Thursday, November 13, 2008
Something That MIGHT Happen
Bought-out pro players Eddie and Stephe rest in one of the town’s gyms, on their way to a nearby Arena where they expect to sign new contracts. They have left the last place where they played, following an incident with the team’s brass involving both of them. Eddie pleads with Stephe to tell him over and over again about their dream new team.
Evening of a hot day started the little wind to moving among the leaves. For a moment the place was lifeless, and then two men emerged from the street and entered the God-forsaken gym. They had walked in single file down the street, and even in the gym one stayed behind the other. Both were dressed in baggy shorts and in practice T-shirts with the ‘Nix’ logo. The first man was smaller and agile, with restless eyes and sharp, strong features. Behind him walked the opposite, a huge man, with wide, sloping shoulders; and he walked heavily. His arms did not swing at his sides, but hung loosely.
The first man stopped, and the follower nearly ran over him. Using a forefinger, he wiped the sweat from his forehead. His huge companion drank from the bottle; drank with long gulps, like a horse. The smaller man stepped nervously beside him.
‘Eddie!’ he said sharply. ‘Eddie, for God’ sakes don’t drink so much.’ Eddie continued to drink. The smaller man shook him by the shoulder. ‘Eddie. It’s second-class water. You gonna be sick like you was last night.’
Eddie sat up on the bench. ‘Tha’s good,’ he said. ‘You drink some, Stephe. You take a good big drink.’ He smiled happily.
‘I ain’t sure it’s good water,’ Stephe said. ‘Looks kinda scummy.’
Eddie caught the bottle with his big paw and threw it to the other side of the gym. He watched it fly. ‘Look, Stephe. Look what I done.’
Stephe stared morosely at the bottle. He said angrily, ‘We could just as well of rode clear to the Arena if that bastard cab driver knew what he was talkin’ about. *Jes’ a little stretch,* he says. God damn jes’ a little stretch. Damn hot day.’
Eddie looked timidly over to him. ‘Stephe?’
‘Yeah, what ya want?’
‘Where we goin’, Stephe?’
The smaller man scowled over at Eddie. ‘So you forgot that awready, did you? I gotta tell you again, do I? Jesus Christ, you’re a crazy bastard.’
‘I forgot,’ Eddie said softly. ‘I tried not to forget. Honest to God I did, Stephe.’
‘OK - OK. I’ll tell you again. I ain’t got nothing to do. Might jus’ as well spen’ all my time tellin’ you things and then you forget ‘em, and I tell you again.’
‘Tried and tried,’ said Eddie, ‘but it didn’t do no good. I remember about the shots, Stephe.’
‘The hell with the shots. That’s all you ever can remember is them shots. OK! Now you listen and this time you got to remember so he doesn’t think you’re a cotton picker. You remember playin’ under Coach Brownie and scorin’ buckets?’
Eddie’s face broke into a delighted smile. ‘Why sure, Stephe. I remember that ... but ... what’d we do then besides this?’
‘You remember about us winnin’?’
‘Oh, sure, Stephe, I remember that now.’ His hand went into his pocket.
Stephe looked sharply at him. ‘What’d you take outa that pocket?’
‘Ain’t a thing in my pocket,’Eddie said cleverly.
‘I know there ain’t. You got it in your hand. What you got in your hand - hidin’ it?’
‘I ain’t gt nothin’, Stephe. Honest.’
‘Come on, give it here.’
Eddie held his closed hand away from Stephe’s direction. ‘It’s on’y donut, Stephe.’
‘Donut? Fresh donut?’
‘Uh-uh. Jus’ stale donut, Stephe. I didn’t buy it. Honest! I found it. I found it stale.’
‘Give it here!’ said Stephe.
‘Aw, leave me have it, Stephe.’
‘GIVE IT HERE!’
Eddie’s closed hand slowly obeyed. Stephe took the donut and threw it across the hardwood to the other side. ‘What you want of stale donut, anyways?’
‘Well, you ain’t eating no donuts while you are with me. No overeating! You remember where we’re goin’ now?’
‘Eddie looked startled and then in embarrassment hid his face against his palms. ‘I forgot again.’
‘Jesus Christ,’ Stephe said resignedly. ‘Well - look, we’re gonna ask to play under Coach Brownie.’
‘Oh, sure. I remember. ‘
‘Their Arena we’re goin’ to is about a quarter mile away. We’re gonna go in an’ see the Coach. Now, look - I’ll ask him if he wants us, but you ain’t gonna say a word. You jus’ stand there and don’t say nothing. If he finds out what a crazy bastard you are now, you won’t get no contract, but if he sees ya play before he hears ya talk, we’re set. Ya got that?’
‘Sure, Stephe. Sure I got it.’
