~The Sad Saga of Dandy Dan ~
"Anybody can win, unless the Devil happens to be your adversary."
Bathed in silv'ry heat waves ghostly shimmer,
in a wild western town of yesteryear,
came Dandy Dan — gambler — slick card skimmer,
whom poker players were all known to fear.
The stakes were far higher in this ghastly game,
for Dan would forfeit his immortal soul,
poker's five card stud was Dan's claim to fame,
he couldn't lose, for he was on a roll.
Temperatures climbed in the sweltering heat,
as Dan's opponent galloped fast into town.
His jet-black steed kicked up dust in the street.
The stranger tied the beast, then slowly stepped down.
Buzzards swooped 'round the Shady Lady Saloon,
it looked as if something close by had just died;
folks flocked there in droves, the town packed full by noon,
all coming to watch Dandy Dan lose his hide.
The Shady Lady Saloon, well — it was soon filled;
no — there wasn't an empty seat to be found.
This place where many a sly gambler was killed,
most wanted the stranger to take old Dan down.
Whiskey flowed freely, like blood in a war
as Dandy Dan tugged his black Stetson low;
he was much wiser now than ever before.
Said, “C'mon, Devil, let's start this here show.”
The deck, well shuffled, now placed on the table,
each gambler drew a single card from the pile,
to see who dealt first, which one would enable,
the start of this game's cool deception and guile...
Dan looked at his card, King of Hearts with a grin;
his opponent showed no emotion at all.
Beelzebub screamed, “Now the game shall begin!”
Spectators watched Satan's ace of spades fall...
“Your mother and father, who I keep deep in hell,
with both their souls, I will open the bidding.
Whose soul will you offer to counter, pray tell?”
Dandy Dan whispered, “Mine,” without even kidding.
The Devil grinned — a most malevolent thing;
soon both the cards in the hole were in play.
The next — dealt face up — caused Hell's demons to sing,
while outside, all the horses started to bray.
Dan held a King, with an ace in the hole,
the ace of spades, paired the Devil, with a queen.
Satan's eyes darkened, while his obsidian soul,
foresaw those sights Dandy Dan hadn't seen.
On down to Third Street, just three thin cards in,
the dire wagers still standing in tow.
Dan raised a King without so much as a grin
if he was happy then it sure didn't show.
Maybe you're wondering why Dan got in the game;
surely you might've at least asked yourself why.
Because poker had brought him both fortune and fame,
yet, now Dandy Dan had been slated to die.
After twenty-three years, Dan found a good wife,
now fifty, cancer was eating him alive,
daughter, born sick, Dan made a pact for her life
he'd bet his own soul if he'd let her survive.
The time was at hand, the fourth card had been cast,
The poker game was now well under way,
all the while, Dan's sickness was spreading so fast
while that old serpent put his own hand in play.
The Devil looked over a hand filled with spades,
All made of black; ace, the king and the queen.
“Let's raise the stakes higher, let's not play charades,
give these fools a show such as they've never seen."
"For I have your soul, as your daughter survives,
I've got your dear mother's and father's souls, too.
I want your baby girl, with those sweet, hazel eyes,
or, quit now and fold, it's all up to you.”
Dan grinned so wide, it lit up the room;
“Who's quittin, just shut up — deal the card.”
“As you wish,” said the Devil, certain that soon,
this slick gambler would be tortured and charred.
The Devil was giddy, but showed nary a shard,
watching Dandy Dan close 'cross the table.
Dan hung his head, scared to turn over his card —
all the horses grew quiet in their stable.
A straight — ebony black — the Devil had drawn;
Ace, King, Queen, Jack of spades; ten of clubs.
He stared down the gambler, his gullible pawn,
Sheriff Janson nearly choked on his grub...
Dan took his hat off, looked up to the skies,
“Dear Lord, you know if I win we all live,
my cancer will heal, my parent's suffering cries;
this old demon will be made to forgive.”
Turning over his card, Dan let out a sigh,
the Devil chuckled, then laughed till he cried,
threw his cards on the table, then bellowed, “You die!”—
his jubilation now too hard to hide...
Dandy Dan donned his stetson, then, one at a time,
came three aces, followed soon by two kings.
Full house, aces high, church bells started to chime,
the Baptist choir, they all started to sing.
Getting up from the table, the devil walked out,
saddled his black steed, then rode off towards the sun.
Dan coughed and he hacked 'til a black mass flew out
hit the wooden planks of the floor like a ton.
Now Dan, his dear mother, his sweet daughter too —
along with his wife of the past thirty years —
live on plains 'neath skies so perpetually blue,
whilst Dan's dear old dad raises horses and steers.
Dan became legend, his story often told,
of how he defeated the odds on that day.
The Shady Lady Saloon closed up, then was sold,
sits now in the desert — just rotting away...