Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Johnny orders another PBR and saunters to the pool table. I'm playing with two of my friends, Chris and Greg, who don't have work the next morning; the glory of being in school and working as a bartender is that you get to own a pool table on weeknights.
Johnny looks like he just walked out of a movie, but the kind of set that a production designer dreams of because it's not set... it's his real life. He's got oil based paint splattered up and down his fingers, his jeans are worn in places that no machine wash could reproduce because these pants don't look like they've ever been washed. His breath smells like an alcoholic and his swagger reeks of a man with a past from a Louis L'Amour book.
He saunters to the three of us taking turns against the rainbow balls on the table. He looks at me.
"Want to play some doubles?"
I crouch to fill the coin slot on the side of the table with five quarters. With a push of the slot, the thunder of balls roar under the green felt of the table. My eyes skim over the table; Chris and Greg grin at the character racking the balls. This guy looks two seconds away from plowing his face into our game and passing out.
Chris and Greg v. Jessie and Johnny
Greg breaks. The balls scatter for the pockets like they're trying to hide from the light of the lamp presiding over the game. Johnny leans low to shoot a ball. He misses. He walks over to me as Chris takes aim.
"You like playing pool?"
"I love the game."
"Do you know how to play?"
I bow to the table. I sink the three.
"Ohhhhhh! We've got ourselves a pool shark!"
I miss an easy seven into the pocket. Johnny follows me around the table as does the smell of beer.
"Do you like winning?"
"Of course I like winning. Especially at this game."
"Alright, sweetie, let's win this."
Greg shoots in the thirteen and twelve. He misses on the fifteen. For a second, Johnny's eyes tighten and he scans the whole table in half that time. His eyes return to glossy as he chums up next to Chris with a laugh and absentmindedly shoots the seven. It sinks. He barely glazes at the five before it floats magnetically to the side pocket.
"You see the thing about pool is defense." He sinks the one."Even if you don't have a shot, never leave the game. See, when I shoot, I never leave you."
Chris grins like one flew over the cuckoo's nest and Greg just leans against his stick. Johnny sinks the four, one, two, and six; like a genie from a bottle. The black eight ball solemnly waits on the table. With one hand holding the end of his pool stick, Johnny gently taps the ball into the far corner pocket.
"What'd I tell you."
He grabbed his coat and walked out of the bar.

Gold Mettle

Location:New York, NY

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