A Gambling Man - Chapter 5 books and stories free download online pdf in English

A Gambling Man - Chapter 5

IT’S RIGHT DOWN THIS STREET,” said Callahan as they turned off the strip. “A
friend told me it used to be a speakeasy back when they had Prohibition.”
Callahan slipped her arm inside his. “Isn’t life just grand sometimes,
Archer? I mean, five minutes ago we had nothing, really. And now look at

Archer wasn’t sure what to make of her move on him, but he let the lady
stay right where she was, even as her soft hip bumped his. He could figure
that out later, if need be.

“It took guts what you did back there, betting all those chips.”

“Doesn’t seem anything like that.”

“I suppose you’d feel that way, I mean, after fighting in a war.”

“I guess so,” he said.

“You want to talk about it?”


“You sure?” she asked, glancing at him.


“How come? It might make you feel better.”

“I don’t need to feel better. And the guys who didn’t come back can’t talk
about it, so what gives me the right? The lucky stiffs shouldn’t write the
histories or tell the stories.”

“Okay, okay, Archer. Don’t bite my head off for caring.”

They took a few more steps when Archer said, “What was that?”

“Sounds like a fight or something,” said Callahan, looking startled. “But
they have lots of those around here. No business of ours.” She tightened the
grip on his arm.

Next they heard a man calling out in fear: “Please, don’t!”

Archer said, “That sounds like . . .”


“Let me just see something.” He pulled free from her and hustled down
the street.


She hurried after him, holding on to her hat as she did so. “Dammit, I
don’t like to run with heels on!”

Archer reached an alley and turned down it. He ran toward the noise and
eventually saw three burly men surrounding another man, far frailer and
older, like hyenas circling prey.

Robert Howells was just picking himself up off the ground; his lip was
split and his cheek was bruised, and his crumpled hat was lying off to the
side. His concave chest was heaving as he held up his hands futilely in a
defensive measure as the younger and larger men bore down on him. The
blood leached down his face and made a spot on his shirt like a crimson

“You boys having fun at an old man’s expense?” said Archer as his hand
slipped into his pocket and wrapped around something he was probably
going to need.

The three men turned around. They were all bigger and beefier than
Archer, and not one of them carried a friendly expression.

Archer advanced on them and pointed at Howells. “You feel good about
that? Something to write home to Mom about, if you got one.”

The biggest and meanest looking of the trio took a few steps toward
Archer. “This ain’t your business, buddy, so shut your trap, just turn around,
and keep moving, if you know what’s good for you. You get one warning
and that’s it.”

“Bobby H, come on over here,” said Archer.

The other two men put out their thick arms to bar the old man from

“Look here, I don’t want to do this the hard way,” said the big man. He
held up a fist as large as a bowling ball. “You beat it now or this is the last
thing you’ll see until you wake up.”

“All you have to do is let him go,” said Archer. “Then you don’t get

The men just gazed stupidly back at him, as though wondering whether
Archer was simple-minded or thought way too much of himself.

“Do you got a death wish, bub?” For added emphasis and to let Archer
see things as clear as possible, the man took out a blackjack and slapped it
against an open palm. One of the other thugs drew out a switchblade and
made a slashing motion with it. He grinned and made another slash. Archer
didn’t bother to watch the performance. His immediate focus was on the

“I was about to ask you the same thing,” said Archer, still marching
toward the big man.

“So just turn around and get out of here. Last warn—”

Archer pushed off the balls of his feet, which separated him from the
pavement. With his wingtips rising about six inches off the surface, he
moved in a graceful arc. As he leaped he rotated his arm back, his elbow
making a V pointing in the opposite direction from which he was heading.
As Archer made his descent, his hand, now a mean fist, came forward.
Archer leaned his weight into it, thereby accelerating the blow about to be
delivered. His fist struck the man so hard on the chin on a downward slope
that the man’s upper jaw jammed into his lower; two of his teeth were
ejected by this collision and landed on the ground along with a stream of
blood. A split second later, their owner joined them, facedown and lights

Archer came to rest on the ground, his knuckles cracked and bleeding
and the stinger flowing all the way to his rotator. You couldn’t hurt another
man in that way without hurting yourself, he knew. But he would take the
pain he was feeling over the one the big man would endure when he awoke.

