"The Actor"

"The Actor"

A Story by richieb
"

Tavern pool shooting contest.

"

 

            A thundering crack cut through the hazy smoke filled room as the cue ball scattered the multi-colored targets across the green field of battle. The silence of the long mahogany bar enhanced the atmosphere as everyone focused their attention to the dimly lit corner of the room. One hundred dollars and a bottle of top shelf was the wager the two players had agreed upon. Chancey, a used car salesman by trade, was fair tavern shooter. He practiced on his own table and on some nights could shoot the best stick in the house. A hundred-dollar bet not to mention a bottle of the good stuff was way over Chancey's head, but whiskey and the push of his buddies gave him the guts to accept the dare.                                        

 

The stranger who had offered Chancey no formal introduction other than the bet, chalked his cue in a manner that suggested he had played finer clubs than this corner. Studying the table like Rommel, the challenger slowly positioned himself for his first shot. Two low balls had already been pocketed on the break, the rest were scattered neatly with the promise of a run. The strangers leather jacket hung squarely on his shoulders and back, his smoothly tucked t-shirt revealed a flat belly and his long straight jeans showed off the clean shine of his boots. with a soft smooth stroke, he cut the seven in the side, sending the cue ball off the top rail and in perfect position for the two in the corner. The quiet respect of the small town locals added a hushed tone to the contest. No one dared play the jukebox or even strike a match while the handsome drifter was shooting. His mystique had them mesmerized, their curiosity had been teased and they hungered for more. who would wager a hundred plus dollars on a single game of eight ball? A dollar and a drink were common in this house but $100.00! This was not a single game or bet; this was an event.            

The tall lean hustler cued the ivory low and hard. It struck the cue ball with a forceful smack, drilling it into the corner pocket. The cue ball spun off the side railing and rolled to the center of the table moving itself as if directed by a mind of its own. Such control this man possesses. It's as if his opponent doesn't even exist. The admiration of the crowd grew stronger as they deepened their focus on the strangers every move. His sudden Eastwood stare froze their breathing for a split second. A wry smile curved the corners of mouth as his eyes found the small blonde sitting alone at the end of the bar. Her shy smile and soft look betrayed her interest and the sly shark grinned to himself thinking that more than money was on the line. He paused to light a cigarette using the same style and charm with which he did everything. The flick of his lighter, the manner he held his smoke, even the way he drew on it and exhaled. James Dean indeed! After carefully placing his cigarette on the side of the table, the stranger aimed for the five in the lower left pocket.      

Chancey bit on his ice cubes and squirmed in his seat. The thought of losing $100.00 without getting a shot was now being painted before him. Beads of sweat broke out on his forehead, upper lip and the back of his neck. They trickled down the side of his face, his shirt pressed tightly against him as it soaked the perspiration. Breathing deeply, he watched the five ball disappear as the cue ball lay in front of the six like a boy waiting to pick a cherry. The six softly landed in the right corner pocket and everyone's eyes watched the cue ball travel back to the center of the table, stopping in perfect position for the four at the left side. Again the cue ball had braked itself as if someone controlled all movement with a magnet under the table. With a slight cut the four ball slowly rolled toward the side pocket and fell out of sight clearing the bumpers cleanly. The cue ball rolled at the same speed to the upper left corner and now only the eight ball in the opposite corner separated the stranger from his spoils. 

