Midnight at DeadSTRoke Billiard Club and Rispah Cafe
DeadSTRoke, the poolroom-name of a legendary pool and poker player, died 12 years before story begins [his name was misspelled in Atlanta]. It was rumored that DeadSTRoke was intentionally mistreated by Dr. Austin Kendrick because of gambling debts. Dr. Kendrick’s son, Dr. Marek Kendrick and his daughter Jean, have been burdened with doubt because the cause his death was not resolved before their father died two years after DeadSTRoke died.
Corky, a dynamic pool and poker player, and to some, an intriguing though suspect reincarnation of DeadSTRoke, appears at DeadSTRoke Billiard Club with Floppsie, a beautiful young prostitute. Corky is captivated by Jean Kendrick, who is in her early twenties, a gifted pool player taught by DeadSTRoke when she was a little girl. Jean, haunted by criticism of her father, left the Women’s Professional Billiard Tour, because she couldn’t put ‘the closer’ on top players—something held her back—and she returned to manage the poolroom. Jean is fascinated, charmed by Corky, who takes advantage of her by bringing the matter of DeadSTRoke’s death to her attention at every opportunity.
Denizens of DeadSTRoke Billiard Club (Spokes Cabover, Heavy Blypes, etc.) distrust Corky, try to solve the death of DeadSTRoke, but come to a dead end.
Corky tells Noah Wicus, a retarded young man, what he intends to do: dump Floppsie and take Jean away—they will be “a great team.” Noah is too impaired to tell anyone, but Floppsie understands Corky’s plan from Noah.
Corky loses in his semi-final match in a Tournament during Tournament Week, and leaves the poolroom to get his belongings to go away with Jean. Floppsie is ill and asleep at their apartment, but awakened by Corky. She confronts Corky who tries to get away, fights, takes the knife away, and Floppsie kills Corky. She disposes of his body in the ravine behind the poolroom, and she disappears.
The Denizens, in a wild and courageous plan, exhume DeadSTRoke and discover that he had been murdered by a blow to the neck that caused instantaneous death. They inform Jean that DeadSTRoke was murdered, exonerating her father, both cheering and mystifying her. Jean is upset that Corky and Floppsie have left town.
Five days after the end of Tournament Week, a foul ‘odor of death’ comes over the city. Six weeks after Tournament Week, a decaying mass of human remains is found in the ravine. Dr. Marek, an amateur forensic entomologist, is asked to establish time of death, but he cannot tell for certain; he is not sure remains are Corky’s.
Jean goes back on the Women’s Professional Billiard Tour and begins to win.
One year after Tournament Week, Floppsie returns on the arm of Buddy Chouder: they are married; she is now Terry Lynne Chouder. Jean and Del Egan meet at a New York 9-ball World Championship Tournament, and later marry. Jean returns to DeadSTRoke Billiard Club. Dr. Marek is never certain he has solved the timing of death, but it could implicate Floppsie, which greatly disturbs him.
An off-beat mystery. Strong men. Strong women. A suspect. A few strange birds haunt the poolroom. Forensic entomology–bugs.