“I want to make money and visit with real whores. As the teamster said, life’s short.” Fred gulped his last drink and down the road they went.
Quiet, almost sweet, music played somewhere within the gaming hall.
“I’ll wait out here, Fred.”
“Oh, no you won’t! Don’t be such a prig. Play one hand,” Fred urged him.
Buck had just a small amount of money saved from pawning his things and planned on buying Thankful a household trinket for her wedding, but if she was moving home there would be no point, he reasoned. Buck didn’t mind cards but hesitated.
“Say, Buck, you might win some money for the poor. Look, whatever you win tonight, I’ll match it and we’ll do a good deed with it,” Fred suggested. He pushed Buck along and sauntered in with a big smile.
“Oh, damn, the apostle is here with a friend,” someone said through the smoky haze.
“He won’t be doing any talking, men. I can assure you of that. Now let us in on a hand and I’ll show you how it’s done.”
The men laughed at Fred’s bravado and made room when he flashed his money. Buck, more tentatively, placed his small savings on the table.
Fred whispered, “Here’s to the poor.” After a few lucky hands, Fred proceeded to lose everything they had, all but four dollars. “Oh, well. It’s only money,” he announced, throwing his cards on the table. “I have more at home anyhow!”
Buck stalked out. Fred soon followed. “Sakes alive, what a night! Those men are damned good card players. I’ll have to bone up this last year at school or I’ll be laughed out of the army!”
“Now what’ll we do, Fred? I’m tired.”
“A fellow in there says there’s a place down the road we could spend the night cheap,” Fred said.
“With four dollars?”
“Yep. Follow me, Apostle.” Fred whistled.
Buck cursed under his breath but followed with hands shoved deep into his empty pockets.
They came upon a ruin of an adobe building with a sooty candle-lit window at the side and a falling-down, rotted door at the front. “What’s this place?” Buck’s stomach churned.
“It’s cozy in a way,” Fred said flashing a charming smile before knocking.
The door opened a crack with a loud creak and the sound of a smoker’s cough behind it. “What you want?”
“Mr. Beadle sent me this way. You open?” Fred asked.
“You got money?”
“It’s a dollar a poke—extra for anything else,” the woman said.
Buck pulled Fred back. “You can’t be serious, Fred. A dollar’s cheap even for here—this is disgusting. We can’t do this!”
“Cheap is good—it’s why I came out here tonight. I’m getting some western refreshment like it or not. You jinxed us at cards—at least give me this thrill.” Fred shoved Buck out of the way. “Let us in then, ma’am!”
The door opened, almost falling on them. The woman pushed it back in place. “My name’s Miss Ginny, sir. Come in.” Her doe eyes went to Buck lingering in the shadows. “Are you comin’ or ain’t you?”