The knife man lunged at Archer, making attacking motions with his
blade. Archer waited for a few seconds as he sized him up until the man
drew close enough. Then he lashed out, gripped the man’s wrist holding the
knife, and used his foot to hook his opponent’s ankle while at the same time
he pushed his foe backward. The man fell, but he did so without the blade,
since Archer had twisted it free with a violent downward tug on the man’s

Archer closed the blade and threw it behind him. He didn’t like knife
fights for the most part and would rather finish this skirmish with his fists.
The man regained his balance and flew at Archer, only to collapse
backward from a shot directly to his nose that had painfully moved it about
an inch closer to his face. He had less room to breathe now, but air was the least of his concerns at present. Like his friend, he collapsed on the
pavement for an involuntary nap after Archer’s haymaker.

The third man, taking no chances, had drawn a snub-nosed Colt .32 with
oak grips from his jacket pocket. He pointed the barrel at Archer and took
no pains to conceal his delight at what he was about to do. It took
something to kill a man at close distance and with your own hands. It took
only an index finger and not a shred of nerve to do the same with a gun.

The shot made Archer flinch, because the sound of gunfire just did that to
a man. But it hadn’t come from the snub-nosed.

He looked back to see Callahan standing there holding a nickel-plated
Smith & Wesson .38 Special. She had fired the shot into the air, but now
had her gun pointed at the other man’s chest. “Drop the piece, or I drop
you,” she said, her features set like a slab of pretty granite. “And I don’t
miss, mister.”

The man eyed her up and down, a slick smile creeping onto his lips. “I
ain’t worried about no girl pulling no trigger on me.”

Her response was to place a shot through the top inch of his porkpie hat,
neatly blowing it off his head. He cried out, dropped his gun, and knelt
down, blubbering like a baby.

“Then stop worrying,” said Callahan calmly, holding the gun as expertly
as the best-trained soldiers Archer had seen. “Unless you want the next slug
drilling your balls. Which one do you love the least?”

Still whimpering, the man instinctively covered his crotch.

“Come over here, Bobby H,” said Archer again as he grabbed the .32,
slipping it into his waistband. He also picked up the knife and put it in his
jacket pocket.

Howells snatched up his hat, spat on the big man lying at his feet, and
tottered over to Archer. They all three hustled out of the alley and back to
the main street.

“What was that about?” said Archer. “Why were they giving you the

Howells turned to the side and spit blood and possibly part of his inner
lip out of his mouth. “I told you I got enemies, Archer. It’s why I wanted
you to help me, son.”

“You know this piece of work?” said Callahan, who had put her revolver
back in her purse as casually as though it were merely her lipstick and

He shook his head. “We don’t even qualify as acquaintances. And how
come you have a gun?”

She gave him an illustrative eye roll. “I’m a good-looking, young dancer
and I live in Reno. What else do you need to know, choirboy?”

“Let’s get you cleaned up,” said Archer to Howells. The old man was
trying to wipe the blood off his face, but he just made a mess of it.

“The bar we’re going to has a washroom,” said Callahan. “If he can make
it that far.”

“I’ll make it,” said Howells. “But only because I sure as hell need a

“Okay, but you can buy,” said Callahan.

“Why’s that?” said a startled Howells.

“We just saved your bacon is why, you old geezer. Don’t be simple.”

“Well, okay,” said Howells doubtfully. “But my funds are limited at the

“Great,” she said spitefully.

Howells turned to Archer, “And who is your charming friend, Archer?”

“Hey, bub, I’m right here,” she said. “Archer doesn’t have to speak for
me. And the name’s Liberty Callahan.”

“I’m sure it is,” said a bug-eyed Howells.

She turned to Archer. “Hey, how’d you knock those two guys out with
one punch anyways?”

Archer held up the set of aluminum knuckles he had earlier pulled from
his pocket. “I always keep these around for emergencies.”

“Is that legal?” she asked. “You could get in trouble.”

“I figure if you can carry a gun, I can carry these.”

She cracked a smile. “I’m starting to like you, Archer.”

“Hell, what took you so long?”