Undead Man’s Hand – Chapter 28


Buck Mulligan stood in front of a horse pen and waved a fat wad of cash in the air. The horses had been cleared out and replaced with two gargantuan, shirtless men.

“Place your bets! Place your bets! In today’s bout, Earl “Feelin’ Fine” Klein squares off against Otto “the Ox” Ziegler. Ladies and gentlemen, this is truly a clash of the titans. Hold onto your hats because these champions are bringing enough thunder to make Zeus himself nervous. Who wants in on the action?”

Buck twirled the end of his waxed mustache between his thumb and forefinger, then adjusted the bowler hat he was wearing. Before his very eyes emerged more cash stuffed fists than his eyes could count.

And then came the barked orders.

“Put it all on the Ox!”

“A sawbuck on Klein!”

As Buck counted up the loot, he felt a finger tap his shoulder. He turned to his right.

“Shit on a shingle, McCall, you’re a glutton for punishment, aren’t you?”

“I want a fight,” Jack replied.

“Look kid,” Mulligan said. “I love an easy mark but you’re too easy. So easy that you make my moral compass point north. Beat your feet down the street.”

“Come on Buck,” Jack said. “I need this.”

“Kid,” Buck said. “You’re 99 and 0. If I threw a slab of beef in there it would do better than you.”

“If I lose, I’ll never come back,” Jack said.

Mulligan collected the last bet and tucked the giant cash wad into his pocket. He turned his attention to the fight.

Otto was giving Klein’s face what for.

“Fine,” Mulligan said. “Make it an even hundred then. When you lose…”

Jack corrected Mulligan. “If I lose…”

“When you lose,” Mulligan said. “That’s it. You’ll never get another fight from me ever again. I got standards, kid. Not many, but I got some.”

The crowd gasped. Then shouted various guttural noises. Then came the cheers as Otto delivered one last crushing blow to Klein’s face.

Klein dropped to the ground. Otto, his muscles glistening with a mixture of his opponent’s blood and his own, raised his bare fists high in the air as the crowd cheered.

“Time to doesy doe, kid,” Mulligan said. “Your dance partner awaits.”

Most men would have fled in at the sight of the giant beast in the middle of the ring. Jack smiled and was on his way when he spotted a young brunette beauty in the crowd.

He walked over to her.

“Hi Ginny.”

Virginia Pierce, the town butcher’s daughter, rolled her eyes and belted out an exaggerated sigh.

“Hello Jack.”

“I’m up next,” Jack said.

“Good luck,” Ginny said.

Jack blushed and looked down at his shoe. He stalled for a moment then looked back at the girl.

“You know they say a kiss brings good luck.”

“It’s over, Jack,” Ginny said.

“I know,” Jack replied. “Just, you know…if I die…”

“Uggh,” Ginny said. “Fine.” She leaned up on her tip toes and pecked Jack a fast one on his cheek.”

Jack grinned. “I’ll never wash my face again.”

“What else is new?” Ginny asked.

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