Stroke of Luck, Fatal English. ~ Tino Talamantes

“Hey man, how did you miss that shot?” asked my slightly perturbed teammate as I stepped away from the eight-foot pool table after taking a shot which seemed to be perfect in every way.

Hence his inquisition of me for missing a game winning shot. A shot that would have given me a break and run, no less.

I battled to find the answer in my own mind, my heart pounding, looking at the ball setup left for my now victory-tasting opponent. A rage was simmering inside me as I took my seat at the team table, staring at what looked like a run out that a blind person could execute. I gritted my teeth as she sank each striped ball, leaving perfect shape on her next shot since all of my solids were out of her way.

The match was hill to hill, and our team going to Vegas for the National Team Championships hinged on this final match, that final missed 8 ball shot. “What went wrong?” kept racing through my head as she meticulously placed one shot after another in its targeted pocket.

The air was filled with my increasingly pathetic guilt as she patched her match-winning pocket for the solitary 8 ball shot that would seal the deal for her inevitable victory. Due to my inexcusable ability to miss my shot on the 8 ball, I was depriving myself of game winning glory and a paid trip to Vegas to compete against national qualifiers.

I ached to yell out, “Stop! Please let me retake my 8 ball shot!” but reality corked my mouth. Only silence perpetuated the fast sinking hope that I would get one more turn at the table. Steam had to be fuming from my ears and nose. My eyes fixated on her alignment of the cue ball with the 8 ball in the corner pocket, sweat now dripping from my forehead. My gut curled up like a boa constrictor knowing how easy of a shot she left for herself.

All eyes pierced into my body like pins and needles, my teammates sensing how close to defeat we were.