Harry has the game
by Jon Rappoport
February 1, 2017
The story, as it was handed down through several crooked and straight and adoring and addled relatives, took off at Ellis Island in 1899. A baby in swaddling clothes, with a purple silk scarf wrapped around his neck, came, in the arms of his mother, to a florid drunken Irishman or a florid drunken Italian, who said his Russian first name was too difficult to pronounce, and Harry would do, and it was written in the book. But he was a quiet boy, as it turned out, and the name didn’t fit.
At eleven, living in the Bronx, he watched his father collapse and die of a brain tumor in the apartment. The doctor had said the tumor formed from tension, when Harry’s father’s partner—the two men owned a small department store in Brooklyn—ran off with all the money, and the business had to close down.
Harry then became the breadwinner for his mother and sister. He quit school.
One day, he was sitting on the curb, staring out at nothing, wondering how he could possibly support the family, when an older boy sat down next to him and told him he worked for a charity agency. They could teach him to stand up for himself.
Harry found a job sweeping floors in a restaurant. This somehow led to a job sweeping floors in a firm in Manhattan that made ties and scarves.
—I hated the goddamn job, Harry said. But then they sent me out every day to buy sandwiches and coffee for twelve people, and I made a deal for a discount with the deli owner, so I got to keep the excess. I put it in the bank. I felt the edge. I learned to shoot pool, and I was a natural, so I could pick up a few bucks there, too. I hustled the old men in a joint near work. Their hustle was talking to me about their troubles in life. Through trial and error, I figured out how to give a spot. Three balls, six balls in a game of fifty. Handicaps. One day, I ran thirty balls, and then nobody wanted to play me anymore. But I didn’t care. I was good. I was on to something that no one else could imagine. That was the way I saw it. I could put myself in a certain frame of mind. Blank. Focused. I could see patterns on the table. The stick in my hands was a weapon. It was protection. It was better than the world. I had an idea that dropped down out of the sky. I could go to bed with it every night. Lying there, I could see two racks, three racks unfold, shot by shot. I could build them into a machine. One day in the pool room, I was playing a kid from Brooklyn. There was no money involved. I ran sixty-two balls. Everyone gathered around the table and watched. When I was through, they applauded. One old man came up to me and put his hand on my shoulder. His eyes were misty. He told me he had never seen anything like that in his life. I felt a fire in my legs. I was very calm, though. I was at peace. It was all inside. Private. I was playing out what I saw. The future. I knew I could run a hundred balls, two hundred balls. New people began showing up. Joe Martin, who was supposed to be the best hustler in the Bronx, came in one night and played me for fifty dollars, which was a large sum then. I ran eighty-seven balls. After I won, he went out, and a few hours later he brought back Tom Castellano, who was the best straight pool player in the city. I ran ninety-four balls and Tom laid down his stick and quit. He was a gentleman. He paid me fifty dollars and bought me a drink in a bar around the corner. He said, “You can see the whole thing stretching out, can’t you?” I told him I could. He said it was best feeling he ever had, seeing it, when he was on. A month after that, Ginger Michaels, the national straight pool champion, showed up in the room. He was a short stocky man with a friendly smile. We played for a hundred dollars. A hundred balls. I broke with a safety, and he ran sixty balls. I took over and ran a hundred balls. But I wanted to keep going. In another hour or so, I had run two hundred balls. I was looking two or three racks ahead. I could see it all working out. By midnight, I had run four hundred twenty balls. I wasn’t tired at all. There was no strain. By three in the morning, I had run seven hundred balls. There was a very large crowd in the place. Most of them were standing. I felt I could go on forever. There was nothing in the way. The balls weren’t an obstacle. They weren’t thinking. They were doing what they were supposed to do. I wasn’t up against a challenge anymore. Even time, if there was time, was on my side. I saw a fork in the road. I could stop because there was no reason to keep playing, or I could just keep going without a reason. I chose the second fork. So by dawn, I had run just over a thousand balls. The place was very quiet. I could tell the people felt they were floating. They watched me, they watched the table, and they floated. We weren’t in New York anymore. We were in that room, and that room was where it was. Between shots, I glanced at a bottle of beer an old man was holding. It was breathing, very slowly. Everything and everyone was breathing slowly. Except me. I was in the future. My game was in the present and future. The shots were in the present, but the game was in the future. The future had nothing in it except the game. I’m still there. I can’t say how many balls in a row I’ve made. I’ve lost track. It doesn’t matter. People come and go. I keep on going. Between racks, thoughts drift in. They don’t bother me. I just watch them and read them. “How many minds need to agree before a proposition is accepted? Suppose the answer is none?” “An idea whose time has come—that is a fiction. There is no such time.” I keep playing. I don’t know how many days and nights have passed. I don’t know if there are nights and days anymore. I don’t know if the world still exists in the same way. Maybe I’ve made twenty thousand balls in a row. It doesn’t matter. I feel no need to miss. Suppose the world is changing? Suppose it’s changing because I keep on playing? Suppose I’m going beyond certain unspoken rules? And when I do, the world reshapes. Things happen in a subterranean place and they drift up to the surface. I keep on playing.
(To read about Jon’s mega-collection, Exit From The Matrix, click here.)
The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at NoMoreFakeNews.com or OutsideTheRealityMachine.
What a short, sweet little gem this was to read. Brilliant, maybe. Keep up the good work!
I really enjoyed that story.