~~~So ye say yer wonderin’ about how I became the proprietor o’ the famous Saloon Number 10 in Deadwood City, the place made notorious by the cowardly assassination of Mr. Hickok.
This is a new story, that hopefully will serve as an instructive lesson on why playing cards will lead you astray and get you into situations you didn't expect...
Well it was like this...
I was doin’ all right with the laundry. Actually more than allright. There are those who say that in a mining boom, the majority of the gold is found “from the grass roots up.” It ain’t far from the truth: actually diggin’ the yellow metal is hard, unpleasant and uncertain work. But providin' services 'n food, an' entertainment to them who are doin the diggin’ is a pretty sure bet. Yeah, it’s still had work, but ye stand a better chance o’ findin’ yer fortune.
So with what was comin’ in, I’d paid m’ debts an had enough resources to take on a couple helpers, a Celestial and a Irish gal, and then together we could do even more baskets o' soiled shirts an' whorehouse linens in the course of a day, an' that made us even more money.
So I had me a little bit extra to spend on a luxury or two. I got a wash stand fer m’ lil’ room in the back o’ the laundry: a real nice cabinet o’ light-colored wood, with a bar on which to hang my towel an’ face cloth, an’ a basin ‘n pitcher fer t’ carry out m’ mornin’ ablutions. Well sir, even after that, I still had some extra coin burnin’ a hole in m’ pocket, so I went to see m’ pard, Ron the gunsmith.
I mean, hell’s britches, a gal needs to spend a little bit on herself now an agin, right?
Git herself somethin’ pretty?
Well, Ron had in his display case this damn fine lookin’ Griswold--a rebel-made copy of a Colt Navy. This one not only had the brass frame, which Ron had polished up real nice, it had bone grips, an' there was this fancy silver-washed engravin’ o’ lil’ flourishes 'n curly-cues on the metal. Twas obvious this had been an officer’s side-arm and somethin’ that had been greatly treasured by someone.
I jus’ HAD to have the piece.
Almost directly after I had made the deal and was standin’ there admiring that iron with Ron, along comes Carl, the remainin’ owner o the Saloon Number 10. I say “remainin” as his other partner had done took off an’ left him with the saloon, which was not doin’ well in the months after Mr. Hickok’s killin’. Folks would come in to look at the table where Bill was slain, but they warn’t inclined to pass an idle hour in the place. Bad feelin’s I reckon.
Anyhow, Carl from the 10 sees me cuddlin’ the Griswold, an he starts waxin’ elequent on what a fine piece it is, an’ inquires if he might buy it. Ron o’ course says no sir, it’s already been sold to this here lady, an’ Carl gets adamant with me that I should sell it to him. I get equally adamant that I shall not part with it fer any price, and one thing leads to another an’ Carl--who may have already been test samplin’ his wares that mornin’--says he would like t’ challenge me at cards fer the pistol. An’ I ask what will he put up against the firearm fer me to take should I win, an’ he thinks a moment...an' he up an decalres he will put his saloon up against it.
I look at Ron an' Ron looks at me. An’ I nods an’ says ok. Carl then says, allright missy, be at my saloon in half an hour, an’ then we shake hands an' he stumbles out.
So I turn to Ron an’ say, “Pard, would ye mind accompanyin’ me on this? I got a feelin’ this could turn out more ugly than I care to deal with on m’ own. An' Ron replies, “I would be glad to, Miz Dio, bein as ol’ Carl there, he is known to be an occasional cheat at cards...I was figgerin' I should observe 'n make sure he plays honest.”
At the appointed time we head on down to the Number 10, an' I tell ye what, the place was even more of a shithole than I had recalled. Dirty, grim, an’ cheerless. Carl had boarded up the back door that the assassin had used to sneak up on Wild Bill, an it was quite dark inside. The bar had no rail, the glasses 'n mugs was chipped an’ fly-specked, an’ the whole place smelt o’ blood, piss, puke, an’ stale tobacca smoke.
Carl, he steps up an' greets us most cordial-like, smiling at me though a set o’ irregular brown teeth. I return his salutation an’ I says, “what’s the game?” He says, “what do ye wish?” An’ I replies, "oh hell, Carl, I got things to do, let’s just cut fer it."
He shrugs an' says ok, an' then he hands the deck to Ron to shuffle it. Ron shuffles an’ slaps it on the center o’ the very table where Bill Hickok's brains 'n blood darkened the wood. Then Ron steps back to a advantageous position where he can observe the process, casual-like, but with good effect.
Carl nods an’ says, “After you Ma’am.” So I pull off a part o' the stack and show the bottom one, which proves to be a Jack o’ Hearts. Carl nods and pulls his part o’ the stack...
...an’ he shows a deuce o’ clubs.
He looks at me an says, “Oh well, I woulda liked to own that iron. Tis’ a truly nice piece.” He tosses me the key to the front door an’ grins a bit. “The landlord likes the rent by the first o’ the month. He ain’t azactly overflowin’ with the milk o' Christian generosity, so if’n yer a gonna be late with it, I suggest ya hide well, an’ then claim later on ya was kidnapped or carried off by injuns or somethin.”
An’ he walks out the door, justa-whistlin’ like a man who ain't got a single goddam care in the world.
So I’m lookin around at this depressin’ lil’ shithole of a booze parlor, startin’ already to be thinkin’ on how I kin clean it up an’ make it look nicer with some more coal oil lamps an' some chromolithographs on the walls, an a decent foot-rail...an’ I was already formulatin’ a plan to make it jus’ a lager beer saloon like I seen in Cincinnati in the German district, so respectable wimmen 'n young’uns could come in t' enjoy the place without fear o’ bein’ given offense by some whisky-soaked drunken idjit...
An’ I turn to Ron an’ say, “Pard, I am greatly obligated to ye fer bein’ here to ensure that he din’t cheat with the cards there...
Ron smiles a funny lil’ smile, looks around that wretched rat hole of a saloon, an' says to me, “Well Miz Dio, fact is, he did cheat...I saw him plain as day: he had that deuce ready in his palm an’ slipped it on the bottom of his stack when he cut.
I laughed, “You mean that wily ol’ cockchafer done cheated me into takin’ this piss-pot waterin’ hole off’n his hands?”
Ron jus’ grins an' says, “I shall ask Mr. Bu to send o’er some o’ his ‘nephews’ with buckets an’ scrub brushes, and I’ll fetch m’ carpentry tools. We may as well git started. Ya need to be bringin’ in some money right quick, if yer gonna be ready to pay that rent on the first o’ the month.”