Joe O'Callaghan

The Silver Dollar was Joe's regular pit stop when he needed to give his old Mustang Prospero a bit of a break or to fill up on a bit of good hard cash. He wasn't the best poker player in the West, but he could hold his own in a game and usually ended up a few dollars ahead. Usually.

He liked the Silver Dollar because it was never more than half full, which meant he would always have a forewarning of anything that might resemble a barfight. He prized himself on always managing to slip out before anything of that sort happened. In this kind of a neighbourhood, it wasn't the best idea to get attention from the authorities.

He slid into a seat at the bar and ordered a drink. The barman knew him on sight, and gave Joe the usual surly nod of greeting.

'You back in town, O'Callaghan?'

'That's right,' he said, pushing a couple of silvers across the bar.

'Keep yore eyes and ears open, y'hear? There's been talk.'

Joe shrugged and turned away. There was always talk. That's what people do. He'd be a fool if he ran after every myth of riches. A poor fool.

There were only a couple of people at the poker table, so Joe adjusted his ponytail - his hair was long, but woe betide any mortal who made any remark against it - and found himself a seat.

'Mind if I join you?'

They shrugged casually. 'Go for it. $50 buy in.'

'Sure.' He slapped the money down on the table and was dealt a hand. While he played, he scrutinised the others. The dealer was a broad man with tanned skin who looked like he crushed skulls as a passtime. There were two other, unremarkable looking men who were both useless and were losing hands down. The fourth player was strong and muscular, and evidently knew what he was doing, because he played with the casual air of the really confident.

Joe rolled his shoulders. Bring it on.

The End

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