‘OK. Now when we go in to see the Coach, what you gonna do?’
‘I ... I,’ Eddie thought. His face grew tight with thought. ‘I ... ain’t gonna say nothin’. Jus’ gonna stan’ there.’
‘Good boy. That’s swell. You say that over two, three times so you sure won’t forget it.’
Eddie droned to himself softly, ‘I ain’t gonna say nothin’ ... I ain’t gonna say nothin’ ... I ain’t gonna say nothin’.’
‘OK,’ said Stephe. ‘An’ you ain’t gonna do no bad things like you done in the City, neither.’
Eddie looked puzzled. ‘Like I done in the City?’
‘Oh, so ya forgot that too, did ya? Well, I ain’t gonna remind ya, fear ya do it again.
A light of understanding broke on Eddie’s face. ‘They run us outta the City,’ he exploded triumphantly.
‘Kicked us out, hell,’ said Stephe disgustedly. ‘They didn’t want us there.’
Eddie giggled happily. ‘I didn’t forget that, you bet.’
‘God, you’re a lot of trouble,’ said Stephe. ‘Try to be like me. I could get along so easy and so nice if I didn’t have you on my tail. But they need a big man more than a guard. And together, we’re a lethal one-two punch.’
For a moment Eddie stood quiet, and then he siad hopefully, ‘We gonna play for a new team, Stephe.’
‘Awright. You got that. But we’re gonna sleep here because I’m superstitious. If we sleep in this hole, we get contracts tomorrow.’
The day was going fast now.
‘Stephe - why ain’t we goin’ to the Arena and get some supper? They got supper there.’
‘I told you why. Tomorra we’re gonna go there. Tonight I’m gonna lay right here on these mats. I like it.’
Eddie looked at Stephe. ‘Ain’t we gonna have no supper?’
‘Sure we are. I got two cans of beans.’
Eddie said, ‘I like beans with ketchup.’
‘Well, we ain’t got no ketchup.’
Eddie ate and strolled along the opposite baseline. Stephe ate and whistled softly to himself.
In a moment Eddie came crashing back to Stephe. ‘Awright,’ Stephe said brusquely. ‘Gi’me that donut!’
But Eddie made an elaborate pantomime of innocence. ‘What donut, Stephe? I ain’t got no donut.’
Stephe held out his hand. ‘Come on. Give it to me. You ain’t puttin’ nothing over.’
Eddie hesitated, backed away. Stephe said coldly, ‘You gonna give me that donut or do I have to sock you?’
‘Give you what, Stephe?’
‘You know God damn well what. I want that donut.’
Eddie reluctantly reached into his pocket. His voice broke a little. ‘I don’t know why I can’t keep it. It ain’t nobody’s donut. I didn’t steal it. I found it lyin’ right on the street.’
Stephe’s hand remained outstretched imperiously. Slowly, like a terrier who doesn’t want to bring a ball to its master, Eddie approached, drew back, approached again. Stephe snapped his fingers sharply, and at the sound Eddie laid the donut in his hand.
‘I wasn’t doin’ nothing bad with it, Stephe. Jus’ smelling it.’
Stephe threw the donut through the open window as far as he could. He heard Eddie’s whimpering cry and wheeled about. ‘Blubberin’ like a baby? Jesus Christ! A big guy like you.’ Eddie’s lip quivered and tears started in his eyes. ‘Aw, Eddie!’ Stephe put his hand on Eddie’s shoulder. ‘I ain’t takin’ it away jus’ for meanness. That donut ain’t fresh, Eddie. You get another donut that’s fresh and I’ll let you eat it.’
Eddie sat down on the court and hung his head dejectedly. ‘I don’t know where to find one, there is no other donut. I remember my chick used to give ‘em to me in the City. But that chick ain’t here.’
Stephe scoffed. ‘Chick, huh? Don’t even remember that chick lived. She made you overweight!’
Eddie looked sadly up at him. ‘I wish’t we’d get the balls pretty soon, Stephe. I wanna shoot some.’
‘The hell with the balls. We gotta sleep here and be fresh tomorra. No ball.’
It was almost night now. Stephe brought out two cans of beans.
‘There’s enough beans for three men,’ Stephe said.
Eddie said patiently, ‘I like ‘em witch ketchup.’
‘Well, we ain’t got any,’ Steph exploded. ‘Whatever we ain’t got, that’s what you want, except for a new contract. God a’mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job, an’ no trouble.’ Eddie’s face was drawn with terror. ‘And whatta I got,’ Stephe went on furiously. ‘I got to be with you! You can’t keep a job and you get in trouble. It’s not like I don’t get in trouble, but you know what I mean... I’m good even with troubles, you’re not.’ Stephe’s voice rose nearly to a shout. ‘You crazy son-of-a-bitch.’ He took on the elaborate manner of little girls when they are mimicking one another. ‘I wisht I could put you in a cage with about a million donuts an’ let you have fun.’ Fortunately, his anger left him suddenly.
