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The Farmer's Tale-- 2001

 

A man of the land, yes, but some would say,
vice was his first goal, no moral in way,
He knew the almanacs, which cows, which snacks,
He had worn a pair of faded blue jeans,
"Dickies" it read, hard work, long days, it said,
His hat read "backwoods quail club," bright orange,
Picture of his wife in his pocket,
Because, yes, fury is a women scorned,
He bore a bulbous red scar on his neck,
From his old playin' days at Georgia Tech,
He knew of drinks, fights, women, sheriffs, jails,
Remember, do not ask wife for bail.



      "Ehhhhhhhhh, I got a few stories for ya, I tell ya what," the farmer took a swig from his paper bagged-bottle.

      "I donít know who said it, Mark Twain? He said; 'write bout what you know', well, this is what I know, and you like ta hear it, heh-heh," he eyed some young women walking down the street, and whistled.

      "Lordy, lordy, before I break down from tha sights around me, lemme getcha this story so's I can get some dreamin in. Here we go."

Take Five

 


      Register Taylor rode into Walhalla in the back of Mr. George Romsten's 1984 Ford f-100 at about 12:30. His black sharkskin suit was worn and broken in, and his shoes needed to be shined. He straightened his tie and cocked his fedora to the side, before he grabbed his black leather suitcase off the bed off the truck.

      "Thank you for the ride, suh,"

      "Ne'er mind that. You stay outta trouble, hear?"

      "Yassuh, I will, thank you"

      Register stood in front of Rosali's Mexican eatery, and looked up and down the street. Across the street directly in front of him stood Grandma's attic, now advertising two new floors , and space to rent for everyone. To the right of that was the Steak House Cafeteria, where the after-church crowd was piling in, eager after the mornings sermon. On the end of the strip sat Blysen's Shoe Repair. The 107 degree heat beat down upon him, and he removed his jacket, rolled it at his side and continued on before he tugged at his collar, and squinted into the midday sun. Without his jacket on, his custom made .32 pearl handled Winchester pistol flapped against his side in its shoulder holster. After noticing the passing stares and hurried gates of passer bye's, he realized his blunder and slid on his jacket once again. He opened the door to Blysen's, and the door bell "tinged" once to acknowledge his entrance. Mr. Robert Blysen looked up from resoling a heavy leather dress shoe, a small magnifying glass attached to his spectacles.

      "Can I help you, sir?"

      "Um, yes, I was wondering if I could get a shine if you have the time,"

      "Of course, son. Just seat yourself over there in that there chair, I'll be right over."

      "Thank you, suh."

      Register sat himself in the chair, and took to gazing out the windows at the sleepy town. Mr. Blysen sat down on the stool, and opened his kit. He began rubbing the shoes.

      "You, ugh, new around these parts, young fella?" Blysen asked, dabbing more shoe polish onto his rag.

      The swish-shwish of the rag on his shoes made Register tired and sleepy. He wanted a bed.

      "Yassuh, I just rode in to town fifteen minutes ago."

      Swish-swish.

      "You, ugh, have family around here son?"

      Swish-swish.

      "No, suh."

      Swish-swish.

      "Oh."

      Mr.. Blysen started the next shoe.

      Wonderful, sweet silence hung in the air, Register leaned back and sighed.

      "You know where a man can get a room in 'these parts'?"

      "Yes sir I do. There's Rosy's Bordin' house down at the end of Main Street. You should be able to getch yoself' a room down there."

      "Thank you, thank you suh"

      Register paid his dollar-fifty, and left the store. The heat blasted into his face, and he winced slightly before turning to head down the street. He walked, back straight, eyes straight ahead. He was tall, six foot four, and very skinny, presenting a slightly emaciated look. His watch slid up and down his thin arm, rolling around his wrist, forcing Register to turn it towards his eye to check the time. His face was clean-shaven, his hair cut short and parted to the middle. He pulled at his collar and cocked his fedora, and continued on his way. Cars were parked up and down the side of the street, a great variety of Cadillacs, Lincoln's, Olds mobiles, and Fords.

