In the summer of 2002, Billy came to central Texas from El Paso for a recruiting visit. Winston Crite and I picked him up at the airport in Austin. We stopped by a Quix for some Coors Light and headed up I35 to Waco.
Let me tell you something about Winston Crite: he’s a down to earth great guy. If the world was full of Winston Crites, we wouldn’t have anything to worry about. But there are other people that make the world a bad place, and we would run into that element in Waco. Winston was going to Waco to visit a sick child in a hospital. He was bringing him some basketballs signed by Aggie players and some signed jerseys, a Clifton Cook bottle opener, and some sheet music of some songs Bernard King had written.
We dropped Winston off at the hospital, and Billy got behind the wheel.
“He’s a nice guy,” Billy said of Crite.
“Yes,” I agreed.
“Well, we’re in Waco, now. We’re not going to meet any other nice people here. You need to be careful, Deathburger. This place is as bad as Juarez or San Antonio.”
“Billy, where are we going?”
Billy cracked open another Coors Light and sighed. “It’s just something I need to do. The last time I was in Waco, I started playing some pool on house money. My backer went to the can and got stabbed and they took his money. I lost the game and couldn’t pay. I ended up escaping outside the back of the bar, but these people know who I am. After we beat New Mexico this season, I went out celebrating. When I woke up the next morning, there was a bear’s head in my bed. It was a signal to me that I needed to come back and make good on my debts.”
I was a little apprehensive since I was being lugged into an obviously dangerous situation, but I trusted Billy and his ability to usually come out on top.
Billy drove us to a pool hall in Waco. I’d say it was the bad part of Waco, but I’ve never seen the good part of Waco.
We walked into the place and sat down at the bar and ordered some beers. In the mirror, I saw this dude, and I closely watched him. I thought how he looked out of place. He came up to Billy, who sat there beside me, and he had a strange look on his face. His big hands were calloused. He looked like a mountain. For a minute, I thought I was dead. But he started laughing, his voice was cracking, and he turned to Billy and said, “You picked a fine time to show up again here, Clyde.”
Billy took another sip of his beer and said, “Hey, Max, sorry I left early the other night, but I had an important page. I’m ready to play again. Once last game, double or nothin’.”
Max kind of looked at Billy and started laughing again. “Okay, but tonight, you play the master, and when you lose you need to pay immediately, or you won’t walk out of here again. Do you understand what I’m saying?”
“Just bring in the master and rack the balls, Max.”
Max walked away and Billy ordered another beer. “You know, I really suck at pool, but I have to play this game. Deathburger, can you pay the tab, I forgot my wallet.”
“What the fuck?” I asked.
“Yeah, I need to win.” Billy smiled his crooked Billy Idol smile and headed toward the back of the place. I threw a few dollars on the bar and jogged to catch up with him. “Billy, you mean to tell me you don’t have any money? What if you lose?”
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.”
We arrive at the table in time to see Dave Bliss putting together his pool cue. Billy grabbed a house stick off the rack.
“Hey, Dave, how’s Baptist land treating you?” Billy asked.
“Fuck you, Billy, and fuck your whole goddamned family,” Bliss said, as he blew cigarette smoke at Billy. “One game, ten grand, I break. You owe Max there ten grand already, so you’ll have to give him twenty grand after I destroy you.”
Billy yawned, but his eye started twitching.
I settled down to watch the game.
Bliss broke, and sunk a solid and a stripe. He sunk the nine ball and fifteen ball before missing the fourteen ball.
Billy stood up and surveyed the table. “Am I solids or stripes?” he asked.
“Little ones,” Bliss said.
“What? Little ones?”
“Just hit in the fucking solids, Billy. Christ, you’re a fucking idiot.”
Billy lined up for his shot. I happened to look at Bliss right before Billy’s shot and saw him put a pill in Billy’s bottle of Coors Light.
Billy made a ball before missing his shot. After missing, Billy was walking over to get his beer, but I grabbed him and whispered in his ear about Bliss slipping him a Mickey.
Bliss made a couple of more shots before missing and was dominating the game. However, Bliss was also drinking Coors Light. While he was shooting, Billy switched their beers
“Bliss,” Billy said to his opponent, “Let’s down these beers and finish up this game.” They clinked bottles and slammed down the rest of their beers. Billy turned to a little kid in the corner and said, “Scotty, get us a couple of more beers, please.”
“Yessir,” Scotty said, and bounded off to get the beers. Scotty looked like the kind of kid that ate paste.
Of course, with Bliss drugged to high heaven, Billy ended up winning the game. Bliss was starting to act strange and his balance was starting to go. Billy was now even on his gambling debts, so we headed for the door. Before we reached the door, I heard a gunshot. I turned around to see Bliss holding a pistol and shooting in our general directing. He was stumbling and pulling the trigger. Billy and I hit the deck and remained on the ground as Bliss emptied the gun.
“Jesus Christ, I missed!” Bliss yelled as he finally tripped and fell flat on his face. He didn’t move. Billy and I stood up and walked outside.
Well, the story should have been over, but that irritating kid Scotty was trying to take a wheel off of Winston’s Expedition, but he wasn’t strong enough.
Billy yelled at him, “Scotty, get out of here. You’ll never amount to anything, just like your brother and your old man.”
Scotty started crying and ran back inside the bar.