Return to my Fiction pages
Go to my home page
Fiction, © Copyright 2000, Jim Loy
Duffy, a short gray haired man in his fifties, was playing pool by himself in a corner of the pool hall. He bent down to shoot the one ball. He was unaware of the sounds in the dimly lit pool hall, the distant click of pool ball hitting pool ball, distant conversation, distant laughter. His pool stroke didn't look good; it was quick and jerky. He made the one, and left himself a tough shot on the two.
Two young men wandered over carrying beers. The taller one was carrying a fancy cue case. They sat at opposite sides of a tiny round table. Just as Duffy was about to shoot the two ball, that guy said, "Hey Pops. I'll play you for fifty bucks a rack."
Duffy missed his shot. "I'm not that good." He bent down to shoot the next shot on the two.
"I'll give you some weight. I'll spot you the eight. Hey that rhymes." He was pleased about his cleverness.
Duffy straightened up. "What does that mean?"
"You make the eight or the nine, you win. I gotta make the nine."
"No thank you. I told you I'm no good. Nice meeting you." He bent down to shoot the two.
"How about you got the seven, eight, and nine, fifty bucks a rack?"
This guy's friend said, "Man, that's stupid. You're giving him too much weight."
He waved his friend's objection away. "I'll play him a game or two. If he looks good, we can renegotiate."
Duffy shook his head and chuckled, "I'm going to regret this. OK."
Jamie opened his cue case, pulled out his fancy cue, and screwed it together. Duffy retrieved the one ball from its pocket. Jamie came over to the table, "Call it, Pops."
"Heads it is. Your losing streak has already begun. Rack 'em, Pops."
Duffy began racking the balls. "My name's Duffy, by the way." He sat at a table where his soft drink was.
"Jamie's my name. Pool IS my game, Pops." Jamie broke hard with exaggerated body motion and follow through. He made a ball. When the last ball finally stopped rolling, he said, "Looks like you don't get to shoot this rack." Jamie was smooth and confident. He ran six balls, talking all the time. Then the seven ball rattled the pocket. Jamie stared at the seven in disbelief. He swore and slammed the back end of his cue onto the floor, in disgust.
Duffy got up and awkwardly shot down the seven. The cue ball almost followed the seven into the pocket. Jamie sarcastically said, "Nice out, Pops." He grabbed the rack.
Duffy went around the table, retrieving balls and rolling them to Jamie. "That's fifty dollars, right?"
"Yeah, I'll pay you later." He finished racking.
"Do you have fifty dollars?"
"I got lots of money. Here, you got change for a hundred?"
"As a matter of fact, I do." He gave Jamie two twenties and a ten. He broke weakly. Nothing went in.
Jamie strode to the table. "You break like a woman. Good thing I'm not lettin' you break anymore. He ran two balls and then broke up the rest of the rack. But he ended up hooked on the three; he had no shot. He kicked at the three and missed it.
Duffy stepped to the table. "That's a foul, right?"
"Yeah, that's a foul."
"Is that ball in hand?"
"Yeah, you got ball in hand."
"Just making sure that we're playing by the same rules." He picked up the cue ball and lined it up on the three. He shot hard and made the three. The six ball rolled up to the nine and ended up touching it. The eight moved to within an inch of the pocket.
"Hey, you messed up my nine."
"Did I? Sorry." He tried a nearly impossible four-seven combo. He missed.
Jamie made the next three balls. Then he had to shoot the six. He blasted the six as hard as he could, and the nine shot around the table, almost going into two different pockets. Duffy made the six and seven, winning the second game. Jamie threw fifty bucks onto the table. "Here's your twenties back, Pops."
Duffy won the third game. Jamie won the fourth. When he broke, he almost made the nine. Duffy shot the easy one-nine combo. Jamie's game got worse. One of the rare times that he broke, the cue ball flew off the table, and went out the door into the street. He sat down, and Duffy retrieved the cue ball. Duffy was getting luckier. And Jamie began trying to distract him. Jamie took the chalk, and wouldn't let Duffy use it. Duffy went to the snack counter and got another piece of chalk. After a while, Duffy was almost two thousand dollars richer.
Then, after the next game, "I'll owe ya, Pops. Hey, I'm good for it."
"I'm sure you are. But I'm just driving through this pleasant village of yours. Keep the fifty. It's been a pleasure playing you."
"Hold on. I'll get some more money." He huddled with his friend, who seemed very unhappy. Duffy went to the snack counter and bought a sandwich and another soft drink.
Jamie said to his friend, "Hey, the old man's no good. I should be beating his pants off."
"Yeah but what if his luck keeps up?"
"He can't keep being THAT lucky. Anyway my luck's about to change. I can feel it. Go get some money. I'll owe you, OK?" His friend ran off, shaking his head. Duffy sat down at his table and chewed on his sandwich, and sipped his soft drink. "Pops, I got money coming. How about I just spot you the eight?"
"No thank you. I think I've been a little lucky. I don't think I would stand a chance. Sorry, I can't do it."
Jamie's friend came back, and handed Jamie ten new one-hundred dollar bills. Jamie said, "Hey Pops, how about we play for five hundred a rack?"
"No, I'll play for a hundred, though."
"No thank you, one hundred."
Duffy sighed, "All right, two hundred."
A few games later, Jamie handed over the last two one-hundred dollar bills. "I can't believe you're getting luckier. You slopped in money balls without looking. I'll play you for my cue. That's worth eight hundred easy."
Jamie's friend interrupted, "You owe ME a thousand. I'll take the cue stick, and you can owe me two hundred." Jamie gave him an ugly look and he shut up.
"I'll play you for my car, it's worth two thousand, right?" He looked for confirmation from his friend, who just shrugged his shoulders.
Duffy put his cue back on the wall. "Sorry, I don't want your car."
Jamie turned to his friend, "Gimme two thousand more. If I lose, you get my car."
"I want to talk about your cue stick and two hundred dollars."
"No way! Hey old man, wait here. I'll get some more money." He rushed out.
His friend followed him out. "Jamie, give me your cue stick, and we'll call it even."
Duffy sat down at the lunch counter. He said to the man behind the counter, "Thanks for the action, Bob. I won, let's see here, two thousand, nine hundred. Not bad for a couple hours' work. Here's your cut." He pushed three one-hundred dollar bills toward Bob.
Bob gave him ten dollars back. "I hope he don't find out you're a pro."
"He wouldn't believe it if you told him. I hope he's not waiting out there with a knife."
"He's probably off trying to sell his car. Hold on. I'll call the Sheriff and have him drive around the parking lot a couple of times, just in case. I ought to have him escort you to the freeway." He picked up the phone and began pushing the buttons.
"Thanks. Call me if Jamie ever inherits money."
Bob laughed loudly. Soon, Duffy left with a wave of his hand.
Return to my Fiction pages
Go to my home page