      While watching the shop signs for Rosie's Boarding house, he noticed the type of vehicles distinctly changed. The sedan's were gone, the wagons and vans dispersed. Now , there were only pickup trucks. Huge, loud, high axled and intimidating, Super diesels and S-10's crowded the lots. Register rolled his eyes and opened his lips, and tried to determine the cause of this change. He looked up at the store signs, and the words stood out to him like the pitchers of sweet-tea on hot Georgia days of his childhood.

      Jim's Pool Room.

      A smile cut Register's lips. He tugged at his collar and cocked his fedora.

      When Register pushed open the door of Jim's Pool Room, a wall of cigarette smoke and Johnny Cash rolled around him, and Register stared into the dark room full of fat figures and electric poker machines, the former dressed in white T-shirts and blue jeans and the latter blinking and buzzing, promising glory and money.

      In the rear of the room sat old eight pool tables, two in use and the others used for either tables or coasters, the regulars swearing and telling lies as the barkeep worked the draught and chewed on a cigar, laughing in short convulsive barks that shook the room around him.

      At the sound of the door shutting, the crowd inside turned and peered through the dank domicile and gave Register the once over, but quickly returned back to their drinks and their prevarication's. He made his way to the pool tables, and looked the room up and down for a potential "customer."

      He found one, wearing a bright orange hat that read; "South Carolina Low Country Dove Hunters Association," he wore a white T-shirt with a "John Deere" design on the front, and his tough blue jeans had clay stains on the thighs and knees.

      "You want somethin' friend?" the "customer" asked.

      "Why, yes suh I do, I was wonderin' if I could trouble you for a game of pool,"

      "You wanna play, slick? Grab a cue and lets go,"

      "Not necessary suh, I got my own,"

      In one quick fluid motion Register dropped his suit case, popped the locks and withdrew a blue acrylic case, two feet in length and four inches wide. He twirled the case onto the table with one hand and clicked his suitcase shut and kicked it to the side.

      Squaring himself in front of the table he popped the acrylic case open and removed two rods. He screwed them together in a jaunting, swinging vein, removed a third shorter piece and attached that. The cue was black and white graphite, a most expensive accessory for sure. It was obviously polished and well maintained, it glistened in the low light, and demanded attention. It read "Register Taylor, Suzy Q 'n True."

      The "customer" whistled and tried to not convey a sense of awe.

      "Suit yourself"

      Register tugged at his collar and cocked his fedora.

      "Care to put a little money on this game, suh?"

      "Umm, uhh," the 'customer' stuttered and faltered, "Sure, say, twenty?"

      "Now how or who, I might add, can play a decent game of pool for twenty dollars, suh? Either you're in this or youíre not,"

      He coughed, "Say, fifty, friend?"

" I like you already, suh. That I do, yassuh, yesssss-suh"

      Register tugged at his collar.

      "You wanna break, suh?"

      Register cocked his fedora.

      The game was done in six minutes.

      Register thumbed through the five ten dollar bills and packed up his cue.

      "Thank ya kindly, suh. Maybe we can play again,"

      "Yeah, maybe sometime buddy." The customer had bought it.

      Register picked up his suitcase and headed out the door.

      He saw the sign for Rosie's Boarding House.

      He was beginning to get tired, and he still needed a room and a decent meal before he could turn in for the evening.

      Pushing open the door to the boarding house, he found a rather overweight red haired

woman, with the look of a chain smoker exemplified by her bloodshot eyes and running nose.

      "Can I help you sir?"

      "Yes ma'am, I was wonderin if I could get a room around here"

      "Fifteen dollars, sign here."

      Registerís room had a bed, a dresser, mirror, and a small TV. He took off his shoes and lined them side-by-side next to the door. He hung his hat on the peg wall, and began unpacking his suitcase. He meticulously folded and straightened his clothes, and took out his one and only towel.

