Amos Ayt loves his pool. No, not the plastic, above-ground, faded blue one strategically located outside his mobile home’s back door that’s filled with water and remnants of teenagers’ urine and other bodily fluids, but the other kind — the one with balls.
One step inside Ayt’s decaying 1979 Skyline — which he claims he won “fair and square” at a nipple fighting contest nine years ago — and it’s painfully obvious why his neighbors have dubbed his abode the “Lair of The Chalking Dead.”
The floor is littered with fast-food burger wrappers, cigarette butts, empty beer bottles and old Hustler magazines. In the small number of spots in which there is carpet showing, it is soiled or rotted. On the north end of home, though, Hancock points to what was formerly a wall that separated the main room from a bedroom. Years of drunken pellet gun and crossbow party shenanigans have taken their toll on it, he admits.
“But let me show you what’s on the other side,” he said with a wink and a mischievous smile as he made his way through the debris to a particularly large, basketball-sized hole in the wall. There, on the other side of the mayhem, stood his pride and joy — a pristine, remarkably-kept pool table. His diamond in a turd.
“It’s a Brunswick Camden Professional,” he beamed, slowly making his way from the hole in the wall and around the corner into the room. Once inside, he caressed the velvet near a side pocket softly and gently, careful not to sully its dark maroon cover with his weathered and dirty fingers. He moved his right hand down slowly from inside the hole to a beautifully tanned leg below, closing his eyes in wonder as he moved. “It’s made of South American wood called Jequitiba, which is a species of hardwood known for its similarity to Mahogany and uniform grain and texture.
“And it smells like teen spirit, if you know what I mean.”
With that, it was done. Ayt proclaimed the tour over and pulled the chain on the Hamms Beer pool light hanging above his pride and joy. It’s time to see who has the biggest stick on the block, he said, grabbing two leather pool cue bags with hand-carved lettering that read “Ayt Ball’s Deluxe” on each.
Ten minutes later, Ayt pulled into the parking lot of a local VFW #667, slammed the door on his 1974 Chevy Nova and headed to a back door with a sign on it that read: “Did you bring your balls?” Four quick knocks and a small window in the door slowly opened, revealing a man on the other side.
“A Dolly Parton break,” the man said.
“All bust and no balls,” Ayt whispered back.
With that, the door opened and Ayt entered. A few steps in he stopped, put his sticks on a nearby table and took his shoes off. Then came his socks. Followed by his shirt, his pants and his underwear. All of it. And when he was finished, suddenly, as if on cue, dozens of other men — each of them sans clothing and with a distinctive odor that was one part ass and another part Aqua Velva — approached and greeted him with a handshake or pat on the buttocks.
Ayt ate it up. This was where he belonged — amongst the sticks, fishing balls out of holes. No pocket pool was being played here. This was Naked Pool Night at the Legion, a secret Sunday night tradition that has been going on since “Nineteen Sixty Sex,” Ayt joked.
And with that, he was gone, into the mass of nakedness.
“Rack ’em up!” he said. “The shaft of my stick’s getting cold!” CV
CAPTION Naked pool night at VFW #667 in Des Moines. Sundays, 7 p.m. – close.