Happy Thanksgiving. Work up early and couldn’t settle so while everyone else is still a-snooze, I get this done before I head into the land of turkey monitoring. Happy Thanksgiving.
Thursday, November 24th: He lined up the shot.
He lined up the shot. This was it, the final one. He called it. “Eight ball, side pocket.”
He pulled back and took the shot. The eight ball thunked into the pocket and the cue ball swerved to the left remaining on the felt. Ollie straightened. Tank nodded and reached into his pocket.
“Not bad,” he said. “I was sure you’d scratch.”
Ollie took the cash and pocketed it. He stepped away. Normally as the winner he would play whoever was waiting, but now there was no one lined up. As he won the last eight games, he wasn’t terribly surprised. Normally he didn’t like playing for cash but it was a rule here apparently. The regulars thought it made them sharper when there was cash on the line. To keep it friendly, no bets were allowed to exceed five dollars.
Ollie found himself exceptionally glad of that rule. He liked to play, pool actually helped him sort his thoughts. And he knew he was better than average in his skills. He still lost sometimes, but not often. A stranger winning too much from the locals he didn’t think would go over well. He was pleased to see that no one seemed to mind his winning streak.
And he had needed the game tonight. Too many thoughts tangled in his head. Lining up each shot helped him line up his thoughts. He was halfway to a solution now, a few more games would see him all the way there. Unfortunately, no one was willing. Even with their good humor, Ollie thought he had pushed everyone enough and didn’t go looking. He put his pool cue back on the rack. Tank had already walked away and was speaking to a couple of his friends. He was interested to pit his skills against Ollies, but he wasn’t looking to add a new friend to his list.
‘Neither am I,’ Ollie reminded himself. He stepped away and dismissed the thought of getting another beer before leaving. He had a couple earlier and was in no mood for more. He smiled at those who looked his way as he headed towards the door. No one stopped him or called out, they just let him pass. It had been friendly all around.
Ollie stepped outside and into a soft summer night. The crickets were singing loud tonight and Ollie tried to remember if that was supposed to herald rain or not. He knew there was a saying about crickets and rain but he couldn’t remember the details. He took the sidewalk back to his hotel, pleased it was just at the end of the street. He had done a lot of driving today and it felt good to stretch his legs a bit.
At the hotel the night clerk nodded to him as he entered and he nodded back. Ollie headed up to his room, let himself in and closed the door behind him. Even though the door locked, even though everyone he met was friendly Ollie couldn’t stop old habits. He shifted one of the large heavily cushioned arm chairs into place in front of the door. He braced it under the door handle. He knew he was being paranoid, but some habits he hadn’t gotten around to breaking. He was cetain that time spent in more civilized company would straighten him out soon enough, prviding he managed to stay in civilized company long enough for his habits to fade.
That was part of the strings he had yet to untangle. Tired and knowing the morning would bring another long drive, Ollie stretched out on the bed.