Pool Shark
by Terri Kirby Erickson

The door to a dive opens and light washes in like a swell
of seawater, then recedes, leaving behind the pool
shark. His pointy teeth gleam in the glow of bare bulbs
hanging from the low ceiling, so he quickly closes

his trap and waits by a scarred, nicotine-yellow wall,
for the chance to play a game. He brought his own

pool cue and keeps it close, though anyone can see it’s
cheaply-made and so brand-new he stripped the plastic
off the box in the parking lot. Drunks propped against
the ash-covered plank that serves as a bar, snicker

behind his faux-leather-clad back—call him sucker
and other names less flattering, but he ignores them all.

Through the fake lens of wire rimmed glasses held together
by duct tape—he keeps his eyes on the players until it’s
his turn to chalk his tip and toss a few bucks on the burn-

pocked rail. Like the nearsighted nerd he pretends to be,
he misses most of the shots, but makes just enough

to seem lucky sometimes, instead of practiced. So the bets
go higher and higher until the final game, when the other

guys—a small-time dealer and a pimp flush with cash—
watch gap-mouthed as the pool shark circles the tired table
and runs it clean, then grabs the stack of greens and
disappears faster than a fin, before anyone can catch him.

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