The cowboy walked quietly into the saloon, and after a quick survey of the small room, headed straight to the poker table at the corner of the saloon.
Nobody seemed to notice him, perhaps because they were intently studying their cards… or their whiskey. Nobody, that is, except for Maria, the bartender. She had recently left the lawless town of El Paso for the new state of Minnesota, where the discovery of iron had led to an influx of miners, and, of course, saloons.
Maria couldn’t quite shake the feeling that she’d seen this cowboy before. In a small Midwest town where everyone was a stranger to her, this man was definitely familiar. As she served drinks, she occasionally looked over at him, watching him closely as he played cards. Then, as he tilted his head back and scratched his brow, Maria noticed a faint scar, hidden by the brim of his hat.
Suddenly she realized that she was staring right at Case Jack, the outlaw wanted in Texas for the murder of three men. Rumor was that he had beaten Jess Henderson fair and square by catching the last Jack in the deck – the case jack – giving him quad Jacks to beat Jess’ full house of Aces over Jacks.
Jess accused him of cheating and drew his gun, along with his two brothers who were also in the game, Pete and Cole. Jess’ first shot missed, and the lone cowboy fired back, killing Jess and his brothers. Everyone at the saloon could see that it was self defense, but the Hendersons were rich and powerful, and out for blood. Soon wanted posters were everywhere, and Case Jack disappeared. Nobody had seen him since.
Most folks assumed he had crossed the Rio Grande into Mexico, but here he was, in a small town in the middle of Minnesota, playing poker. Just then, at the precise moment Maria recognized him, Case Jack looked up at her.