- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"They said they're playing at the Hi-Spot in Rubidoux," Billy said when he returned to the car. "The reasons players move around be a player at one particular spot loses a lot of money. But all you got to do is find one player and you find all the action."
Billy and Jean took a motel room in Riverside, which is near Rubidoux, and drove out to J.D.'s Hi-Spot, a gabled beer bar that sits on a desolate stretch of Mission Highway. Billy learned the players wouldn't be in until the weekend. But he did run into Tommy Galvin, out of Cucamonga, who was 24 and had been half of the third-place doubles team in Billy's tournament. Tommy mentioned that his real father was a big producer. "I don't know his name," he added vaguely. "I don't play to prove I'm a player. I play to make money. I used to hustle pool. I gave it up. Too much competition. I look like an easy fish. I make the payments on my car."
Billy, Jean and Tommy drove to the Jolly Jug in Montclair, a cocktail lounge with spangles on the ceiling approximating stars; a brown doll made out of what looked like a chlorine jug sat on the piano bar. Jonesy was there, and Billy played him five games. Jonesy won the first two for $10. Billy jacked him up to $20 and won the next game, lost the next, jacked him up to $30 and won. Jonesy said he had to go home, and Billy, Jean and Tommy took off for The Barn in Costa Mesa, which has a sign on the wall reading: APPEARING NIGHTLY THE COSTA MESA POLICE DEPARTMENT. At 2, Jean lay down on three bar stools and tried to sleep. All the lights were out except those illuminating the shuffleboard table, the Bowler and the cigarette machine. When they left The Barn, Billy was still trying to get A.Z. and Jack to play for $100 an end. "If we'd have played three more games we'd have won all three, most likely," he said later.
The next night Billy was back at the Hi-Spot, shoelaces dragging.
"I want all that Texas money before it gets out of town," said Eddie Contreras, who was waiting for him.
"You going to have to steal it," said Billy.
"Now that he looks like a piece of spaghetti, I'll lick him in arm-wrestling," Contreras said.
Billy started riding Horace (not his real name), and his girl, a couple of card thieves.
"I'll tell you what," Billy said. "Any game. I'll play you pool for $50 a game, shuffleboard for $50 a game."
"That means you win one and get a chance in the other," said Horace. "I'll flip you a coin for $100."