Wednesday, July 08, 2009

The Streak - 37

Kyle and Evan traded the bullet and ordered more drinks from the waitress. Evan rattled the ice in his empty glass and took a cube in his mouth, sucking off its water as it melted on his tongue. He was thirsty. He'd had a lot to drink but he wasn't drunk. Where did all the whisky go? Not to his head, apparently.

"Put me out of my misery," said Kyle.

Evan regained his stance behind the cue ball and knocked the 5 in the corner. He never tried to think too much about the leave. Seemed to him that when you play for the leave, you get a good one a third of the time and a bad one a third of the time. The other third, you're so worried that you miss the first shot anyway. Better to make your shot. This is how he played, anyway. We're not talking Minnesota Fats.

The 8 ball was perched on the lip of another corner pocket and the cue ball was around the middle of the table. Evan chalked up as he queasily examined the formation. He hated, hated, hated this shot. Looks like a five-year-old can make it but the risk of a humiliating scratch is huge. This shot would require English. Why do they call it that? Was it discovered by Sir Isaac Newton? Evan raised his stick a little and aimed for the lower part of the cue ball. How does this work? How can this not fail? He knew there was a trick to reverse English, just as there was a trick to a masse or jump shot; how was he going to remember which was which? How would the ball not fly into the air and knock Kyle square in the middle of his forehead, requiring seven stitches and embarrassing explanations to the press? How does anything work? If you think about it. How do we effect controlled changes in our environment based on our actions? Won't it go wrong? How does a man strike something with a stick and obtain what he wants, after all? How do we know how to use a tool? And who said we could use it, anyway? In a flash, Evan wanted to regress to prehistoric innocence, before the first fire was sparked from struck flints, before the first spear was buried into the heart of a startled caribou, before words corrupted the world. Back then, you didn't have to know what to do.

Evan shot. The cue ball departed properly, miraculously moving forward and spinning backward. But halfway down its path, friction prevailed. Its spin slowed and reversed, and it began to roll along like normal. It tapped the 8 ball into the pocket and, naturally, its momentum carried it in as well.

"God fucking dammit Jesus Christ."

"Rack 'em," said Kyle.

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