‘Bones’ kill daylight

Published 12:00 am Monday, January 7, 2008

NATCHEZ — On an overcast afternoon Anthony Banks shuffles the bones on a card table in the front yard of a house in the Cambridge Heights neighborhood.

The card table is rickety to say the least; it looks as if it may collapse at any moment.

“This is what we do,” Banks said.

Email newsletter signup

And what Banks and his buddies do on most afternoons is play dominoes.

Dominoes are often called “bones” because many years ago they where actually made of animal bone.

Banks and two other men, Timothy Green and Tee Johnson, said they regularly play dominoes in the front yard for hours at a time.

Green’s long, black fingers wrap around his newly dealt hand.

The juxtaposition of his skin and the dominoes is striking.

He takes a sip of his drink and attempts to explain the game.

“It’s about strategy,” he said. “Whoever has the best strategy, takes the game.”

Green was reluctant to reveal his strategy in front of his competitors though.

“Gimmie my money,” he said as he laid down one domino on the table scoring 10 points off the previously played hand.

Green said the term “money” is not monetary but is used to describe points scored during the game.

“You need to know what’s on the table and what they (other players) are going to try play,” he said.

And apparently Green knows what he’s talking about because Johnson, keeping score, said Green has won most of the afternoon’s games.

Johnson said he likes to play dominoes because it helps to keep his mind sharp.

“It gives you focus,” he said. “And it’s fun.”

And, as far as dominoes go, Johnson’s mind is sharp.

In fact all three of the men add points and play their hands a pace quicker than lightning.

Then someone at the table gets a phone call and the game breaks up.

Green and Banks walk across the street leaving Johnson to clean up.

But the gaming is far from over.

“We’ll be back out here later on,” Johnson said stacking the dominoes in their metal case.