John was waiting for Al in the Pt-Brittany club house, shooting pool. It had a pair of tables in one of the front room of the place that accommodated all six buildings of their community of fiftyfivers. For playing the game alone and to make it more fun, as John disliked useless activities with no real challenge, he had splitted himself, pushing his queue on the white ball either as alias number one or number two. One alias would brake and go for the low balls (1 to 7). Then, number two would get to hit next in pursuit of the higher ones (9 to15).
That afternoon, before Al would finally show up, he had had the time to win three games out of three under his number one personality. Besides, it wasn’t the first time number one had had the better over number two. Since he had started the idiotic solitary recreation, it had been that way, number one crushing his ghost of an opponent almost all the time.
How could that be? This was queer. This was highly irregular. This was an anomaly.
As those thoughts were kind of squeezing John’s brains into mush, number two had been racking the balls into their triangular formation and his vis-à-vis was now getting ready to shoot hard at the little white sphere in front of him. Then, there were Al’s steps in the adjoining corridor. Number one interrupted his élan and hissed at the newcomer:
- It is about time.
Al wasn’t as tall as he was big on talk. He used to open his mouth a lot but wasn’t making much sense when in John’s presence. He was in a good mood and he retorted in his usual confident if not quite reliable way:
- I am gone get you, this time, John.
Then it was what he was saying most of the time since they were “waring” in that very same spot and what, Al who was fighting very hard to make it true. Usually, except for Al’s silly rhetoric around their combat zone, they were not speaking a lot. However, as John was waiting for his foe to find himself a queue, Al was making a lot of noise, moving them left and right in the rack where two dozen or so stood erect. After a while, Al whined:
- Why John, you must have taken my stick again. I can’t find the damn thing anywhere.
As he had.
He gave it back to him.
And then, he told him about the silly situation. That is, number one always having the better over number two.
- Whom am I talking to now? Al asked when John was finished with his narration.
- Well, the other started to answer…
- As it must be number two, Al cut him out. Because you sure now sound like a sorry loser with this double personality crap. What is it John? You afraid to take me on, today? Is that it John? First, you steal my stick. And then, this poppycock nonsense?
- Listen to you, John countered, pumping yourself all up will do you no good.
- Ya-ya-ya… the other mumbled.
Al had a way for yayaying his way into all sides of an argument and thinking the utterances counted as good as spoken words. John for his part didn’t care to start a debate with such rules of engagement. Instead, he asked his opponent:
- Who brakes ?
- You do it, came the answer. And John, Al added as an afterthought, you better tell that number one friend of yours to stay well away from here, will ya…?
John then hit the cue ball and all hell broke loose on the table as the multicoloured balls exploded in furious and anarchistic disorder. Nothing got in though. Since it was his turn, Al lowered his frame toward the table’s floor, setting himself into position to deliver the seven (7) ball in its right end corner. With a dejected air, he spat nevertheless:
- You leave me nothing good, John.
As it was an easy shot, he did it. He must have liked that because he managed to pocket two more balls. This started him up on one rosy monologue:
- Now John, I got you good. I will beat you this time John. I knew it this morning. I knew it that I would get your number today. Because from now on, your hear me John, the only person you gone beat at this game is yourself, I mean whatever number you care to give to that entity you hang out with.
As Al was babbling his usual nonsense, he next strutted around the green surface of their playground, eying for a possible hit and finding nothing to his liking.
- Give it up. You are done, John said with a grin on his face.
He prepared to shoot and before doing so, he turned toward John, adding:
- So you think, isn’t it? You just watch me then.
And he hit the six (6) hard. A Tom like shot with a lot of mustard in it. Tom who was another of them player and would probably arrive later. Tom was a six footer with an attitude as he used to either pocket the balls or send them flying in space. He had once hit Vince (Vinnie) with one of those that had gone ballistic. At times, they were still talking about that sorry missile while keeping a respectful distance from and out of Tom’s range.
The six (6) got nowhere, though, even after a trip one mile long of crazy bouncing and zigzagging. As it was his turn, John made the ten (10) and missed the twelve (12), his only shot and a difficult one at that. Al was rambling as if in a trance:
- You messed it up again, John. I told you already I would get you, isn’t it John? Today, I…
He was then cut up by Bob who had just come in:
- Will you stay quiet, urged the newcomer. Hit a ball, AL, if you can, O.K.?
It was two o clocks in the afternoon. If Tom or Vince were to show up, they would have a match. Meanwhile, Al prevailed at bagging the two (2) in one corner pocket, a long improbable ride for that ball to make in its intended destination, which showed some hesitation in the end but got there all the same.
- This was a hell of a shot, John couldn’t but concede to his very proud adversary.
- You see, Mister Bob, the other piped up, I do make the shots today. Addressing his adversary, he then added: “As I must have said before, you are as good as dead, John”.
And that’s when he started to sing a little tune of his, the first three or four words of the lyric, “Let’s have a party...” with a voice cracked and jumpy. One second later, he missed number five (5), letting the cue ball in such a spot that Bob issued:
- Now, you set him up real nice, Al.
There were three easy targets in one back end of the green carpet and John had those vanished in rapid succession. He then had a shot on ball fourteen (14) in the side pocket but the silly yellowish object resisted him, bumping lazily against one protruding corner. Al let go of a sight, not carolling anymore and starting up again his litany like pomposity.
- You do the fifth, Bob suggested him as it was the easiest possible shot.
Al didn’t listened and overwhelmed them all with one splendid bull’s eye, the four (4) rolling down into one hole for having been cut razor like. Then, he did the five (5) and luckily enough, he succeeded in getting a position on the six (6).
- John, John, John, he intoned like a mantra.
But he missed the six (6) and he lamented:
- Bad luck!
- Ya, ya, ya, John mimicked him.
Who did bagged in sequence balls number nine (9), fourteen (14) and thirteen 13). John chocked on the eight (8), though, letting the black prize seven inches or so from one corner hole.
It was now Al’s turn. His six (6) wasn’t that far away and if he could make it in that left corner, the eight (8) was his for the taking. He prepared to shoot.
. . .
One month later, John was back up north, in Montreal. All four were playing their usual game. A flip of some token that had opposed Vince and Tom to Al and Bob. With Al complaining non-stop of what a sorry partner he had every time his comrade missed a shot and never mind that Bob had made most of the balls for their team. Still, Vince and Tom were ahead and it made Al sick in his stomach when that happened. After he had flunked one more time, Bob said to him:
- I have seen you playing better pool, Al.
- Ya, ya, ya…, smiled the other.
- Do you remember that game? Bob asked again. You sure busted John’s ass, that day.
- It must have been number two I have beaten then, Al mumbled through his teeth’s as if he was talking to himself.
They were all used to Al sometime cryptic communications. There was no need to say more. They finished their game happily as neither of them had much of anything important to do.
Which was at it should be. And the way they liked it.