Eddie crawled slowly until he was close to Stephe. ‘Stephe,’ very softly. No answer. ‘Stephe!’
‘Whatta you want?’
‘I was only foolin’ Stephe. I don’t want no ketchup. I wouldn’t eat no ketchup if it was right here beside me.’
‘If it was here, you could have some.’
‘But I wouldn’t eat none, Stephe. I’d leave it all for you. You could cove your beans with it and I wouldn’t touch none of it.’
‘When I think of the swell time I could have without you, I go nuts. I never get no peace.’
‘Stephe, you want I should go away and leave you alone?’
‘Where the hell could you go? Who besides them wants a lumbering big man?’
‘Well I could go somewhere. Some place I’d find a team.’
‘Yeah? In the Association? You gotta be kiddin’ me, dude.’
‘I’d find some team, Stephe.’
Stephe looked searchingly at him. ‘I been mean, ain’t I?’
‘If you don’t want me I can go off an’ find a team just for me. I can go away any time.’
‘No - look! I was just foolin’, Eddie. ‘Cause I want you to stay with me. We got better chance as a duo.’
Eddie had sensed his advantage.
‘If you don’t want me, you only jus’ got to say no, and I’ll go off and play without you. An’ I won’t get no donut stole from me.’
Stephe said, ‘I want you to stay with me, Eddie. Your chick wouldn’t like you being without me.’
Eddie said craftily, ‘Tell me - like you done before.’
‘Tell you what?’
‘About the playin’ and winnin’.’
Stephe snapped. ‘That’s the same ol’, same ol’ stuff.’
Eddie pleaded, ‘Come on, Stephe, Tell me. Please, Stephe. Like you done before.’
‘You get a kick outta that, don’t you. Awright, I’ll tell you, and then we’ll eat our supper ...’
Stephe’s voice became deeper. He repeated his words rhytmically as though he had said them many times before. ‘Guys like us, that play like All-Stars, are the loneliest guys in the world. Everyone envies us our success, that’s it. But the dream team for us plays in this town. We’ll be good.’
Eddie was delighted. ‘That’s it - that’s it.’
Stephe went on. ‘We got a future. We got somebody in the Arena to talk to that gives a damn about us.’
Eddie laughed delightedly. ‘Go on now, Stephe!’
‘You can say it yourself.’
‘No, you. I forget some a’ the things. Tell about how it’s gonna be.’
‘OK. Some day - we’re gonna get the jack together and we’re gonna be All-Stars and our team’s gonna be a title contender and ...’
‘AND SHOOT WHENEVER WE WANT TO,’ Eddie shouted. ‘And win GAMES. Go on, Stephe! Tell us about what we’re gonna have in the trophy case. Tell about that, Stephe.’
‘Why’n’t you do it yourself? You know all of it.’
‘No ... you tell it. It ain’t the same if I tell it. Go on ... Stephe. How I get to score in the low post.’
‘Well,’ said Stephe, ‘you’ll be the best scorer in the Association and I’ll be the MVP. You’ll be a beast down low... I ain’t got time for no more.’
They filled their mouths with beans and chewed mightily. A few beans slipped out of the side of Eddie’s mouth. Stephe gestured with his hand. ‘What you gonna say tomorrow when the Coach asks you questions?’
Eddie stopped chewing and swallowed. His face was concentrated. ‘I ... I ain’t gonna ... say a word.’
‘Good boy! That’s fine, Eddie! Maybe you’re gettin’ better.’
Eddie choked with pride. ‘I can remember,’ he said.
Stephe motioned with his hand again. ‘Look, Eddie, no words, okay?’
‘I won’t get in no trouble, Stephe. I ain’t gonna say a word.’
‘OK. It’s gonna be nice sleepin’ here, I know it.’
They made their beds on the mats. Several minutes later, Eddie called from the darkness, ‘Stephe - you asleep?’
‘No. Whatta you want?’
‘Will you pass me the ball to the low post?’
‘Sure I will,’ Stephe said sleepily. ‘Each and every trip down the floor.’
‘’Cause I can jus’ as well go away, Stephe, an’ play elsewhere.’
‘You can jus’ as well go to hell,’ said Stephe. ‘Shut up now.’
P.S.: Chapter Two coming up someday.
P.S.2: Stephon Marbury says he'd like to play for the Spurs. Well, we'd like to be a cabana boy at the Playboy Mansion. One is about as likely to happen as the other. (-Jeff McDonald)
Posted by Foreigner in CS - Nov 13 2008 8:51AM
Posted by Luke_Mellow at 8:51 AM