Pool Table

Contributor: Eric Suhem

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Oliver, just out of jail, was in the supermarket committing a holdup, threatening the employees with curare-tipped darts. As the frightened store manager was opening the safe, a bag boy emerged from the produce section, and threw fruit at Oliver’s head. A cantaloupe knocked Oliver out, and he slipped into oblivion.

The next thing Oliver knew, he was entering a pool hall, feeling disturbed by the neon-colored sprouts on the outside sign, which lit up the bleak alleyway in an organic glow. “Another sign of gentrification,” he declared darkly, walking through the door. He approached the cashier and upon payment was given a rack for the game, each pool ball replaced by a fruit or vegetable. The cue ball was an orange, the 1-ball was an apple, the 2-ball a head of lettuce, the 3-ball a lemon, the 4-ball a lime, and so on.

The rack was set and it was Oliver’s turn to break. He hit the cue ball (orange) into the 2-ball (head of lettuce), and it rolled across the felt, unraveling quickly, resulting in lettuce leaves strewn across the table. Oliver took a deep breath, trying to maintain his temper. After enough times hitting the cue ball (orange), it started to spring leaks, with orange juice and pulp joining the lettuce leaves on the felt. As the 6-ball and 7-ball (blueberry and raspberry) engaged in a number of collisions, they also began to come apart. “You have now created a fruit salad! Congratulations on your accomplishment, as we are also a dining establishment!” announced one of the proprietors cheerfully from behind the counter, quickly handing menus to Oliver and his opponent. The pool hall had been purchased by a nameless, faceless conglomerate that was combining various services to increase profits. Oliver glared at the proprietors, annoyed by the distractions.

Looking towards the dart board, Oliver pulled out a small case he had brought, filled with darts and a vial of curare. It was his hostile use of curare that had landed Oliver in jail. “When I was a kid, all I heard was ‘Eat your fruit, Oliver’…and now this,” he said, looking at the fruit scattered across the pool table. “I just wanted to play a simple game of pool, but now it’s time to play darts,” he added grimly, dipping the tip of a small pointed missile into the poisonous curare, aiming towards the proprietors.

Oliver gazed over at the pool table one more time, noting the tangerine in the middle of the green felt, which transported his thoughts back to when he was a kid. “Eat your fruit, Oliver!” There was always a bowl of tangerines in the middle of the kitchen table. The neighbors had a rickety pool table in their basement. Young Oliver was the best pool player in the neighborhood, and had gone on to win a number of tournaments. Everything seemed so full of promise. What had he done with his life since then? Oliver looked at the tangerine, and knew those days would never come again, but suddenly things seemed a little more clear. Maybe there was still time to change?… He put the darts and curare back into the case, grabbed the tangerine, and slowly walked home through the dream.

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Eric Suhem lives in California and enjoys the qualities of his vegetable juicer.
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