To borrow one of those immortal turns of phrase: how times flies.
Here's one from the archives. I used to work in a pool hall ("duh"). The most disgusting pool hall on Earth, staffed by the select lazy elite. Bin bags were always left overnight. Crisp crumbs and food wrappers were resplendent on the floor. Dust spun amongst the tables like tumbleweed. Cockroaches ruled behind the counter; we were there to look after the place for 'em. One day I came to work, bored, or hungover, maybe a combination of the two, and because the hall was empty, like usual, I started a shock n awe campaign of heavy roach death spray bombing. I can only fear for the future medical histories of anyone who had a drink the week after that.
As I sprayed in my shaky handed ennui, a funny idea came into my head... this idea, and I wrote it down as the customers and regulars drifted in and started banging on the counter to grab my attention. I ignored them, of course, to persevere with writing this short story, which I share with you.... now!
It's written in the first person but past tense because I am that damn good.
Today, when I came into work at the Essex Street pool hall, I made a life-defining decision: I was sick of the cockroach infestation and was going to get rid of them, once and for all!
“But how am I going to do that, when so many others before me have all tried and all collectively failed?” I asked myself.
The answer was simple: a race to three in a match of pool.
The cockroaches agreed – but not after some coercion on my part – and the terms and conditions were set. World rules was the game, and, I was to face the head roach Wee Bonnie Jock MacSlime. If I won, the community of cockroaches was to leave forever. But if MacSlime triumphed, I had to pay them twenty dollars.
An epic contest ensued. The purity of the pot versus MacSlimes’ insidious, rope-a-dope pocket blocking and snooker strategy. The roach smothered his way to a 2 nil lead; and then I staged a heroic fight back, levelling the score at two all.
The pressure in the defining game was immense. Every time I came to the table, MacSlime would start chattering in his vile, high-pitched insectoid brogue. “Yar gonna miss!” “Did that hit a cushion laddie?” “Me ball moved first, ye Southern fook!” (I kept telling him I wasn’t English.)
MacSlime was getting desperate as his tactics, which had served him so well to begin with, felt apart. The proceedings culminated with the penultimate shot of the game: MacSlime fired a long black into the corner pocket, along the rail, and missed, setting up the ball for me to make an easy pot.
I was victorious! The score read three games to two, the cockroaches had to leave and were never to return. As they slowly packed up their belongings, whilst sadly looking over the hall one last time, MacSlime sidled up to me and asked in an inquiring, invasive tone: “One more game! Double or nothing?”
When I told him that made no sense, he replied back after some careful thought. “OK, tell ye what: I lose, we leave and ye get to keep me cue. I win; ye hand over forty in coin.”
Why did I accept? I could lie and say that the euphoria of the win had dulled my better instincts, or that I had been cooly persuaded into the rotten rematch. But the sad truth of the matter is that of pure arrogance; I thought I had his suffocating tactics beat (even if I was dubious as to whether he really did own that cue).
A seven ball run out, off the break, proved me sadly wrong. (The sounds of celebration from the roaches was deafening when the eight ball dropped). That damn Jock MacSlime had been hustling me the entire time and now I was forty dollars out of pocket!
I really needed that money too; I had to buy fuel for my car so I could get home. This means I’m stuck at the pool hall with the roaches. Next time I’m spraying the bastards.