By Andy Betz
Walter asked to unpackage three bullets of his favorite caliber. It was his prerogative to do so. No one would ever ask why. He opened his new box of factory ammunition. They watched him load all three in the cylinder, with a single space between the second and the third. Custom dictated the loader close the cylinder and freely spin it before the betting money hit the table.
The revolver sat on the table as the money and attention grew exponentially. Walter was going to milk this for as long as he could. If he could get past the first bullet, the real money would step-up and make its presence known.
The house usually provided the ammunition. Tonight, however, his .41 magnum hollow points brought out the sordid and the psychos. It would only take one to the shooter’s head to explode and spray the room, contents, and patrons with brain cells that should have made better life choices.
Here, in this part of Dhaka, the AC never worked and the overhead oscillating fans were functioning barely more than that. The air was slowly dispersing the cloud of cigarette/cigar smoke, but not the heat from the SRO crowd. Walter banked on this and decided to wear a tuxedo and tie. He was cool on most days. Tonight, he needed to be frigid.
And he was.
One revolver and one trigger squeeze constitutes one round of betting. Walter had no money on this round. If he survived, he would place his wager during the second round. If not, at least he would already be in a nice suit for the funeral.
The house bell rang indicating it was time to act. Calmly, almost in a Zen-like trace, Walter reached for the revolver, aimed as had always aimed, and squeezed the trigger.
Nothing and nothing.
Nothing from the revolver and nothing from Walter. Not a blip of pulse increase. Not a single bead of sweat. As calmly as Walter raised the single-action, he returned the blued steel back to the table. Without rising from the same table, Walter raised two fingers and nodded his head. The roar from the crowd was as deafening as the bullet should have been. Rarely does any gambler ask for a second chance. Rarer still would a gambler seem to want a second chance.
Walter was a rare breed, indeed.
He also was very good at math. So good that it took him nearly half as long to calculate the odds of survival as did the oddsmakers in close proximity. Five chambers remained with three cartridges. Once he spun the cylinder, Walter’s odds dropped from 50% last round to 40% this round.
Walter did not find these odds profitable. When the bell rang, he invoked a rarely used privilege to not spin the cylinder. This caused his fellow gamblers to become frenzied. Calculators came out of pockets. An abacus joined the mathematical melee. In the end, the odds-makers displayed their calculations.
If the last empty chamber sat between two bullets AND in front of a single bullet, Walter’s odds of survival were 0%. If the last empty chamber sat between a bullet and an empty, the odds were 100%. If between an empty and a bullet, they dwindled to 0%.
Three possibilities with an average probability of survival at 33%, thus the house pays 3 to 1 against.
Walter liked these odds.
From his jacket pocket came a year’s income the average spectator might insist was two years in value. Placed on top of the revolver, it was Walter’s way of forcing these odds makers to assume just as much risk as Walter. More than anyone could handle, Walter waited for a taker. If no one did, Walter would remove his money, his revolver, and his ego from the table.
All as planned.
It took a few minutes, the combined fortune of the odd makers, and assurances of an even division of money if a bullet evenly divided Walter’s cranium. This took a level of negotiation requiring a blood oath and recognition of the established pecking order for all similar criminal activities in this city.
For both sides, it became an all-or-nothing, all-in, feast-or-famine event that depended on the single placement of a single bullet.
Sans a new cylinder spin, no one could know the outcome.
Walter looked the part of an assured customer awaiting payment he knew would come.
The odds makers were a mixed batch of dubious character and low morality. Failure to collect on Walter’s bet would initiate a feeding frenzy upon the lot. If he won, the city might be criminal free by morning.
Another ten minutes to add tension.
Another house bell rang to end all wagering.
Another reach by Walter for the revolver.
This time, he wasted no time.
One smooth trigger squeeze.
And then silence.
But only for a moment.
When the smoke cleared, Walter had a bullet in his arm and one in his leg. He was hit, but he wasn’t hurt.
He also had his skull fully intact.
Lying on the floor were three of the city’s criminal bosses, four of their accountants, two dozen henchmen, and all were dead. Only spectators and a few low level wannabes successfully sought refuge flat on the wooden floor.
Walter had enough foresight to wait unarmed for the local police to arrive. He would surrender first and receive prompt medical care next. Their firepower proved most beneficial subduing the survivors.
However, the local police captain had questions requiring immediate answers.
How did Walter remain so calm during his game of Russian roulette?
The house usually provided the bullets, how did Walter guarantee they wouldn’t tonight?
How did he not shoot himself?
How did Walter know so many crime figures would be present that night?
Why did he participate in Russian roulette in the first place?
Walter declined an immediate response, waiting instead for the dull pain in his arm and leg to recede to levels in which he could walk and function somewhat close to normal.
Answers would come, but not tonight.
For Walter had another date with destiny next week in Mong Kok. Another cheating of Death and another eradication of a crime syndicate.
For this was Walter’s way, only in the time he had remaining to say so.
Bio: The works of Andy Betz are found everywhere a search engine operates. Andy has written many great things that have been posted to The Yard: Crime Blog, including, “Water” with Jaysa Brown, “The Less You Have, the More It Hurts To Lose It”, “I Knew Her as Tigist“, “How My New Life Began“, “Et Tu“, “Senny” with Dounia Saunders, “Oleander“, “The Best Advice I Ever Got“, “If I Ask Your Opinion“, “As the Sun Sets“, Walter, and “The Saddest Lies“ and he would like to thank The Yard: Crime Blog for all they have done.
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