The Last Hand

In the 1960s, there was a short-lived Western TV drama called Here Comes the Brides about some macho brothers who owned a mountain. In one episode, the lead brother gets into a poker game with a fancy gambling man and with all his money on the table and the brother having to bid or fold, he bets his family’s mountain.

The gambling man says he has nothing of financial value to match the value against the guy’s mountain, but he has one thing that holds as much emotional value to him as the mountain does to the brother. Whereupon the gambler peels off a toupee to reveal that he is egg-bald, and tosses it on the table.

The brother TAKES the BET and after a tense few second pause, the brother reveals his cards to show that he has beaten the gambler and gets to keep his family’s mountain. Not only that, but to show what a good guy the brother is, they cut to the gambler in public a few minutes later and the brother let him keep his toupee.

I have no idea what real estate prices were in the 1880s (or whenever the show was set), but I’m guessing that you would be considered INSANE to accept the bet of a ratty toupee (regardless of how vain the guy was who bet it) against an entire MOUNTAIN. But this show expected its audience to buy it and here it is over fifty years later and I’m still annoyed by it.

Anyway, I mentioned the episode to Hack and he liked it so much that he based this novel on it.


Hack wrote this sequel to Clint Eastwood’s classic Western “Unforgiven” to tell the story of what happened to the town madam Strawberry Alice (played by Hack’s obsessive celebrity crush Frances Fisher). It begins just as the movie is ending, when Alice runs out of Greely’s Berr Garden and Billiard Parlour just before the climactic shootout with William Munny and Little Bill Daggett and into the waiting arms of her secret lover, a Hack Werker-like writer of pulp fiction. The rest is a tale of their perfect love as the male character (who Hack neglected to give a name) writes fabulously successful novels while Alice practices all the erotic skills on him that she learned from her years working at the billiard parlour. Nothing much happens until the end, when Munny inexplicably shows up and the male character tells him to move his ass to San Francisco, where he’ll prosper in dry goods.