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Ol Smoke

A simple western story...

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   His eyes stared eerily quiet toward the woman across from him.  No expression on his face except for the sadness in his blue-grey eyes.  She made a slight movement of her right thumb but no one else in the room perceived it. He never looked up or to the side, just at her eyes.  They were cold, dark eyes without a hint of kindness.  Unusual for a woman of her age.  Any other time and place she could be a child's grandmother, with a plate of cookies.  But there were no cookies on this table; only long green.  He knew he had her, but how to handle her was another question.  He made up his mind, he pushed the stack of chips into the center of the table, "all in", he said.  Without a hint of a change in her posture or poise, she pushed in her stack of chips, "Call", she whispered.  The crowd suddenly went graveyard silent as she moved her hand to the table.  His hand sliding down toward his side.  With her left hand she went for the cards, he too lifted his cards from the table, she flipped her cards over, "she paired", a person silently spoke from the crowd.  He kept his eyes glued to the position of her hands, and flipped his hole cards over.  A whisper came out..."Aces!"  She stared at him with the coldness of a frozen faucet in winter.  Time stood still and the silence of the room was deafening.  Without a loss of motion, her arm came up, his hand went down, she yelled out,  "Damn you Charlie!" as the Derringer flew into her hand.    His hand was moving with the speed of a lightning bolt.  "POW" went the little gun and its lead hit the spot.  But she had never heard the sound of his Colt, until the burning projectile went through her delicate torso, taking with it, her beating life.

   It seemed as if everything in the world stopped for those two seconds.  She was collapsing onto the table and he was reeling backward from the impact.  He quickly steadied himself and made a swinging motion, with his pistol, toward the room, to check the others.  No one moved, most weren't breathing.  He gained his composure, made another quick check of the crowd...nothing.  He removed his cash bag from under his coat, threw it to the table, "put it all in there", he told the dealer.  In seconds, the bag was filled and the dealer handed it back.  "You'll never live long enough to spend it", he retorted.  Not saying a word, Charlie eased for the door.  Some of the bystanders moved slightly.  "You come out of this door, and you die", he said sternly.  He slipped through the doorway and shut the door behind him.  Then backing down the hallway he left the building.  He moved quickly to his horse, threw a leg over and lifted himself into the saddle.  As he turned the horse's head toward the street, he looked back at the old tavern and under the slightness of breath he uttered, "Adios, Mattie you were a hell of a wife".

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