short story2: shot


Winning isn’t everything, but it’s something. Placing or getting blown out of the water, that just didn’t leave you with much to talk about, did it. And talking about it was, more than most would care to admit, the whole point to most things, most of the time. Like foolin’ around with Gary’s mom, back when. Wasn’t exactly a defining moment, or even all that much real fun, in Connie’s book. Sure made for a hell of a story, though.

Still did, long as Gary wasn’t around. Which he wasn’t, anymore, but that’s not worth getting into, right now.

Right now, Connie was weighing his options. Even split, eight ball teetering, playing goalie to the only pocket with any real potential.

Dumb fuckers probably thought that meant something.

Connie set his bottle down, muttered at the beer inside it, something about staying in ’til he said so, or some nonsense.

Started out earlier, just him and Jethro, tossin’ back some suds, knocking some balls around. Now, Connie had a foursome, white trash trouble, stacking their bets on top of the bet over who was gonna lose, “Bobby” (Jethro’s given name, it seemed), or the drunk fuck with the sideburns.

Lamb chops, Connie’s step-grandmother had called them. She was English. No, Mutton chops, that was it. Connie’d always meant to look that up, one of these days, see what a damn mutton chop actually looked like. Probably not at all like his burns, which Connie kept straight and shaggy, lopped off at the jawbone. Started out just lazy, too much hassle shaving the whorls and cowlicks that sprouted at either edge of his face. Best to just let ’em grow, start the beardline a couple of inches in from each ear. Antique triple-header Norelco buzzed the rest like nobody’s business. Pop-up trimmer for chopping the lines straight.

Gary’d always pushed it too far. Grew his own chops out to Elvis points, touching his chin. Didn’t really get “winning,” not at all. Turned every damn thing into a pissing contest, even that shit with his mom. Hadn’t only been Connie, just to set the record straight. No, that tight ol’ cooz was always high, teasing all the boys with her low-cut jeans and bubble ass, leaning over to show you things in magazines that didn’t need showing, just to give you a nice look at her hard little nipples.

Situation like this, four Jethros, fifty bucks on the line, Gary’d be the first one to show everyone what he could do, damn the consequences. Yeah, well. Connie liked winning as much as the next guy. Just tried to keep his priorities straight, is all.

Like meeting his new girl. Going in for the kill would’ve been ridiculous, smart thing like her. Crowded little head, not the prettiest on the block, but easily the brightest. Took some coaxing out, that one, well worth the effort. Didn’t even realize she was the girl of his dreams, ’til he showed her how to shoot, and she showed him his first cup of chai.

Thing was, now, the sudden addition of the three stooges had changed the dynamics of the situation, exponentially. Just when Connie had gotten Jethro to raise the stakes to a decent number, loosened him up with a few wins.

Yeah, Jethro was primed. It was the buddies, now, gave Connie a whole new data stream to factor in.

Ordinarily, the fifty bucks currently on the block would’ve unfurled Jethro’s roll, gotten Connie’s cash flow started back on track, for today at least. Now, who knew. Tough, workin’ a crowd. Four-headed beast.

Connie shot, shoved his cue with all the �lan of a drunk schmuck who thought he could play. Sunk a whack-job bank shot, made it look like an accident. Figured that might bring out any sleeper cells among the four Gomers.

Not a peep. Better make sure. “God DAMN it!” Connie pounded the floor with his stick, then stood aside, sulking. Hook… Line…

“It’s your damn shot, pops. Ya fuckin’ made it.” …And sinker. The four Jethros shook their heads at each other, almost pitying the lucky shitheap facing their Bobby.

Okay, so they’re every bit as retarded as they look. Didn’t change much. Two of ’em were armed. Connie knew the look, noticed the descrete, unnecessary tucks, now and then.

He’d seen it before, when Gary’d gone and got himself jumped. Watched him bleed out, later. Held him in his arms, ’til he ran dry. Wished, for a second, that he’d said something about Gary’s mom, but no, that was too messy, the whole thing was just too fucked up for words. Never got back to un-messy, after Gary slapped the poor bitch around. Punched her, looked like, more than once. Never said if he’d done anything else to her, just made sure everybody got a good look at the bruises, took note of her new attitude.

So as far as partners go, Gary was far from ideal, but he’d made Connie sharper. Having a loose cannon around made you that much tighter, that much more in control. Alone, Connie was prone to doubt, second guess. Especially with a crowd.

Connie finished his beer, tossed the Jethros a cocky grin.

“Fuckin’ A, then…” Connie muttered, then belched up a burning sizzle of bile, made an absolutely authentic sour face.

Okay, come on. Finish it, already. Connie dusted his thumb, chalked up, aimed.

Winning isn’t everything, he knew that. But this one was for Gary. Fuck Gary, it was for Gary’s mom, Connie’s first, which was what he wanted to tell the stupid fuck, but didn’t. No, this one was for some Goddamn spending money, fuck these lame-ass Jethros, leave ’em in the dust, go and meet up with your new honey, at that party she’d been going on about all week. Get her something nice, something green, to compliment that fiery head of hers.

And it was this, the vision of his freckly little piece of sunshine, that drove Connie’s cue forward, knocked white, into red, into black, and ended the game. Set off four hootin’ an’ hollerin’ Jethros, four lame-ass Gomers who snatched up Connie’s last fifty, slapped him on the back with shit-eating grins. “Oh, dude! Dude!”

Almost as if they knew, were celebrating the fact that Connie was heading off, practically on time, to some party, somewhere off the 134, to be with the girl of his dreams.

* * * * *

copyright � victor bornia

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