Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Pool Hall Magic

The writing Im being paid to do is annoying me at the moment and so I thought Id take a break and write something for free. Always a change. More vacation stories may follow or they may not. It depends on how Im feeling or how much I want to divulge. Hard to say.

In the meantime I shall instead tell a story of yester-eve which is more amusing to me at the moment. On with the show.

It wasnt raining, but the sky was dark and overcast as I left my apartment. I met Australian chicky at the French Mediterranean restaurant downtown. The weather is insanely hot and impolitic and upon discovering the reasonably priced smoke salmon salad it was agreed that the only thing that would cut it for dinner on an evening for the rest of the summer was this. She orders muscles in something fresh and savory and I get bruschetta for us to share. We split appetizers and fill up on salad with crunchy greens, bitter, topped with salmon and tomatoes and chives and horseradish dressing. We eat freshly made French bread and discuss life. We plan to go shoot pool.

We sit on the porch of the fine restaurant overlooking an old and dark parking lot. I watch the skies full of clouds and lighting licks the night again and again. I have no umbrella and neither does she, so with our bellies stuffed with greens and fish we head out hoping to make the bar before the rains come down. The night has turned cold after so much heat in my fair city. The temperature is hardly 25 degrees but if feels like 20 and our skin prickles under the cold. We clasp arms for warmth and scurry down the un-crowded weeknight streets.

The air conditioners both run in that bar at full turn but somehow the bar still manages to be warm and dank. It smells of stale smoke and is filled with the wafting of gentle conversations. Only seven people out tonight including us two girls and the bartender and his friend. The bar is a male haven on most any weeknight, we will be the only women around this evening. Our status as both of us one of the boys amuses and we put our names up on the boards for pool, order drinks, sit, chat and smoke. Someone has loaded the playlist up with dark trance and new wave music and so we listen to dark spinny trance and talk about Korea and the rains and the heat and our lives here. All of us tonight in the bar are lifers, all of us here for more then three years. The question of leaving never comes up. Comfortable is how it would be described. Home. And yet we each of us dream of a different home across ponds in different directions and wonder when to see it next and surely when next to live there.

We are up for pool and Austirlian chicky breaks. Her break is for shit and I mention this as I look at the cluster of balls on the table. I shoot and sink one. Then two. I run that table like it is a pet, like a cooing animal coming at my command. I put down five balls in call before I miss a straight shot, growing confident and cocky with my success. She shoot and sinks as well, lining up impossible shots and so we play a game the two of us, watched by the lifers who remark that if you did not know us it would look like we were to sharks on the table unfettered by anyone to grift that night. She beats me with a long bank shot of the eight ball which looked impossible. No one wants to play so we shoot again.

The second game is a smooth as the first. We play by British rules and she misses her shot trying to bank off another corner and come back round and hit her ball. Mine are too cluttered around the table and she doesnt have a good shot. Im up for two shots in a row and I turn it into six before handing it back over. This time I win the game on my third turn and people step up to play us.

So it goes, I manage to pull out the next game against of the bar experts and am up for a third. One of the students just back from the Philippines has bought a new cue and Im asked to use it. The cue is longer then I am tall and the weight is different from what Im used to using. It was passed off on me by the loser of the last game who was perhaps thinking of an easy victory by making me shoot with an unfamiliar stick. I lean over the table and line my body up with the shot. Arm extended back, one arm on the table, leaning into it, making smooth fluid motions. I shot and sink, impossible shots. I jump the cue off the table to sink the four in a corner pocket off a bank shot to more then one indrawn breath. Even Im impressed with myself.

I win again and hand the cue over to the owner for the next game. My shots come easily but I miss a few elementary plays and am annoyed with myself. The owner of the cue however is having worse luck with his stick and Im back to my familiar bar cue. I win again much to my amazement and get set up for the final game. The owner passes his cue off to another player. I thought a lifer but it turns out his last night will be on the morrow and a party is planned. Ill go out to see him off. We play and he plays with the new cue and it is like a magic wand when he shoots with it. The owner names it the power cockstick and he plays it luck such. He beats me handily while I watch all my balls still on the table with barely a turn. The single shot I get to make I miss and scratch putting him two shots up and handing him the game.

It was pool hall magic. While we played the rains started to thunder down around us. We drink cold drinks in the dark cool bar and plan the party for the evening, all of use trying to figure out how to transition pool hall magic to the great waiting world. It rains all night and I sleep in under the sounds of the pitter patter against the building, sounding very much like the cue hitting balls on the table. I dream of pool tables from my past and wake up ill at ease.

It's raining again today.

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