Wednesday, November 29, 2017

....and I Wailed with Bon Scott

Originally published May 27, 2009 on member blogs. I don't expect any of my Razorback readers to understand why this would be voted Blog Entry of the Year. It's written in the style of a well-respected blogger & mentor of mine, Harvey Salem. His posts were personal and frequently lyrical. He said about my entry in his style was voted better than his own in his style. This post is a fictional story based upon Harvey's posts. Harvey Salem passed away in January 2017 after some years of battling pulmonary problems. Some of you know me as a researcher. In December 2016 after some years of Sportingnews blogs being closed, I located many of the members' posts on the Wayback Search Engine. Many felt like they were reunited with long lost friends they would never see again. The links moved Harvey. All of it is humbling.

This isn’t a crossover of one particular blog entry. It reaches acros bigtoke’s blog, particularly the early entries. They're almost prerequisites for this entry, and as such, all of the hyperlinks, save one small period, are links to bigtokes's blog entries which have inspired this one. Thanks to backell for having the Bloggers Crossover Challenge and to bigtoke for writing for us, his audience. -- SharpTusk

There he sat. His bare feet propped up on the coffee table in front of him. His long khaki shorts were wrinkled, and he hadn’t shaved in two or three days. Bottles of Busch beer, plates, and wrappers cluttered his foot rest while his face reflected the flashing blue of the television screen in front of him. From the looks of the discs stacked on the edge of the coffee table, he was more than ten hours into watching the first four seasons of Dancing with the Stars on DVD.

Without the effort of even a glance, he said, “Did you drink the two beers I had in the bottom and back of the refrigerator from a while ago?"

Of course I had. They had been there for a couple of months, and it’s not exactly the coolest task to do yard work in the Arizona heat, and it’s especially not like they're rockets in Da Nang. To his vacant, blue expression I said, “I was planning on replacing them when I went out this afternoon.”

Diesel was in a funk. Divorces are rarely without their hard times. He wasn’t getting along with his ex-wife, and his kids were deciding that their own friends were better company. Being around Diesel, a tough hide went a long way right now.

I wasn’t exactly the best company either. A while back BMW had done a marketing study which said that the BMW dealership of Chapman’s Auto Group in Scottsdale would be better off in Tucson. The folks at Chapman's were working to implement BMW’s recommendation and would expand the VW part of the business in Scottsdale as part of the transition.

Chapman Automotive had grown and made a lot of changes since Mr. Chapman rescued me from a management career at Frontier Lanes Bowling Alley in 1974. Over 30 years Chapman’s business became one of the largest dealerships in the country as it grew with Scottsdale. I stayed on after Mr. Chapman left Scottsdale some years ago to open a dealership in Las Vegas. But these times were different.

Customers were becoming harder sells. We had a few returning cars. Others wouldn’t buy the step-up vehicle because of increases in mortgage payments. I could see that there would probably be more of everything except sales on the horizon and that made me uneasy after 30 years.

While I was out doing errands, Bud was on sale, so Budweiser it was for Diesel. I really hadn’t seen Diesel so down before. The man needed Mark Grace's solution to life's downturns. About the best I could do for him was to get him out of the house. I needed to get out, too.

I really didn’t want to get Diesel too pissed off. The effort took nearly two episodes Dancing with the Stars to convince him to go and had the season not ended I might have been there hours more. I even promised to spot him a couple of hundred dollars at Casino Arizona. He didn’t owe me if he lost and could keep whatever he won over the $200.00. This was one of the rare times I cleaned the funk in my house while Diesel made himself look respectable.

Driving into the casino parking lot, the place looked hopping. Not wanting to get behind from the start, we played the video poker machines for a while. I went with Diesel around the casino as he played a little of everything, and he came out a little ahead as he went. We decided to go our own ways and meet up later. He milled around, and I headed back to video poker.

Maybe a couple of hours and a few machines went by before I went to find Diesel. I walked around the place once or twice. To this day I don’t know where he went, but as I walked toward a 7 card stud table, one side of the table had a group of a dozen or so drop dead gorgeous women dressed to the nines who were easily having a good time. No sooner than my focus had shifted away from the vixens, the disheveled dealer motioned to me and said, “Come on, buddy, we’ve got a seat right in the middle for you.” “Why not?” I thought.

