Bob Mustin was born in Louisiana, USA. He attended the U.S. Naval Academy, Louisiana Tech University, and the University of North Carolina, Asheville. He holds a BS degree in Civil Engineering from La Tech and a Master of Liberal Arts degree with an emphasis on creative writing from UNC-Asheville.
He has worked in Georgia, USA, as a structural designer, specification writer, and transportation administrator. He has been an instructor in writing skills, and has served as a mentor. He’s also been a North Carolina Writers Network writer-in-residence at Peace College under the late Doris Betts. In the early ’90s, he was the editor of a small literary journal, The Rural Sophisticate, based in Georgia. His work has appeared in The Rockhurst Review, Elysian Fields Quarterly, Cooweescoowee, Under The Sun, Gihon River Review, Reflections Literary Journal, and at thesquaretable.com, raving dove, Sport Literate, The Externalist, Language and Culture, Imitation Fruit, and R.KV.R.Y in electronic form. A creative nonfiction piece won the North Carolina Writer’s Network Rose Post Award for Creative Non-Fiction in 2007.
He continues to write and publish novels, short fiction and non-fiction.
Author Links –
Website : www.bobmustin.com
Step inside Sam’s and you can play a game of eight ball, nurse a beer, or get to know a wayward preacher, a reformed hooker, an Iraq vet amputee – or Sam himself. You may watch a baby being born, see a deadly knife fight, or simply hear tall tales. But there’s always a rough-hewn truth within the lies, and Sam’s there to manage everything from birth to death with a righteous cant. All things considered, it isn’t a bad world. Sam’s Place is a collection of interwoven short stories that revolve around a local watering hole in the Alabama town of Striven. Pull up a chair and get to know the locals in this powerful and entertaining world that is Sam’s Place.
The scarlet and white neon sign hanging over the entry to Sam’s Place began to swing, adding its creaks to the cold front’s moan. As the sign swayed, crimson shadows swept to and fro over scalloped gravel in the pool hall’s parking lot. A rangy teen-aged boy slipped from the surrounding thicket of Alabama pine and into view, his tee shirt bleached to a luminous white by the lights of an approaching semi on the two-lane. He hurried past crumpled plastic beer cups aglow with the oncoming glare, his black, high-top canvas shoes skirting a thick, odorous pudding of puke. With little more than a glance, he passed a man and woman grinding out their lubricious urges against a pickup cab. Then he leaped and cleared the three tiers of cinderblock steps to the pool hall’s threshold and opened the door to a wedge of dim light.
Inside the long, one-room building sat eight felt-covered tables, a wide aisle separating the two rows of four. An oak bar at the opposite end filled most of the building’s width, a rear door to the left. Multicolored neon beer lights clung to the rear wall, bubbling and flashing, indifferent to all else. Fluorescent fixtures hung over the tables, suspended as if by some nocturnal alchemy, the light fixing ghostly images within layers of cigarette smoke.
A lanky man, shirttail out, leaned on his pool cue at the nearest table. Opposite him stood a short, bald man named Wilson, his dress shirt stained yellow at the armpits, its buttons straining to contain a drooping gut. A woman, Noxanne, her sweatshirt pushing I ♥BAMA at the world, muttered irritably and glanced to Wilson. She cocked an ample hip, plumbed a pocket, and handed a gobbet of greenbacks to the lanky one. Along the plank wall adjacent to the front door, hangers-on watched, solemn as cigar store Indians, their smokes hanging from lips and fingers. The lanky man took Noxanne’s money, put up his cue, slipped past the boy who had just entered, and left.
Across the aisle, a tall, stoop-shouldered man in thinning suit pants and a dress shirt with rolled-up sleeves scratched at his oily shock of graying hair, grinned, and approached his table.
“Two left,” he said. “Anybody want me to call ‘em?”
“No point to it, Slim,” said someone along the wall. ” You got too much mojo tonight.” Laughter slithered through smoke and darkness.
Slim looked to his opponent, who refused to retreat from the table. Slim jabbed his cue at two corner pockets and then slid his cigarette to the table’s edge. The cue ball clicked against one striped ball, then the other. The balls rumbled into their appointed pockets, and the cue ball rebounded away.
Slim’s opponent slammed a boot heel into the floor planking. Without a word, he broke down his cue, pulled on his coat, and departed.
“Shitfire,” someone whispered, voice tinged with awe, “you see that?”
Donnie, a short, snaggletoothed man of early middle age, offered to buy Slim a whiskey. Slim covered a cough and shook no, planted his cigarette in the thin line of his mouth, and grabbled a spray of twenties from the table’s edge. He peered into the shadows. “Anybody else got a game for me?”
“No fools here,” somebody said. Those around the spectator laughed – a staccato chorus of nervous praise.
Slim offered a wry smile. “Always some fool hoping to push you off the heap, though.” He dragged a Coke crate from against the nearby wall, stood it on end. Setting a foot on it, he leaned an elbow onto the up-bent knee and looked from face to face. “I ever tell y’all about that time in upper state New York? I was shooting with this fellow from Ohio, see? He come up to me, drunk as all get-out, bragging and waving money, so I said what the hell. Drunk as he was, he run the table on me nine straight times. Nine, I’m telling you!”
He spoke of finally beating the man, then of meeting him again in Minnesota, of playing him in the finals of a big tourney. Pausing, he licked spume from a corner of his mouth and spat a wad of dark phlegm to the plank floor.
“Did you whup ‘im in Duluth, Slim?” a beery voice asked.
“Damn right. I took him for his whole stake. But I’ll tell you what. If I ever see him again, I’ll just shake hands and ease out the door. I hear Lady Luck has been smiling real pretty for him lately.”
“Ah, you’d take him, Slim.”
“Maybe.” Slim laughed. “Well, hell, yeah, I’d probably do just that.”
The boy edged close. He reached deep and tossed a wadded bill onto Slim’s table.
Sam’s Place fell silent. All eyes turned.