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One Too-Many Aces in the Badlands

The Brothers and girls Ride Out for a High-Stakes Poker Game

By Gearhead with help from Bandit

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The story starts with Bandit telling me about a big card game in the Badlands of South Dakota. We were drinking one night down the street from the Cantina getting about half lit. He drank Jack on the rocks, and I was drinking Beam. The only thing left was to break open a bottle of Old Grand Dad and we would have a song.

He mentioned making a run to Deadwood for this big poker tournament. It was by invite only and he had one. I asked him about the tournament, while the music on the jukebox in the background was, "I drink alone,” by Lonesome George. He told me you need references and a wad of cash that could choke an elephant. He used that reference because an elephant is much bigger than a horse--a big fuckin’ bank roll. Two things my Uncle Geno told me was: family first and never cross a 1%er. I would back Bandit.

Later my cousin, Blackie found out that I knew about this poker game and comes looking for me. Blackie comes from Terry's last name, Black, and his black FLH stripped dresser, plus he wears only black. He heard that I knew Bandit and came to me begging with an offer that was hard to refuse.

Blackie left his home down in Mississippi about 1970 and left behind a little Southern Belle to raise their daughter. He went out and gambled all over the Gulf and up the Mississippi all the way to St. Louis. His claim to fame was cleaning out all the gamblers in high stakes games under the Hill in Natchez, Mississippi. It was all he could do to get to his hot rod Shovel and blast out of town. He became a well-known card shark in the area. I would give Blackie a reference only because he was family and the game had such a huge stake. I worked with Bandit to get everything together that we needed. I knew a card dealer. He managed the Jet Strip Club and was also the card dealer when some old boy slipped-up showing Five Aces in a game of winner take all. Jimmy agreed to deal cards just to be a part of something historical and we would just have to buy a couple of cases of bourbon. One case of Jack Daniels and the other Jim Beam, so he could write it all off on taxes as a business trip.

Jimmy was a big muscular black guy, who would bring a couple of dance hall girls to tend the bar. We would bring in our own security and we could only trust our biker brothers with such an amount of money. This ended up being a very private game, but we called in T.J., Spider, Lonesome and Frankie for security. I would be there to back Bandit and Blackie, although I knew I stepped out of line inviting Blackie.
This was one hell of an entourage and Jimmy brought a couple of hot ladies and drove up in his completely restored 1964 Lincoln Continental with all the upgrades and suicide doors. This car glimmered midnight blue with pearl and had black gloss powder-coated centerline rims all the way around, plus air bags for the suspension.

Our crew was all on dark bikes with a lot of chrome accents. Bandit's was long and fast, and mine was a 1970 FLH stripped dresser as was my cousin Blackie's. Lonesome's rode a 1968 Pan/Shovel 96-inch stroker with a 10-over front end, T.J.'s was an 80/80 Super Glide custom with a 21-inch Speed master on a narrowed wide glide. Franky's was all drag bars and upswept pipes. Spyder liked those hot rod choppers that Dave Mann painted and pearl black. We looked like a bunch of black stallions pulling a payroll car when we left San Pedro.

I left the house with packed saddlebags like the rest of us. I had on my 5/8s Jak Shirt by 5-Ball Racing, over my Frisco Choppers hoodie, with my custom chaps over Levis. Those jokers had 5 big solid silver conchos on each leg with Mexican braid leather tassels on them. I had my chromed primary chain belt with a big polished stainless steel belt buckle.

The knife I carried was the Arkansas toothpick Bandit always it wanted for his collection. She was a beauty. She had a white ivory handle with raw diamonds inlayed into it. The pommel was solid gold as was the hilt guard all made by T.J.'s neighbor. On the blade center was etched, "Ride to Live.”

The sheath was covered with a diamondback rattlesnake hide and on the bottom was a button of elk antler with a Mexican braided leather tassel that you could tie off on your leg made by a friend of Lonesome’s. The rattler was taken right out of Lonesome's yard in Colorado. The elk he shot in the high mountains of Colorado with his long barreled 50 cal. Hawkins rifle.

