My Brother Lyndon


‘Back in the old days we used to play dominoes with some of his close friends on the Hill. His partner would be Jake Pickle or Homer Thornberry, while one of the girls (Lynda or Luci) would team up with me. Well, pretty soon I found out that Lyndon and Jake would pass signals to each other on the sly. Lyndon would lean back and say, “Wonder what ever happened to Judge Stokes?”

And Jake would look over his stack and answer, “Don’t reckon I know, Lyndon. Ain’t seen Stokes for a long time.”

Obviously, “Judge Stokes” was just a code name for some particular domino– a double deuce or a three or something else. So Lyndon was really saying that he had deuces and Jake was telling him that he didn’t have any.

Knowing they were trying to pull a fast one, I would scramble their damned code. “Hell, I saw Judge Strokes just this morning,” I told them. “Saw him two or three times before noon.”

Now, that would really puzzle my brother. Because he realized we both knew that Judge Stokes was down in San Antonio, a thousand miles away. Therefore, he could only conjecture that I was aware of their secret signals, and that I might have more deuces than he had. Accordingly, he would hold back his deuce to keep me from going out. But since I really didn’t have any deuces, he’d be trapped by his own trick.’

My Brother Lyndon, Sam Houston Johnson, edited by Enrique Hank Lopez, Cowles Book Company, Inc., 1969.