Thursday, August 20, 2009

A Deadwood story -- the dangers of cards

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...

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.

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?

You bet.

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 waxinelequent 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' 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...’ 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 depressinlilshithole 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’ 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.”


  1. My kind of story! To the point, with a good laugh at the end.

  2. Hey Rhianon, I am glad you got a chuckle out of the ending of this one. And nobody got shot, accidentally or otherwise!

    I very much appreciate that you read these things and comment. It's nice to know that someone is actually looking at this crap.

    The interesting thing about this story is that it too, grew out of everyday life in the Deadwood sim -- I had no intention of taking on a saloon, especially as it just didn't seem plausible to me to go from running the laundry to being able to start a saloon less than six months later, but nonetheless, through some convoluted circumstances I did indeed unexpectedly become a saloonkeepr.

    Now, I don't know if this will make any sense, but try to follow my logic in this: I wound up taking over the rental on the No. 10 because it was sitting empty for a long time, and somehow I talked my friend Lockmort into renting it for a shop. But when it looked like it wouldn't work too well for that purpose, I felt pretty bad so I bought out Lock's rental and started running it as what Percy Dryke had built it as, the Saloon No. 10. And THEN Percy decided to put some improvments into it since someone was finally running it as the No. 10, and then Hell, I really felt guilty and wasn't about to dump the place.

    So on the spur of the moment one day, I came up with this silly notion that I had won the saloon at cards. I just felt I needed something to explain why I had the saloon and the laundry, and it was the first thing that leapt to mind when someone asked.

    And I did in fact turn it into a lager beer saloon (no hard liquor), similar to what German communities typically had in the 19th century, which not uncommonly were places that families could go and enjoy themselves without loss of reputation or fear of being offended by lewd behavior and drunken foolishness. America's 19th century Germans always used to say, "you can't get drunk on lager" and looked upon it as a part of their culture, rather than as a means to an inebriated end.

    I took this path because in our recreated virtual Deadwood, decent women did (and do) have a habit of wandering into places that historically they would probably have avoided like the Gem and the Bella. (I always admired Foxy Innis's commitment to making "proper ladies" feel distinctly unwelcome at the Gem when she worked there -- it certainly was an historically authentic attitude, even if it did scsre the livin' hell outta many new players in the sim).

    So anyhow I wanted to create a place that would be more welcoming to women and children (keep in mind that in the Deadwood sim underage avatars have always been expressly forbidden to enter serious dens of iniquity like the Bella and the Gem). As a lager beer saloon that did not allow gambling or prostitution, my version of the No. 10 would admit women and young'uns to come in and socialize with at least some level of historically plausible comfort. Even though I took it on under largely accidental circumstances, I never regretted taking over the No. 10. I operated it for the better part of a year until I had the chance to go into the partnership on the Grand Central Hotel and we all had a lot of fun with it.

    Anyhow, I digress.

    My point is, that way back at some point fairly early on in the sim's history I randomly decided to say that I got the saloon in a card game. But it was not until I wrote this short story that I ever actually went ahead and fleshed out the details.

  3. Brilliant! I love the idea of you winning a bar, but even more once you know the real reasons why - an inspired back story!

    And I think you'll find there are quite a few people reading and enjoying your work - blogs have a noble tradition of lurkers who never comment (I still find it odd, but they are there - occasionally run a quick leave a comment of you read my blog post and you'll be amazed!)