Wheeling and Dealing
It was a hot day in Cowtown, but then again, wasn't it always hot? For Moo and his posse, it was no big deal. For some others, like, for example, Sally Sue Holsteen (who had a crush on Cowlorado, though she wouldn't admit it), it was a big deal. Nobody liked the heat.
Another thing nobody liked was the fact Five Card Cud was a professional at "wheeling and dealing" (Mayor Bulloney's term for cheating at gambling). With the Masked Bull now in Lonesome Gulch and doing his cover-ups there, Five Card Cud became Cowtown's public enemy number one. And it became evident he had a few tricks up his sleeve.
One day, Five Card Cud took notice of the fact Miss Lily's Tumbleweed Saloon had a new gambling hall for folks who wanted to do so. While it made extra money for the saloon, Miss Lily was at first opposed to the idea. "I don't understand it," she had told the press. "Why is it these folks are always working hard for the money and then they throw it all away?" Nevertheless, it was enough to prove that even cows and bulls can be greedy sometimes.
It was Saturday morning, and having disguised himself as one of the employees, Five Card Cud was introducing the game of roulette to a customer who had come in to relax for the morning after a long cattle drive the night before, unaware that he was talking to the lynx worthy to be considered the pride of the Lone Star State, Cody Belachman, and that Cody knew how to play. Cody, however, went with the scene, wondering how exactly he was going to get the word out to Moo and his posse, watching to see how Cody would handle the game. Why? Cody was no creampuff; he knew it was Five Card Cud right from the start. (The rest of the Fab 5 had gone home to Texas since they had enough stamina to do so; Cody was exhausted to the point where he had no choice but to spend the weekend in Moo Mesa.)
"Howdy, partner," Five Card Cud had said as Cody came up to the table, located close to the bar where Miss Lily was serving her famous homemade sarsaparilla to Moo, Dakota, and Cowlorado. "Welcome to the saloon. Ever been here before?"
"Once or twice, I reckon," Cody replied, "but I ain't never seen this here game in here before."
"Haven't you?" Five Card Cud exclaimed in shock, not knowing Cody was tricking him in return. "Well, this here is roulette. That's French for 'little wheel.' You can make fourteen different kinds of bets: straight, split, street, corner, trio, basket, top line, dozen, column, snake bet, red, black, even, or odd."
"What's that got to do with being French, Moo?" Dakota whispered.
"I don't know, Dakota," said Moo, "but like the Code of the West says, 'You can't play any game in moderation if you've lost all your winnings."
"Surely Cody can handle it," said Cowlorado. "I have a feeling he knows something we don't."
"We'll see, Cowlorado. We'll see."
"Hang on a minute, partner," Cody told Five Card Cud. He walked over to the C.O.W.-Boys and whispered into Moo's ear, "I ain't sure if y'all figured it out, but that there varmint is in reality Five Card Cud waitin' to cheat folks out of them paydays again!"
"I thought he was acting suspicious," said Dakota.
"Cody, I think we could use folks like you around here all the time," Miss Lily spoke up (though in a soft tone). "You seem to know this town's outlaws better than the town's own cows."
"Oh, thank y'all kindly, Miss Lily, but I ain't betryain' Texas for anythin'. Think I might play along with this here scenario and see if I can beat that there varmint at his own game."
"Okay, but be careful," Moo warned. "He might figure out you're cheating him, or at least, if lady luck is kind to you."
Cody walked back over to the roulette table and took a penny from his pocket. He placed it on the red space with the number 25 on it and said to Five Card Cud, "Okay, sir; I'll bet one of them pennies of mine on 25."
"All right," said Five Card Cud, dropping the marble into the wheel after spinning it. "A penny on 25."
Five Card Cud looked down at a machine no one but him could see. He pushed a button labeled 25 and pulled a lever so that when the wheel came to a stop, the marble was sitting on the red 25. "And the little marble falls on 25!" Five Card Cud announced as he whisked 35¢ in Cody's direction. "35¢?" Cody exclaimed in pretend shock. "Y'all mean I get all that?"
"Certainly," said Five Card Cud. "Straight bets pay 35 to 1. And besides, in my organization, the customer always wins."
"How'd y'all manage to stay in business if the customer's supposed to always win?" Cody protested. "Wouldn't y'all be out of a job?"
"That's none of your business!" Five Card Cud snapped, then suddenly calming down again trying to cover up his image. But Cody knew best.
"Whatever." Cody shrugged his shoulders. Moo walked up next to him and suggested, "I think you'd better play a couple more rounds and wait for the one where you lose the bet. Then we can spring his identity loose on the public."
"Good idea," Cody whispered back. "Okay," he said to Five Card Cud. "I'll bet the same thing again." Five Card Cud took the bet, spun the wheel, dropped the marble, and it landed on 25 again. Now Cody's winnings equaled $22.75.
By the time Cody's winnings equaled $344,318,406.25 (evident by all the coins laying all over the floor), Five Card Cud was ready to spring his little twist. Cody turned to Moo and his deputies (and Miss Lily) and announced, "Okay, Moo. I think it's about time for him to take it all back. I got over $300 million and I haven't lost yet."
"It's time," said Cowlorado. "Look at what's he's doing." Everyone turned to see Five Card Cud nailing a piece of wood on to the 25, preventing the marble from landing in it. When Moo asked why, Five Card Cud replied, "It's a mere formality, so nobody else can bet on 25." He spun and wheel and this time set up his contraption so that the marble fell in the green 00 slot. He laughed to himself and banged his hands on the table, causing the marble to bounce. When he settled down and looked at the marble, he suddenly turned to dismay; the piece of wood had come off and the marble was sitting in the 25 slot again!
"Well, Cody," Moo announced, "looks like you just can't lose."
"So much for my plan," Cody replied. "Well, who cares? I ain't never been close to this much cash in my life, and frankly, I wish I never had any of it! I don't care if I never am rich; I'd rather be rewarded with the crook going to prison."
"That's a noble idea," said Moo. "First let's turn in this outlaw for free." He turned to Five Card Cud. "All right, Five Card," he said sternly. "We know it's you. Marshal's orders; take off that ugly disguise." Five Card Cud did so, revealing his true face, and showing signs of anguish. "Oh!" he exclaimed as he let Moo cuff him. "How'd you know it was me?"
"Who else would be hoping to cheat folks out of their money with a game of roulette?" Moo replied. "And besides, do you not realize who you were trying to fool?"
"I do now," said Five Card Cud. "You're that wretched Texan lynx who saw to it Billy the Kidder couldn't go past the Mexican border!"
"Yup," said Dakota.
"I remember that," added Cowlorado.
"That's right," said Cody to Five Card Cud as Moo and the posse took him to jail. "It's a lesson to learn: don't mess with Texas!"
After Moo came back from the sheriff's office/jail, he ordered another sarsaparilla and his posse did the same. Cody decided he'd have one because he was thirsty as it was.
One thing was sure certain to be made public to all of Cowtown: next time they needed a foreigner that knew their own breed of baddies, they'd know where to look!
Wild West C.O.W.-Boys of Moo Mesa © Ryan Brown
The Fab 5 © me