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Walk About, Chapter Ten

Darlene Franklin-Campbell's new novel, Walk About, is being posted online chapter-by-chapter, for people to read for free. Previous Chapter: Walk About, Chapter Nine, or start at the beginning: Walk About: Chapter One.

Chapter Ten

By Darlene Franklin-Campbell

Ace drank a soda as she watched others play and waited her turn. Rosie, still holding on to the man in the tight T-shirt drifted over to her, chewing gum, and popping bubbles. "Hey, Sugar," she said to the man on her arm, "Would you care to buy a poor girl a drink while I talk to my tightly-wound sister here?"

"All right," he said. He winked at Ace. "Loosen up, Babe. I'll take it easy on you. I promise."

"What's your name?" Ace asked. "I need to remember it so I can inscribe it on your tombstone when I bury you."

The man laughed and shot finger guns at her. "You're spunky, Baby. I like that. Name's Kevin O'Manning."

"Oh, Man...."Rosie repeated as he walked toward the bar. "He's so full of sh..." "What's the matter, Rosie?" Ace asked. "Mr. O'Man I'm-Full-of-Myself not as good as he looks?"

"Oh, good grief," Rosie complained when he was out of sight. "He's good-looking, Ace, but guess what? That's the only thing he's got going for him. I have done figured out he has no real money."

"Oh, really?" Ace said. "How'd you figure that one?"

"Well," Rosie said, "for starters. Cheap shoes! I mean, seriously, who wears those ugly old boots to town? Looks like he got them out of a rag pool somewhere, maybe went dumpster diving. Also, cheap watch. Poor quality T-shirt. Dirt under his nails. Rich men don't have dirt under their nails. So how long does this boring game last anyway?"

"Rosie, Rosie, Rosie," Ace said. "If they gave an award for impatience, you'd win it. It goes like this." She leaned in close to her sister so that by-standers wouldn't hear her. There are 32 players tonight. I will have to play six of them to stay in the winner's bracket all the way through. That means I have to defeat six of these yahoos at least once and one twice. The tourney pays 3 spots and I intend to walk out of here with the largest pot!"

When it was time for Ace to play, sure enough, it was Kevin O'Manning that she was facing. He laughed then shook his head. "Tell you guys the truth. I feel a little bad about having to beat this pretty little gal tonight. Don't seem right, playing a girl and all. If I win I'm gonna feel guilty for taking advantage of her. If I lose, I'm gonna be a might embarrassed, especially after she sent a few balls flying off the table a little while ago. Tell you what...." He turned to Ace. "Let's be as fair as possible. I'll let you break."

"No, that's not necessary," she said.

"But I insist."

"Let's flip for it just like everybody else," she said. So, the tournament master, a soft-spoken man in a sweater vest and jeans, produced a quarter from his pocket. "Call it," he said to Ace.

"Heads," she said.

"Tails," Kevin O'Manning said. "I like tails." He swatted at Rosie's behind.

"Heads, the lady breaks first," the man in the sweater vest said.

Ace broke. She ran an entire rack one ball right after the other. The room was silent. Even the juke box stopped playing. Kevin O'Manning stood with his mouth hanging open. Mark Evans nervously drummed a chair back with his finger tips.

"You just got lucky," O'Manning said. "You told me you couldn't play pool." "Very lucky," Ace said. "I never said I couldn't play. You assumed that I couldn't. Rosie's the one can't play. She can't even play a record without scratching it."

Ace proceeded to break again. She hit the one ball into the corner pocket then the two into a side pocket and then knocked the three into the nine ball, sinking them both into a pocket winning the game. Everyone in the bar was watching Ace now. She could hear them talking about how good she seemed to be, but she surely had used all her little tricks in that one game. She couldn't be that lucky again. Then for a third time in a row, she ran the rack again, winning the set.

O'Manning turned away. Ace could feel his anger. His vibrations filled her senses. She could always tell when a person was a jerk at heart and she knew he was. Her second opponent stepped up to the table, an elderly man in bibbed overalls.

Ace sensed that he was a decent guy. She hated to beat him, but she would. As the tournament master got the coin out to flip, the little man said, "Well, Missy, I reckon your luck has just about run out."