      He showered in the bathroom down the hall, and sat his weary body down on his bed. He stared out the window at the neon sign in front of "Jim's Pool Room."

      He slept.

      Register was awakened by an altercation down the hall. Something crashed in the next room, and then there was the sound of the owner thumping on the door. He assumed they had been asked to leave. He walked to the bathroom down the hall. There he shaved and showered, and got ready for the upcoming day. Today he must find a job.

      Thrusting himself into the midday sun, Register tugged at his collar and cocked his fedora.

      Walking down main street, he noticed the lack of 'help wanted' signs. He remembered a court show on a TV in some distant town. The judge had told a dead beat father that he must get a job , that "unemployment is at an all time low. Even a dead man can get a job." Register hoped it was true.

      "Did u see a 'help wanted' sign? Then don't think we need some."

      "No mas."

      "No, no I think we're all right."

      "You know anythin' about corn boy? Well, look somewheres else then."

      "You a good grill man? Well, I guess you can learn. Get an apron and knock yourself out."

      So, registers first job was on the grill at Bantam Chef. The restaurant was small, the kitchen even smaller. Register likened it to a U-Haul trailer. It probably was just that. Registers New York felt fedora was replaced by a hair net, and his collar was untouchable under his bright red apron. He hated it.

vBy the end of the day, Register had three grease burns, had lost two hair nets, started and extinguished) one fire, and swore that he had floated for the last hour due to the heat in that sweatbox. He hated it. At the end of the day, Register felt as if a coat of french fry grease and ketchup was plastered to his flesh. He skulked back to his room, and showered for thirty minutes, until he felt clean. He changed out of his grease clothes, and put on his blue suit, returned his fedora to its rightful place, and set out to Jim's Pool Room.

      Framed in the empty, closed store fronts of Main Street stood Register, staring down at the floor as the cigarette smoke swirled around him. It was Friday, and by this time, news had spread like wild fire through the Mexicans day-laboring at the Five-and-dime, Mr. Hensons corn patch, the lineman working down on Rock Crusher, and even up to Parnell Stenson's still up in the high woods.

      "So there's some drifter in town who can play some pool eh? Well boy, youíre gonna hafta spend a few years in 'htlanta till u can try him out, heh heh," Sheriff Thompson said, slapping the cuffs onto Parnell, and leading him towards the block.

      Jim's Pool Room was full of municipal workers come to spend their checks and play some poker, farmers, having sold there few bushels come in to have a drink, a few out-of-towners doing some 'business' with the elusive "Jim" upstairs. And they all knew Register. The room shutdown, the music culled, people all around put down their beers and snuffed their cigarettes, women bit their lips and looked around for boyfriends and trouble.

      Register smiled. He tugged at his collar, and tipped his fedora.

      "Gennerlmen."

      "Well, where's yer mind at boy?" Henry Sweeny said. " You gonna show us yer fancy sittin' stick er aintcha?"

      "If you could be so obliged, suh."

Henry beckoned Register over to the table, and the ruckus rose, coursing out the door and into the streets. Housewives stood out their doors, wondering about their husbands, teenagers looked over the stands at the football game, and grandmothers whistled at their TV sets, and wondered what was going on up at Jim's.

Register snapped out Suzy, spun to meet the table, and told Henry to strike. He was good. Register had some competition. Three solids went into to the corners, rolling down the canal to the front, clicking together like castanets.

"My my, I am getting ahead of myself," Henry smirked. "we have yet to put down any money on this fine occasion. Now, we just can't go about playing this here game , if we don't have a goal we're playing for, now can we?"

"You're right there, suh, what do you agree on, say, a hundred?"

"No what kind of respectable gentlemen would I be to et this fine match between two fine men go for only one hundred dollars?"

"Well suh," Register held a staunch poker face, weakness is not a virtue for a pool shark, "what do you have in mind?"

