Jared pulled his hands out of his pockets and slowly moved towards him. He was wearing a smug smile on his lips. “This is quite the establishment you have here, Mr. Murray.” He looked around the cafe’, his eyes scanning the fine decor.
“What is the meaning of this?” Samson demanded, his voice harsh. Did it waver? Was he nervous? He seemed to be. He had set down his cigar and was looking at Jared like he was a sort of intruder. That was exactly what he was. An intruder ready to steal everything away from beneath his well shined shoes.
“Did you not get my letter? If you did, you would know what the meaning of all this is. Or are you such an imbecile that you have yet to learn to read?”
“I will not stand for such insults. Escort this man out!”
The two men made to approach Jared but he stood his ground and put up his hand to make them stop. Surprisingly they listened.
“Mr. Murray, I have a proposition for you…”
“A proposition?” His brows knitted together, curiosity taking precedence over his insult.
“I wish for vengeance for how I was treated just last night…”
“Vengeance? You did not have enough money for what you had ordered!”
“And so you beat me and throw me out like some beggar?”
Mr. Murray had nothing to say. Somehow he understood the delicacy of the situation.
“We play a game. The terms? We fight. Fight for what you have. You win? You keep everything. I win? I get everything.” A smile was twitching on his lips.
“That is ridiculous!”
“Ridiculous? Is it? Do you really think that it is? Sir, this is an honest offer and I expect you, as a gentleman, to agree.”
“I will not agree to such preposterous terms.”
Jared shook his head. “You have disappointed me. Greatly.”
“What sort of fight are we speaking about?” Mr. Murray questioned.
Jared looked up at him from beneath his thick brows. “Have you ever heard of Russian Roulette?”
Mr. Murray’s eyes darkened. “You can’t be serious.”
“Oh but I am.” He saw Mr. Murray swallow harshly and he felt a sharp superiority flow inside of him. But that was the only response he saw and so again he shook his head. “Well then, this was a disappointment.”
“You can’t expect me to play a game of death!”
“If you were right in this situation, sir, than it would not matter. Death cannot touch the righteous, have you not ever been to church?” Jared heard the men beside Mr. Murray muttering advice to him. Step away they said. Listen to the angels on your shoulders, Mr. Murray. “I suppose I ought to be going.” He said after awhile of Mr. Murray simply standing there, unable to make a decision.
Jared turned on his heels heading towards the doors.
“Wait!” Mr. Murray called out, reaching behind him and taking a box from off the table.
Jared turned back to him despite the protests of the other men. “Change of mind?”
“You’re right. Death cannot touch the righteous. I have nothing at all to worry about.” But there was a glisten of sweat on his forehead, a nervous twitch to his thin lips.
“Good.” Jared clasped his hands together with satisfaction. He looked at the box Mr. Murray was holding. “Have you two guns in there?”
Jared smiled and walked over to the table beside Mr. Murray. “Two is all we need. Give it here.” He reached out his hand and waited for one of the guns and a bullet.
Mr. Murray’s hands shook as he set the gun into Jared’s hold. He set the two bullets on the tables surface and then took the seat across from Jared.
“Samson, this is madness! Do not do this! Think of your daughter! We can call in the authorities and have this man thrown into a cell.” One of the men spat out.
Mr. Murray shook his head though and looked up at the man who had spoken. “My honor, my good will is never questioned, doubted or insulted. This must be done.”
“I must have your word in front of these good men that the terms will be honored, either way.” Jared urged, looking Samson directly in the eye.
“You have my word. If I die you get everything.”
“Money. Property. Business. Everything.”
“And I have your word? Your gentleman’s word?”
Samson nodded and extended his hand for the seal but one of the men set his hand on Samson’s shoulder.
“Think on this, Samson. This is all foolish.”
Samson didn’t hesitate though, he simply took hold of Jared’s hand and shook it firmly.
“You have my word.”
“And you have mine. Whatever it’s worth.” Jared replied, finally retrieving his hand and taking up the gun he was given.
They loaded the single bullet into their guns without looking up at each other. Jared could see from the corner of his eyes how Samson’s hands shook. He wondered if he was supposed to be afraid or even nervous. If he was supposed to be than he wasn’t doing something right. He was neither afraid or on edge. He was confident. Something told him strongly that things were going to go his way. He looked at this Samson and saw a kind of man much like himself. His righteousness was going to be tested and he was damn sure that it was pretty much non existent.
Finally they lifted their guns, pressing the barrels to their temples. They locked eyes. Samson’s quivering with uncertainty and Jared’s sparkling with premature defeat. It was deathly quiet around the cafe’. The men that were with them were silent, unable to say a single thing. The uneasiness was strong and the fear for their friend. Jared gave a small nod and just like that their guns were cocked.
“Your word, sir. Tell me again I have your word.” Jared urged, feeling a sudden tightness in his throat.
“You have it. I promise.” Samson’s voice trembled as he tried to keep his hand steady.
Jared let a smile form on his lips. He forced himself to stifle whatever nerves that were rising inside of him. Samson slid his eyes shut as his finger inched towards the trigger. Jared touched to the trigger and within a second the silence was filled with the click of the gun. Two heavy breaths echoed out as another turn was given. Samson was beginning to sweat and Jared sat there stiffly trying not to crumble. Again their fingers went to the trigger.
Jared closed out his senses to every sound, to every feeling. He closed his eyes, his hands starting to tremble lightly. He cursed the pearls of sweat on the back of his neck. He squeezed the trigger and the click nearly deafened him. Just like that several screams shot through his frozen state. He opened his eyes and saw what had happened, what he had blocked out.
Samson laid back against the chair he was in, slumping downward. The bullet from his gun had nearly crushed the half side of his head, blood had sprayed onto the curtains and his death scarred the table and walls.
Jared set back, his trembling hand setting the gun onto the table. A breath escaped his lips. What was it? Relief? Shock? Or had it ended the way he knew it would?
“Murder!” One of the men shouted as the others went to Samson’s body.
Jared shook his head and stood up. “He agreed! You all heard his word! he accepted and you all witnessed it!”
The men stopped where they were and looked up into his eyes. Jared watched them nervously, feeling the ceiling crush him suddenly. What were they going to do to him? Would they accept Samson’s word?
“It was a gentleman’s word.” One of the men said, grimly, hesitantly.
Jared sucked in a breath and looked to the other men in the cafe’. His heart had stopped and he could feel himself being suffocated.
“Gentleman’s word.” One of the other men said with a nod.
“But what are we going to do with Samson?”
Jared looked at the man, felt the atmosphere shift.
“We call the authorities, we have him take his body and we tell the truth.”
“A gentleman’s word.” Jared nodded before he sat back down in his previous chair.
The men were talking amongst themselves, trying to sort things through. Jared just sat there. He looked into Samson’s opened and dead eyes. The blood was everywhere, his death was permanent. He breathed in the scent, tasted the feeling. He was dead. He had lost everything. Jared promised himself that he would never be in that situation. He would never be lost to death the way Samson was now. His was going to the only life worth living and with everything going in his favor nothing would ever be the same.