Saturday, April 2, 2011

Beginning of Chapter Six, Apeshit!

At the pool hall by the railroad tracks on Preston street, just past the viaduct. The viaduct crosses Preston street and is painted a nasty blue-greenish combo, with lots of spraypainted graffitti. "REAGAN SUCKS!" people's names, names of their girlfriends, schools. John and I turned into Benny's poolhall, a grungy "guy-dive" if I ever saw one. I was extremely nervous. Glad he was driving, as I was going to try to calm down with a few bad beers. But, Benny's was the absolute CHEAPEST place to play pool and there were many (like 20) tables, so you could always get one for yourselves without having to "play someone for the table(a male macho ritual where ante is sometimes upped to buying alcohol). It cost two dollars per person, per hour to get a table. The only choice in alcohol was beer because in Kentucky there are beer licenses and liquor licenses and the beer ones only are much cheaper and easier to obtain. Benny's must have been there for 40-50 years at least. Tons on people had lost all their money due to the pool sharks who'd come in dressed scruffy, posing as a "nobody." Then you'd watch them chat someone up, and eventually say, hey mister, I got that table, you want to hit a few? The friendly stranger to the newcomer (read "sucker") insists on "buying the first round." Two Blatz Lights are retrieved and slurped in between breaks and calling pockets. I watch them occasionally from my table as does John because we know the one guy is a professional--we have seen him in action before and at other pool halls. We go to the bar and order the best beer they carried, Miller High Life. All the beers only came in cans at Benny's. Glass encouraged violence he said. He was likely correct.

This was the strangest day of my life. Playing pool was a way to focus the mind and calm the nerves. I broke; two ball went into the corner pocket. I kinda chugged my Miller, drinking about one half the 12 ounce can. I never do that. My hands trembled a bit and I was sweating even though it was not cold.

I was a medical student at the University Of Louisville (Kentucky) and John studied physics there as a grad student. We had gone to the same high school, St. Francisco de Newburg road.