l have grounds
More relative than this—the play’s the thing
Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.
William Shakespeare Hamlet
Friends of the Libraries Competition 2017
The theme of The Friends of the Kapiti Coast District Libraries Literary Festival 2017 was The Play’s the Thing.
Participants in the competition had to write a short, dramatic monologue or dialogue in no more than 500 words.
Here is the second placed entry from John Joyce.
The First Break
Summer afternoon – New York … It’s hot – it’s humid. Acrid car exhausts … the sweet smell of fast foods – coffee to go. People spit on the pavement as if it was their God-given right. Street bums keep pestering me – my feet hurt.
A down-under boy from Kapiti on his first OE.
It’s a cold beer and relief from the heat that I’m wanting. I slip into a dim cool interior … Have A Break Saloon. Soon I’m on my second Budweiser.
Starting to feel more human, I quipped to the barman,
“Does this beer make a buddy Wiser?”
Po-faced he gave me a stare, colder than the beer itself and moved on down the bar.
I took my Bud, a little wiser and moved to the back room.
Men and an occasional lady with cues in hand … slumped over tables like collapsed parachutes, ready to stab pool balls to death, or …. they stood back , like soldiers at attention.
I watched for a while. “Hello there,” said a sultry voice, “like to have a game?”
A tall, attractive brunette waved at the tables with her cue. I thought of a quick riposte, “Sure, your place, or mine,” … but bit my tongue, I’d already struck out once this afternoon.
“8 ball pool,” she said.
“O K” I replied.
Soon we were playing, both badly but eventually I won. She praised my game and then suggested, “We should make this more interesting. $20 dollars for the winner.”
Again we played badly, again I won. I’m sure she let me. “You’re pretty good,” she said, “Why don’t we get serious….say $200?”
Now although I’m a small town boy, I could recognise a set-up. She was it. I was in the company of a pool shark.
“That’s a bit steep.” I said.
“Afterwards, we can go back to my place for coffee.”
There was invitation in her eyes.
I thought, wow. “Well OK .” No matter how it turned out, it could be worth it.
We deposited our monies in an overturned hat.
“Would you like to break ?” she said sweetly.
Now you need luck or very good skill to sink a ball on the first break.
I gave her a long look and finally nodded. At the top end of the table, eight balls lay in an upside down pyramid. She was expecting me to break up the block, spilling balls everywhere.
I carefully lined up the shot, snicked the top left hand ball into the pocket.
“I’m shooting for the overs.” Her smile was somewhat strained.
I adopted my collapsed parachute stance and bent to the task. The room came to a halt and an audience gathered.
In eight minutes I’d cleared the table of overs and sank the black, she hadn’t played a shot..
My game and my $200, I believe… double or quits?”
She shook her head and said accusingly, “You’re a pool shark.”
I said, “No, but I’m three times winner of the New Zealand Pool Table Championship.”
Her fury was evident as she threw the money at me. “Now stuff off!” she screamed.
I turned my back and retreated to the bar for a large Budweiser.
“It’s on the house,” said the barman, “She skites that she hasn’t lost a game in two years, It was getting tiresome.”
I thanked him for my second break of the day.