I packed my dad's old 44 Red Hawk with a 7.5-inch barrel in my custom shoulder holster. The rest of the guys were all dressed to the 9s. Bandit had on old Harley long johns under his Cabela thermal under lined plaid flannel and a brown 5/8s Jak shirt by 5-Ball Racing, and deer skin pants. I had my eye on that high polished Bowie knife of his. The story he told me was that he pulled it off an assailant at the Kern River Run. The handle was said to be a thigh bone from the 7th Calvary with a polished silver cap button on the end and a silver finger guard and that joker was made from Damascus steel, and nobody knew how many layers the old Chinese knife maker used. She was beauty and could keep an edge.

Jimmy looked like one of those old blues guys out of New Orleans. The ladies all love a sharp dressed man and especially when he is hauling your whiskey stash. We didn't look like a bunch of grubby bikers but looked like a bunch of high roller seasoned bikers. All of us rode high polished machines and wore well-oiled leathers. Lonesome's attire was cool. He wore a long leather trench coat, and you could snap the coat tails like chaps. He was always into that cool factor but functional. We all packed a myriad of pistols. Jimmy packed a Mossberg 12- gauge pump in his Continental with the slug spacer removed, so he could slip 9 cartridges inside. Jimmy preferred slugs over buckshot. His slugs were German wad cutters, and nobody got up from one of those much less several of them. We all knew what we were getting into before we left except the ladies or so we thought.

The ladies were a sight to behold. Renee had a build that could stop a tank, blonde and well bosomed. Those beauties stood out like the Dagmar tits off a 1957 Pontiac, with an ass to match. Skin soft as a baby’s behind and good-natured personality to boot.
Alison was built the same, but held Bandit's weakness, a red head. She was one of the ladies who lost her job at the Five Aces after a disastrous poker game. She likes bikers because we don't judge her for being a dance hall girl. She has an ass that makes you follow her to the back room. Also, good natured, she has a glistening warm smile and can handle any conversation.

Those ladies got into the car, and you could smell the White Diamond perfume and that stuff blows a guy’s mind. Elizabeth Taylor's chemist sure knew how make a man not forget a lady. Jimmy brought a third unexpected lady. She broke up with her boyfriend and needed a weekend away.

Holiday's boyfriend just could not deal with her being a dancer. I was trying to place her. I knew her back when I was a real young man, before I was riding with a club. Holiday’s long sultry legs drew my young gaze all the way to the promised land. Something about a long-legged thick wavy brunette always struck a nerve with me. Once again built like a tank when it comes to assets. I guess Jimmy needed two girls to hold the cash and the third one was to keep our attention on the game. Right!!

We all left out of Pedro one afternoon, made a couple of day stops for grub and couple overnight stops. We made Deadwood on the third afternoon. We pulled into the historic town, and nobody even thought about it. The people of Deadwood know bikers and the rumble of straight pipes.

Bandit just had one condition. He does not sit with his back to the door. "My back is always to the wall of the establishment," he said. I think it had something to do with Wild Bill Hickock getting shot in the back in the Number 10 Saloon.

Blackie said, "I ain't that superstitious, it doesn’t matter where I sit." I had not seen Blackie since the ‘70s and the only thing we had in common other than the same style bike--we were blood kin. He walked into the joint and you could see he was taking a read of the place. It was almost like he was talking to a beautiful woman. This coulda been a bad thing for Bandit's team. Who didn’t know what kind of Cajun mojo Blackie brings to the table, plus there just happened to be some old New Orleans blues on the juke box? Then BB King came on with the "Thrill is Gone."
“Place all your weapons on the bar,” the big bartender barked.

We sorta conformed, and pulled only the obvious iron and slid it onto the historic bar lid but kept an eye on our shit. The whole bar was lined with either big guns or big knives. Everybody could see everybody's wares. The only things missing were the brass knuckles, switchblades, and Derringers and pistols. The belt buckle that Blackie wore on his belt was a pair of brass knuckles and the primary chain belt that I wore worked just fine in a brawl. I knew how to use it and wasn't afraid to whip that bad boy out. We weren't exactly defenseless.

“That’s it,” The bartender said. “Take this shit off the bar. I just wanted to see it.”

We obliged, ordered drinks and told Jimmy get the ladies their rooms. We would settle-up on the whiskey bill later. We took the Jack and the Jim and put it behind the bar. The Number 10 saloon was so nostalgic and historical it gave me the shivers. The cases were sealed and not to be opened until the start of the tournament.