Henry cracked a huge grin.

The crowd tensed holding their drinks in their throats.

"Five thousand dollars,"

More than a few drinks were expelled to the floor, the older men chuckled and felt sorry for this young man, who would have to go up against the towns local idiot. But, that idiot had deep pockets, his mother had invented liquid paper, and he could play pool.

Jack Fulson spoke up.

"C'mon Henry, you know he aint got that kinda money."

      "Well," Register chalked Suzy, " I reckon I can meet that."

      That was a lie and everyone knew it. Register was not afraid. But It would also be a lie to say that he was 100% confident too. Everyone around town knew that Henry and his band of brethren were a violent, drunken, bunch, half of which had already expressed a wish to ' beat the daylights outta that slick,' and they would surely do so if Register did not have that cash.

      The game was on. Register stepped up and banked three balls into the corners, a loquacious murmur coming from the people. He set up and smacked another into the middle, but the cue cracked off the eight and poor Register scratched.

      Henry sneered and kicked Register out of the way. The crowd gasped, Register tugged at his collar, and cocked his fedora.

      With a stirring backspin slip shot Henry fired two more into the corners, eliciting a cheer from the crowd, even though Henry and his whole family was despised in town, he did have charisma. Register stepped up. The shot was hard, everywhere solids shadowed his stripes, salvation straddled by condemnation, daring him to loose his life.

      "Not much you can do now can ya? heh heh. Wanna hand over that five grand now? heh heh" the crowd was itching for a fight. Henry's nostalgia was wearing off, his cockiness was angering everyone except his kin, but they where a force to be reckoned with also. Many a derringer was palmed.

      "Iíll pass on that offer, suh." Register held his ground, a growing determination festered inside of him. Deftly, he clicked the cue ball with the tip of Suzy. The room went quiet. Whatever little shot Register had had been diminished even further, only now, it was Henry's turn, and he was none to happy about it.

      "Why, you lil'...that was a low down move." Henry glared at Register over his spectacles. "Well, I am not one to take a women's way out."

      Register balanced himself against Suzy, not paying any attention to the sneering Henry, keeping his eyes on the table.

      Henry struck the cue, and one solid and two stripes spun into the pockets.

      Scowling at register, Henry stepped aside.

"      Batter up."

      "I'm the first to swing."

      Easily Register pocketed a double, banked a single, leaving one stripe and the eight, exactly across from each other on the table. Apart, It was easy, Register had this game. Together, it was next to impossible. Henry knew the game was over, but he was not done trying.

      "Hey, you. All er nuthin. An extra ten says you cant make them both together."

      You could've heard a grasshopper cough.

      "Yep."

      Register singed the cue into the stripe, it hit a remaining solid at a right angle , the stripe bounced into the pocket, the solid rolling into the eight. But the job was not done yet, the eight was rolling into nothingness, while the solid meandered into yet another, skipping across the table, hitting the last solid on the table, setting it off perpendicular from its predecessor. The crowd may have well suffocated. The last solid wandered up the table, and tapped the still moving eight towards the left corner. It lazily sidled into the pocket.

      Register tugged at his collar, and cocked his fedora.

      And left Jim's Pool Room with fifteen thousand dollars.

      He also left with a mortal enemy in the sweeny clan.

      The next day, Register quit his job at the Bantam Chef.

      Impressive show last night, big Shane Scoville said.

      Yassuh, thank ya kindly. Register hung up his apron and threw away his hair nets, and left the Bantam Chef with $60 in wages. He now had $15,060.

      He paid off his room fees for the next three weeks, got a good lunch at Jonies, picked up a new silk fedora at Marshall's, had his measurements taken for a new sharkskin suit, bought a new pair of suede wing tips and three new pairs of socks at Weatherbys, and had his shoes shined by a day laborer outside of the third Baptist church. After dropping off his goods and changing into his new clothes, Register set out down main street in the ninety degree heat.

