Walter Tortoise was a pool player, best I ever seen.
He was an eightball magician with his eye on the green.
He could make five-hundred dollars in a one-night’s go-around.
There was a lot of empty pockets when Walter came to town.
He could cue his way from ‘Frisco Bay all the way to Maine.
Every side-pocket corner town was fodder for his game.
He musta come from somewhere, but just where I never knew.
I met him in Seattle on First Avenue.
He was two-thirds drunk and drinkin’ to make his other third
when I sat me down beside him to hear what could be heard.
He was losing to his limit, and his limit it was clean;
twenty dollars worth of quarters in a gambling machine.
And the more he lost, the more he laughed, as he drained the drafty beers,
and he fed his final quarter and watched it disappear.
And when a girl came up and won it all with just a single try,
well, he laughed so hard ’til his eye began to cry.
Then he said, “These metal bandits ain’t my cup of gruel”,
and I said, “What’s your real game”, and he says, “Playn’ pool”.
Why, only just the other night he had ’em on their toes
winnin’ everybody’s money up at Smokey Joe’s.
He said he was a shark of such dangerous degrees,
he could hustle up a bundle nearly any place he please.
He’d won more fortunes than the Rockefeller clan.
Not bad for just an indigent with chalk dust on his hands
Well, I listened to his talking just the way that you would do,
then I said, “Alright, if you’re so good I’ll see you to the cue”.
He laughed at me so hard I thought he’d surely come to harm,
then he said, “Alright, I’ll play ya but I’ll only use one arm”.
I racked ’em up and broke ’em and I even sunk a few
until one-armed Walter took his stance and loaded up his cue.
And with a blinding combination cleared the table all and over,
then he laughed again and grinned, said, “I play better when I’m sober”.
We wandered off, in and out, and squandered through the night,
until I got lost and he got taken off to see the sights.
And I wound up in a strange one with a head to make you wince,
but where ever was was he was I ain’t never seen him since.
Yes Walter was a pool player, everybody knows,
he could rack ’em and attack ’em, he could sink ’em with his eyes closed.
I may not know much of nothin’, I ain’t got the cure,
but Walter Tortoise was a pool player, I know that for sure.