- Entertainment and Media»
- Movies & Movie Reviews
Me and Fast
The Day I Met the Real Hustler
It started out as another usual day at the Poolhall. I had opened at 10:00 in the morning, just like I did every other day for the last seven years. I had finished sweeping the place and was drinking my coffee figuring that I would finish reading the newspaper, before I started to brush the tables and do inventory. I had purchased the poolhall from a man that had owned it for 30 years. He only sold it to me because he was tired of being there day after day.That was the way it was when you owned a small billiard parlor in a small town and couldn't afford to pay anyone to work for you, you were the janitor, the bookeeper, and the person who had to do everything because no one else was going to do it.I had never owned a business before and didn't know how to really play pool. I was a businessman, not a pool player.
I had some customers that came in every day to buy a pack of cigarettes and a soda or shoot the breeze about what was happening in our small town of Pueblo, Colorado. My spot was situated in the poor section of Pueblo that was called Bessemer, due to the fact that there was a steel mill located in the area. Something had made me walk to the front window, and as I looked out at the parking area I noticed a shiny black cadillac turn into the first parking spot closest to the front door. Peering at the car because I had always wanted to buy one, the part that caught my attention was the front license plate that read NineBall. The driver's side door opened and a large man got out dressed in a black tuxedo. He had white hair and a small white mustache.
Owning the poolhall for seven years, I thought I had seen it all, I knew that I was a good judge of character because I had met every kind of character that there was. At first I wondered what was this clown's story? It was early in the morning , why would this guy be coming in my spot ? He must be looking for pool supplies or a cue stick, aha, a sale, I said to my self. I was a salesman and I knew I could sell anything to anybody.When he entered, he looked kind of confused. Then he walked around inside looking at the tables, which were quite old, they were 6 1/2 by 9 foot tables. Once he was satisfied with his inspection of the place, he approached the counter. We both sized each other up, then I said "hello, Can I help you pal" He paused as if he didn't know what to say, and then said "hi, is this your place?" Still wondering what this man was doing wearing a tuxedo at ten in the morning, in Bessemer, made me very skeptical of his motives. "Yea" I said." What can I do for you?" He then turned towards the front table and said said "can I have a rack?" I grabbed a set of balls and handed it to him and he put them on the front table." Do you mind if I use this one?" He asked, as if he knew what I was going to say. "No go ahead " I told him, "but I get some guys that come in and play for money so if they do you might have to give it up." He then looked at me with a little smile and said "or else I muight have to play them and who knows I might learn something." I had learned that you never how good someone is at the game of pool until you see them play or how much they are willing to play for.
"A hustler will let the other guy win and then up the bet. He's fooling his opponent," "Whereas, a money player freezes up the money in advance and you play your best right from the start." Quote from Fast Eddie Parker.
He walked over to a row of pool cues that were hanging on the wall rack, picked one out and started to hit the balls around. Just then one of my best friends named Greg walked in, he noticed the man on the front table and right away gave me that look. “ Who is this guy?” He asked. “Who knows”, I answered. Greg walked over and sat down in his usual chair beside the counter. I walked over and sat across from him, both of us were staring at the man in the black tuxedo, who now seemed to be shooting the pool balls in a very determined fashion. He then looked up and acted like he had just noticed that we were watching him. Looking at Greg, he then said, “hi how are you doing? Do you want to play some?”
“Sure,” Greg said, as he walked towards the table to rack the balls. Greg then asked the question that I had been wanting to ask since the man in the black tuxedo and walked in the door. “My name is Greg, he said. What yours?” My name is fast Eddie Parker, the man said. “Maybe you have heard of me. Have you ever seen the movie, The Hustler, with Paul Newman? Well thats me.” I smiled and looked at Greg, and could see that we were both thinking the same thing. Yeah, sure you are pal, sure you are, another sucker wearing a tuxedo we'll be able to take some money off of. What would the real fast Eddie Parker be doing in Pueblo, in my pool hall, the Corner Cigar Store, in Bessemer, no way.
Parker was one of the best money players in pocket billiards. He is credited with inspiring Walter Tevis to write the book and screenplay for the 1961 classic "The Hustler," in which Paul Newman played the role of Parker. In its sequel, "The Color of Money," Newman as an older "Fast Eddie" won an Academy Award.