living.

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