The door had creaked open, the rectangular gap sundered by Archie’s gangly frame. He grinned at Donnie. “You bragging on your mama again, huh?”
Donnie didn’t reply, so Archie, in his socially awkward way, looked to Sam. “I don’t ‘member much about your mama, Sam, but I bet she was smart as a whip, too.”
Donnie picked up his cue, held it to the rafters and, rolling it with nimble fingers, sighted down its taper. Then he chalked up and stroked the cue ball. A pair of striped balls rattled toward the corner pockets. As they disappeared, he winked at Archie. Then he threw a glance Sam’s way. “You the only one here,” he said to Archie, “who’s gonna have people around to sing your praises when you hit the dirt side of the sod.”
Archie eyed them both and nodded. “That little daughter of mine, and them twins of hers, they’ll be Johnny on the spot then, ‘specially them two little ones. Don’t know what I’d do without ‘em. You two ever get lonesome for grandkids?”
Donnie leaned his stick against the table, fingered a smoke from his shirt pocket, and lit it. Another wink. “I got my Mama. Sam here ain’t got squat, ‘cept Lu, and it ain’t for sure she’s gonna stick around.”
Sam bristled at that, picked up his paper, and sat. He shook a pair of pages apart.
“Hey Sam!” said Archie. “If Lu packs her bags on you, I know this cute little gal you could run off with.”
“She ain’t gotta be cute,” said Donnie. “Ol’ Sam can’t see too good nohow.”
“Pull yourself a beer off that tap,” Sam said to Archie, “and y’all shut up.”
Archie’s chin quivered.
“He’s been that way all morning,” said Donnie. “Don’t know what’s come over him.”
Archie blew out a long breath and then drawled, “I guess a fellow that runs a pool hall’s liable to have a mood now and again.”
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