The Great Cuban Hurricane of 1910 stuck western Cuba as a category 4 storm in October, made a loop in the Gulf of Mexico, struck Cuba a second time, made landfall near Sanibel Island cross Florida to Jacksonville, and scraped the Carolina coast before turning eastward into the Atlantic Ocean.
The hurricane did untold damage, killing many Cubans. Some said the Great Cuban Hurricane of 1910 was the work of the Devil. Some of the older people in the Cuban mountains say that the Devil drove teams of demons with whips clearing paths through the mountains wherever they went.
Punta Rassa, Florida, in 1910 was the southern terminus of the International Ocean Cable Company (Later to become Western Union) and a critical shipping center for Florida cattle being sold to Cuban markets. A hotel, The Schultz Company Hotel (later called the “Tarpon House”) grew up to serve the cable company employees and the cowboys. Later, it would serve sports fishermen until it burned down in 1913.
On the night of October 18th, at the height of the Great Cuban Hurricane of 1910, two cowboys, a bartender and the Reverend Amos Puckett are in the hotel bar. Puckett is preaching the salvation of the soul from hard drink and improper living. The cowboys and bartender are ignoring him.
Two men dressed in all black enter at the height of the storm and make conversation with each other and the others in the room. They are waiting.
Two men dress all in white soon enter the bar. A card game is proposed with a double or nothing side bet. One of the black clothed men offers the bartender a chance to split a double or nothing pot if he chooses to make a bet. The bartender sees a chance to make a few bucks and agrees without asking the stakes.
What follows is the strangest card game in the history of the hotel. This is the story…
Double or Nothing is published in The Will to Survive, An Anthology for Hurricane Relief - a wonderful collective effort by twenty-two authors to help provide charity relief to victims of the 2017 hurricane season.