Smoke filled the basement bar as he peered across the dull green of the pool table.† The solids were scattered everywhere, their colors a bright contrast to the dullness of the room.† Over each table, the fluorescent lights glared, blinding anyone who looked too close, as if designed to blind anyone whose eyes were not already watering.† He looked at the possibilities, staring down the line at each ball, and comparing the various threats.† A professional would not have hesitated, except in the way a chess player might when they consider future moves.† He couldnít do that.† He looked only to see what ball to hit first, based upon which ball would go in.
In the background the crowd roared as a major play was completed in the game on the television.† Even the bartender was focused on the screen, ignoring the small girl waving her money at his back.† He know she was there, but that didnít matter.† In a bar, who rushes?
Our man at the pool table made his choice.† The five in the side pocket.† His opponent smiled, seeing the flaw in his plan. No question, but our hero was about to scratch.† But, to the player, this didnít matter.†
The orange of the ball filled his sight, dwarfing everything around it.† He fixed the spot he wanted to hit in his mind and tried to ignore the rest.† Still watching the orange, he took in the cue ball out of the corner of his eye, as if afraid the five might move otherwise.† He bent down and lined up the shot, the stick in his hand smooth to the touch, an extension of his body.† He hesitated, then calmed, and took the shot.
Boos echoed from the bar, and few frustrated swears stuck out above the din. Advertisements flashed across the screen.† The bartender looked away and asked the small girl what she wanted.† Others turned around to see how the pool players were doing, disappointed in the real thing, but nevertheless willing to be absorbed by the works of amateurs. They saw the white ball fire across the table and hit the five.
The crack of the balls jolted our hero from his reverie. The five slammed into the pocket, and the balls around it were scattered by the backlash of the angry cue ball. He watched mesmerized as the cue danced around the table, hitting cushions and banging into the colors which minutes before had been at peace.† A kaleidoscope of fury, a cacophony of cracking ceramic, a Jackson Pollack painting brought to life.†
And then it disappeared.
But hey, it had looked great.