I’d watched my friend Fleece lose money all night. Exactly what had induced him to take on One-Eyed Jake in a head-to-head Laredo crap game I couldn’t imagine, but he was determined to see it through.
In the nick of time, Fleece threw a double six. “Aha!”
One-Eyed Jake eyed Fleece up, then threw a triple seven. “Ha!”
Fleece stood up. “There were only two dice a minute ago!”
Suddenly Jake was on his feet, too. “You calling me a cheat?”
Fleece paused to study the gun pointing at his ample midriff.
“No,” he replied, “I’d say you’re very good.”
Bobby Warner seemed to like the idea...
One-Eyed Jack gave Fleece a nasty smirk. "I reckon you'll know better'n to accuse honest men like me of cheating from now on. And just so you don't forget, I'll teach you a lesson."
"Surely you wouldn't shoot an unarmed man," said Fleece, turning bone white. I reached for my .44; I was armed. But old Jack swung around and said, "Pull out that iron and drop it on the floor." Then he turned back to Fleece, aimed, and blew small, half-moon nicks out of his earlobes.
I had to agree with Fleece: Old One-Eyed jack was very, very good.
Then Len Nourse...
Ole One-eyed Jack had forgotten about 3-EYE during his conflict with Fleece. 3-EYE could see around corners because his third eye was flexible. Now 3-EYE didn’t like cheats and One-eye was surely one. Having observed the battle between the two he quietly positioned himself in a favourable position, drew his dagger and flipped it at the gun in One-eye’s hand. The gun clattered to the ground, which gave Fleece the chance to kick it aside and the fist fight was on. 3-EYE disappeared as quietly as he had come.
And then Amy Friedman...
I scrambled behind the nearest pillar, hoping I’d be completely hidden.
“Jack, now come on. You wouldn’t shoot an unarmed man,” I said silkily.
“You got arms, Fleece,” said One-Eyed Jack. “I see you, I shoot you.”
Working quickly, I unhooked my prosthetic left arm and let it drop to the floor.
“OK, I’m unarmed,” I said, kicking the arm to the center of the room.
“Aaaah!” One-Eyed Jack yelled. “What in tarnation?”
“Tar nation indeed, Mister Jack,” I said, whipping from behind the pillar, my .44 drawn and cocked. “You just landed yourself in a whole mess of sticky.”
Then Russell Conover...
A FRESH START
One-Eyed Jake froze after what had just happened. A man had been shot, right before his eyes. Talk about a wakeup call.
The winnings at the casino wouldn’t be worth it, if he wouldn’t escape alive. Quickly, Jake high-tailed it out of there, calling a cab. But where to go?
He thought a fresh start would be good. So, he was dropped off at the local animal shelter to volunteer. They had him look at some newly arriving cats.
Jake froze. One cat had FOUR eyes! Jake slowly backed out of the shelter. Life was weird enough as it was.
Then Jo Oldani-Osborne –
It wasn’t just a literary legend. There were scores of six-toed kitties wandering Papa Hemmingway’s estate in The Keys.
The cats slept or roamed among the broken tiles with kitty food scattered liberally and bowls of water and CREAM!
Fleece and One-eyed Jake scampered across the courtyard after catching a ride on a fruit truck from the wharf.
“Paradise,” Fleece snickered. “Look at all the kibble.”
“Manna,” smiled One-eyed, “and them cats is too fat to care.”
“Sure beats Miami,” Jake squinted, wriggling his nose. “It’s not the heat -- it’s the humidity.”
The Pack settled in for an infest.
Then Bobby Warner again...
Next day One-Eyed Jake woke and scratched his belly. "A man can stand just so much kibble and cream, then he's gotta move on."
"You're right," said Fleece.
"I'm shore glad that picture of your ma dropped outta your pocket back in Miami. And I'm double glad I just nicked your ears instead of blowing my own son full of holes!"
"Me, too, Papa. Let's go up to Houston and rent a hotel room. I think I can write a few best-sellers like Hemingway, then we can get us an estate, too."
"Sounds like a winner, son. Let's get going!"
Then Jo Oldani Osborne...
PAPA ONE-EYED JAKE/JACK AND FLEECE IN A HOTEL ROOM
“The Great War and I was fighting to save my leg!” Papa dictated to Fleece, “ I got a sweet tabby knocked-up in Italy and –ACK!”
They were in Houston but Fleece knew consumption when he heard it. His Ma lost her third life to The Big C.
“Just a hair ball –“ Defeated, Papa tucked a pink-stained rag in his Panama.
“Those pussies! ’Phlemingway!’ they mocked me.”
“ Put it in the book --.”
“ but I know ‘For whom the bell tolls.’—“
Fleece hesitated -- then crossed out “The Old Man and The C”.
Gordon Lawrie tried to bring it all under control.
THE END OF THE AFFAIR
Just then the phone rang. Fleece answered it, nodding gravely in response to what he was hearing from the other end.
Afterwards, Fleece turned to Papa Jack-Jake. “That was Comely Bank Publishing. It seems my being an animal is in breach of ©copyright – I’ve ratted on the agreement. I’m not allowed to be Fleece™ any more.” Was that a tear in his eye?
“What’ll you do?” Jack-Jake asked.
“Become a woman. I fancy the name ‘Flounce™’,” she added.
“Great – will you marry me?”
“And they all lived happily ever after?”
“Hey – that’s a GREAT opening line for the book!”