Region2 aimed at the cue ball and slammed in a thunderous bang. Fifteen colored globes scattered into a sea of green while running into each other and produced light, crisp sounds. I followed the eight-ball around with my eyes to see where it would glide. The black pearl was shoved left and right, amidst a crowd of different colored spheres. None of the little balls made into a pocket. But the commotion went on as they slid across on the surface to find their place.
“Well,” He turned around and looked at me, crossing his arms around his chest. “Looks like it’s your turn.”
I put my hands down from holding up my chin and slothfully slid myself out of the leather bar stool, reaching for the stick leaning on the olive table next to me. Flipping my blonde extensions to the other side of my face, I strolled around the vintaged pool table with my heels clicking on the roughed hardwood floor, glancing over the torn edges of the viridian felt fade. Tungsten ceiling lamps glowed dimly in the smoked filled room, filtering warm halos through dusty shades. Burgundy walls stained vodka and shed peeling paint, pillowing me around in this suffocating dreadfulness. The bulb above the table beamed down a spot light on the center pool stage, focusing on a shiny black pearl. Nothing drew me in more than this mystical eight-ball. But I couldn’t aim my shot at it. I had to play by the rules.
I picked a yellow striped sphere because it was conveniently located next to a pocket. Too bad, I missed. The pearly cue ball floated aimlessly into the emerald void, finally cushioning itself at the end of the table. Bouncing back, the white ball eventually came to a complete stop. And it stood alone.
Shooting balls into pockets? Billiards was just not my game. It’s silly anyway. This game served no purpose. When the final eight-ball ends up in the bag, it’s over.
I climbed back into the stool and slouched forward, resting the stick on my left shoulder and let out a deafening sigh. The big round clock above the bar ticked silently. Sunday night. It was almost fifteen past two. There was only a pair of young couple sitting in the corner and a drunken old man smothering his head in his tattered sweater sleeping on the bar. Yet, going home was not an option.
I gazed mindlessly at Region2 as he aimed and shot the blue orb into its rightful place. I stirred my Sapphire Gin & tonic with a thin straw in a clock-wise circular motion, pushing ice cubes to the wall of the glass. The silver link bracelet slipped down from a higher point on my right wrist, allowing the Oxford University’s emblem tapping loudly on the cup. This pointless labor formed a sheer layer of opaqueness and dotted little sweat-drops all over the surface of the glass only to be absorbed by the cocktail napkin below. Although ruined, the pseudo-coaster still read—“Fourth Avenue Caf London.”
“So when’s our history paper due?” I asked.
I looked up at the second hand on the clock. The longer I stared at it, the slower it traveled.
He looked up from the cue, standing up straight to unbutton his yellow shirt’s sleeves and rolled them up slightly.
“Next Wednesday?” He thought about it for a while. “I think.”
I hadn’t started writing it yet. But it was the least of my concern right now.
Region2 gulped down his drink of Jack Daniels in one shot, placing the empty glass on the pool table next to three other empty ones.
“Want another drink?” I unzipped open my over-sized handbag and reached in for my purse.
“Sure.” He hesitated.
I almost regretted opening up this stupid red purse. Inside the clear holder bore a photograph I couldn’t muster enough strength to throw away. I remember showing this person in the photograph around London in the hopes of him moving out here with me. Afterall, we had been together for five years? But the old British city apparently scared him a little too much. Everything’s expensive, he said. Nothing’s affordable, he complained. The price tag on a bottle of milk scared him shitless. He couldn’t wait to jump on the first flight home back to Nebraska.
I flipped through more photographs inside the purse only to give myself more reasons to get out of U.K. I threw my purse back in the bag before I could feel my stomach turning.
Region2 took just as much courage as I when he decided to fly over across the ocean from the States to find his calling here at Oxford. He’s running away from a marriage obligation to a bride his grandfather hand-picked for him in Little Rock, Arkansas. His attempt to delay the wedding seemed pathetic to most people, but the subliminal message revealed he actually left a piece of his heart with someone else. Possibly back home in Atlanta. Although I never asked for details.
His goal was to become a prestigious physician, with studying medicine as a by-product. His passion was with English literature. I chose metaphysics over food because of its irresistable intrigue, but I had no idea what I would do after mastering a degree in philosophy.
Region2 was wearing the same yellow striped shirt he wore the first time I met him two years ago. It was difficult for me to imagine him wearing white lab coats for the rest of his life.
The beige vase on the bar bloomed fake carnation flowers. Bright green ceiling reflected off the viridian tables, sandwiching me in between two jaded worlds, caving in and swallowing me whole.
I followed the white cue ball on the table. Again, it didn’t hit anything. The lustrous white ball floated around by itself before coming to a standstill, once more.
“So when do we get to play with Christie again?” I wondered. Images of Christie playing like a perfectly choreographed magician appeared like 35mm films in my head. No one else in the world could play better than her.
Region2 didn’t say anything. It was meant to be a rhetorical question anyway.
I decided to hit the red ball.
We’d always run into each other here on the weekend despite the distance from the campus. Most of the time, we’d even bump into each other on the same train.
He hit the green ball.
I longed for a game with Christie. I needed a spectacular player to show me how to master the game.
Region2 leaned his stick to the side of the table and took out a half-opened pack of cigarettes from his pocket. He popped one in his mouth and lit up with his lighter. The chemically treated tabacco paper burned as he inhaled. Very few places still allowed people to smoke in an indoor establishment. I gave up smoking when I came here, but I condemned myself for being a quitter.
Looking out to the front door, I let out a long, drawn-out sigh.
Uninterested in my own participation, I waited back on the stool and counted the amount of empty glasses on the bar.
The balls all landed in the pockets. All except for one. It’s the ball that’s been out of my reach. It’s the ball that I’ve been obsessed with all night. Now, it’s awaiting its final destination.
A couple of stray cats came snooping in from the front door of the caf sniffing around cautiously to travel silently under the radar. The gray feline tip-toed in underneath the bar followed by an orange tabby behind her. They went to one of the floor lamps on the other end, huddling over to share the heat rising out of the bulb for warmth.
Region2 lowered himself on the pool table to find his aim. He glimpsed at me while removing his green-rimmed glasses. “You ready to go home soon?”
I shook my head.
He looked down on the pool table and grabbed the eight-ball from its place, clasping it with his left hand. He casually slid the ball into the pocket closest to him.
I widened my eyes, fixing my stare at his blatant action.
“Let’s play another one.” He shrugged.
© Copyright 2017 ecila nauis. All rights reserved.
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