Sam Witherspoon is the central character in my prize winning book of short stories, Sam’s Place: Stories. He’s had a few hard knocks, and he’s not had much luck at business and love. In this passage, his best customer and troublesome friend, Donnie Wimple, is beginning to challenge Sam about his life:
“I believe I’ll just shoot some more pool,” said Donnie.
Sam edged his chair a step closer to the heater. Before long he nodded off. Donnie continued to line his shots. Finally Sam woke and lumbered to the restroom. Returning, he drew a cupful of draft and selected a packaged sandwich from the small refrigerator behind the bar.
“It’s almost noon,” he said. “You hungry yet?”
“Thirsty’s more like it.”
Sam drew another cupful and handed it across.
Donnie licked at the foam and then took a long pull from the amber liquid. He eyed Sam. “Kind of sad, y’know?”
Sam turned to peer at him. “What is?”
“I ain’t judging, and that’s a fact. But lately you been looking like your dog’s done up and died. The pity is, you ain’t got nothing to your name ‘cept that mangy ol’ hound. A dog’s good to have around, I guess, but they’s just so much a dog can do for you.”
“Least he’s quiet some. He don’t yap my ear off like you been doing.”
Donnie chuckled. “Maybe you do need to spend time singing some hymns.”
Sam said nothing. He finished eating, and as he turned toward the trashcan with the sandwich container, a scowl darkened his face. He eyed Donnie and began drumming his fingers on the bar’s top. “I got my trailer,” he said at last, “and my dog ain’t dead. Anyway, I got this pool hall, so that’s that.”