Bob swung his torso through the door, legs lagging a split second behind. He paused – stared at me, shook his head, and walked over to the pool table.
He said this with a competitive grin. I could’ve said no. I could’ve just finished writing the algorithm for the app I was creating. I could’ve done a lot of things. But instead I got up.
“I’ll let you break,” he said.
I leaned over the table, massaging the felt within my finger tips. I eyed the cue ball and smashed my stick into its bare back. Balls rolled in attempt to escape the sound of destruction. Two plopped into separate side pockets.
“Solids,” I said and proceeded to sink two more in consecutive shots.
Bob stretched, yawned, and replied, “You were always better than me at this damn game.”
“You were always drunk.”
The clack separated the congregating herd in the far center of the table.
“Ye, but aint drunk now is I?”
I let Bob’s question remain unanswered. He sank three stripes on two strokes.
“Maybe you should grab a beer or two Bob.”
“Cayn’t do it. A-A meetins aint accepting lifetime members.”
Bob proceeded to systematically clear the table of stripes. He took up aim at the 8-ball.
“Put a wager on dis-n,” Bob said this with one eye closed. I noticed he looked funny as a Cyclopes and thought his winks at women probably never got him too far.
“Bob, you’re going to make it. I’m not wagering anything.”
“We still buddies Hugh? After all these years, we still buddies?”
…I could’ve said yes. I could’ve tried to ease his broken soul by mouthing the numbing affirmation that is somewhat of a word morphine. But I couldn’t. “We playing pool aren’t we?”
“Ye,” he sighed and missed his shot. If he was tearing up, turning his back on me was his umbrella.
“You ain’t got to do me no favors Hugh. I wasn’t no good as a friend to you when we was young. But I ain’t the old Bob no more. But I guess, a man is what he always was. And Hugh, you still as judgmental as you always been.”
I could’ve let Bob win, but I sank every shot left on the table.
Poor Bob doesn’t know he’s a better man than I am.
– Eric McCarty (1/4/2012)