February 21, 2022 – The brothers down the road.

When I was a youngster of around nine there were three brothers who used to come into our bar to drink.

They were of age and two were well behaved for the most part. However, one of them was a jerk after a few drinks and didn’t seem to care who or what he hurt or embarrassed.

He had actually beat up his pregnant wife up as she was doing her business in the ladies room one night. He was a real charmer.

I was shooting pool as the three brothers entered our establishment and walked past me. The evil brother slyly took my eight ball away with him as he passed by me. I saw him do it. He was not as crafty as he had thought he was.

I lived with few of the normal societal restraints to aid my behavior. I lived in bar for crying out loud. My parents were far too busy to teach me about being civilized. All I knew I learned from my environment around me in this bar. I was well behaved for the most part and a community asset as far as I am concerned.

I did my cores with little grumbling and did them as well as would be expected. I didn’t chew tobacco yet as some did and my smoking habits were no worse than those around me.

I stood watching the Evil brother and wondered how I might get my eight ball back. He was a grown man and twice as large as I was.

But I had surprise on my side.

I took a ball and held it behind my back as I approached him now seated at our long bar with several other fellow drinkers.

I asked him politely for my ball back.

“I don’t have your ball kid. Leave me alone. I am busy visiting with my friends.”

The juke box blared in the back ground of this dark saloon and the air was filled with cigarette smoke. I was looking up at him through a blue haze. Twenty men sat on twenty, round, green stools drinking and telling lies about what they had been or might become someday.

The back bar was a long mirror and made the crowd and the room twice as large as it really was. Becky, one of our many bar maids, was busy tending to the needs of these wayward men.

My parents were off in another of the rooms working at other tasks and were not present.

I looked up at this evil brother and asked him to show me his hand where I thought the ball might be hidden.

Stupidly he agreed and placed his hand flat on the bar.

As he did this, I sprang into the air as high as I possibly could with another ball in my hand. As I came down, I slammed my hand with the ball into his now flat hand on the red bar. The noise was deafening.

Twenty heads turned to look at the two of us as the crashing sound of an ivory pool ball meeting flesh and bone filled the room.

The vibration running through the bar caused all of that amber fluid in those many glasses to swish back and forth and to ripple in each glass ass if an earth quake had just occurred somewhere over the distant horizon. The commotion caught everyones attention.

I still see the evil brother’s face to this day, sixty two years later.

His eyes were nearly as large as the balls on the pool table sitting on a vast field of green felt and the one in his other hand. That hand moved slowly toward me and the ball was offered up to me with a look of wonder and surprise on his face.

I had taken a chance and had won this skirmish. There would not be any others.

I think we both learned an important lesson that day.

I learned to stand up for myself when I was in the right.

Perhaps he learned not to underestimate the fight in a small, young child who had not been taught the sense of propriety and decent behavior as of yet.