This is a taste from a book of mine soon to be out – a collection of connected short stories, with one story woven, chapter by chapter, among the others. This is the first chapter of that woven story.
Sunday morning had crept in on a throaty wind, softened only by a pure but raggedly applied coating of snow. Sam had risen early, fed his dog Luther, and driven two miles on the all but abandoned two-lane to his pool hall. He wouldn’t open his establishment to business on a Sunday: the citizens of Striven, Alabama, its city fathers and religious leaders, wouldn’t have abided it. He lit the gas space heater at one end of the bar, listened to its hollow voice for a moment, and then warmed before reading the Sunday paper.
The door opened to Donnie Wimple. Without a word, Donnie chose a house cue, racked the balls on the table nearest the heater and began shooting. Sam turned to watch. After a while, he chose a stick for himself and began a game of rotation with Donnie.
Sam’s plump fingers ached with the cold still hovering in his building, the aching aggravated by arthritis and scar tissue from a long-ago Viet Cong grenade. As he attempted to line his first shot, he blinked. He adjusted his glasses. Blinking again, he swore and adjusted the glasses once more. Then he decided to turn on more lights in the ever-dim pool hall. He bent to the table. His cue ball chased after its object. Both dropped into a corner pocket.
Donnie shot and missed, and then he watched without his usual brash comments as Sam lined another shot. The ball failed to drop at a mid-table pocket, and the cue ball clumped its way back up the rail, leaving Donnie a perfect shot at the far corner. Donnie smirked now, and was about to offer a jibe. Before he could speak, Sam slammed his cue to the table and stalked away.