      Lindsay Simmons saw Register when she was on her way to Rainbow Dry Cleaners. She had heard about him from the night before, how he had spited her cousin and brothers. She stood still, and watched him approach. In Walhalla, there was not huge influx of new people, she had gone to school with the same 120 people all her life. Register intrigued her. He was the only one on the street who wasn't wearing blue jeans and a baseball cap. He seemed out of place.

      Register noticed a pretty young girl staring at him, she was wearing a orange sun-dress with pink sandals. The type that tried to bring the outside to her little town. He walked by.

      Lindsay wanted to stop, she wanted to talk to this man. Badly.

      "W-wait...Register?"

      "Yes'm?

      " I, uh," she stumbled, he was tall, and imposing, scary, " I heard you were pretty good down Jim's last night."

      "Yes'm I did right nicely."

      "Ok, It was nice meeting you,"

      "Yes'm"

      He turned and walked down the street again. It was hot, he had already noticed it, but now it was really hot.

      Lindsay was breathing hard, Register was leaving.

"Wait!"

      "Yes'm?"

      "Where are you goin'," quieter then ; " where are...you going, sir?"

      "Music store"

      "Well, what do you plan to do there, or, do you play somethiní, Mr. Register?"

      "Yes'm."

"What? Umm...Mr. Register, what do you play?"

            "Sas'phone, and Ďlil trumpet."

      Register and Lindsay stood and stared at each other.

      "Um, all right, then, 'bye"

      "Yes'm."

v Register pulled out his kerchief and wiped the sweat off his face and throat. Man alive, it was hot.

      Lindsay watched Register pull out his kerchief out and slowly caress his glistening, coarse face. Her heart jumped, her eyes fluttered. He inhaled sharply, and clutched her books to her chest.

      Register continued down the street, stopping to check the street signs.

      "Wait!" Lindsay called. When he turned around, she froze. She couldn't say anything. Her mouth wavered.

      "Yes'm?"

      "I uh," the street was frozen , at this instant, life revolved around Lindsay and Register,

"can I go with you?"

      "Yes'm."

      She hurried to catch up.

      Stoddard's fine instruments was three miles down the highway and outside town. Register's light frame had walked thousands of miles, and he endured quite well. Lindsay's polyester dress was devilishly hot. The horizon wavered, and her legs nearly folded. But she would not, under any circumstances, complain to Register. He just kept on walking, as stoic as ever.

      The air-conditioned splendor of Stoddards was an alleviation to Lindsay, she breathed a sharp sigh of relief.

      Register snorted.

      Keith Stoddard knew Register (pretty much the entire town had been at Jim's that night), and he knew Lindsay, and furthermore knew no good reason why Lindsay should be around the likes of Register. He got on the phone with Henry Sweeny, and yanked his son, Rodney, out towards the customers. Rodney had heard about Register, didn't know his face, but he did know Lindsay.

      He clapped his hands together, and smiled.

      "Hey, Lindsay," hey realized he was on duty, and remembered to act; 'mo lak dem profess-e-o-nal's, Rawdne'' like Robert, the black man that came in to deliver reeds.

      "Can I help ya'al with somethin?"

      "Wanted to buy a sas'phone, you got any, Cap'n?"

      "Yessir, I do," Rodney smirked and chuckled

,      this man couldn't afford a Stoddard saxophone, I mean, just look at his suit!

      "Well, suh, could I try one fo' minute?"

      Rodney bit his lip.

      "Well, sir, they're quite expensive. Maybe you'd be better off with one o dem Harmonica's."

      Register nostrils flared, his lips turned down.

      Lindsay eyebrows twisted; "Stop, it, Rodney, let him try one."

      Register tugged at his collar, and cocked his fedora. His new suit wouldn't be ready for three days. Even then, these small town folk wouldn't accept him. They rarely did.

      "Let's go, no jazz to speak of can be made wit one o dem million dollar sas'phones any how."

