“Ohhhh Jesus I love you!”
“I love you!”
“Jesus, I need some money…”
No matter where he went on Coney Island, they came around. People always wanted something. Even in his moment to relax, trophy and check in hand, the sweat running off his fingers and dampening the paper, they mixed in with the crowd. Everywhere he looked, he could point them out: always reaching out trying to touch him… always with a fake look of despair on their faces.
To hit right stood his father Jake, smiling from ear to ear, acting out the final jumper his son had hit to win the Dime Ultimate Movie Baller tournament with some local. He was over exaggerating it all, but still it looked identical. “I taught him that!” he opened up through a fit of laughter and a pumped fist.
Five minutes had passed since the younger Shuttlesworth had banged a step-back 15-footer to finally do what Moses Guthrie, Kyle Lee Watson and Butch McRae had failed to do: beat the little gnat, Billy Hoyle. It was all over, the finals ending just as the beginning of the one-on-one tournament did: with Jesus as a conquering hero. Travis Porter in the first round had barely registered a bucket. The Wolf in the next gave him a few surprises but wasn’t consistent enough. Neon Bodeaux in the Final Four was a monster, but was stuck on making it harder on himself than it should’ve been and thought everything was biased against him. Now, it had been Hoyle’s turn to feel the wrath of Jesus of the playgrounds.
It almost didn’t happen though. At the start of the game, Hoyle began running his mouth, saying Jesus couldn’t cut it, that Moses was nicer, that on the streets people didn’t care what you did in high school. Jesus’ skin is thick, but even he had to stop for a second.
“I’m not pissed at you,” he leaned away. “See, that’s what you want me to do. So you can get me in this f—— zone you talking about…”
Hoyle expression didn’t waver. He wasn’t smiling or frowning or anything really. Jesus couldn’t tell what the point of all this was. So he went on.
“But it ain’t gonna happen ‘cus you ain’t good enough!”
“Oh, is that another brother thing? You f—— racist?”
Jesus’ brow curled. What the hell was going on? This cat is crazy!
Eventually, he let Hoyle grab an early lead, feel good about himself before he put the press on. Jumpers rained down. Dunks. Finger rolls. Crossovers. When it was all over, Hoyle had nearly collapsed from the onslaught. All along, Jake was standing underneath the rim, just beyond it. He was smiling throughout. That’s my boy.
Stepping away from the crowd, father and son walked to the curb and jumped into a gleaming red drop top parked at the corner. BIG TIME was stamped on the license plate. Life was good.
“So you want me to handle this business man? Stressing you out I see…” the driver called over his shoulder as Jesus jumped over the back and crashed inside. Jake took the front.
“Just give the wordddd…” Off they went, Jesus sprawled out in the backseat, legs up, shoes off and trophy nestled between his arms, Jake in the front seat, eyes locked straight ahead with only a tint of red and moisture forming at the base of them, and Big Time Willy driving, running his twisted mouth as usual.
Jesus over Hoyle: wins with 68% of the vote
Jesus over Neon: wins with 82% of the vote
Hoyle over McRae: wins with 59% of the vote
Jesus over The Wolf: wins with 88% of the vote
McRae over Scott: wins with 68% of the vote
Hoyle over Watson: wins with 66% of the vote
Neon over ‘Shep: wins with 51% of the vote
Neon Bodeaux over Kenny Tyler: wins with 74% of the vote
Thomas Shepherd over Saleh: wins with 78% of the vote
Scott Howard (the Wolf) over Scott McKnight: wins with 65% of the vote
Jesus Shuttlesworth over Travis Porter: wins with 96% of the vote
Butch McRae over Jimmy Chitwood: wins with 79% of the vote
Lewis Scott over Henry Steele: wins with 80% of the vote
Kyle Lee Watson over Quincy McCall: wins with 69% of the vote
Billy Hoyle over Moses Guthrie: wins with 67% of the vote
Is Jesus really the best?
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