Hustle Henry And The Cue-Ball Kid

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The people in the lobby at the Grandy Hotel were stuffed tighter than a boa constrictor following an all-you-can-eat meal of mice.

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Sheriff Winchester and the old woman in the blue bonnet were the last to arrive. Every table, chair, and object not nailed down was thrown out into the street to make room for the pool table scheduled to arrive from the saloon. The town, with the exception of Nate, his workers, and a few shopkeepers, swarmed like bees from a continent absent of honey to witness the epic pool match between one of its most respected yet feared citizens and one of the best pool players ever to visit Gunshot Junction.

One could hardly blame them for their fever pitch enthusiasm. The Cue-Ball Kid, known to the town only as J. Someone reported Dead-Eye Joe was in town. As the Kid looked at the faces of the crowd mottled with anticipation, his spine tingled as though an army of ants decided to take up residence on his back.

Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid

He stopped pacing, picked up a mug from the table and raised it in a mock toast, then threw his head back and guzzled the beer. Handing the mug to a nearby spectator, he again paced from one end of the table to the other, scratching his chin while considering the next shot, his concentration akin to a saber-toothed tiger stalking its prey. The Kid glanced over at the stack of crisp green bills resting on the table then looked his opponent in the eye and smiled.

Twirling his cue stick like a baton, he lowered it slowly to the table, placed it behind the cue-ball, then just as slowly drew it back to make what was likely the final shot of the match. The Kid stared down the thirteen-ball which would give him sixty-one points, exactly what he required to win a match of fifteen-ball. The crowd fell as silent as if attending the funeral service of a loved one.

The hush of the crowd rose to a murmur. The Kid raised his head, then straightened, wondering what prompted the interruption. Could it be because Dowd was about to lose his life savings? The Kid swallowed hard and nodded.

If this is your first time, how do you explain your success? He looked at the spectators, hoping to buy some time while thinking of an appropriate reply to satisfy the man. Their expressions indicated they anxiously awaited an answer to the question. The Kid had cause to be scared. Dowd stood six feet three inches and weighed two-hundred twenty pounds. The endearing family drama aspects of The Book of Henry start there and then the pendulum starts swinging. Cue the Dramatic Chipmunk! As cockamamie as the swerves are, the performances from the boys are completely committed.

Jaeden Lieberher might be the best child actor working in the business and Jacob Tremblay is not far behind him. They bury any angsty petulance brought by overcoaching with smooth, naturally engaging personality and presence at every moment.

The journey of an old-time ‘City’ pool hustler «

Honestly, the adults cannot keep up. The Lost and Pixar vet epitomizes his range between soft piano one moment and cutting strings the next. He certainly came to play. From here, the less you know about The Book of Hen ry the better. Even if you already have seen it, know that the movie still brims with plenty of twisted mystery yet to be revealed. Grant Focus Features, director Colin Trevorrow, and debuting feature writer Gregg Hurwitz all the balls in the world for putting out a movie this daringly original during the summer marketplace.

The game he played was called Big League: one kid pitched, the other hit to a backstop screen. Or sometimes it was Bill Terry, Hank Wilson, or another great man he'd never seen. Gehringer swings! Another game-winning shot for the great They were just the dreams of a kid, that's all. But Ted went back to the playground every day. First it was with a friend his own age, then the playground director, Rod Luscomb, a grown man, a two-hundred-pounder who'd made it to the Cal State League.

Ted pitched to Luscomb, Luscomb to Ted. At first they'd always tell each other when they were going to throw a curve.

Hustle Henry and the Cue-Ball Kid

But then Ted started calling out: "Don't tell me, just see if I can hit it. Ted could hit it. Then, I'm going to knock 'em all down, every darn one, with home runs.

Luscomb set him to push-ups, twenty, then forty, fifty, then a hundred, then fingertip push-ups. Ted did them at home on Utah Street. He picked his high school, Herbert Hoover High, because it was new and he's have a better chance to make the team.

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When he made it, he came to school with glove hung like a badge on his belt. He carried a bat to class. And after his last class or before , it was back to the playground.

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Then in darkness, home for dinner, the push-ups, and the dreams. There were no major leagues in San Diego.

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There was no TV. He had no more idea of the life he sought than we have of life on the moon. Maybe less, for we've seen the replays. Ted had to dream it all himself. And how could he measure what he'd give up? He wasn't interested in school, didn't care about cars, or money, or girls. He felt so awkward, except on the field. There, he'd show what Ted Williams could do. Now Hoover High went to Pomona for a doubleheader, and Ted pitched the first game, played outfield in the second, and hit and hit, and Hoover won, and wasn't it great?

There was an ice cream cart, and Ted ate eighteen Popsicles. His teammates started counting when he got to ten. But Ted didn't mind them making fun. That's how good he felt: him hitting, and Hoover winning, and the big crowd. Gee, that's the governor! And Ted found himself in the governor's path, the man who'd tossed his father a job, and he had to say something, and the awkwardness came flooding back, he felt red in his face.

Of course people called him cocky. But he only wondered: Was he good enough? At seventeen, as high school closed, he signed with the local team, the Coast League Padres. So that was Ted's bonus -- twenty days' pay. He didn't care: he was a step closer, and each day was a new wonder. He rode the trains, farther from home than he'd ever been. He stayed in hotels with big mirrors, and Ted would stand at a mirror with a bat, or a rolled-up paper, anything -- just to see his swing, how he looked: he had to look good. He got balls from the club, so many that his manager, Frank Shellenback, thought Ted must be selling them.

No, Ted took them to his playground, got Lusk and maybe a kid to shag flies, and hit the covers off those balls. Best of all, there were major leaguers, real ones, to see. They were old by the time they came to the Coast League, but Ted watched them, almost ate them with his eyes, measured himself against their size.

Ted stopped Lefty on the field one day. He had to know: "Mr. O'Doul, please After that, in bad times, he'd hear O'Doul's voice telling him he'd be okay. The bad times were slumps. If Ted couldn't hit, the world went gray.

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In his second year with San Diego, Ted hit a stretch of oh-for-eighteen. He hung around the hotel in San Francisco, moping. He didn't know what to do with himself. He got a paper and turned to the sports. There was an interview with O'Doul.

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