Excerpt from Scratchin’ on the Eight Ball:
Reason walked up to the Joyo theater. Vince was there to greet him. He gestured across the street to Bum’s Corner. Kevin and the five odd men occupied the corner. Vince said, “Those Misfits of Havelock are tragically symbolic of you in the way that you just keep missing your mark in life. Franco digs for treasure in garbage cans. George and Louie stand on Bum Corner as if they’re lost. Newt attracts attention, his actions crying out, ‘Somebody notice me!’ And Aaron, tough on the outside but like a butterfly within.
“Like Franco digging through garbage, you’re searching for meaning in the wrong places when you use drugs. Like George and Louie lost on Bum Corner, you’ve got no map to show you the way out of the juvenile justice system. Like Newt crying out, ‘Hey, I’m here!’, you only get in trouble because you desperately want to be noticed. And like Aaron, you put up a good front that nothing bothers you. But on the inside you need guidance and yet you’re too tough to ask for it. And like Kevin, you’ve been on a collision course for disaster since you started using.
Vince said, “Wasted life is a tragedy that plagues too many young boys like you. Boys on probation. In foster homes. In the reform school. Boys who died of overdoses. Boys who committed suicide. All those boys had one thing in common. They all acted like life was one big game!”
Vince said, “Let me teach you a lesson.”
Reason followed him into the Emerald’s pool hall. “Let’s say,” Vince said, “that you and I are playing pool.” Removing a pool stick from one of the wall racks, he asked, “You following me?”
“This,” Reason said, “is like a symbolic lesson, right?”
Nodding, Vince began sending both stripes and solids zipping into the pockets. For long moments, he systematically removed the balls from the table. Soon only the eight ball remained. Looking down at the cue ball two feet away from the eight, Vince said, “Let’s say, it’s your shot, Reason. I watch, waiting for you to make that final jab. I look defeated. You calmly chalk your stick. I’m sure I’m going to lose. You look at me, smirking. It’s an easy shot. You’ll sink the eight and win the game. You slide the stick back. Then make a jab! There’s a hollow thump! The stick strikes the cue ball. It zips across the green and hits the eight. You grin in triumph. I groan in defeat. Certain that you’ve won. That I’ve lost.
“We watch the eight ball sink into the corner pocket, but then suddenly, you stare at the table in disbelief! The cue ball zips into the pocket behind the eight ball! Game over! You lost! You scratched on the eight ball!”
Gesturing at the pool table, Vince said, “If you don’t quit playing games, you’re just going to keep scratchin’ on the eight ball until one of your bad choices causes you to lose in a terrible, tragic way. You have been moving to this moment in time, since the night Wolf’s party got busted. You’ve been on a collision course for disaster since you started using drugs. Ain’t nothing on that road but dead ends, a dark cell, or a cold grave.”