The walk from the hotel to the restaurant was long and cold. I changed into a long sleeved shirt but forgot a jacket. I didn’t have any cash so I didn’t bother with a taxi. I dialed Shane and the girls. They sounded funny and content. I kept my news brief and non-controversial. Shane could hear the confusion, the hurt and stress but she said she trusted me.
After about 15 blocks, I saw a dilapated basketball court. Two boys around 10 years old did jumpshots and taunted each other. I stopped to watch when it hit me. I had been in the spot I stood. I called my dad.
“Hey pop. I need for you to level with me again. When I was a kid, did you and mom take me back to New York?”
There was silence for a few seconds then I heard him breathe deeply and whisper into the phone.
“Your mom is the other room. She isn’t happy about you bringing all of this up. She thinks these doctors can hurt you more than help you. But yes, son, we took you back when you were in the second grade. You got hit in the chest playing baseball. The hippie one, Bulas, looked you over. He said you’d be alright but to keep you out of sports until you developed more.”
I didn’t play organized athletics until I was 14 years old. My parents told me it was because I had allergies and I was too small. I grew angry, but not at him. I had ignored so many things.
“I know you can’t talk but just answer this then say something about the girls and hang up. Did you ever take me to a basketball court several blocks from the Stanton Hotel?”
My dad was a awful actor but he mumbled some plesasantries, then breathed deeply. I imagined him running his thick fingers over his wrinkled forehead, then running them over his mouth to show nervousness.
“Yeah, we shot some hoops, why?”
I brushed off his question and said goodbye. Memories started to flow. The doctor’s visits, the inactivity as a child, the excuses for being different than my friends. I walked into the basketball court. The green grass that grew tall through the asphalt cracks was turning brown. The boys turned to me and looked worried.
“Are we in trouble mister? You the police? You don’t look like police.”
I smiled and felt flattered.
“No. I played on this court a long time ago. I just wondered if you’d let me have a few shots?”
The boys looked at each other, shrugged their shoulders, and one of them bounced the ball to me. For the next few minutes I warmed to the November coolness by poorly shooting jumper after jumper. My chest felt good. I was gaining strength. The boys laughed at me. We taunted each other. Briefly, my life seemed carefree.
A woman of medium height, dark skinned, pretty, around 35 years old; stood at the chain link fence entrance to the court. Her arms were crossed but she smiled, slightly. I addressed her.
“These your boys?”
She dropped her arms and the boys walked over to her.
“Yeah, I let them play here before dinner every night. The 9 year old takes care of the 11 year old for me while I get some peace in the house.”
I laughed and gave the oldest boy the basketball.
“I have three girls. The youngest, she’s in kindergarten, runs the house. I can relate.”
I followed them out of the court into the street. The boys started asking their mom questions about dinner, homework, television, and bedtimes. She turned to me.
“You from around here?”
I shook my head at the possibilities of the question. I looked at the boys.
“I was born here. I live in Georgia. I guess you can say I’m in between places right now.”
She raised her eyebrows and put her arms around her sons.
“Home is where your kids are, man. That’s where you should always be. Take care of those girls.”
I waved goodbye to them and walked the rest of the way to Serendipity 3.
I looked into the window of the restaurant and saw Breann, Lena, Clare, and Dr. Ober talking and laughing. I felt eyes looking at me but instead of turning around, I walked inside.
*blogger’s note* – This is another story episode. The rest of it is located here: https://lancemyblogcanbeatupyourblog.wordpress.com/crazy-robot-stories/
This is based on a prompt from the good folk at http://www.studiothirtyplus.com aka Studio30Plus. The prompt was THE GREEN GRASS GROWS TALL.
Today’s song isn’t thematically accurate to the episode but a few lyrics are relatable. The song is symbolic of where Caleb’s head is at and it’s the song I had in my head while I was writing. Here’s Third Eye Blind’s Jumper.