Harry Morgan had been playing cards all night and had lost a lot of money by the time the sun began to shine around the heavy blue curtains.
The other men he was playing with looked edgy and tired, they began to leave one by one until there were only three people in the game, Harry, Harry’s friend Tom and the man who had won most of the money, George.
“I’ve had enough. It’s morning. I’ve given you two a chance to win back. Time’s up,” George said.
Harry gritted his teeth then lent to the side and spat on the floor. An old man who sat in the corner of the dusty room looked up uncomfortably. Harry looked across at the old man he had thought to be asleep.
“You’re ahead,” is all Harry could think of saying.
“Yep and looks like I’ll stay that way.”
Harry held the edge of the desk, feeling frustrated. His mind was not working straight.
“You’re a lucky one,” Harry said and this time smiled. “Too lucky.”
“It’s morning, lets go get some breakfast Harry,” Tom said, seeing the look in Harry’s eyes, meaning trouble.
“Where are you from?” Harry asked George.
“I’m from up North.”
“Are you coming back tonight?”
“Yes or no?” Harry shouted moving the heavy table slightly.
No one spoke. There was a pile of money in front of George and his eyes went from Harry to the pile and back again.
“One more hand,” George said, “If I win I go, if you win, you win half.” Harry’s eyes dropped as he thought about what was just offered. He took his time in thinking and worked out that half of that money was probably more than he lost and would be a good win.
“Half of that?”
“What about Tom?” Harry nodded toward the thin man chain smoking beside him.
“Nothing, he ain’t in.”
“Why would you want to make a deal like that?” Harry smiled, sat back and put his hands behind his head.
“I figure you’re Harry Morgan and I’ve heard you don’t like losing.”
“You’ve heard right.”
“OK deal the cards,” George demanded.
Harry flicked the cards back and forth until they both had a hand. A truck pulled up outside the dingy little room and let off a screaming hiss.
“Man I gotta pee.” Tom said and looked about.
“Shut up,” George snapped and watched his opponent over his cards. The man had a hard steel calmness, like a man would have who played a lot of cards, a man who would win a lot and not always fairly.
“Have you been here before?” Harry suddenly asked him.
The man grinned slightly. “No.”
Concentrate Harry thought. All night his mind had wandered. He had been losing because he had no control. It was this George, he thought, he had been looking funny all night, saying things, watching him. He was probably cheating. Suddenly the anger rose in Harry again. Maybe, he thought I’ll take all the money. Carefully Harry reached down to his waist and unclipped the buckle of a knife he held there. The click was loud.
George’s eyes flickered.
“I haven’t been here before,” George suddenly said. “Two please.” He threw two cards down. “But my brother has played here.” “Your brother?” Harry asked.
“Is he as good at cards as you are?” Tom asked lighting another cigarette and shaking his right leg back and forth.
“He’s dead, this son of a bitch stabbed him.”
George dropped his cards, pulled a revolver out from his coat and shot Harry twice. Harry fell on the dusty ground silently like he had fallen asleep.
The stranger put the gun away, looked at the other two men, took up his money and left.