Behind the Eight-Ball

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
Some things just happen, other things are sprung on us. This is a story about sprung-ing.

Submitted: September 10, 2019

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Submitted: September 10, 2019

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Ed walked in the back door of the little country beer bar, pulled some bills from his jeans pocket and tossed them on the surface of the bar.

The young couple that was playing a game of touchy-feel-ie close-quarters Pool, scarcely noticed that he had entered.

 

Chuck, the barkeeper, was at the far-end of the bar and was talking to a state-trooped named Wanda. She had come by the bar to refill her super-sized stainless-steel cup with a fresh supply of Java. She was just leaving.

 

Due to the loud music, Chuck yelled as he made his way to the bottle cooler, "Hay Ed, longtime no-see! Do you want the usual?" 

Ed nodded his head to the affirmative.

Chuck opened a beer bottle and sat a napkin and the bottle in front of Ed. Then he pulled three bills from Ed's pile of money and headed to the cash register. When he returned with Ed's change he asked, "Where have you been, Ed, and why so down in the face?"

Ed took a long and slow drink from his beer, and then asked, "How long have you known me, Chuck?"

Chuck thought for a moment, and then stated, "Hell, we go way back, even before high school. Why?"

Ed sat his bottle down for a second time and asked, "Do I seem like a normal kind of guy to you, Chuck, you know, an average Joe?"

Chuck looked at Ed as if he was asking some kind of trick question, then stated, "What is average now days, Ed? If you are asking if I think you are someone I'd invite to one of my, friends only, card games, then the answer is yes.

Now tell me what has you acting like a guy that got stuck behind an Eight-Ball?"

Ed replied, "My Grandmother asked me to come to her place last week, she lives in a log cabin up the mountains.

Why anyone would want to live without running water or electricity is anyone's guess, but that is Granny and she is pretty set in her ways.

Well, a couple of weeks ago I got a letter from her and she said that she had a letter from my Grandfather and that it was addressed to me. Then she wrote that she needed me there before the end of August; anytime after that would be too late."

 

Just as Ed said that, the young woman from the pool table walked up to the bar and climbed up on a bar stool like she was mounting a horse. Then, somehow, she managed to lay the top half of her body, the left side, down on the bar. With that done she coyly waved some money at Chuck.

There was no doubt she was drunk, and there was no doubt in Chuck's mind that this Ex-Girlfriend of his was trying to start trouble.

Chuck had seen her do it before, tease one man so another would get mad and want to fight. And now she was doing it to get a fight started between Chuck and whoever the guy was that she had brought in the bar.

And if that wasn't enough to get her friend riled-up, she continued with, "Hay Chuck-ie Baby, how about digging in that cooler of yours and get me what I need."

Chuck called down to the woman and said, "You and your friend are drunk, Linda, so you're not getting any more to drink here. Now go home and sober up!"

Linda sat up, looking as indignant as a sloppy-drunk could possibly look, and called Chuck a few names. Then she half ordered her escort to defend her honor.

The man immediately took a pool cue from the table and headed towards Chuck.

Chuck reached for the Junior-league baseball bat that was usually kept behind the sink. But it wasn't there! So Chucked braced for the attack!

But as the attacker raced forward he stepped on a pool-ball that had somehow found it's way to the floor, then he fell, nose first, into the edge of the bar.

A call was made and Wanda, the State Trooper arrived. Then the paramedics arrived just after that.

The drunk guy had a broken nose. And he fell he had accidentally struck Linda with the pool-cue, they were both bleeding.

The paramedics stopped the bleeding, as best they could, and then they carted them off to the hospital.

And sense Chuck saw no reason to press charges for the bloody mess in the bar, Wanda left without having to write a report; she was a happy trooper.

After the mess was mopped up, Chuck went back to the end of the bar and said to Ed, "Boy that was freaky. What are the odds?"

"What are the odds against what?" Ed asked.

Chuck replied, "Me being saved from a fight and this bar spared the demolition that would have come with it, all because of a pool-ball on the floor."

Ed took a swig from his beer and asked, "Would you like to see how that ball got on the floor? --- Watch the pool table."

As Chuck looked at the top of the pool table he heard sounds of the pool-balls rolling around inside their nest. Then, all of a sudden, one of the balls lifted out of a pocket and slowly glided to the floor.

"What the. ..?" Chuck started a question that he never finished.

Ed smiled and stated, "Now watch."

And as Chuck look on, the ball on the floor began moving around like a programmable vacuum-cleaner.

Chuck looked at Ed and asked, "Are you doing that?"

Ed replied, "Do Roosters crow at daybreak?"

"But how?" Chuck asked, with the look of disbelief still etched on his face.

Ed took another drink from his beer and stated, "I don't know, but what little I do know my Grandfather explained in this letter that I have here.

It reads, "Edward Red-feather Sandstone, grandson of Tomas Two-Rivers Sandstone, very shortly you will change into a Catch-kin; just as I did, years ago.

My boy, you will be a seer of things and a changer of situations. You will touch many lives and do much good along the way of the Catch-kin.

One fine morning, before the month of August, you will wake to find that you have the look and agility of a boy of sixteen years. And from that day until you pass to the other side, you will always look and feel the same.

Seeing into the future will be as simple as looking in a mirror and the ability to change things around you, or the world, will only depend on your thoughts and the good thoughts of others."

 

***

 

There was a long silence after the letter was read, then Chuck said, "Can you fix the hook in my nose? I broke it when I was nine." Then he laughed at his own joke while he pulled two beer from the cooler.

"This calls for a celebration," Chuck said as he started to laugh some more. Then he stated as he handed Ed the beer, "And we'd better celebrate now 'cause I can't serve beer to a minor. Cheers!"

 

As the two friends sat in the empty bar, drinking beer and discussing what might happen in Ed's new life, Ed asked Chuck. "Can a sixteen year old boy be invited to your, Friends Only, card games? You know, if he happens to be passing by this town in the future."

Chuck smiled and said, "Sixteen year old boys can, if they have lots of expendable money. But I don't know about a kid that can move pool-ball around with his mind. If he can move pool-balls then what the hell could he do with a deck of cards?"

Both men laughed.

After several beers Chuck stated, "This isn’t much of a celebration, buddy. We got no girls to dance with and no-one to help us celebrate!"

Well, no sooner had Chuck uttered those words, four cheerleaders from the state college walked in.

It seems that their car had broken down, just down the road, and it would be a couple of hours before any of their friends from college could rescue them.

 

 

D. Thurmond / JEF

09-07-2019

 

Note: For better understanding of Catch-kins and what they do, see Catch-kin-22, a short story.


© Copyright 2019 D. Thurmond, aka, JEF. All rights reserved.

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