Written for OLWG# 199
“Well, the way I heard it was that it all started mebbe 70 or 75 years ago when a man named Edward Teller stepped off the train and into Miss Willa Pound’s Faro Hall, which was across the street from the depot. At Miss Willa’s, a man could find food, drink, gamblin’, and wimmen. Customers were encouraged to check their weapons at the door, but that rule was seldom ever enforced.
“In today’s world, we would prob’ly call Mr Teller by a title, like a mathematician. In them days, he was just a smart man who had a way with numbers.
“In Miss Willa’s Faro Hall, like most gamblin’ dens, the odds favoured the house. Miss Willa ensured that. Her Faro hall employed crooked Faro Banks, and she hired skilled people. Hired folks who were adept at cheatin’, either through card manipulation, with fair cards and a fair dealing-box, or through mechanical appliances. Like modified Faro boxes. A good cheat was better off cheating for the house than against, but Edward Teller was no cheat. Despite the odds, though, in short order, he was way ahead on his bets. His winning streak captured the attention of Miss Willa and her security man, a local guy named Benito Schull. Pounds and Schull watched closely but were unable to spot him cheating. It did not seem to matter how close they watched.
“Ed Teller was almost a thousand dollars up when he cashed in his chips and made to leave. Benito confronted Mr Teller as he walked from the cashier cage to the door. Teller, of course, protested; he had a train to catch. Schull flashed his blue barrelled .31 calibre pepperbox, dissuading Edward from re-boarding the train and convincing him to visit Miss Willa in her office instead.
“There is no record of the discussion between Miss Willa, Schull, and Teller, but I heared that Teller convinced Miss Willa and her man that he just had a knack for seeing the odds and understood the game. He told them that it was a matter of calculations: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Schull promptly shot Edward Teller in the gut. He and Miss Willa watched as the man died on the office floor.
“Willa determined that a keen understanding of mathematics might not be a good thing for her business. She lobbied the city fathers to ban ‘rithmetic in all the saloons and gamblin’ halls in Emerson County, but that proved to be impractical. They compromised; addin’, subtractin’, and multiplyin’ would remain legal, but not long division. They figgered no one understood it anyhow.”
This week’s prompts were:
- guard this with your life
- just hush
- and that’s why long division is illegal in Emerson County