      Keith spoke up; "And Lindsay, I don't think its right and well for you to be associating with the likes of him. Run along to your daddy now."

      Lindsay's face turned bright red. She turned her head to the ground and mumbled a "Yes sir". They turned to leave, and walked out toward the huge glass window display.

      A rusting GMC thundered in front of the store, and screeched to a halt. The doors flew open, and the cab and the bed emptied of blue-jeaned t-shirted men.

      The Sweeny clan.

      "Small town white trash," he sighed, "always travel in packs."

      Henry busted into Stoddard's first, leading the parade.

      "Get in the truck, Lindsay,"

      She stomped and whimpered, "Henry leave me a-"

      " GET IN THE CAR NOW!"

      Register stepped in front of the quivering form of Lindsay.

      " I believe she just fine where she is, Cap'n." Register was to cool to even pay attention to the livid Henry Sweeney. Register tugged at his collar, he cocked his fedora.

      Henry leaned into Register's face and sneered.

      "Why you always tuggin' at that collar boy, you got piano wire in that five dollar suit?"

      Normally this would have elicited a string of laughter from the family, but today was much too formal and proper. A blackjackin' would be more appropriate.

      Henry prepared again.

      "You know, slick, I don't mind you beatin me in pool," lie, "I don't even mind you takin' my money" lie, "but what I do mind is you a'gallavantin with this poor, sweet, innocent, under-aged" Lindsay cringed and tried to shrink away, "cousin, of mine."

      Also a lie, Henry couldn't care less about Lindsay, he wanted a piece of Register, true and true, "You got me, boy?"

      Finally, with a leisurely flutter of his eyes and a long, rolling neck motion, Register faced Henry.

      "Too bad dis' aint 'bama.." Register trailed off.

      "Whatchu talkin, slick?"

      Register let off a quick wink to Lindsay, presently cowering behind him, and said; "I said, itís too bad we aint in 'bama, cause o'er in dem parts, it is legal to carry a minor 'cross state lines for immoral purposes."

      Henry eyes tripled in size, his neck swelling and his fists bulging.

      "Son, you done it now, sho'nuff, boy.."

      "Now hold on there, Henry," Keith Stoddard intervened, " I said you could come get Lindsay. Now I don't want any ruckus in here, you understand?"

      Henry glanced at Keith, and returned his gaze to Register, now eyeing his fingers, inspecting a paper cut.

      "What else you plannin' on doin tonight, boy? Maybe we'll get a chance to converse elsewhere."

      "Reckon I'll play some pool."

      "Good luck then, I'll be around."

      Register was awash in the Cheroot cloud, wielding Suzy and beating the pants of Parnell Rangerfeld.

      Henry was flying in his white Ford, dieseling to Jim's, knowing, what he would find there. He flew over Church Street, and sent a group of girl scouts diving to the curb in search of safety when he cut through the post office parking lot to bypass a backup on Ranch Et Street.

      His slot was there, amid all the manly trucks, and he fishtailed in, nearly slamming into Steve Wofford's blue Chevy.

      Register never saw it coming. Henry rushed in and slammed Register's face into the table, sending him crumpled to the floor.

      Oddly enough, Henry barked "Giiiiit up!" before kicking Register in the ribs, curling him into the fetal position. People enjoying an after-work beer leaped to the edges of the bar, some scurrying out the door and others still rushing into the bathroom to escape the melee.

      Henry Grabbed two full beer steins and hurled them point blank into Registerís neck and head. Hoisting him up from the ground, Henry saw a satisfying smear of blood on Register's face before he fired a punch into his mouth, sending him over the pool table and slamming into the floor on the other side with a resounding "bo-o-o-ong".

      Snarling a threat, Henry grabbed the back of Register's shirt, briefly hoisted his body up, and then thrust it back into the bar floor again, laughing heartily. Register reached out to grab something for support, but didn't find anything, and flopped onto the floor again. He tried to rise.