Bandit ran a special tab, but all other commers had to pay premium price to Melody our bar maid. We drank shots and on ice and that's it. We agreed, you don't ruin good bourbon. We finished business with the establishment and went to our hotel.

I think the place was an old Chinese whorehouse. Blackie and I took first watch over the bikes and crew. He with his 38 Diamond back and I had my side-by-side stagecoach shotgun I had bought from Bandido Fred.

I knew Blackie needed sleep for the tournament, so I sent him to bed at 2 a.m. I popped a dexy, drank some coffee and felt ready. I held responsibility for some of this situation. I didn't want to treat family like some prospect doing chores. The rules were no visitors for the ladies, nobody rides after drinking and nobody packs in town. We still packed wherever we went. The money stayed in the Saloon vault and was sealed with the owner's name attached and again we had our security close by.

The tournament started at high noon the next day. I was at Bandit's back with that side-by-side stagecoach shotgun tucked under my coat when Bandit sat down at the high stakes table and Lonesome George was on the jukebox singing " I drink alone."

Bandit leaned over to me and said, " I think you and I have been in a conversation about this very thing before."

"We were about three sheets in the wind,” I said. “I was thinking it was just a dream."

Bandit started with four players per table and the other tables had to meet the amount pledged to the pot. The other tables had to play up to what we had to bring, 10 grand. The larger part of the tournament was over within a couple of hours. We were down to a couple of tables. The ladies were serving our crew and taking money and tips from the other tables. They made real good window dressing and good money that night in their sexy dance outfits.

Bandit eliminated two players at the table when the house combined final four players to one table. At this point it was winner take all. There was Bandit, Blackie, the House Owner, and an Old New Orleans gambler. The house owner, a fat bastard with a broken nose, wearing an old western suit, spoke to Jimmy and asked him to take the dealer’s chair.
I was sitting in the back of the saloon, when the lady they called Holiday sat down at my table. The shotgun was up on the table with my leather over it. The background music was "Women I've never had," by Hank Jr.
“Remember me,” Holiday said directly and moved closer.
"Why do you go by Holiday?” I asked. That seems like a conflict of interest for a dancer, don't it?"

"Yep, but I inherited the traits of my great, great uncle." She glared at me.

In a flash, she had a two-shot derringer in my side.

" Are you going to use that pea shooter?" I asked. “What the hell did I do?”

"Two shots at the same time would leave a real mess,” she said. “Don't you think I ought to though?"

"Oh Shit!” I spoke. “You are the great, great niece of the Doc. Holiday? The Doc. Holiday? "

"Duh!” she said. “I always thought that you weren't the sharpest knife in the drawer, but you were handsome back in our youth. But that didn’t make up for the way you treated me in Reno.”

I told her that I was sorry about all that. “You have to remember my head was all screwed up in those days.”

"That ain't any excuse for your behavior," Holiday said.

I told her that I was a young man with an old biker mentality back then and my Uncle Geno built engines for the Angels and women were considered property and to be treated as such. Sometimes their motorcycles were treated better.

"That’s bullshit!" She snapped.

I could feel the stubby barrels against my gut. I told her that I agreed. I scrambled for a way out of this situation. "I always thought you would be a model,” I stumbled, “but you do made a fine-looking dancer." It dawned on me; she was a psycho. This was no time to dance with a devil in a blue dress.

Holiday stared at me, but I could see warmth return to her features. She withdrew the derringer and holstered that 38 Ruger back in her satin thigh holster.

I took a deep breath and she calmed some. "Do you still have your daddy's Big Red?"

When I heard one of the crew carried a stainless steel 44 magnum, Red Hawk that belonged to his father, I knew it was you. I pulled my 5-Ball leather vest open to reveal two deep gun pockets. One held that 44 Red Hawk.

"Can I hold it?" she asked.
"Don’t let the bartender see you," I said.

She moved close and I could smell her soft perfume and reached into my leather. She snatched that 44 cocked it and before I could stop her shot out the light across the street from where we sat in the back of the Number 10.

The crew snapped and reached for weapons, and all I heard was the cocking of guns.

“Hold it,” I hollered. “I made a mistake and accidentally fired Big Red.”

"Dammit,” Bandit yelled, “Don't let that happen again or you are out of here. "

"I hear you Bandit,” I said and glared at Holiday.

