Saturday 18 June 2022

'Game' by Catherine Deery

Rodeo weekend, Tammy agrees to a round of strip snooker in the pub filled with out-of-towners, and Tammy, who has no hand-eye coordination and never improves under the influence of bourbon like she’s seen others do — seen them cold and slick under the ugly fluorescent lights, seen billiard balls dispatched with a flick of the wrist, seen cues wielded with surgical precision — Tammy is entirely ill-advised to take part, but Tammy is a joiner, Tammy never stops believing her luck might turn, so she raises her glass and says why the hell not, she’s game; Tammy affects the bravado she’s been affecting since she was thirteen, since the stinging slap from her mother’s palm, since the thumbprint bruises, since being passed from boy to boy at high school parties where other girls said it’s just Tammy off her face, and sure, that bravado fools no-one in this bar, sure, there are locals present who know Tammy well, locals wiping their hands on their jeans and sitting back to watch it all unfold, but what are they going to do, it’s nothing to do with them, if the girl wants to play the game, let her play.

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