Underdog!

My final time at CBGB….UNDERDOG!!!!

 

 

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The Final Possession

loose ball

He realizes how important this last game is. He feels it walking to school every day, the looming coming from the makeshift police guard tower that sits on the corner of his block, like that guard tower in the courtyard he saw from the pale blue bus he rode upstate when visiting his father as a child. He feels it in the cold breeze that penetrates through his black North Face as he flashes through the images of UCLA’s rich and blossoming campus in his head, the faces of the students and the faculty illuminating with satisfaction. Satisfaction that beats on them from the warm sun that hangs above them like a fancy chandelier. A satisfaction that sits in their chests as it pumps through their veins, in their hands and in their feet, guiding their bouncy strides along newly paved pathways and corridors. Everything is really so bright

He feels it while sitting in the locker room, the stench of sweat and urine working its way through his nostrils and into his system slowly taking over, the same as it did for his uncle, or his brother, or the players before. Players who carried the weight of what could happen on their shoulders like a weight lifter, whose goal is to shift that weight from their shoulders and over their heads, just to drop it, drop it with a crash, a thunderous crash as if they were a god controlling the storm.

He feels it in the ten other players. He feels their understanding, their knowing. Sometimes he wonders if they have the same shoe size. It looks like it from time to time. He feels it in their elbows as they fight for a rebound fighting as if they were stranded on a desert, the ball being that last bottle of water.

He feels it as he’s dribbling down the court, the time winding down before him. The time on the clock is so precise, to the second. Sometimes he wishes for an hourglass. No time keeper in this league would ever count each grain of sand. Time could be an immeasurable illusion. He dreamed of that. Instead, he feels the beads of sweat running down his arms and onto his hands, making the grip of the basketball on his fingertips slowly deteriorate. These beads change him. They force him to change the ball into his opposite hand, his weak hand. He feels vulnerable. Change is difficult and he’s not used to being vulnerable. Well, there was that one time in the eighth grade when he split his bands during recess while chasing Mary Beth in the school yard. The loud tear screamed to him “The seams on a hand me down pair of Levis can’t last forever”. He wondered if his Dad could hear it as well.  Besides, he has worn his grammar school jersey under his every game for the last four years. Jordan did it, so why shouldn’t he.

He feels it as a foreign set of fingertips touch the ball, fingertips far drier than his own. He feels the ball move away from him as though someone is snatching away his first born son. He saw that on the news the other day. A woman was walking down the street and someone just grabbed her child, grabbed her child! Maybe it was a good thing they put up that tower. He feels the panic. He feels the stress he puts on his body as he awkwardly twists himself to grab the ball. Now he knows what it feels like being the dough in those baking sheets at the local Auntie Anne’s. The one his girlfriend used to work at. Used to because she could never get that last twist of the pretzel dough just right. No one likes an unformed pretzel. Besides she was always complaining the uniform was ugly. He feels the anticipation of the possession. He was never sure what possession really meant anyways. Possession like the one his cousin was charged with, or a good possession, like owning. He wants to own things. He keeps a list. He keeps it in his back pocket, actually, next to his wallet and bus pass. The stuff he takes with him every day. He wants to possess. Sometimes he thinks possession to way too many letters for him. Have. He’s happy with the thought of just having.

He feels the excitement of the crowd. He feels them jump out of their seats and lean closer to gain a better glance like a spectator at a cock fight. He had seen that once. His teacher made them watch a documentary on Brazilian cock fighting in his sophomore year social studies class. He never understood why but he never liked that damn teacher anyways.

He feels it all. The time, the struggle, the pain in his knee as he twists to grab the ball, the pressure of the neighborhood weighing down on him, the threads of the ball, he feels it all. Sometimes, he’s just tired of feeling.