"Good luck to you," Ace said. She didn't want to be nasty to this guy. She got good vibes from him.

The man won the coin toss. He then proceeded to run the balls down to the last 3 balls and as he went to take his next shot his hand shook a little as his stick made contact with the cue ball, he miss cued leaving Ace with an easy out. She continued to do her thing until he, too, was sent to the loser bracket.

By the time Ace defeated the third player, it was obvious that there was no luck involved with her playing. She knocked out the young dark-haired man she had practiced with then was left facing none other than Mark Evans himself.

There was tension beyond belief. Everyone there had bet on Mark Evans, and no one had put anything down on the petite, unknown woman with long purple fingernails.

Mark won the coin toss, and he was able to run the rack. Ace steadied her breathing. She could see trouble with this guy but even the best miss occasionally. On his second round he broke. He ran one through four, and left Ace with what he considered an impossible shot.

Ace refused to let anything shake her. She whispered to herself, "You've beaten a lot better than him before." In order to win the game, she would have to pull off a two rail kick shot then proceed to set the Q ball up in order to sink the 9 ball into the right corner pocket.

She did what she always did, she imagined the shot in her mind, sensing the exact angle of her stick, then letting it glide as if the stick was guiding her to make the shot. She always believed playing pool was a supernatural gift, so she let her intuition guide her training. Then she executed the shot with unbelievable results, making the impossible shot. The room erupted in gasps.

"Nobody shoots like that," Evans said. "Nobody."

Mark Evans then went to the loser bracket, won a game and came back to face Ace in the final play-off. But this time, it was Ace that left him with an impossible shot and he couldn't make it. Ace won the set and the tourney.

Mark Evans got second place and the player he had played before facing Ace for the last game took third. Ace walked out with a purse full of money that night, and the only one patting her on the back was Bess the bartender. She had never felt so much hatred directed at her before. She was an unknown and in the eyes of these men who felt she had swindled them.

She and Rosie took the sidewalk to the back parking lot and as they rounded the back of the building, Evans, O'Manning, and two others stepped out the back door of the pool hall, confronting them.

"I want my money," Evans said. "You came in here with your curvy body and good looks and distracted all of us. You pretended to know nothing. I knew there was something off about you. Now, I want my money."

"You got money," Ace said. "Second place isn't too shabby."

"I never take second place," he said. "Everybody knows that."

"You did this time," Ace said.

"And you bring in your slutty sister to distract all the players," O'Manning said. "Hey!" Rosie squawked.

Just then Pinky joined the party. "What's the problem here?"

"The problem," Evans said, "is that these two sluts hustled us out of our money. And I aim to take it back." He reached for Ace and when he did, Pinky stepped in spiraling his arm with a Baguazhang move she called tea cups, and striking him open-handed with a palm heel strike to the temple. He went down like a sack of potatoes. O'Manning started toward her, diving like a football player. She instantly slid a hand under one shoulder while pressing down on the other and flipped him, sending him momentarily sailing through the air. He landed right on top of Evans.

"Let's get out of here!" She said. The sisters ran to the truck where Clyde already had the engine running. "Go," Pinky said.

The truck pulled out of the parking lot. Ace looked through the back window. Someone was getting into a vehicle. Would they be chased? Just then, via the street lights she saw tires rolling out into the road and Evans car shooting sparks as it hit the pavement. "What the...." "Nobody is coming after us n... now," Clyde said, petting the socket set she was holding in her lap.

Darlene Franklin-Campbell, an Adair County native, holds an M.A. from Lindsey Wilson College but has also done post-graduate work in storytelling and literacy at Western Kentucky University and is an alumnus of Campbellsville University. She is a member of the Elizabeth Maddox Roberts Society, the Adair County Arts Council, The Adair County Genealogical Society, The Green County Genealogical Society, Phi Theta Kappa, and the Mysterium Society (an IQ society for linguists). She has attended the Appalachian Writers Workshop, WisCOn, and Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts. She currently teaches Art at the Adair County Primary Center. You may visit her webpage at or her writer's blog at to check out more of her work.

This story was posted on 2022-02-04 12:24:50
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