Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Now Playing: Last Job
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Episode Eleven concluded with:
“You ain’t too particular about your friends. That guy is a sharper; I spotted that the moment he walked in.”
“How about the other two?”
“Woody Farnsworth, the guy accusing Fancy Dan of being a cheat, has a real temper but he rarely draws a gun. The man sitting across from him is Slade Pierson, a gunslick. Or he wants to be.”
All the patrons of the Lucky Miner were now watching the drama being played out at the poker table. Most were keeping a safe distance, but Dehner took a few steps closer to the table. He had to brace Stacey Hooper. The detective mused to himself that his profession did lead to odd friendships.
Stacey Hooper was adorned in a lavish gray frock coat with black bordering at the end of the sleeves, nicely complimented by his large silver cuff links. He had black hair, green eyes, and a face that always appeared amused even when he was in a dispute, as the gambler was now. “That’s quite enough, Mr. Farnsworth. Out of respect for the rest of your family, whom I am sure are decent, God fearing people, I have refrained from making a public spectacle of the fact that you are guilty of the very offense with which you have charged me.”
“Is that so? Prove it, sharper!” Farnsworth was a large man with a pale complexion from too much time spent inside mines and inside saloons. He was carrying a gun, as was Slade Pierson. No gun was visible on Stacey Hooper’s body but Dehner was certain it was there.
Hooper looked around the saloon and smiled benignly, then addressed his accuser. “I shall proceed to roll up my sleeves if you promise to do the same.”
Farnsworth hesitated. His eyes shot across the table. “Sure. Why, Slade will tell ya, I’m as honest as they come. Ain’t that right, Slade? Now, Mr. Gambler, you just watch.”
Dehner palmed his Colt and pressed it into the back of Slade’s neck. “Drop the gun, friend.You’re singing an old song and I don’t want to hear it.”
“Sure stranger.” Whiskey marred Pierson’s effort at sounding casual.
The detective was ready as Slade turned to fire. Dehner slammed his Colt against the gunslick’s head. Pierson yelled in pain and hit the floor, face first. Rance quickly retrieved the gun his victim had dropped, then looked up and saw Stacey Hooper on his feet with a pistol in hand.
“Gentlemen, this unfortunate incident has left us too distracted to continue. Depart, Mr. Farnsworth, and take your over-zealous friend with you.” Stacy nodded toward the groaning figure on the floor. “But tomorrow is another day. If you wish to win back your losses, I shall be here and happy to oblige.”
The gambler put away his gun and scooped the money from the table as Woody Farnsworth helped Slade to his feet. Dehner emptied the cartridges from Pierson’s gun and handed it to Farnsworth. Woody Farnsworth and the gunslick left, muttering low curses. Dehner didn’t holster his gun until they were gone.
“You’re getting a bit careless, Stacey,” Rance said.
“Please elaborate,” The gambler replied. “You know how highly I value the insights of the west’s finest detective.”
“Travelling gamblers are a target in a small place like Hard Stone,” Rance explained, as the saloon patrons returned to their fun. “If a well-dressed dude cleans them out, one man provokes a fight while the other one plugs the gambler. That way they get their money back and a good story to talk about the next day.”
“And no one cares about the fate of the itinerant gambler.” Hooper shook his head. “Plato was right. The masses well deserve the designation of ‘beast’.”
A broad smile swept across Stacey Hooper’s face. “But why dwell on life’s little shortcomings? You just saved my life, good friend.” Stacey motioned to the bartender, “Two beers, please!”
Rance immediately noticed that his friend had simply ordered the beers. He had not mentioned paying for them. Dehner smiled inwardly. Stacey Hooper hadn’t changed one bit.
Tomorrow: Episode Thirteen of Last Job