Page 39 - WTP Vol. XI #5
P. 39

 the chives. She pointed to two fat bumblebees in a purple flower.
what their boy’s performance suggested about their prospects later in life. One father with his hands in his pockets, dark hair neatly cut, stood near our ten- nis ball unbearably tender for his son at shortstop. When the boy crouched and focused, the father stood straighter, attentive to his place in the world from watching his boy.
“Look how their legs get covered in pollen and their little wings move so fast.”
“Very cool.”
This was her signaling I’d been a bad child but I was still worth educating, still deserved to see interesting things.
Back on the court some serious tennis players in white clothing had gathered at the net on the next court over, two men and two women. Brother was preparing to serve. I called for the ball so I could serve and they wouldn’t see him flailing. He heard my ulterior motives and looked around the courts to see who was making me nervous.
I walked downtown and stepped into the courts. The high school girls team practiced on a fenced-in soccer field surrounded by a red track. The little diamond beside the court was busy with kids, the outfield in the sun, the rooftops of the houses around the park felt low to the ground under the pale sky. Brother was by himself hitting a ball off the practice wall, pretending not to see me.
“Who cares what they think,” he said, “we’re not try- ing to be pro.”
“Hit it to me, you fat turd,” I said.
He lobbed the ball underhand to me. Focusing now, I knocked it back into his court. He swiped upward and missed.
He wanted to serve overhand but couldn’t. He served underhand. I didn’t know how to hit a ten- nis ball and returned his serve with a two-handed swing, the ball landing in the grass behind the metal bleachers of the Little League game. Brother point- ed to the chain-link gate.
“This is the worst game of tennis anyone has ever played,” Brother said.
“You fuck it, you fetch it,” he said in a Slavic accent, his favorite.
Not judging, I thought. Looking for ways to improve their own game by observing others and not wast- ing that precious bandwidth on technically the worst performance they could possibly witness. That’s just practical.
Behind the grandstands I looked for our ball. The boys were screaming. I’d hit a game winning homer six years ago and brought the game ball back to Dad who’d sat with his feet up in the living room reading a paper copy of the New Republic, turning with open- mouthed pride and looking truly overwhelmed at my success when I said “I hit a walk-off homer.” These days, in my fantasies, this game-winning homer re- solved wars and won elections, somehow.
“WELL FUCK YOU ANYWAY,” I screamed at them.
There was real tension from the parents watching. Not for the outcome of the inning, I thought, but for
All the parents turned from the game. The soccer team turned. Brother closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and walked over to the serious players who gathered around him, smiling and nodding and touch- ing his shoulder. Then they waved and gave me a thumbs up. I looked down. Brother and I left through the gate. As we walked to his car I asked how he’d managed it.
The serious tennis players all watching looked away after a single failed point, judging us.
“I said you have Tourette’s, you moron.”
“Should I add another to make it believable?”
“Just go.”
At home Mother wore her painting hat, holding three brushes and a yogurt container.
“Who won,” she said, as I slumped on the kitchen sofa.
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