I think back to a few years ago when I would walk to the bar
and stumble back, it always seemed twice as far.
Occasionally I would get in fights in which I rarely lost
against some pool table hero of whom I beat and to him it cost
fifty dollars and a shot to his pride.
One night I was down in Dallas town shooting pool
nothing was out of place, I bought my first drink as usual,
when a guy the size of a redwood approached to challenge me
and I agreed as long as the loser bought the next round of drinks.
The thought sounded good to him.
Well, that first game I kept taking these shots and was missing them
and I was “a little too drunk” to make a come back and lost to him.
As I was on my way to the bar to buy a round of drinks
my opponent wanted to make things a bit more interesting
you’re pretty good he said, lets play for ten a ball.
“I don’t play for money, but I appreciate the offer and all,
let us just keep this civil and keep playing for these drinks.
Besides, you just beat me by four balls and I owe you a glass
and I buy with credit cards, I never carry that much cash.
Let us just keep this civil.”
“It was pretty close until I went on that last run
and made three shots in a row before hitting in the black one.
You’re pretty good, I think you could beat me
if you tighten up your game and take a few less drinks.
I insist that we play for ten a ball.”
I held out my hand and said, “Ok fine ten a ball.”
We shook on it and he went to make the break.
The break left me with the option since none went in
and I lined up behind the cueball to let the slaughter begin.
I showed no mercy.
I made four in a row before I lost all the good positions
leaving him the cueball facing stripes where solids guarded the pockets.
He had no shot but made a risky call
to shoot his stripe into my solid ball
knocking it in and sending his to the wall.
I lined up and hit the remaining two in
and called eight ball off the wall and in the side pocket.
And when it went in I could see his eyes blacken in their sockets
as I said that would be seventy dollars from the competition
and a jack and coke.
“Well, you got good fast and I can’t believe it,
either that, or you tossed that first game when there was just drinks on it.”
I shrugged my shoulders and locked in on his eyes
and he glared right back and I could see that he wanted to fight.
Next thing I knew we were in the parking lot.
He stood up to all six foot eight of me without a bit of fear
and I glared right back at him, he must have had three inches on me.
He threw the first punch and I moved my head back so he missed
and than I lunged it forward until my forehead hit him right on the lips
and he staggered back a bit.
I followed with one, two, three, four hits to his eyes
while he was confused and checking his mouth and teeth.
He screamed a bit but soon regained composer
than lunged at me and hit me so hard I could feel his anger
as the blood began to linger in my cheek.
I saw him running at me with his arm cocked back
but I ducked down into him and picked him up
turned around to my left and slammed him on the ground
and he pulled the back of my neck until we were both going down
and it was a struggle to find an advantage.
We must have wrestled for a minute and a half straight
and I eventually got him on his back and trapped his arms against his waist,
and I just pounded and pounded and pounded hard against his face
until he wasn’t moving and the crowd pulled me off
and he lay motionless, but still with a pulse.
I walked to the bathroom inside the back of the bar
and looked at the gash in my chin knowing that I have a new scar
and the left eye where I caught his punch was already swollen shut
and the bruises on my chest were already turning black in pain
from the punch where the advantage he almost gained.
I had to leave because I figured the cops were on their way
but I don’t think I have ever been so close to losing a fight.
I know that I had to focus to stay conscious a few times tonight.
He might have lost in pool, lost his cool, and seventy in cash,
but if I ever had a close call fight, he was the perfect match.