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The Best Rootin' Tootin' Shootin' Gunslinger in the Whole Damned Galaxy: Tales of the Galactic Midway, Vol. 4 by Mike Resnick

The Best Rootin' Tootin' Shootin' Gunslinger in the Whole Damned Galaxy: Tales of the Galactic Midway, Vol. 4 by Mike Resnick

Author:Mike Resnick [Unknown]
Language: eng
Format: epub


Chapter 11

"I've run through my competition,"

Said the Dancer, still feeling that yen.

"I'd much rather suffer perdition,

Than never hit leather again."

"So hunt up the best,

Put me to the test,

Let's have it out once and for all.

My hands they are steady,

I'm rarin’ and ready,

I won't be the first one to fall."

—from “The Ballad of Billybuck Dancer"

Flint walked into the galley, took a large pot of coffee from one of the robots, and made his way through the crowded mess hall to his usual corner table, where he found Tojo, Diggs, and Jiminy already eating breakfast.

“I hope I'm not intruding,” he said caustically.

“If you see another empty table, I'll take it,” said Diggs stuffing another forkful of artificial omelet into his mouth before looking up. “I guess everyone got hungry at the same time.”

“I can't imagine why,” said Flint, looking distastefully at Diggs’ plate.

“You're in a great mood today, aren't you?” said Diggs. “I should think you'd be a little more cheerful on the day after your boy won his gunfight and made you ten million credits.”

“Two million,” Flint corrected him.

“What's all this I've been hearing about ten, then?” persisted Diggs, chewing noisily.

“Five for the Corporation, one for the Dancer, and four for the carny. Half of the four is mine.”

“Would the Corporation have paid five million credits if the Dancer had lost?” asked Diggs.

“What doyou think?” said Flint with an ironic smile.

“Me? I think that when Kargennian finally dies, you're going to need a crowbar to pry his fingers loose from the first penny he ever made.” He pushed his plate away and cleaned his fingers fastidiously with a paper napkin. “He's still around, you know.”

“Who?”

“Kargennian. I saw him going into your partner's office about an hour ago.” An alien crew member walked by with a foul-smelling green-and-blue concoction, and Diggs wrinkled his nose.

“That'll just make Mr. Ahasuerus’ day,” commented Flint an amused grin on his face. “The little bastard's probably setting up a distribution network for the films of the fight.” He looked around the mess hall. “I see the Dancer hasn't come down yet.”

“I hope he's all right,” said Tojo, carefully spreading artificial margarine on an artificial roll.

“Why shouldn't he be?” asked Diggs. “He really looked sharp last night—kind of like John Wayne and Gary Cooper and Clint Eastwood all rolled into one.”

“I stopped by his room this morning,” volunteered Jiminy, who had not eaten any food, but seemed to have developed the same enthusiasm for orange juice that Mr. Ahasuerus had for coffee. “He's pretty much the same as usual.”

“That means he's sitting in the dark, staring at a wall,” chuckled Diggs.

“Exactly,” replied Jiminy seriously.

Stogie, dressed in pajamas and a tattered terrycloth bathrobe, entered the mess hall just then, with his schnauzer tucked under his arm.

“Come on over and have a seat, Max,” called Diggs, shouting to be heard above the din created by the untranslated alien voices, and the ancient comic made his way carefully to the table.

“I thought you were supposed to be in bed,” said Flint.

“I



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