Verified Member
Aug 15, 2013
monett missouri
When Pat and I were in Shreveport "The Captain" named a bar we could check out and the best player's name, "Chick." He said a lot of young wannabes hung out there and there could be trouble getting out with the cash if none of "The Big Boys" were there.

When I asked, "Whaddaya mean, 'Big Boys'," he said, "Italian," then added that the punks would behave if any of their heroes were around.

When I'd lived in Shreveport previously I'd heard talk of "The Organization" and played poker with a big friendly guy who was supposed to be an enforcer, but he was Irish... Ed Kirkpatrick, or maybe Fitzpatrick. I knew what Cap was getting at by saying "Italian" but I kinda thought it was urban legend.

So, off we went "Into the breech," too young and dumb, with me recently off Marine Corps active duty, therefore not permitted to fear anything.

The joint was packed when we got there and a 9 ball game was in progress. We got cocktails and settled in to watch in standing-room-only. The game amounted to the guy who soon became know to us as Chick playing one guy after another and giving all of them the 8 and the break for $2/game. He lost few if any games while we watched, but he was no world-beater.

I thought this might go on forever so finally I said, "Hey, Chick, are you interested in playing for more than $2?"

Chick said, "Yeah, whatchu got in mind?"

I said, "Well, I can see I don't have a chance against you, but I like to gamble, and my friend Pat here plays better than I do. I'll back him for $10 a game if you're interested."

Before he could respond the sweaters were almost unamymously, and loudly, encouraging him. A couple of them asked if I wanted to bet more.

I said, "Nah, thanks anyway, but 10 is plenty for me."

Chick said, in a smartass tone, "Well, get 'friend' up here."

Pat said, "I have to get my stick. I can only play with my stick," and asked for the car keys. Pat's playing cue was a normal one-piece house cue with a LePro tip. I thought he always looked funny walking in with it, but he claimed it did more good than harm, and he was probably right.

Chick said, "Oh, so what we have here, a hustler?"

I said, "No, but he plays pretty good or he wouldn't be playin' on my money. If I didn't think he had a chance to win, guess what.... no game. Do you wanna play or not?"

The sweaters' uproar resumed. If he didn't want to play, they were going to pressure him into it, but I figured he wanted to anyway. I gave Pat the car keys.

The game was on, and it went the way it was supposed to (Remember Pat saying, "I don't lemon"? I wished sometimes he would.) After every game one or more sweaters asked me for a bet, and about every other game I took another. After Pat won 7 or 8 out of the first 10, Chick got very hostile, making "hustler" comments and worse. After a few more, he said, "That's it. You're a goddam hustler coming in here to steal my money."

I said, "No Chick, a hustler pretends to play worse than he really does to trap someone. I told you at the start that he played good and I thought he might be able to beat you."

"Might, my ass," he said and walked threateningly toward me. Just as he was about to get in my face, while he was still at a good range, I popped him with a left jab, dead center on his nose. He went down like the sack of shit he was.

Several guys went right to Chick, but no one paid any attention to me. I told Pat, "Get to the car and get it started."

Finally they got Chick on his way to standing up, and someone said to me, "What the f**k man? He wasn't gonna do nuthin."

I said, "You may know that but I didn't. I didn't wanna do it, but you know I had to."

By then Chick was all the way up, and about 10 feet away. He took one or two steps toward me, and collapsed again!

That actually scared me. Once in a football game a guy on the other team took a big hit, but jumped right up. About 3 seconds later, he collapsed, and died in the hospital that night.

I said, "When you get him up, tell him we'll come back tomorrow night and give him a chance to get his money back. He'll be in no condition to continue tonight," and walked out the door without a word from anyone.

Whew! Maybe there were some Big Boys there. :)

By the way, I found out the hard way that I only thought I didn't fear anything. Soon after this trip, when confronted by a gentleman similar to what T.J. Parker must have been, I quickly put my negotiating skills to work, and it wasn't because I was afraid I might hurt him. :p