Holiday looked at me with that angelic face and said "Sorry." "We’ve come a long way from that night of making love in the surf on Manhattan Beach.”

I was amazed. “You still remember that night?" I said, or she was working me.

" I will never forget it.” She spoke.

"I never meant to break your heart," I said wondering.

Then I heard Bandit calling the crew to get over to the table.
They eliminated the old New Orleans gambler, and everybody took a break for some breakfast. Everybody playing freshened up and was back before 10am. Bandit, Blackie and the House Owner were still in check with cases and cases of chips.

They played a dozen more hands, and it seem to be a Mexican standoff. Jimmy suggested a winner take all or they could play all day. The question was put to the table. The table agreed. The players matched box per box of chips.

When Blackie sat down, he wore a gamblers short stovepipe hat with a gold band and jewels. " I got my lucky hat, and I am ready to go."

We all looked at the flashy hat. Of course, it had a story. He won it off an old Voodoo priest in the French Quarter years ago. I suspected there was more to the story including the scar on the left side of his face. Meanwhile they were all anting up. Bandit yelled at me again, and I left the conversation with Holiday. Bandit picked up on the vibe, “Is this bastard cool?” He asked in no particular direction, and then stared directly at Blackie.

Blackie jumped up and started to draw down on the table, reaching inside his flashy black coat.

"Blackie!!!” I yelled. “I will have a pair of holes of 00 buck shot blown into you before you can skin the hog leg.”

“Can I have a minute?” I asked Bandit. I need to deal with some family business.

“Make it snappy before he gets shot, we're burning daylight," Bandit said.

Blackie and I went to the back of the room, and I threw back my 5/8s jack shirt and showed him my 44 Red Hawk and Blackie said, "You still got your daddy's Red Hawk?"

"You really pissed off the family with that stunt you pulled," I said.

"I didn't have any choice and I had my reasons." Blackie said, but didn’t look serious. He wanted to get back to the game.

"Leaving that little Southern Belle with a daughter to raise is unforgivable," I said.

He said, "I got a daughter?"

"Yep,” I said and was beginning to wonder why I invited him. He was always a piece of shit. “I should settle this now, but since you are blood kin… Just don’t fuck up here.

“When all this is over, there is going to be a reckoning to be had," I said, my hand still on Big Red. I felt a firm, but soft hand grab my arm and I looked over and there was Heavenly.

"Don't do something you are going to regret Doll," she said.

Bandit yelled again, “Let’s play goddammit!”

"Go over there and sit down and put that 38 Diamondback on the table, “ I told Blackie but there was another issue.
"What is he short by?" I asked the table.

“He’s short three grand,” Jimmy, the dealer said.

"Okay I will speak for Blackie,” I said, “him being family and all.”
Then I turned to Blackie, “Put your 38 on the table along with that top hat, the keys and pink to your bike, and I will add my custom Arkansas Toothpick with your stake."

The handle had two raw diamonds inlayed into the engraved ivory. "What does that come to?" I asked. everybody agreed to 10 thousand dollars. Blackie nodded like he had little choice if he wanted to stay in the game.
"That gives me 7 thousand dollars for the raise, right? He asked hesitating.

"Yep," Bandit said. "You really want to do this?"

"Yep,” I piped up before Blackie. “He is blood family and I just want to give him a chance for this 100-grand pot. We are all brothers baptized in blood, sweat and 60-weight motor oil and this is the life of a 1%er."

“Chance of a lifetime,” Bandit said and looked at me with a grin. "How long did you practice that before you said it?"

"Are we ready?" Jimmy asked impatient like, and all the three players agreed. Bandit had enough money in the till along with the whiskey sales. The house owner was cool and as shady as the Gem owner was in the 1800s. Blackie had on his lucky hat and then the Redhead came blazing through the door and sat down next to Bandit. Bandit said," I got my lucky charm and let’s play."

The chip cases were emptied onto the stained felt… The crew were all gathered around the mountain of chips, and we all had something to say about it.

T.J. said, "Holy shit!"

I told him, "You got that right."

Lonesome said, "I wouldn't know what to do with that kind of loot."

Spyder said, "I would get me a boat in the Bahamas and just fish with a bunch of pretty girls."

