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Eight-Ball With the Devil

This evangelical type stops me on the street and says,
``Have you accepted the Lord? Do you accept Jesus Christ as your personal savior?
Have you saved your soul?''
And I reply:
``No, I lost my soul about two years ago.''
This seems to throw him off his stride,
And he says, ``What?''
So I tell him how I lost it to some guy
(I guess he was the devil, but I don't know for sure)
In a game of eight-ball.

I didn't know, at the time, that I was betting my soul.
See, I was hanging out at this little coffee house
Where they have a pool table upstairs.
I had just won three games in a row
(The last with a tricky bank shot on the eight)
When this new guy, black-haired with a beard, wearing a red shirt
Slots his quarters and racks the balls.

I sank the nine and the twelve on the break,
Pocketed the fifteen,
And went on to win pretty easily,
Leaving him with three low balls still up.

He says, ``Mind if we play again?''
There's nobody else waiting, so I say, ``Sure.''
He says, ``Want to make it a little interesting?''
``What'd you have in mind?''
``Everything I've got on me right now against everything you've got on you right now.''
Well, I knew I only had about seven or eight dollars in cash in my pockets,
And the rest of what I had on me right now
Consisted of a ratty tee shirt, cut-offs, and an old pair of Chuck Taylor All-Stars.

My challenger, on the other hand,
Was wearing a ring on his right hand
That, even if it was cubic zirconium and not a diamond,
Could easily be pawned for fifty bucks,
And that red shirt looked expensive and about my size.
So I replied, ``Sure.''

Nothing went in on the break;
He sank the eleven, but didn't leave himself a good shot afterwards...
Well, the details don't matter, I told the evangelist;
I lost.

I pulled the seven or eight dollars in cash from my pockets
But my opponent said, ``I want the rest.''
I said, ``If you want my clothes, you'll have to come back for them later.''
``I suppose I'll take those too,
But there's something else.''

And that's how I lost
Seven or eight dollars in cash,
A ratty tee shirt,
A pair of cut-offs,
An old pair of Chuck Taylor All-Stars,
And my soul
To the devil.

The evangelist looked at me silently for at least two full minutes
Then turned and walked away.

What I didn't tell him, though,
Was just how I lost that game.
See, the devil really doesn't shoot a good game of pool.
I had sank all the low balls, he still had two highs left up,
All I had to do was sink the eight.
I had a straight shot on it from the other end of the table
I sank it -
But the cue ball followed it in.
Scratched on the eight and lost my soul.

Next: Thread Up: Bizarre Acts of Poetry Previous: ``Hey, Mister Coffin-maker''

Tom Swiss