Pauper Or Robber
(Old West)

by Cyc

"Go, go," Buck stage-whispered and Ezra looked up to see him pushing JD towards the poker table.

"Gentleman," Ezra paused in the counting of his night's winnings to greet them, rousing up a smile up for the all but giggling pair of fellow lawmen. "Can I be of assistance before I retire?"

"Ezra," they greeted him in unison as they sat. Then Buck went on, "JD's been working on his shuffle and we reckon he could do you out of a dollar or two." Buck elbowed JD into picking up the deck of cards Ezra had recently abandoned.

"Is that so?" Ezra replied dryly and JD nodded.

"Yeah, I'll bet you five that--" JD began but Buck cut him off with an elbow in the ribs.

"Ten, we bet you ten that JD can cut the queens in your deck."

"Ten?" Ezra smirked. "Each?"

"Eh, ea--"

"Yeah, each," Buck finished for JD. "You gonna take our bet or are you chicken." Buck grinned and winked.

"Oh, I'm never one to turn down twenty dollars." Ezra reached over and took the deck from JD. "But I'll shuffle."

"Fine." They both shrugged, nodding.

Ezra shuffled quickly then placed the deck in the centre of the table and waited.

After a moment, JD suddenly reached forward and skewered the whole deck to the table with his knife, at which point Buck laughed and shouted, "Yeah, that boy sure can cut the cards!"

"Well?" JD grinned as Buck shook his hand in mock admiration. "Where's our winnings?" He eyed Ezra's hard earned cash. "I cut the queens just like I said I would."

"Oh contraire, my young friend." Ezra fanned out the four queens he'd palmed from the deck while shuffling, then almost burst out laughing at the twin expressions of disbelief that greeted him. "I'll collect my winnings a little later if that's all right." He stood up and made a show of pocketing his previous gains. "I have enough to carry for the moment, as you gentlemen can see." He turned away and took a step towards the door before turning back to smile at his bewildered friends. "Oh, and I would greatly appreciate an unskewered deck of cards as well. Thank you, gentleman." He tipped his hat. "It's been very entertaining."


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