By Tim Meyer A tale of Deadlands Weird West

Steele Archer caressed the leather of the book. The “H” on the cover glowed slightly as his fingers passed over it, illuminating the dark corner of the Charlie’s Place. “Doyle” was a well-known poker player, who had recently died of “lead poisoning” via six bullets to the chest. Powerful Huckster or not, if you got shot in the back a half-dozen times, that’s usually the end of it.

Steele had been hired by the diminutive Kevin Wainwright to travel to Colorado to claim Doyle’s property and bring back his copy of Hoyle’s Book of Games. The book was locked, and no key had been found on the body or with the property. Steele had considered using an unlock trick on it, but the amount Mr. Wainwright had offered was enough to stay his hand.

Steele might have written the job off after Doyle’s real son ended up in that town too, already having claimed his property, including the book. But luckily for Steele, Doyle’s son was a compulsive gambler and not a very good one.

A few well-placed bets later, Steele lucked into a full house, tens over twos, while Doyle’s son had three of a kind, kings. He was none too happy to bet his father’s prized book.

The notes held within the book were beyond value and would make a huckster’s power grow exponentially. But, as much as Steele wanted more power, he desired payment more.

The masked man approached Steele. “You have the book,” he inquired, looking at it with awe. Ja Mein was his name, one of workers with the circus, whom Kevin had informed him would pick up the book and verify its authenticity.

“You have my fee?” Steele asked.

“Indeed.” Ja said as he dropped the small bag of ghost rock. Steele pushed the book across the table to the masked man. “Mr. Hawley thanks you for your discretion.”

“I’m always available, if the price is right.” Steele rose with ghost rock in hand and exited the saloon with a smile.

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