A Game of Pool

Mary Miller

If there was an airport nearby, we’d park somewhere and watch the planes take off, wait for one of them to implode, but there isn’t, so we go to Sonic for cheese sticks and then we drive around looking at houses we can’t afford and then we end up where we always end up: at a bar. Drinking, smoking, putting words into people’s mouths. And after, we go to a strip club and play pool and pretend to ignore the reason we’ve come.

I don’t look directly at them because of their eyes. And you don’t look unless I tell you to, unless I say, “The one with the cold sore/enormous ass/small tits” because once I insisted you get a lap dance from a girl named Heather, a girl with big hips and a red lollipop, and I told you to get your money’s worth and you brought her home.

“So close,” you say, when I miss an easy shot. “Want any pointers?” you ask, but you know I don’t take pointers. Then you miss your shot and I make several good ones back-to-back and you don’t say anything more about pointers. I win that game, and the next one and the next, and then we sit at a table away from the stage.

“Her,” I say. “Tip her.” The girl I have chosen for you has no ass or breasts, nothing to hold onto, and her eyes are too close together.

“I don’t like her,” you say, and I tell you that I don’t care.

“She needs the money. Just look at her. She probably has two kids at home and a broken garbage disposal.”

“OK,” you say, peeling a single off a wad of bills.

“Give her two, at least. Cheapskate.”

You sit at the stage with a couple of other guys. I can’t see your face but your back and shoulders tell me all I need to know. The girl saunters over to you with her hip bones extended and says something. Smiles a mouth full of teeth. Then she squats and drapes her platinum extensions over you like a curtain. You stay like that, shoved into her bony chest, in the tent of her hair for a long time.

“What were you doing under there?” I ask, when you return.


“Talking about what?”

“Turns out her garbage disposal really is broken,” you say. And then, “She isn’t too bad up close. Nice lips. Smelled like ginger ale.” You sling an ankle over a knee and light a cigarette. Get up after a minute and walk to the bathroom.

When Heather came home with us, she stayed for weeks. In the beginning, you wanted her and she wanted me and I wanted you. And then, after a while, you wanted me and she wanted you and I didn’t want either of you. And now that she’s gone, and it’s just the two of us again, we don’t want anything to do with each other but we’re bound together by something called marriage, only that’s not it. Not really.

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