Jack of Aces

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Jack of Aces

The lipstick traces of bawdy house women

The tufted leather interior of a wayward stagecoach, Dusty and Road Worn

A snake oil medicine show man

Fine gentleman’s gloves stained with bourbon and cigar smoke

A Pearl handled derringer perfumed and hidden in the brim of a sweat stained elegant tall hat

He rode into town sequestered in the back of a well-worn coach that had seen too many miles of rough road not unlike its passenger

A trip that started east of the Mississippi in card games and oriental parlors in the company of scarlet woman and nefarious gentlemen of dubious means ended West of the Mississippi in the sultry outer banks of river towns that had prospered of late, parlaying in the sins and greed of wide eyed new comers to this still savage territory.  Jack (of Aces) worked all and every of these decadent places and took his reward in cash or consequence of virtue.  And traveled on making an army of sore losers and spurned woman. He kept himself impeccably dressed as it was in fitting repose that he looked the part of a well-heeled gentleman, a man of law and virtue that would uphold the very idea of a gentleman’s wager and would by basic nature honor all debts and the flitting virtue of over ripe woman waiting to be plucked from the ample bosom of southern charm.  Jack gambled not for money or the prize of the game but for the danger of the wager, the deal made with the Devil every time the dice rolled or a card turned. He knew that it was for a more subtle and secret reason he risked life and limb in town after town, the hopeless of hopes that he would catch the hollow eye of Ol’ Rudy and play once again against him for the hand of his beloved.  Jack thought he saw Ol’ Rudy in the glimmering light seen through the amber filter of the bottom of a bottle of whiskey or heard the rattle of his boney hands in the clatter of a parted beaded curtain in that whore house outside of New Orleans,  none were more than hope and misdirection.  It was in Tombstone of all misnamed and woe begotten places that Jack met up with Ol’ Rudy, neither hiding or appearing in a puff of smoke but sitting in shadow at the captain’s chair of an ongoing card game, boney fingers covered in worn kid gloves as thin as a veil and held a hand of cards close to his eyeless face.  His comrades filled the table one a more outlandish visage of old western characters than then next. A Indian chief with a face of a cigar store mascot left out in the weather for a 100 years with a rattle snake draped around his neck, A painted Dandy well past his prime in faded lavender velvet waistcoat and dabbing his rouged cheeks with a paisley silk ascot. A stout man of foreign descent with the look of a European aristocrat that had to leave his country of origin both quickly and secretly. The open seat across from Ol’ Rudy slid out to meet him and an ever so slightly tip of the hat invited Jack to take his seat.  From out of the rotting velvet curtains parting as she emerged was Persephone Alders, The one and only that held Jack’s heart. Her beauty was profound and somehow had grown almost sinister in her time as the consort of Ol’ Rudy. This was the moment Jack had awaited and yet he wondered what the stakes were the others were playing for. Round followed round and chips came and went. The air grew heavy with smoke and incense, with sweat and leather and the heavy vanilla perfume that embraced Persephone.  The heat drew the sweetness right out of the cedar lined room and kept the bourbon flowing. Jack noticed the hour only because it was the first time the clock had struck it. 3:00 am the midnight of the soul. At that moment the other players folded their hands and sat back silent. And it slowly dawned on Jack, that weeks ago that glancing shot from a jilted lover’s derringer had poisoned his blood and he was dying as he sat. And it was all so clear to him now. Ol’ Rudy did not steal Persephone, she had died that terrible winter back East, consumption and opium had taken her and Ol’ Rudy gave her a second life. The Indian killed by his snake so many years ago, The Dandy strangled by a Ganymede lover and the Aristocrat assassinated by a vindictive nationale who followed him across continents to avenge his overthrown family. Ol’ Rudy rose up and through the cemetery gate of his skull mouth these hollow flinty words slithered forth “ Come now Jack and join me and mine and be reunited with your love Persephone with this one caveat, For six months out of the year you shall ride the plains and the river fronts and you shall sell my wares and my medicines, You shall travel the waking world with Persephone by your side and you shall indulge in a life eternal so long as you return to my side when winter comes and set by my side and play for the souls of man and the virtue of woman.  Ol’ Rudy slid a heavy and worn leather doctor’s bag across the table and in it were the precious elixirs and potions of Ol’ Rudy’s Carnival Wax Sideshow ……… without a second of hesitation Jack of Aces took up the bag and Persephone rushed to his side, a tip of hats to all seated and off they road, never looking back.  They ride still across a mythic landscape and an endless twilight

jack_of_aces_10ml__02783.1268006082.220.220JACK OF ACES

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About agathablois

NYCL Carnival Wax and everything in between View all posts by agathablois

One response to “Jack of Aces

  • Lo

    hey Agatha, it’s Lo, i used to know you in NYC, i lived in the west village, my son Jaz used to hang with Angus when they were kids. anyway, love your stuff. peace….Lo

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