Stray memory time. 16/17 years old, leaving
school during study hall. Half the time in the warmer months it was spent at a friend’s
house that was really close to the school. Fortunately, he had a pool and study
hall was 7th period. Yeah, we had those fun seven 50-minute class
One day a couple of us found ourselves on Main
Street in an old pool hall that I don’t believe is there any more. A small
place, two maybe three tables. Benches around the back wall. A long bar that
stretched from the door to the table area, that might have sat 30. The only people in the place were a few old
drunks, mostly drinking beer long before 5 o’clock and not even shooting pool. In
one story I called a guy Bank,
or Banks he was there, Barber
Shop (from another story) was there too along with another guy let’s just call him Cobra(he drove an old
Mustang II Cobra, it would fly, butt ugly, but it would fly oh and eat gas).
I’ve never been one for finesse. It’s always been balls to the wall, bull in a
China shop type deal, whether I was playing a team sport, shooting pool,
throwing darts, bowling, the gokart track at Myrtle Beach(why even put a brake
on it), just full speed. Shooting pool, it was like I was trying to destroy the
ball with the cue. It’s not a great strategy, but it’s also one reason I wouldn’t
play for money. I did it for the enjoyment of hitting the ball hard. With
Bowling I would try to throw the ball through the back of the building. With
darts, it was like I was Nuke Laloosh, whether pitching or fucking, I was sorta
all over the place. It was a lot like hitting balls at a driving range. Grip it
and Rip it. I don’t play golf, but when I did, I was decent in the “Captain’s
Choice, best ball format”. My drives
were 50/50, but was better with a wedge, which doesn’t make sense, since I
would finesse those shots. I might as well be putting with a boat ore or a pair
of chopsticks, I never mastered it, but not many do.
Well anyway, we are down there shooting pool and
about every 4th shot of mine a ball would leave the table. It’s just
how it was. There was an older black man sitting up in one of the benches along
the wall. He was asleep, might have been drunk. He had one of those Navy hats
on. WWII, Korean War, I can’t recall, we was much too old for it to be Vietman.
It was my turn to break. He was off to
the side. I reached back into the next county on the break and the balls went
flying. The cue ball went air born and hit wall behind the table. It startled
this old man and he was ready to fight. He whips out this pocket knife and starts
saying “boy I’ll cut you”. He might have said gut, couldn’t tell, neither one
is a pleasant thought.
Banks, Cobra and Barber Shop were all standing
around wondering what was about to go down. Barber Shop was trying to talk him
down. The more he spoke, the drunker he seemed. He was obviously sleeping one
hangover off while waiting on the next to begin.
Now, I had no intentions of beating his old ass,
but I wasn’t going to let him cut, gut or nut me, so I dropped the cue on the
table. Took off my watch, put it my pocket(a ritual if hands were going to be
thrown) and was ready to drop him if he got close. Banks Sr. had been sitting at the bar for about
20 minutes without us knowing it getting an early afternoon drink. He and the owner were walking back trying to
get old “Cleve” to settle down. “umagonna
cut him” is all he would say. He finally put the pocket knife back in his pants
the walked him down to the bar and he sat down.
The manger ran us out of there since he didn’t
quite know we were 16/17 years old. Banks Sr. was shaking his head knowing he
couldn’t say a word since some of the stories about his youth were still being
told. I’m fairly sure we were tame from what has been shared.
I wasn’t mad at the old guy, but when you get a
knife pulled on you, you can’t help but get riled up a bit. It’s the adrenaline.
We were walking out the door and he was sitting at the end of the bar and I
could tell he was still cursing me under his breath. I said, “I’m sorry for waking you up in a
Pool Hall at 2:30 in the afternoon.” Yes, sarcasm came with the territory. Cobra
and I went back to the high school for baseball practice. Banks Jr. & Sr.
walked back to the bank (a literal bank) across the street and Barber Shop went
off riding the roads.
That was the last time we went to that pool hall
and like I said, and it’s just proof that you don’t have to be looking for
trouble to find it. Sometimes it just whips in like Mother Nature.