Undead Man’s Hand – Chapter 30


That afternoon, Jack sat in Aunt Lu’s cafe, sulking in defeat.

His body ached all over. He had a black eye. His face was bruised. Two teeth were gone. His chest was sore. It hurt to do anything – literally, anything.

All he wanted to do was go home and sleep forever but he lacked the energy to face another one of his father’s angry tirades.

So there he sat, nursing a cup of coffee as he read his favorite book.

A longstanding question has plagued the public discourse. How many men have met their doom at the end of Hickok’s pistol?

Hickok himself puts the figure at well over a hundred, though he admits that when he reached one hundred, he stopped counting.

Various officers of the law have all confirmed that the count must indeed be over one hundred.

One hundred defeated opponents. Surely, when one considers the mathematics at hand, it must be concluded that Hickok has cheated that statistical odds.

This writer put it in layman’s terms and posed a question to Hickok. “Simply put, how is it that you’ve been able to shoot so many men without any one of them ever putting a shot into you?”

Mr. Hickok’s response? “I could tell you it was practice, and to a certain extent it was. I spend more time training in the art of gun play than the average man. And I could also tell you it is experience. Get yourself in enough gun fights and sooner or later you’ll come to understand what a desperado is going to do before he does it himself. But when it really comes down to it, it’s all a matter of will. I wanted to live more than the other guy. Thus, I fought harder and smarter than the other guy.”

“Fight harder and smarter than the other guy,” Jack mumbled to himself.

The young man pondered that quote for awhile until he spotted Ginny. She was buying a sandwich wrapped in paper from Aunt Lu and even this simple sight was enough to make Jack’s heart skip a beat.

He followed her out into the road.


“Uggh,” Ginny replied without even an attempt to mask her disgust. “I don’t have time to dilly dally, Jack. Father sent me to fetch his lunch for him and he’ll be very cross with me if I’m late.”

“I know,” Jack said. “Did you see the fight?”

“What a stupid question,” Ginny said. “You saw me there. You didn’t see me with my eyes clothes. Ergo, I saw the fight.”

“Right,” Jack replied.

“Are you ever going to quit?” Ginny asked. “Boxing doesn’t suit you.”

“I don’t want to,” Jack said. “Buck says I have to.”

“Thank goodness,” Ginny said. “At least someone has some sense.”

The duo walked together in silence for awhile.

“What will you do now?” Ginny asked.

“I was uh…umm..” Jack cleared his throat.

“What’s wrong with you?” Ginny snapped.

“Nothing,” Jack said. “I was just, you know…thinking about becoming a gunfighter.”

Ginny stopped. “A what?”

“A gunfighter,” Jack replied. “It’s better than being a prizefighter. You don’t have to be bigger than the other guy. You just have to know how to shoot better than he can.”

Ginny stared at Jack. Her face was expressionless.

“I’ll be just like Wild Bill Hickok,” Jack said as he pointed to the cover of his book.

And with that, Ginny could no longer hold back her laughter. She covered her mouth with her hand to stifle her amusement but she couldn’t help it.

“You?” Ginny asked. “Be just like Wild Bill Hickok?”

“What?” Jack asked indignantly. “It could happen! Everybody who is a somebody started out as a nobody you know.”

Jack winced as Ginny brushed her hand against his sore face. “Ooo…sorry.”

She took her hand away. “Jack, you must stop filling your head with such nonsense.”

“It’s not nonsense,” Jack said.

“Whatever it is, I can’t be bothered with it anymore,” Ginny said as she walked away.

“Wait,” Jack said as he put a hand on Ginny’s arm, only for it to be immediately shaken off.

“No,” Ginny protested. “No, Jack! Now I don’t know how many different ways I can tell you but we are over so stop asking. Father has put his foot down on this subject.”

“You don’t have to do what your father tells you,” Jack said.

“And who will take care of me if I don’t?” Ginny asked. “A moron with stars in his eyes who wants to be a prizefighter, and now a gunfighter, anything but a man who just puts in an honest day’s work?”

Jack’s eyes welled up.

“Oh,” Ginny said. “Jack, you’re very sweet but father is right. I’m nineteen and still a single maid. I’m already considered by every eligible bachelor to be a reclusive spinster and if I’m ever to find an accomplished man I simply can’t be seen about town with the likes of you. Good day!”

“But Ginny…”

“Good day!”

Jack watched as the woman he loved walked out of his life. He then walked into the nearest saloon, ordered a shot of whiskey and opened up his book.

“Women will drive you crazy if you let them,” Bill said. “The thing to remember is just when you feel like you’ll never be able to love another woman ever again, another woman will surely come waltzing her way right into your life.”

“I’m not so sure about that Bill Hickok,” Jack mumbled.

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