Oregon Tavern Age: Solo Pool

I walked into the Sea Star Lounge on Tuesday afternoon. Near the entrance it was raining. Across the street, sunny. Down the block, overcast.

A woman with a dark complexion and long brown hair was playing pool by herself. She bordered on OTA but the visage wasn’t quite there yet.

I ordered a local porter, took my customary seat at the table near the window, and whipped out my notebook to write something utterly without commercial prospects, which is probably my lot as a writer.

Nevertheless, I continued writing my erotic novella about tennis set in the 1970s when America cared about tennis and tennis was sexy.

My mind drifted toward a special woman of tennis now sorely severed from my life. We never played together and that was my fault. It was a goddamned amputated heart, double faulted, broken string, country song from the 1970s with tennis twanging in my head. There was whiskey and sand dollars and long rallies from the baseline with wood rackets in the song. There were kisses across the net.

The Sea Star woman appeared to be playing 8-ball against herself. She played fast and crisp. She knew her away around the corners of pool table and chalked up the cue after every missed shot. At the moment, solids were on a good run.

She was not drinking.

It occurred to me that I had never seen a woman play pool alone in OTA country, let alone a weekday afternoon in November. What a strange novelty. There was something of a novel in this fact. Was she a hustler?

She drained the 8-ball on long bank shot that cracked through the lounge. She finished off the rest of the solids and put her cue into the rack. The cue ball remained on the felt.

I hadn’t written a word in my notebook.

She gathered up a big purse and duffel bag and headed for the door. She carried herself and her luggage as if she was someone on foot and had no specific destination in mind.

“Thank you,” she said to the bartender, who was miles down the bar.

I watched her leave and then looked out the window and saw her walking north down the sidewalk as light rain fell.

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