Merc Rule 4

Written by J. D. Wiley --- Art by J. D. Wiley

Merc Rule 4: Geometry is a fancy word for the science of shooting pool.

There was a fella named Bullet-Eye Cain. Always used to beat the pants off of me at pool. A regular shark, you might say. He made his money hustling suckers like me on the felt. Ol’ Cain could bounce a cue ball off the rails six times before he sunk his mark. And the smug bastard would call every shot too.

No pool player I ever met could draw a crowd like him. He had a nose for theatrics like he had an eye for the angles. And if anyone crossed him, he’d twirl out his chrome peacemakers and ricochet hot lead the same way. Figures, that’s how he got his name.

He’s the type you want to keep on your side.

So I took my time cozying up to him. Converted him into a drinking buddy. Ran up a tab one night pumping him full of whiskey and laughs. Got him good and drunk. Maybe a six on the Marquez Scale. And just friendly enough to give an elaborate speech concerning the particulars of his craft.

He waxed prophetic, jabbering on about how he could see the angles on the table, plain as day. Like light shining down from heaven. Made it sound like he had the Gift. I just figured it was more theatrics, part of the con. Almost had me fooled, too. But he slipped up and called it something like “geometry.” I pressed him and he said he learnt it from a weathered book passed to him when he was boy. Said his mentor called it math.

Now, math I was familiar with, but not this. After a few more drinks Cain started spilling the secrets of the universe. He opened my eyes to the science, showed me how to calculate the angles. I’d be lying if I said I understood it all. But I took to it well enough. Still use what he taught me to hustle pool to this day. Course I’ll never be as good as ol’ Bullet-Eye, but that’s why he’s got the name, and I don’t.

Coyote Joe, Memoirs of a Merc

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