Austin RPG Exploration Group
Amadeus "Clink" Dawes
Deadlands, Huckster and gambler. Well dressed in a casual suit and derby hat. His eyes are black, his hair and mustache as well. He occasionally deals himself cards, apparently a nervous habit.
And little Clink is back in the church, playing with a deck of cards while his father preaches. He’s seen his father Theophilus shuffling and wanted to learn how. Little clumsy fingers finally coax that wonderful soft purr out of the cards knocking together as his mother turns to shush him, even though his father’s voice drowns her out, echoing firmly across the church. “You are forgiven, amen!”
Clink raises his eyebrow as he deals another column, finishing it off with a three. His whiskey sits untouched. Solitaire was the first game he learned to play, and he can’t rightly deal himself a game without remembering his father. His mother taught him the night before he learned to shuffle. The old man’s beard had blood in it, but his teeth were pure white as he grinned, holding up a dead man and tossing a book onto the ground. “Whatelys.” he grunts, as though the word means something. “Three awful days, but we got the son of a gun. The devil and card tricks ain’t nothin’ when the lord stands against a man.”
and his father’s belt is crashing down on his backside. He’s never seen his father like this. Been on the receiving end of the old man’s belt before, but never like this. There’s anger here, and no affection in the lash. “You will not look at that book again! It is the book of a damned man!” But not three days hence he’s snuck it out of his father’s study again. Hoyle’s Book of Games, annotated by some anonymous little shit who happened to racketeer one of the only towns with a true man of god in it. His father never notices again. Pretty shortly after, his mother dies and his father doesn’t pay attention to much after that, ‘cept the drink.
One of his earliest memories of his father. An old man with one leg twisted and gnarled into a useless stump. The boy has seen scams come through town, snake oil salesman. Once there was a preacher who came through town and healed a man of blindness right in front of everyone. His father just smiled as the town tossed coin into the travelling preacher’s hat, and knelt down and whispered in Clinks ear. “He’s fakin’, son. You know how you can tell?” the boy shook his head no. “First off, Old Man Jenner up there fakes bein’ blind for the pity and the money it gets him beggin’. Ain’t no doctor that’ll back him up for it, and you can tell he always has to try not to look you in the eye when you talk to him. But more than that: that man shouts. A god-fearing man speaks with the voice of the savior. A man who speaks with the voice of Christ ain’t never got no need to shout.” And a year later, Elias puts his hand on the old man’s leg, and simply prays, and smiles for a moment. He puts his hand on the man’s cheek and kisses his forehead and just whispers as the man’s leg grows strong and hearty. “God is good.” he whispers.
And he sees his father after his mother died. Broken and sobbing for a day, then just angry. He’s preaching, but this time his son is 14, and wants to slap his father. “Our God is an angry god, and his hand holds damnation! His is the fire, his is the fury! He holds us above the fire and oh, believe me, he would drop every damn one of you if he wasn’t a God of mercy!” His son just looks, and thinks, and deals himself poker hands in his head. Clink looks at the congregation, and they don’t look any happier than he does.
Three days later, he wakes to a woman screaming in the middle of the night. He walks into his father’s study, and his father is to drunk to notice him. When he bashes the lock off of his father’s desk drawer with a hammer, the old man turns slow. Some part of Clink registers that his fathers beard has red in it again. A woman screams, a streak of blood across her cheek. Theophilus holds a knife, and he doesn’t seem to notice that Clink has his shotgun until his son puts a round in his chest. The woman runs. Clink does too, after he packs.
And in the present, he stares at the cards. Seven columns leading down to him tapering off as they go left. A flush. Amusing but useless in Solitaire. He shakes his head like it’ll dislodge some of the memories that seem to be stuck there, and pulls the four to the five. He flips up the uncovered card.
Some part of him feels empty, most of him just feels scorn for his father. Ain’t no god gonna save you. Power and money save you. They’re the same thing, basically. And Clink intends to get as much as he can. As he moves the two just uncovered to the three, and flips the card up, he chuckles at the result.
Clink knows he can be a hard man, and it’s gotten in the way of friendship. But he doesn’t see a way around that. Hard men live, especially when you go town to town doing things that’ll get you hung by god-fearing folk. Sometimes he hopes he’ll find someone who understands that he has to be hard- that they’ll know he does it to protect those around him as much as himself. He hates himself for hoping that. Then again, all the power in the world ain’t like to be enough if you don’t have friends.
He’d met up with that girl a few years later. When he wasn’t killing his pa he took time to notice that she wasn’t too bad looking. All red hair and curves. Turned out to be as bad as she was good. He still sees her again. Sometimes she finds him, sometimes he finds her. The Red Queen one of the quickest shooters and worst outlaws in the west, though, and he does his best to keep their relationship quiet.
And somewhere out there, Theophilus Dawes wanders the west with a decent sized hole in his chest. Death gave the old man some perspective, and he’s trying to head away from the big red fire he saw when his son loosed a barrel on him. He doesn’t know if he could ever be a man of god again, but he’s trying. The demon that gave him life isn’t making it easy, though.
Can’t seem to keep his mind off that sweet little redheaded thing, who’s a better shot than anyone with that chest should be. Only two human beings on the Earth he feels he can trust. Good ol’ Red, and his last living family: Argyle Dawes. His uncle doesn’t approve of most of what he does, but doesn’t get in his way, either. Always good for a different perspective. he guesses Eric Varnosky provides some reassuring stability- even if the damn polack is a bit obsessed at proving he’s a better poker player ever since Clink managed to hustle the hell out of him all those years ago.
Amadeo Dawes looks at the cards on the table and realizes he hasn’t been paying attention to the game. Just moving twos and threes around. Suddenly the sight of those cards makes him want to throw up, so he gathers them, shuffles, and starts dealing himself out poker hands. He already knows the odds better than his chest hair, but the old, pointless ritual of shuffle and deal just reassures him. And if he pays real close attention he can feel his old friends watching him play. The old familiar hum of the shuffling, the vague power that he feels in the cards and in the watchers. It all serves to distract him from the thought of his father dying with nothing but blood where his stomach should have been. The terror of complete loss.
The terror of being without power, friends, or money.