Frankie said, "I would open up a speed shop and tattoo parlor."

Bandit said, "What would you do Gearhead?

"I would build that custom hot rod Knuckle with that wishbone bobber frame, candy apple red with morono paint and gold and chrome accessories with a 96-inch stroker motor and a NO2 system for kicks."

Bandit said, “Yep that sounds like you."

Jimmie asked the question again, "Are you gentlemen now ready?"

The table agreed to play. Jimmy then said, " Gentlemen raise your glasses.”

Everybody had a double shot of whiskey in their hands passed to then by the bar maids.

"May the best man win," Jimmy said and toasted.

We all tossed back the shots and slammed the glasses down on the table. "The table rules are what is in the pot it is. No raises and the game is 7-card draw."

Bandit said, "Forget it. I feel lucky with the Redhead by my side today, so let’s play 5-card stud and be done with it."

The other two players agreed. Jimmy dealt 3 sets of 5 cards all face down. The house owner opened with an Ace,2,3,4,5 all in spades.
“What the fuck,” Blackie muttered. He’d been looking for and opportunity to pull something for two days, but Bandit kept an hard eye on him through each hand.

Jimmy said, "What you got Blackie?"

Blackie lifts his left hand and splays the cards, an Ace of clubs, Ace of hearts, eight of hearts, eight of clubs and eight of spades. He drops his right hand under the table and hopes on of the hotties will distract the players.

Bandit winks at the Redhead as she returns with drinks. She knows the drill and drops a drink in Blackie’s lap, pulls his cuff into the open and yanks out another Ace.

Bandit glares at Blackie. “Guess you’re going to play the cards you were dealt, or die trying.”

“A full house, not bad,” Jimmy said. "Bandit, what do you have over there?”

Bandit sat there like he was frozen in time. He slowly picked up his hand and looked at each card carefully. Jimmy makes the call down to Bandit again, and the Redhead nudges the big man and said something in his ear. In the meanwhile, you can hear an old barn owl hooting out on the front porch.

Bandit lays out his hand. He drew a royal flush all diamonds and an Ace high. Those of you that don't know that hand it is a 10, Jack, Queen, King and an Ace all in diamonds. Bandit's crew starts yelling and screaming. We all drank and partied the rest of the evening and the background music of the jukebox was I gotta get paid by ZZ Top.

Bandit gave Jimmy a good tip for dealing cards. Jimmy tipped the ladies and they let everybody sitting in the bar drink free the rest of the evening and closed the doors for the players, the crew and security

I asked Bandit" would you grant me a favor?"

He said, "It depends."

I said, " Are you really going to take Blackie's motorcycle?"
He said, " Hell yes." I said," Please let him have it back?"
Bandit said" Why, he tried to cheak?"

"Blackie and I have family business to finish, and it might take that bike to make him answer to the family."

Bandit said," It looked like you were going to put a slug in him back there. You take the bike to the kid in Florida."

I told Bandit "That idea still might not be off the table yet. And thanks."

Bandit said, "Do what you have to do. I’m splitting the pot with the crew."

We both laughed. "I will only do this for brothers and sisters.”

"He also said" We have built bikes, been to Bonneville, been to Sturgis and on an occasion or two been through Hell and back and I will grant you this.”

Blackie came over to the table to put his hat on the table, keys and pink slip. Bandit took the gold hat band with jewels and gave him back his top hat and then he slid his keys and pink back over to me. “For his kid,” Bandit said.

“And fuck you, if you don’t like it.” Bandit said to Blackie.

"I don't understand!" Blackie said.

"You will,” Bandit said and started to push his chair away from the table.

The moral of the story is to take care of the family, but they can be toxic. Never make a move against a 1%er and sometimes you have to let a Heavenly angel or two fly. My name is Gearhead and that is how I remember how it all went down. Some names have been changed to protect whomever. That’s my story, and I am sticking to it.
Don't miss the cool 5-Ball Racing Leather Collection or a book to keep you entertained.
Don't miss the cool 5-Ball Racing Leather Collection or a book to keep you entertained.


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Reader Comments

That is my bad . It is suppose to state that Bandit said '" He tried to cheat " Sorry about that readers. Gearhead

Torrance, CA
Wednesday, November 17, 2021
Editor Response Thanks for that.

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