THE CARD GAME
By Donna Penley
Wide at th’ shoulder, narrow at the’ hips. Hand rolled cheroot dangled from his lips.
He gazed at ‘is card hand – hid a smile. Three aces was gonna make ‘im a pile!
The blue chips a’growin, stackin’ up high. This time Lady Luck wouldn’t pass him by!
He picked up two chips an’ threw ‘em in, turned to th’ others with a crooked grin.
“I’ll raise ya $200.00, boys”, he said. One threw his cards in an’ said, “I’m dead.”
The other two was thinkin’ ‘bout his bet. A big win sure could clear some debts!
Th’ second cowpoke, he threw in, too. Th’ third one said, “I’ll raise ya Two.”
Th’ last card dealt didn’t help him none--Jest th’ three aces. He was under th’ gun!
He threw Two Hundred into th’ pot. Said,“Let’s jest see yore hand, Hot Shot.”
Third cowboy smiled a little ol’ smile. Said, “Best hand I had in a real good while!”
Threw down his hand . Four kings there. Th’ first cowpoke grunted, gave ‘im a stare.
“Well, guess I’ll quit whilst I’m ahead”, oOur friend, the gamblin’ cowboy said.
Pushed back ‘is chair with a noisy scrape. “Gonna get some grub – buy me a steak.”
He pushed his hat down hard on ‘is head, A good feed, an’ he was off ta bed.
But, Lady Luck left th’ table, as well. Th’ cowboy never heard th’ knell
Of th’ death bell ringin’ out ‘is name. Up ta now his life had been real tame.
Walked th’ boards, could see his breath. At th’ corner of Fifth an’ Main, turned left,
To th’ door of th’ Soiled Dove Saloon –Th’ player piano tinkled a tune.
Th’ place nearly empty – jest a few girls about. One came to him with a flirty pout,
“Well, howdy cowpoke. Glad yore here! Can I order ya whiskey, or a nice draw beer?”
Th’ cowpoke looked ‘er up an’ down. “Why, thank ya, honey. I’m new in town.
Jest order me up a big juicy ol’steak, thick an’ rare, with potato, baked.”
She nodded an’ flipped him a saucy grin, one that she offered most o’ th’ men –
That came into this one horse place. Her smile quickly faded without a trace.
T’was almost th’ end of a draggin’ long day. She’d patted lotsa backs, made little pay.
Her cowboy lover was not in town. Was pushin’ cattle, Abilene bound.
At least, that’s what she thought that night. Not a clue in her head that he jest might,
Come through th’ door when least expected, An’ that is why she had elected,
T’ flirt with th’ new cowboy in town. Who knew what delightfulness could be found,
Up in her room in her feather bed ? – Visions of romance danced in her head.
Well, she served up ‘is supper, served it up fine. Sat beside ‘im , said with a whine –
“I’m real lonely , Honey, You stayin’ here?” She asked as she poured ‘im another beer.
Th’ cowpoke looked at her an’ laughed, “Is that an invite?” His fingers tapped
A stilletto rhythm on the table top. What wondrous things Lady Luck had wrogth!
He put his arm around her waist. God, what a gal! He could pert near taste
Those ruby lips she was so proud of. Silly Cowpoke! It was instant love!
An hour or so later, they climbed th’ stairs; He was tipsy, an’ without a care.
She unlocked th’ door ‘an motioned ‘im in; Into her love nest, th’ lion’s den.
An’ Lady Luck, she lurked there too; Makin’ note of what th’ cowboy’d do.
One hour later you could hear ‘is snores, Clear out in th’ hall, beyond th’ door.
But, by this time, Lady Luck had gone, An’ blissfully th’ cowpoke, he snored on.
Th’ dance hall girl was not asleep; an’ from her room had begun t’ creep
Then th’ door swung open, as on it’s own, Reality dawned on her alone.
As her lover loomed there in th’ door,l looked at th’ bed, then at th’ floor
An’ drew his six gun, plugged her dead; Th’ cowboy reared up in th’ bed,
But he was next, t’ his surprise, Had hardly time to close his eyes
Before he heard loud in his ears – th’ death bell ringin’ loud an’ clear.
An’ Lady Luck, she heard th’ sound, Of each shot as it cleared th’ round –
Was Lady Luck concerned? Oh, no! She stood beside another soul.
An’downstairs th’ card game went on.
Donna Penley is a Cowgirl Poet with deep Kansas roots who has been writing cowboy poetry for over twenty five years. She is a real Cowgirl and an ex-barrel racer.
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