         
     Chancey felt a lump in his throat, as he stared at the table knowing full well he had been sold. Fool! His opponent drew one last time on cigarette. He let the butt fall to the floor and crushed it with a twist of his boot. Feeling the stare of the crowd, he slowly aimed at the eight which sat so invitingly in front of the right corner pocket. The silence doubled as the stranger let the cue stick slide back and forth between his bridge fingers, searching for the right feel to end the game. The bartender stood rigid behind the bar, clutching a towel with both hands afraid to wipe the bar surface, as if the cloth touching the wood grain might disturb the shooters concentration. All the regulars watched open-eyed taking in every moment so they could brag in winters to come how they had witnessed this mysterious pool player run the table and win $100.00 on a single bet. With the compassion of Capone, he prepared to grasp his victory. But suddenly the steel like silence was cut with the sharp sound of voice, “Eight ball left corner, single bank". Masconi couldn't have given the command with more authority. Chancey's eyebrows raised, he hadn't even thought of it. The call added a layer of icing to the shooters style. It surprised everyone, but no one showed any doubt. The cue stick came back one more time and with a direct thump put the game to an end. The cue ball the eight off the side railing perfectly, sending it true to the left pocket. The eight disappeared and the victor showed his teeth with a smile. the crowd began to relax but then caught sight of the cue ball. After caressing the end cushion, it careened off the thirteen ball and rolled on an unmapped path. The strangers jaw tightened as he watched the ivory roll towards the side pocket. Almost as if someone were coaxing it, the ball gently kissed both bumpers and landed softly in the pocket. "he scratched" someone whispered. "I don't believe it" another added. Chancey furrowed his brow in disbelief. Liquor, confusion and shock all hit his brain at once. The stranger walked to the wall rack still in a cocky gait. He hung up his stick, straightened his jacket and zipped it halfway up. Walking to Chancey's table he dropped a small roll of twenties on it, “enough there to cover the bet and the bottle". Never looking at the crowd he strode out of the bar, leaving his mystique and the emotion it raised. "Nice shooting Chancey”, some cracked. With the stone face of Patton, Chancey eyed the crowd and said, “Next!

© 2016 richieb


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Featured Review

I frequent pool halls all over my town, so I was able to place myself immediately in the atmosphere. I've played this kind of game many times, felt that same touch of ice when lining up my shot and felt victory clutched in my hand only to have it slide away thanks to an errant ball. This story put me back in each of those games. The details you include, the allusions to past military leaders (military history buff, loved the Desert Fox reference) and the tension you set in the atmosphere were amazing. And the drifter, you making him that cool dude that we all wanna be at times, that was awesome. Chancey's reaction was humorous, a fitting end to the story. Excellent work.

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

richieb

3 Years Ago

Jesse, thank you for a positive review, it is deeply appreciated. Pool halls and bars are full of ch.. read more



Reviews

This is a fun story. I don't know anything about pool, but I could still enjoy the story. I agree with what the other people have said about jamming too much into one sentence. But other than that, I thought this was very good.

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

richieb

3 Years Ago

Thank you Hannah for reading my story. I am posting my stories here to learn how to make them better.. read more
A well-told story chock-full of details & SHOWING us the way the game is going. Suspense can be felt from beginning to end. It would be necessary to understand the game, however, in order to get the full benefit of your story. I'm only marginally knowledgeable about pool & it was pretty clear to me, tho.

Here's the part that I found a little hard to plow thru . . . many long complex sentences with adverbs & adjectives piled on . . . this is good, as far as being specific & detailed, but it doesn't make for easy reading. Especially the opening paragraph . . . "A thundering crack cut through the hazy smoke filled room as the cue ball scattered the multi-colored targets across the green field of battle." . . . I love that you're attempting to craft this sentence to the maximum amount possible, but it's just too heavy & long to draw a person into your story. Also, no need to repeat what the wager is, twice in the first paragraph. Find another way to say it, the second time.

Try reading your stuff out loud. When your tongue gets tangled, you need to simplify.

Now here's a passage that has some space to breathe: "The tall lean hustler cued the ivory low and hard. It struck the cue ball with a forceful smack, drilling it into the corner pocket. The cue ball spun off the side railing and rolled to the center of the table moving itself as if directed by a mind of its own. Such control this man possesses. It's as if his opponent doesn't even exist." See how the long complex sentences are broken up with some short direct statements? Short direct statements are always better for conveying action. Long complex sentences bog down the action.