I sat at the five seat table, and one of the women from the drop dead group sat two players to my right. I had to double check that this was a $6/$12 table when I saw a couple of stacks of $100 chips as she put some of the chips in a handbag with an F and an upside down, backward F on it. Despite the large room of tables, there wasn’t a soul trying to tell these ladies to hold it down. Most seemed to be as interested as I.

I played for a few hands and was mainly paying the pot when up strode Diesel with a drink in his hand talking to a woman who stopped to mill with this group. I just glanced at him and grinned while he did his thing. After I won a second small pot, the gorgeous player to my right looked away over her shoulder and said, “Daddy, do you want to take my seat?" He said, “Sure, I’ll play a hand or two. Leave me some chips, would you?"

When he sat down, I knew him. I’d seen him in person a couple of times and even talked to him, but he didn’t recognize me. As the dealer tossed my second card, I saw Diesel start to move along with the group of women. He was wasn’t too far away yet. I laid my cards down and turned to Diesel who was having a really good time. I motioned for him to come over and said, “Give me all the chips you have.” Diesel didn’t hesitate and looked over his shoulder to make sure the woman wasn’t going anywhere.

The new gentleman player talked to whomever came up and seemed to be happy enough with his cards that he raised everybody the first round. After the dealer laid down a pair of Jacks on the table, everyone started to get a little excited. One of the players bowed out and the gentleman kept raising. I had enough to stay in the game and had the cards to justify it. Some of the women started gathering around and as the dealer threw down an Ace to go with the pair of Jacks on the board; another player folded. The first player checked and then folded when I bet, leaving me and the gentleman to my right who promptly raised me. I called. The dealer flipped another Ace, and I noticed the crowd around us beginning grow and buzz. I bet, he raised, I raised and he raised again before I called. The dealer dealt our last cards. Mine was no help to me.

I bet and we kept raising with neither backing down. I finally told him, “You can outspend me if you’d like, but you won’t beat me.”

He looked back at me and said, “Have it your way. I call. Let’s see what you got.”

No sooner than I showed my cards he stood up, threw his cards face up and announced, “A pair of pocket Aces. Four bullets. I win.” And he did.

The table and the crowd around it erupted. More people came up and the eruptions continued. I shook my head and couldn’t believe it. I stood up and held out my hand and said, “Nice game, Mr. Bidwill.” He said, “Maybe you’ll win next time.” I replied, “I was surprised that you didn't have to check with your wife before you laid down your cards.”

I don’t think he remembered as he gathered his chips because tonight, that's all he was getting from me. He blew it off, but it was a while before I made it out of the casino. The pit boss came over and talked to the dealer and us, while a couple of security goons waited close by. They let Mr. Bidwill leave after a short conversation. One of the goons came up and told the pit boss that the tape was good. A little while later, I made a couple of passes around the casino. I didn’t see the women or Diesel anywhere in sight. People kind of looked at me and stared.

I was done for the evening. I stepped out of Casino Arizona and called Diesel. I could hear women’s laughter and voices in the background as he said simply, “I’m good.” Click.

As I walked toward the car, I could hear the excited voice of a man talking on his phone up ahead. “Yeah, that’s right, baby. That many thousands of dollars. Can you believe it? I can move you all out here. God how we needed it! Thank you sweet Jesus!!” As I walked past, he stopped talking and looked over at me with an Arizona Cardinals ball cap on. It was our dealer. I glanced through the rear window of his car. It looked as though he was living in it. He looked up with a big smile and said, “Thank you, Thank you, Thank you.” Politely, I told him, “Don’t worry about it” as I kept walking.

I started the ignition and flipped on the radio. Diesel was doing what he wanted and a more fitting song couldn’t have started on the radio. It was one of the best evenings I've ever had.

I belted my own lyrics along with the bluesy Bon Scott as I drove home, "You got the Aces ... but I got the Jacks! The Jacks, the Jacks, the Jacks.”

For my friends who don't play, I lost with a hand of 4 Jacks which is called a "bad beat." The Bad Beat Jackpot had progressed over 6 figures and most is paid to the "beaten" player.

Things were going to be alright.

As the way things have gone lately, everyone could use a little pick-me-up. My friends would enjoy your reading and commenting on their blogs. Thanks. --->

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