Yeah, posts are few and far between. Not much I can do about that except stop making promises and further alienate the three people that used to pay attention. Sorry. Anyway, rather than a tale from the Cumberland Plateau here's a true story from Cumberland Avenue, the city, Knoxville, Tennessee, not too long ago.
ANOTHER NIGHT IN A BAR
I won her love in a pool game. It was the only way I was going to get it, although I wasn't really sure what I’d do with it once I had it. I was still happy to make the bet though, against $5 and a couple bottles of beer.
“I guess your love isn’t worth much,” I laughed, setting up the nine.
“That’s a terrible thing to say to a girl,” she replied, frowning as the ball rolled into the side pocket.
I kissed her and it was good, charged like it could sometimes be. The bar was cool and dark, a smoky cave away from the Tennessee heat. The jukebox played an old Johnny Thunders tune, “You Can’t Put Your Arms Around a Memory.” I liked this place. I liked her. I was more than in the mood for trouble, but maybe not quite like the kind we’d both just found.
I lined up the eleven for the corner pocket as she lit a cigarette and leaned against me. She bit my ear, trying to distract me, to make me miss. I felt her breath against my cheek and the ball hit the pocket dead-on.
“There’s just no way I’m going to lose this game,” I grinned. I picked up her beer and had a long drink. I don’t even like beer. I missed the fifteen.
She took her cue and knelt down beside the table, looking to bank the three into a side pocket. I never understood why she did this—kneeling to put the table at eye level, sometimes using her stick to gauge an angle—but it seemed to work a lot of the time. Only this time it didn’t and the three bounced harmlessly to the center of the table.
I walked over and held her to me. It felt right, my arm around her waist and her hand pressed against my chest. I let her go and sunk the fifteen. I had two balls left on the table; she had four.
“I don’t really want to play for my love anymore,” she said, looking over the balls that remained.
“Too bad,” I replied. “You should have thought of that earlier.”
“I did. And it seemed like a good idea at the time.”
“It usually does.” I sunk the eleven. We just looked at each other.
The twelve was easy and the eight was lined up nicely along the rail for the corner pocket. She looked genuinely concerned and I felt suddenly uneasy. For a moment I considered missing, scratching, blowing the game, but I caught her brown eyes for an instant then followed the curve of her neck to her shoulder and on down to her hips. Nope, I decided, I wanted it. Then I sunk the eight. She shook her head and grabbed her pack of cigarettes off the table. I had another pull of the beer I didn’t like.
“So, I’ve got your love,” I said, finally.
She lit her cigarette. “Not yet you don’t." She blew a cloud of smoke over her head. "And I want a chance to get it back. I’ll put up another round and dinner against it for the next game.”
But I wouldn’t put it up. We made a lot of bets after that, but somehow there was always one thing I wouldn’t wager, just in case I needed it one day. After all, you can never be sure about something like that and I’d won it fair and square. Love rarely comes so easily.
"This place is hell to me, With the Devil in my bed, And the Devil in this bottle, And the Devil in my head, I'll meet you in Heaven again, If you wear that dress again, (I'll have one more drink, my friend), Where my heart is kept on ice, And prayers burst into flames, PRAYERS ON FIRE," Nick Cave 1981