(1) Neon Bodeaux, Blue Chips vs. (4) Jesus Shuttlesworth, He Got Game
“You lucky my jumper’s kinda busted right now…”
This isn’t really a dream. It could be, but it’s more like a reflection. A reflection that’s real. If he wanted to, he could reach out and touch it, caress it or slide it through his fingers.
“You look like a cock-a-roach…”
Ooooh. It feels good to see this. He’s remembering it all now: that day someone had called him a name at school so he socked him in the stomach, the two of them rolling on the ground all the way until they nearly trampled Ms. Williams’ feet. He got sent home early for that and mommy wasn’t happy. So somehow, he snuck out… nah, actually it was through the front door. Whenever his mother was in the kitchen, the echo of the door couldn’t reach her. Booger followed him out and they started balling. Jesus still remembers looking up at the sun, dry and bright just above the backboard, and trying to stare at it for longer than five seconds. He could never do it.
“Cock-a-roach this then… cock-a-roch this…” He started going back and forth. Daddy taught him this, although he never said use it more than once in a row. Make a move and go, he always told Jesus. But Booger couldn’t stop him. This was where Jesus liked to practice, going up against Booger and his stupid glasses that always fell off when he tried to go in for a layup.
Neon doesn’t have any dreams like that. When he sinks into thoughts, only a few names come up, and a few places. Hell, he can’t even remember back to Algiers and the barn shack, the place he used to send grown men home crying. For some reason, it’s all faded as if someone else lived it. I was meant for this only. God put me here to do this. Nothing else.
That game against Indiana sticks out though. 93-92, down one with like 12 seconds left. Neon had an ache in his lower back from an elbow he took earlier in the game, and during the team’s timeout, a towel draped over his head, it throbbed just to sit down.
“I want you to come right up on Neon’s man. I mean screen him. Pin him hard!”
Coach Bell was in another zone, that place he went to during the middle of every game. Neon could’ve made a face at him and the coach wouldn’t have even noticed. He was calling for a lob. He was putting the game and perhaps the season in Neon’s hands. The rest was a blur: the crowd’s frantic cheers, the looks the Indiana players were giving him, the lob from Butch, even the finish. It all came and went in a flash as if it never really happened.
His life had been the same, just a flash. No memories. No meaningful moments. Everyone always wanted something from him and never gave anything in return. Neon wanted to make himself.
This was it though. Facing Jesus Shuttlesworth could make him. Win, and he’d be one step closer to cash. One step closer to respect. One step closer to…
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