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Ball in hand usually occurs after a player fouls in pool. The opponent is given the cue ball "in hand" and is allowed to place it either anywhere on the table, or in certain cases anywhere in the kitchen, before making his next shot. The only caveat is that it's usually considered illegal to place the cue ball so that it is frozen to (touching) another ball.

Visit the billiards metanode for related information.



The brunette in the black pumps is bent over a clean shot on the 8-ball. The smoke is so thick that you can see it forming a pattern of escape out the front door each time that door is opened. You're sitting on a high chair at an elevated table with a Marlboro red in one hand and the other wrapped around a bottle of PBR. John Fogerty is yelling about it being "Almost Saturday Night" on the jukebox. In fact, Saturday night had expired about an hour ago and all you want is that brunette to finally sink that fucking 8-ball so that you can drag her away from her fatass girlfriend and tell her it's "last call for Amytal." This pool game has been going on for so long that you are fairly sure they are going to have to finally give up and flip for it. And, sure enough, the brunette pulls her head up on the shot and stabs her cue into the table, not even moving the cue ball. It's a miracle she doesn't rip the felt.

You put your face into your hand as the waitress sneaks up behind you and says, "Another one?"

"Sure, dollface. But promise me this game will be over before you ask again?"

"No can do. These bitches ought to take up knitting. Or darts. Something with smaller utensils."

The tip on an orange moon is just showing itself over the top of the two-story apartment across the street. You had been in the second story of that building a couple of months ago. A woman ten years older and fifty pounds heavier than you had told you she was "like no other woman you'd had before." You could verify that by the pile of puke you left just outside the bathroom door. What a mess you've made out of this life. Now your phrases aren't even your own. You're living on borrowed time and borrowed words and here comes Lonesome George to borrow more money.

When you make out his face through the smoke at the front door, you try to turn your back and plan to work your way through the crowd to the bathroom where you can hide in a stall until he leaves. But he's spotted you long before you even set one foot on the ground. With a slap on the back and breath that could wilt fresh mint, he says, "You know Steve's lookin' for you?"

This is not the sort of news that you need at an early morning hour when you haven't slept for two days. Steve is your primary dealer and there might be some unpaid receipts that should have been tidied up a week or two ago. It's hard to keep track of finances when you're a young bachelor working the dating circuit in a big city.

Just the sight of George's foul Irish gaze a foot away from your face, coupled with the brunette scratching on her fourteenth try at sinking the 8-ball and not even realizing that she's lost the game as she pulls the cue ball out of the pocket and says, "Sorry. Your turn," to her fatass friend, puts the whole bar into a vortex that sucks you to a small finite point -- a point much like the one before the so-called very large bang that put all this in your path. There should be some sort of meaningful message for you at this point, but all there is is a panic attack and the fear of God at the thought of how you're going to come up with fifteen hundred bucks before Steve and his hammer-headed enforcer decide that "past due" really means what it says.

"George, you see that fat chick playing pool? The one in the black dress?"

George nods in his loopy Irish way and you can almost see the thoughts in his head getting rearranged every time he changes the angle of his chin. George is perhaps the dumbest motherfucker you have ever known, and that would be OK if he weren't prone to rampages when one too many drinks pass his transparent strawberry blond mustache. George's rampages always end badly, and usually for the other guy since his hands are the size of a standard Kleenex box. In his case, the old saying about "big hands = big dick" is actually true, and there have been otherwise intelligent women who have fallen in love with George just for his cock. Some of them took way too long to get over it. None of them were datable by the time they did. They were ruined in that way that a woman gets ruined when every other dick in town looks like a matchstick to them. Not to mention the way they'd been dumbed down from time spent with this hooplehead. However, since the idiot couldn't help it, it was hard to place blame on anyone but the unhinged god who must have been having quite the laugh when he pinned that tail on that donkey.

"Yeah, what about her? I never fucked her, did I?"

"No, George. Not that I know of. But I'm about to, once she gets done with this interminable pool game."

"I don't know that game. How does it work?"

"No, I mean it's been going on for fucking ever. But once it's over, the fat one and I are going back to her place and she's got some stuff there that is worth a lot of money. Tell Steve he'll have his dough by Monday."

"Dude. Stealing from a fat chick is almost as bad as fucking them."

"I don't feel proud about it, George. But I'm having some fiscal difficulties right now."

"You seen a doctor?"

"No, I mean . . . It's nothing serious," you sigh.

George slaps you on the back and leaves the smoky bar, having attended to his errand. You wonder what little treasure Steve gave him to bring you this warning. Maybe Steve has secrets you don't know about and he's using Lonesome George for purposes you hadn't considered before. Yes, this makes sense the more you think about it. You've never actually seen Steve with a woman on a regular basis. He's always surrounded by his burly crew and he does keep a very neat apartment.

The waitress shows back up and says, "Game over?"

You reply, "Yep. I think this one is. Bring me a double shot of whiskey with this next one."

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