Sue Sims Pearson
slouched alone in the dingy booth way back in the darkest part
of the room. Her rum and coke had run out along with her money.
Nothing going on again tonight, she thought sadly. Smoke from
her unfiltered Lucky Strike wound in blue-gray rings around her
ebony curls and skittered into her eyes. She squinted and turned
her head to exhale. This place is purely dead alright.
Sam wiped the bar as he kept one eye on the two young men shooting
eight ball across the room. They were not regulars. The boys were
loud, and Big Sam hated loud drunks. One of the boys' eyes darted
around the smoky room as if he were watching for someone. They
came in carrying beat up leather cases and headed directly to
the pool table. Wonder what they're up to, Big Sam thought.
few every-nighters sat at the bar lamenting the hot weather and
lack of rain. Two couples plied the Wurlitzer with nickels but
continued to sit by the open window and fan themselves, too hot
to dance. Mostly, folks came to Big Sam's to get away from the
drudgery of a mundane life, hoping to find Mr. or Miss Right or
Mr. or Miss Right Now. Sometimes folks got lucky; sometimes they
didn't. Usually they just got drunk and went home.
the door swung open and every head in the place turned at the
squeak of the hinges on the old screen. The fine young man removed
his felt hat and looked around arrogantly.
it comes, Big Sam thought as he eased down the length of the bar
toward his .410 shotgun hidden under the counter. He glanced at
the newcomers by the pool table and noticed the grins on their
faces. Uh-huh! Got me some live ones tonight, sho'nuff! Big Sam
rested his hand on the gun.
Thompson sauntered up to the overused and badly tuned upright
piano. He eyed the keys lovingly and struck one note. Not too
bad, he thought as he pulled the stool toward him with his foot.
Let's see what this baby can do. As he sat down, he was joined
by his cohorts - one carrying an alto sax, the other a trombone.
They huddled a moment waiting for the Wurlitzer to stop.
Thompson's digits splayed over the keys as he practiced a few
runs. Then a plaintive note by the sax introduced "Summertime,"
and the whole world started spinning for the first time right
there in Big Sam's joint.
sat up; the two couples by the window scraped their chairs around
to get a better view. The every-nighters stopped complaining about
the weather, and Big Sam's eyes widened. Now what have we here?
By the time the trio jumped into "Gut Stomp," everyone
was on their feet...the heat of the summer forgotten.
Big Sam's was hoppin'!
Sue Sims Pearson hails from the Mississippi Delta and currently
teaches English in Wayne County, North Carolina. Writing has only
recently become an obsession of hers; she finds that every little
event has the potential of becoming immortalized through the written
word. She has been published on the website of USA Deep South,
where she is Associate Editor, and in the Mississippi magazine
Lonnye Sue Sims Pearson