I eyeballed the table, knocked the four-ball into the center pocket, and uncoiled my 5-foot frame.  I shook the stick at Rich for emphasis.  "Hey! Get a clue from this cue, 'cause if you don't, bro’, we're going to have us some Rich-on-a-stick here!"


  I grinned, of course, as I spoke.  Had to keep him from going for my jugular.  “Where’d you put the chalk, dude?”


He tossed it to me.  “Catch, babe.”


I grabbed it like a shortstop snagging a line drive. I pretended to focus on chalking the cue’s tip.


“What’d I do this time?,” he groaned.


I leaned over the table again, lined up my shot, and sank the three.


“Hey.  I’m talking to you.”  He practically growled it at me, so I finally raised my eyes and caught his expression.  Perplexed.  I like that in a man.


“Look, Richie”,  I snapped, “you gotta understand that just ‘cause you want something, it don’t mean you’re gonna get it.  And besides, I’m damn tired of you putting me off.  I thought we had a deal on that construction site.  Damn it, now I look like crap with Tony.  You don’t have to wonder why I’m pissed! You want me to use that bald head of yours as a bowling ball?  Just keep it up.”  I aimed at the six and missed my shot.  “Damn!”


“Crap.  You’re funny,” he muttered.  He scoped the table and jumped the cue ball over the six-ball I’d just missed to knock in the nine.   “And I’m not bald.  I’m hirsutely challenged.  Same way as you’re too damn short.  Hell, I can’t even kiss you without breaking my back.  I should buy you a damn ladder.”


“Just like you to evade the issue, Rich.  Just like you.  And for the record, the devil’ll have frostbite before I ever let you kiss me again.  Why don’t you unzip your crooked mouth long enough to give me some answers?”


He chalked his cue, took aim at the thirteen, and stopped.  “I’d rather unzip something else, darlin’.”   Hurt puppy-dog was written all over his face. He knew it was over between us.  It was a blow to his ego sometimes: Not just working for a woman, but for his ex-girlfriend.  “Whaddaya want to know?”  He sounded resigned.


“Well, for starters, why didn’t you tell Tony at Henderson's that I  finalized the permits?  When were ya gonna schedule the crew for the foundation pour?  That’s  your job?”


“Who’s Tony?  I don’t recall that name,” was his rejoinder.


Yeah, he was asking for it again.  I learned a long time ago to jump at any chance to pound him one.  You snooze, you lose. Selective memory. I’d seen it when he conveniently forgot I was with him at Shallers-by-the-Wharf and went home without me.  On my birthday, no less.  And when I called him at seven the next morning, some bimbo answered. He was definitely overdue for a good pounding.


“Oh, come on.  You know — Tony.  The guy with the weird eyes, one blue and one kind of gold-colored.”   I watched as he fumbled with his cue, failing to even connect with his attempt at the thirteen.   I gave him my most impish smile.  “Tall, gloriously blond, buffed out like Adonis, melodious voice, mean streak a mile wide.  I’m sure you’ve known him for years.”


“You two talking about me?”  Tony’s voice was rife with humor.


I spun so fast I nearly fell down.  You could have scraped me off the floor if you’d had a shovel.  I hadn’t even noticed him coming into the pool hall.  “Hi, Julie.  What’s shaking?  Can we talk?”  He looked pointedly at Rich, who was desperately trying to squelch his laughter.  Unsuccessfully, I might add.


“My God, Tony,” I practically screeched.  “Don’t you ever sneak up on me like that!”  Heads turned.  I quieted my voice.  “Yeah, sure.  I suppose you want to know when Rich here is gonna get the crew out for that foundation.”


He turned to Rich, who was still convulsing and holding his stomach.  Still chortling. “Yeah.  I do.  And what the hell are you laughing at, bright boy?”


Rich tried to collect himself, but his words came out with that snorting sound peculiar to people who try to talk when they’re in the middle of a big guffaw.  “Crew out there Monday; just tell me what time.  Guaranteed.  So, you’re Tony Henderson?”


“Who d’ya think?  Of course I’m me.  What are you? Some kind of idiot?”


Rich calmed down enough to throw me his ‘stinker’ look before his gaze drifted back to Tony.  He extended his hand.  “Nice to meet you at last.  Richard McGraham, at your service.”


Tony accepted the proffered handshake, then looked around the pool hall.  “Well, we’ll see your guys out there, then.  Six-thirty a.m. sharp, okay?  Make sure they’re on time, too.”


Rich nodded his agreement, smiling.  “Done.  Six-thirty it is.  Monday.”


I threw a nonchalant mask on my face, chalked my cue and waved it at Tony.  “Nice seeing you,” I said.


“Ditto, Julie,” he grunted.  “Bye, Rich.  Nice meeting you.”   And with a last glance at the sea of pool tables, he walked out into the early evening.


“Blind as a bat, Julie.  Better get those eyes checked, okay?”  Rich was laughing again.


“I can see just fine, Richie.”


“Oh, sure.  What was it you said Tony looked like – Adonis?”


I deliberately ignored him by paying attention to the cue and the job at hand, to sink the two-ball.  My aim was good.  It dropped in the center pocket.  “Eight in the corner,” I said, pointing to pocket in question.


 “If that’s Adonis,” Rich answered, “I’m Fabio.”


I grinned. I guess that’s the last time I try to describe a five foot-five, ninety-eight pound weakling with two different-color eyes, thin frizzy gray hair ,  a reedy thin voice and loose uppers as Adonis to Rich.  Paybacks are a bitch, you know.   God punished me for that lie.


 I tried to sink that eight ball, but scratched.

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