(1) Neon Bodeaux, Blue Chips vs. (8) Thomas Shepherd, Above The Rim
It’s pitch dark. Echoing voices are bouncing off buildings. Laughter. A couple of varsity lettermen with their jackets on are playing like they always played. One-on-one.
“Get off me! GET OFF OF ME!”
How did they end up here? He doesn’t know. Something in his mind is telling him he can’t remember. Or maybe that’s because he doesn’t want to remember. He doesn’t even know what he’s doing, can’t control it. But there’s his old yellow and orange jacket, the one he threw into the river after it was all over, so he can tell this was sometime in high school.
The buildings all around them, he knows. This was the old high school, before they built the new one. Everything seems so familiar yet so far away that he can’t put his finger on it. It’s laboring just out of reach. Why do I feel so dead?
His eyes open. He was dreaming, but not totally asleep. That same dream he used to have all the time in bed when he would wake up shivering and sweating at the same time, when his heart would be racing and his head pounding, he had it again in daylight. Outside. Sitting up. On a bench.
Wasn’t he just here a second ago? How long was he asleep? I couldn’t have been asleep that long. But damn, there’s Neon and the crowd is all around me. They weren’t here before.
He’s right. There is Neon Bodeaux, toying with a group of kids on thee far basketball hoop, getting ready for his second round matchup with Tom Shepherd. Both players waltzed through their opening round games, but it’s Neon who feels confident. He’s at home in Algiers and Tom, the city boy, feels like he’s on another planet. He doesn’t like how easy the big man’s confidence is and he doesn’t enjoy the looks these country folk give him.
It reminded him of the way his mother used to look at him whenever he would come back through town. Talking ’bout Ol’ Shep, Ol’ Shep…
She’d peer right through him, and could tell whether he was being real or not about where he was, where he was going, what he was doing. His life to her meant more than it did to him. She actually thought you was coming back to save us or some s—…
There was no time for saving now though, and Thomas Shepherd watched as Neon drop-stepped and dunked on about 10 kids. He had always been tall, but never that tall. He didn’t know a thing about playing someone like that. No one did.
In his mind, it didn’t matter. He was playing for his mother. And his brother. Hopefully.
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