      "That's it boy," Henry spit out his tobacco in a long, dirty stream onto Register's back. He eyed the room for a new weapon. And, there it was , propped up in the corner. Just waiting, waiting for his hands to grip it.

      Henry grabbed Suzy Q n' True, and took his baseball stance, waiting for Register to arise.

      Register regained his footing, and slowly wheeled around to face his assailant, whose identity he wasn't even completely sure of yet. He cleared the blood out of his eyes long enough to see Suzy streaking towards him, and slamming into his head, laying the spot above his ear wide open. Register passed out at the moment he was hit, so he didn't see Suzy splinter into eighteen pieces. The crowd exhaled a " Oooohhh" at the violent "crack" of the pool cue exploding on Register's head.

      Register came to thirty seconds later, wobbled onto his knees, and saw the fragments of his beloved partner in crime scattered on the floor.

      He slowly turned his bloody, beaten face to Henry.

      "You lak' to not done that," Register tossed his fedora deftly on the hat rack across the room.

      He reached for his collar.

      And withdrew a yard-long length of piano wire, slowly, meticulously unwinding it from his neck.

      Henry charged at Register, his outstretched palms reaching for Register's neck.

      If only Register's throat were there to be wrung.

      Register swung to the side and twisted the wire around Henry's arms, and swung Henry's 220 pound frame into the concrete column in the center of the room.

      If Register bouncing on the floor had made a "resounding bong", Henry's collision with the pillar was an earthquake. People threw caution to the wind and bolted for the safety of the street, for surely , after a hit like that, this building could not stand for very long.

      But Henry was hardy, and he boosted himself up to knock down Register once and for all. He tossed a fake jab at Register's teeth, an old trick he learned in school.

Register was ready for the right, he knotted the wire around it, and swung on Henry's battle axe of arm until it was locked behind his back. Henry bellowed in pain, and thus was unready for the second slamming into the cement pillar.

      The crowd outside, now gathering around the window cupping their eyes onto the tinted glass, whistled and "ooohhed" again for the second hit. They were a sight to see for the elderly ladies getting out of Bible Study. A bunch of grown men huddled around a store window whistling and fidgeting, with a genuine ruckus coming from inside Jim's.

      The second impact was so powerful that it knocked both Register and Henry to the floor. Henry arose again, stumbling and wavering, like a prizefighter losing his stamina. Register rolled over, and thus didn't notice his .32 dropping onto the floor.

      Henry, by now a raging bull, tore the white hot "Coors" pool lamp off the ceiling with his bare hands, and charged at Register again., bellowing like boar on his catch run.

      Dropping to one knee, Register skillfully twisted the wire around his ankle and threw Henry's weight out from under him. His face slammed into the fiery lamp, and this time he screamed like a 'possum treed on a bluff.

      Lurching and whimpering, Henry found the .32.

      His adrenaline surged. He arose.

      "I gotchaí now Slicka."

      They were a sight. Beaten, bloody, burned, broken, one with a piece of piano wire, and another with a pistol.

      Henry pulled the trigger, and the hammer on the revolver rocked back,

The "crack!" reeled around the the room, bouncing from wall to wall.

      The baseball bat flung from the hands of Big Jim (making a rare appearance in his infamous pool room), bounced off the head of Henry Sweeney. He reeled from the impact, leaned to one side and fired one round into the arm of Register. They both collapsed onto the floor, more out of exhaustion then anything else.

     

      Norman Sippa was driving a bushel of corn to his aunt when he saw the man hitchhiking on the side of the road. When he pulled over, he saw he was wearing a fresh sharkskin suit, a nice fedora, and a huge amount of bandages and bruises.

      "Where ya going to, stranger?" Norman was unaware of the infamous man before, him, he didn't like to drink, and thus stayed away from Jim's and the kind of folks that didn't.

      "Anywhere but this 'Walhalla", if you would be so kind."

      "Hop in."

The End