Western Fiction posted June 25, 2012

This work has reached the exceptional level
A story disguised as a poem--or vice versa.

One More Dram

by humpwhistle

Coleman was of sportin' blood, when shined up on his liquor,
keen to smile and quick with guile, his boot knife even quicker.
He dealt his game on felted fields, in barrooms bloused in smoke.
He'd bait his line, and bide his time, to pick some miner's poke.

He claimed he'd never stooped to cheat, but merely played the drift.
"They make mistakes, and I do not. Skill has no call to grift."
But those who lost weren't all convinced he wasn't peelin' tricks.
"It's bad enough to lose our pokes, 'thout bein' played for hicks."

So Coleman always watched his back, and kept a fast horse saddled.
More than once he'd tipped his hat, and into dark skedaddled.
But even men who count the odds will sometimes bust a straight.
And once the Lady Hearts rears up--too late to slam the gate.

Another muddy mining camp, a vein all but picked clean.
Though Coleman sussed he must ride on, to pastures gold or green,
he could not get his boots to budge, so called a game instead;
for one more night, and one more rite of passage in her bed.

Her only name was Queenie, and she sashayed royal airs.
Her pretty face and fine French lace disguised less comely wares.
She made a pact with Hatchet Jack to cook the gambler's goose.
If pulled right slick, this dirty trick, the gambler'd face the noose.

The Queen and Jack had both heard tell of Coleman's hidden stash.
A ransom rife, to pawn his life, and deck the Queen in cash.
Coleman'd dealt the pasteboards clean, but Jack slipped in a ringer.
An extra ace, in perfect place, and Coleman's framed the swinger.

Before the mob could knot the rope, the Queen and Jack stepped in,
and whisked the gambler to a cave, as if to save his skin.
"Just tell us where you've hid your hoard, we'll deem it our fair pay,
and set you loose to slip the noose, and gallop on your way."

Now Coleman'd never lived so long by trusting those who cheat.
He knew his hand was deuce-trey weak, with fatal odds to beat.
He had no cache, no buried stash to bargain for his life.
He'd just one chance to duck this dance--his trusty booted knife.

He never saw Cole's lightning wrist, but Jack soon got the thrust.
One royal scream--turned sightless dream--Queen wide-eyed in the dust.
Some claim he 'scaped to Mazatlan, lived peaceful on the lam.
But that ain't so. You want to know? Best pour me one more dram.

Share A Story In A Poem contest entry


Poem/story, or story/poem, it could stand either way.
Told in the oral tradition, with vernacular appropriate to the subject, and the times. Stand me another dram, and I'll tell you more. hw
Pays one point and 2 member cents.

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