They said The Kid was some kind of giant killer. They said he walked in a room this one time with his backer for a couple of pops along the road. Just soda for two with a sit down and a look see.
Some shnook is hustling at the front table, a sleaze of the shadows now out for some light of day and some--approbation--he wants from the other mooks in town and whoever is lucky enough to sit at his counter that day for lunch.
The goon fires long, straight in shots in the cross corner pocket. He wants The Kid bad though he doesn't know The Kid yet...
Pool Fiction Or Billiards Fact?...So he tells his stakehorse, "Let's do it." The horse strides up and offers Nine Ball for twenty-five bucks a rack. This was when when dollars was real dollars. A butcher downtown could pull $30 a week and feel good about himself. Frank Purdue was a chicken farmer working for his dad who saw about $20 a week.
The Kid says without hesitation, "No thanks. Nine Ball's a dumb game."
The horse shoots back, "We said $25 a rack. You scared?"
"9-Ball's stupid. Break one in, run the others out. No challenge.""Uh-huh. How about $50 a rack, chicken."
"Break it in, run out. Child's play. Not interested."
Backer 1 leans in to Backer 2 now with "I think the little crapper is scared witless, you ask me."
Dumb ass. Maybe if 1 noticed the cut of 2's suit, the way he eased slightly in his chair, all but ignoring his remark as he brushed a bit of invisible lint from one cuff, he would have eaten his words.
The Kid's man just looked at The Kid, his expression blank. The Kid stands up from his seat along the bar and his partner says, "We get the opening break. $50 per rack."
"Of course, of course..."
This last very smoothly. The horse racks the balls for The Kid, nine little hobos in a tight diamond, and boom! The Kid knocks one in and runs the rest of the rack. The balls are reracked and he does the same again, and again... 13 break and runs in a row.
The horse gives up the $650 in cash, peeling bills slowly and peeling 'em pissed off. The Kid and his man leave the front door. You'd think they remember the name of the little hall where the lightning struck, but they won't.The hustler's boy follows on their heels. "Hey!" shouts the hustler to their three backs. "You haven't seen me shoot yet!"
That's how pool just is. You could be all but wearing the pants of a Hall-of-Famer who is playing one table over, them leaning long for a shot and you able to see the sweat on the back of their hand as it drips onto the rail where you're shooting, and you wouldn't might know who it is your rubbing backsides with.
There's no way in creation that hustler slob would have wanted double-or-quits against his opponent. He still just didn't know who The Kid was after the fireworks ended.
Arness was feeling his oats as he thought of the story as he ran another 30 points of Straight Pool. His blonde hair was parted in the middle and came back from his forehead in lush waves. Women would have been willing slaves for less.
His gray eyes narrowed on the distant shots, the edges of the balls, the wrinkles about his eyes the sole area of tension visible on his body. The balls all found the pockets--the dead center of the pockets. His arm was greased ball bearings rotating through their gears with frictionless precision.
No one could make him miss, he'd need to want to miss.The big match was just days away and Arness would destroy his opponent. No, that wasn't quite right. The Kid was good, in fact, they'd said he was the best shooter that ever was. The match would be quite a tussle, but in the end, he would prevail.
"This is better than pool fiction," thought Arness. This is pure truth. Watch out, Kid. I'm eating your lunch.The Killer And The Mosc, Part I: 13-Rack Ride
The Killer And The Mosc Part II: Roll Two Million Balls
Part III: Pickle Juice Paul
Part IV: Arness Gets A Taste
Part V: Ralph Greenleaf Kicks Willie Mosconi's Tail
Part VI: Mosconi's Madness, The Fire Down Below
Part VII: The Old Man's Three Rules Of Great Pool
Part VIII: The Men In Town To Clash
Part IX: Stand And Fight
Part X: Showdown On Cloth
Part XI: Cue Ball Killing It
Part XII: Willie's Best Bank Shot
Part XIII: Crushed, Snookered, Busted
Part XIV: Rolling Loose
Part XV: Swing And A Miss