Billy Jack was ever the hard worker, from the time he was able to stand. He would help his maw with the laundry, would set the table, peel the potatoes, feed the chickens, run to the dairy farm to get milk, and was happy to ride his bike to the general store for his maw whenever needed. Billy Jack was the oldest, and he had learned to step in for his paw, who liked his whisky and gambling too much to be useful to his family.
Billy Jack grew up to be big and strong. Not only did the chores help him in development, but being called names every time he went to town because his dad was the town drunk meant that Billy Jack had a lot of fighting to do. By the time he reached the age of 18, nobody wanted to mess with Billy Jack.
Billy’s dad, Bobby Jack, continued his drinking and gambling, and what little health and luck he’d started out with had flown a long time ago. He sometimes skated out on debts, but Jonesville wasn’t a large town and there was nowhere to hide.
One night Bobby Jack sat at a poker table with the usual players at the saloon. In walked a dapper dandy with two thugs on either side of him. He sat down at the table and they played all night. By midnight, the only two left in the game were Bobby Jack and the stranger. It came down to the last hand. Bobby Jack didn’t have enough to meet the bet of the stranger, but for the first time in his onerous life he held a royal flush.
Bobby Jack said to the stranger, “I don’t have enough money but I will bet you my son, Billy, can beat both of your thugs at the same time for double or nothing.”
The stranger said, “You have yourself a bet,” and threw down a full house.
Willie Joe, the piano player, ran to Billy’s house and said he had to come quick, his paw was in danger. Billy rode his paint pony down to the saloon.
Bobby Jack explained the bet with the stranger. Billy just shook his head. About to walk out, one of the thugs grabbed Billy by the arm and started laughing. Billy knocked him out cold with an uppercut.
“You want some of this? Come on.” Billy said to the other thug. Smiling, the thug stepped forward. Before his hand could form a fist, Billy knocked him out cold also.
The stranger stood up, bowed to Bobby Jack, threw down what he owed, then walked out of the saloon.
photo is that of a young Tom Laughlin, who later went on to play Billy Jack