It's a great start . . . just a little pruning would make this piece really sing.

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

richieb

3 Years Ago

Thank you for a very informative review. I always learn something from you and appreciate the time y.. read more
That was fantastic!
Wonderful word choice and description! Also, I love how well you built the characters in such a short time!
Well done!

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

richieb

3 Years Ago

Bubbles, thank you for the favorable review, I am glad you enjoyed the story. I will return the favo.. read more
Bubbles

3 Years Ago

Thanks that means a lot!
The pool game was good. The way you allowed the characters to be protrayed is very good. I wanted to do it yesterday. But I was unable to do this. So, I got it done. Today. I appluad you. Your problem is that you have [eriods, without capitals afterwards. That I think, is your difficulty with the piece. The characters seem realistic with teh descriptions you have used. You have use subtles description to get the point across.

I thank you for writing this peice. Keep at it, never give up. On yourself,


Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

richieb

3 Years Ago

Richard, thank you so much for a positive review. I am happy you enjoyed the story, I promise to ret.. read more
Ha-ha! Chancey will take that win, even if it was a gift. Watching that slick, overconfident dude upend himself had to be seen as a righteous case of karma. I've not spent any time in pool halls for quite a few years, but the atmosphere your story projects seems realistic. Very good writing, Richie.

Posted 3 Years Ago


richieb

3 Years Ago

Sam, thank you for the review and compliments. I have won this way a couple of times and if it wasn'.. read more
I really enjoyed it. Short but fun. Though I would suggest slightly shorter paragraphs.

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

richieb

3 Years Ago

Thank you for reading my story. I agree with you on shortening the paragraphs. Richie B.
It's good to see this story again. I'm glad you submitted this classic story to my contest. I enjoy this just as much now as I did the first read. As far as further reviewing goes, this piece strikes me as a particularly well-written first draft that didn't receive modifications after the initial release. This could shine like a diamond with just a little touching up. Take a bit of time to trim down some of the unneeded words and expand and clarify the important details. I think, and it's just my opinion, that it would be cool to start the story just before the stranger challenged Chancey. Perhaps with him talking with his buddies in the pool hall/bar/whatever it is, followed by the attention-grabbing stranger entering the building.

Posted 3 Years Ago


richieb

3 Years Ago

Clifford, thank you for your favorable comments. I may try changing the beginning but I don,t know i.. read more
Clifford

3 Years Ago

Perfectly fine if you don't change it. The contest is just for fun, as a way to interact with the co.. read more
Interesting story. Lots of good details and dialogue. Just a suggestion: perhaps break up the last paragraph. It seems a bit long.

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

richieb

3 Years Ago

Schatzi, Thank you for your review, I will take a look at the last paragraph. Richie
I frequent pool halls all over my town, so I was able to place myself immediately in the atmosphere. I've played this kind of game many times, felt that same touch of ice when lining up my shot and felt victory clutched in my hand only to have it slide away thanks to an errant ball. This story put me back in each of those games. The details you include, the allusions to past military leaders (military history buff, loved the Desert Fox reference) and the tension you set in the atmosphere were amazing. And the drifter, you making him that cool dude that we all wanna be at times, that was awesome. Chancey's reaction was humorous, a fitting end to the story. Excellent work.

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

richieb

3 Years Ago

Jesse, thank you for a positive review, it is deeply appreciated. Pool halls and bars are full of ch.. read more
Great story, I actually play pool, not exactly well, but my style seems to be to leave nothing and hope someone scratches. I love it!

Posted 3 Years Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

richieb

3 Years Ago

Thank you for reading my story, glad you enjoyed it. My daughter and son-in-law just bought a house .. read more

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Added on December 30, 2015
Last Updated on January 24, 2016

Author

richieb
richieb

Shelby, OH



About
I have always been interested in writing. I hope to publish a book(s). I recently started to write poetry and enjoy it very much. I am 64 years old, 2years from retirement. Married to a beau.. more..

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