Contributor: Scott Webb

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Thomas and I walked up and down the rows of tents at Aikman county fair. Thomas was twenty-one now and I was twenty-five. I had always looked after him like a brother and it had been years since we had done anything together. We had been together since we were little kids, and even shared a two-bedroom apartment now. It was because of this closeness that I pretended not to see the bright yellow and purple tent with the words “PRIZES! PRIZES! PRIZES!” painted on a large board along the top of the tent's facade.
Thomas ran up to the obnoxiously colorful carnie running this particular sideshow. “Hey Gerry, look at that, cash prizes,” he said as the carnie took notice of us.
“Step right up to the game of a lifetime, you’ve never played anything like it,” The Jester-like man said from atop a soapbox. “To play is free, to win is fortune!” he continued.
“How does it work?” I asked looking at the seemingly empty tent from which he ran his game. The tent was bare with exception to a single end table on which laid a gleaming, .38 revolver. Delicately placed around the gun were 5 bullets.
“Glad you asked my boy, glad you asked,” the jester continued. “This here is a game from Russia, in which every pull of the trigger means you win! Are you ready to play?” he asked stepping down from the box and taking Thomas’ hand.
“I don’t know about this,” I said. Thomas glared back at me.
“You’re not my father, besides he says I can win money.”
“Does he?” I responded.
The carnie quickly cut our conversation short by drawing Thomas over to the table with the pistol. Thomas grinned at the show being put on just for him. The jester picked up the gleaming .38 and twirled it around his finger a few times. Then he tossed it under each leg and behind his back. Finally catching the pistol he threw open the cylinder.
“Now, it’s easy to play, just tell me how much you want to win!”
“Huh?” Thomas looked at the man confused.
“For every bullet in the gun you can win 10,000 dollars per pull.”
“Wow, ten thousand dollars per bullet?”
“Yes sir, up to 50,000 dollars, we did have a couple of gentleman try for the grand 60,000 dollar prize but as yet no one has won! It could be you,” the carnie continued what seemed to be a well rehearsed pitch.
“I’m going to start small, with one; I’ll work my way up,” Thomas said
“Ok, here we go,” the jester said, placing a single bullet into the gun. In two quick motions he snapped the cylinder back into the revolver and gave it a good solid spin.
“Now what?” Thomas asked.
“Now this,” the jest replied turning the gun on Thomas and pulling the trigger. The hammer sprang forward driving the firing pin to an empty chamber. The gun clicked but refused to fire. Immediately following a siren blared and horns trumpeted. “CONGRATULATIONS! You’re a lucky winner!” The Carnie yelled, pulling a large stack of 20’s out of a lockbox and pushing it into Thomas’ hands. “Do you want to play again?” He asked smiling.
Thomas was grinning from ear to ear. “Sure, I’ll give it another go,” he said, “Two this time!”
“Well aren’t we a brave soul, this time for two!” the Jester said, flicking open the gun and adding one more bullet to the cylinder. “Are you ready?” He asked pulling the hammer back and aiming the gun between Thomas’ eyes. Thomas looked frightened, but just for a moment.
“Go ahead,” he said.
“Fire,” the carnie yelled pulling firmly on the hairline trigger. The gun clicked again but still Thomas was ok.
“You should quit while you’re ahead,” I said to Thomas
“Come on now, don’t stop while you’re winning!” The jester said, now forcing two stacks of cash into Thomas’ hands.
“This is amazing,” he said grinning over at me, “I’ve never won anything in my life! One more, last one, three this time.”

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