Friday, May 07, 2010
REED’S BILLIARDS - ugly
Tending bar at Reed's was relatively easy. Reed's steady customers were all local workers and knew better than to cause trouble. They all understood Reed's sawed off pool cue. Also, the fact that there were never any women at the bar was another good reason that the men were not at each other's throats.
I came in just before the rush hour from 5 to 7 began. We had a bar full every night and there were always 5 or 6 pool games going. After 7 PM most of the regulars left and the other bartenders clocked out. I had the bar by myself for the rest of the evening. On most evenings there were only 5 or 6 customers through the evening. They would come in, drink a couple of beers, maybe shoot some pool or play the pinball machines. Some would come in and others would rotate out. The evenings were mostly quiet so I was able to shoot pool while I tended bar. It was a good job.
Dwayne came in on Saturday evening when I wasn't too busy. We recognized each other immediately. We were taking an English class together. I had a cigarette in my hand. He smiled and said, "I guess if I order a beer and you won't "rat" me out. I can't "rat" you out because of this cigarette. I poured us both a beer and said, "This one's on me." I raised my glass and said, "Here's to silence." He grinned and said, "Silence it is." He drank the one beer and said, "The next one is on me."
The next Tuesday I was waiting to enter the lecture hall for our English class when he tapped me on the shoulder and said hello. We had a few minutes to talk so we told each other a little about our past.
We were both older because we had spent time in the service." I did my time in Taiwan as an Air force Intelligence Specialist. I had kick-back easy duty. Dwayne did his time in the Army as Medical Corpsman in Vietnam. He had the "job from hell" duty. He prepared the bodies for shipment home.
I liked him instantly. He had a dry morbid sense of humor that I latched onto. For some reason I understood his off the wall comments. The other students were fresh out of high school all agog and bubbly with the world. Dwayne and I were there for an education. We both found it difficult to deal with giggling teenage girls walking around campus smothered in a train of perfume. I knew we were going to be good friends when one pious male student mentioned that the girl's short skirts were disgusting. "Jesus", Dwayne grunted, "I need a beer." I laughed and replied, "me too and I know just the place." We both smiled.
Dwayne was married with two children and couldn't stay long but we had one beer and told each other the basics of our military time. We agreed to meet on occasion to shoot some pool and just hang out away from the school.
We met for a "short one" once or twice a week. We shot some pool, discussed our class and swapped "tales" of our service time. Our friendship only lasted that one semester. He had money problems and had to transfer to one of the Washington colleges. He was going back home to live with his wife's parents in order to finish college.
He never invited me to meet his wife and children and I never asked why? However the last time we had our "short beer" together he took out a picture from his wallet and said, "This is my wife."
I looked at her picture and didn't know what to say. She may have been the ugliest woman I ever saw. From the protruding teeth to the flat chest and the fence pole shape I could not find one pleasant thing to look at. What do you say if you cannot find something good to say?
Nothing! And that's what I said, nothing. I just stared, silent in my stupidity of not knowing what to say. Dwayne said, "Ugly isn't she?" I stammered something about her not being the prettiest girl I had ever seen. Then he took another picture from his wallet.
"This", he said, "was my first wife." She had everything necessary to land her in "Playboy" magazine. She was the dreams of every horny young man. Dwayne said, "She was my high school sweetheart. I married her just before I shipped out to Vietnam." He paused a few moments so I asked him what happened.
He told me that while he was in "Nam" she was sleeping with every one of his old friends and a few others. When he returned home she "hit him" with divorce papers. One of his "good" friends told him what had been going on.
He met Carla, his current wife, at church. "You know," he said, "Carla is the best woman I ever met. She isn't pretty but she is honest, she loves me and she is the best mom my children could have. Those divorce papers were the best present that God could have given me."
I said, "I'm sad that I won't get to meet her."
Of course we agreed that I would go up and visit on a semester break and we could go out for a "short beer".
I never went.
Looking back on my life, Dwayne was a harbinger for things that were to happen in my life. I was to go through a similar scenario but unfortunately when I got divorced I had two innocent children. They suffered more than I did for my stupidity.
However when I divorced my sex partner I did not marry an ugly woman.