The Perfect Game

Night skating in San Diego had always held a special allure for him, ever since he first started out way back in the summer of '95, when he was only 15. Nights there were a special treat especially in the downtown suburbs as he and his team called it; where all the three story office buildings were. It was usually warm and there were always plenty of handrails, benches, walls, and sidewalks to go around. The cops were easy to spot at night, and although they were usually strict about the skate boarding laws, they would leave him alone if he carried his board as if he was just walking.

Chris was brought back to the memory of his first night out by the warm smell of pollution wafting over from San Diego through his bedroom window. Oh, how young and inexperienced he was then, that first night was all the excitement he ever needed; tricking the cops and such childish things had always been a game to him. Now, here he was, going back to the city for –

Hey Chris you comin' dude? Mark's deep voice interrupted his thoughts.

Yeah man, lemme just grab my board, he replied.

'Kay but hurry up- we only have half an hour to get there before it starts. Otter, Kristi, and Alex left almost ten minutes ago, Mark spoke looking around. He decided that Kristi would look good with Chris, almost as good as he did with Otter. Too bad Kristi had a twin, because even though Alex was their best vert skater, he could be a real jerk when it came to letting his sister out.

Hey Chris, maybe me n' Otter will sit in the back this time. You know how we fall asleep during movies, Mark called to the blond hair that was all he could see of his best friend, who was grasping around under his bed.

Yeah you guys sure get tired fast, Chris replied sarcastically. As long as he had known them, Mark and Otter had never once fallen asleep; they usually ended up making out or sneaking out of the theater.

Hey I have an idea...we could just ditch the movie and take Kristi and Michelle out to a restaurant, Mark suggested, I mean Kristi and Otter, yeah Otter, well same thing anyway, he corrected himself.

Dude please shut up, Chris begged, I mean, for one thing you can't even remember the name your own girlfriend wants to be called, and second of all I don't... wanna get... with Kristi! Now let's book, he finished strongly. Taking their boards in their arms, they trudged out the front door of Chris' clean house in the suburbs.

Now try to limit the amount of tricks you do kid, or try to not do any cause we have like no time, Mark explained.

Dude I'm not a kid...Your only , like, a year older than me, Chris stated as they hopped on their boards an sped off down the wide empty lane.

-

God, I know what they're doing, they're off somewhere doing tricks. They got carried away again, didn't they? If only they could make it to one of our movies on time... Otter was pacing anxiously out in front of The Block (the cineplex) rambling about the two who were just coming around the corner.

Mark! Where the hell have you two been? I've been standing out here for ten whole minutes! Our movie started a least five minutes ago! Look, it's absolutely dark... Sometimes I think you do this on purpose, just to make me pissed off, because you do it all the time and I don't even want to talk about the other time when you – Chris cut Otter off with a suggestion.

Hey, how about we, you know, work our way around town' I mean, it's way dark as Otter said, and there's no traffic. We can practice in the dark for the competition coming up this winter, which we should enter. I mean we haven't done one in a year. C'mon, it'll be fun.

Alex and the rest were enthusiastic, So sayeth the shepherd...

So sayeth The Flock! The team shouted in response. The team pushed off and went their own separate ways, each looking for some tricky obstacles and promising to meet each other at the new Starbucks that popped up in place of the other coffee shop.

As Chris glided over the pitch black asphalt of his favorite alley, he did all the tricks he could, taking advantage of every handrail and bench there was. He had memorized every trick that was possible for him to do, and without even thinking he could do the easy ones (like kickflips, ollies, grinds, and alley oops). Chris was the one in the group who knew what to do even if he'd never done it before. He always skated better when he thought about something else. So he thought about his team.

Everyone on his team was a . They all graduated from college early, all of them had PhDs in different things, like theology, sociology, architecture, and english. Chris majored in psychology but when he graduated decided that he wanted to skate. He wanted to express himself, and when Mark got him into skating he thought it was a perfect way. He, Mark, Otter, Kristi and Alex had been friends ever since freshman year of college. Their parents all wanted them to have good educations, so they finished graduate school but started their own skate team as soon as they graduated. They used to compete in all the seasonal competitions, but after Alex broke his arm they had slacked off. Alex was the only one on their team who could skate vert really well. The half-pipe was like his own personal diary. Alex just wasn't careful enough; he went out to the very extremes just to win a medal. Mark and Kristi were definitely the best in downhill boarding. Otter and Chris were the ones who really mastered street skating. Chris knew exactly where to go and what to do when he was at the ramps. He liked to impress people and express himself through his skating. His emotions showed in his quality. When he was angry, his anger flowed down to his feet and controlled the board. Then, he did more tricks at a lesser quality. Exactly the opposite for when he was joyous.

Oh shit! Chris shouted as he crashed into a garbage can with a metallic clash. His hands automatically flew out in front of him to break his fall. On the way down his foot got trapped within the handcuff-like handle of the can and was jerked to the left as he landed.

Oh nooo... he moaned as he looked in horror at his severely twisted ankle. He gingerly pried his foot loose from the metal handle. Every move was agony. How was he going to meet up with the others? He couldn't just sit there and wait for someone to find him. Chris took hold of his surroundings. He sat between two abandoned buildings which smelled of fish when he really sniffed. Not that he wanted to. He had taken one of his usual routes, the one he took before all competitions. He hadn't been paying attention to where he was going, he had accidentally taken his harder route which always required complete attention.

Damn it! he whispered fiercely. He was supposed to meet at Starbucks at two in the morning, and he though he thought he had plenty of time (since it usually only took him an hour to get to this point) but when he glanced at his watch it was already one. He felt like crying. No true skater cries, Alex had said, but Chris had cried many times since he started. So he let a few dry tears trickle down his face. He watched them fall, spinning down until *plop* they landed. One dripped on the skateboard that rested on his lap. He watched it sweep down over the axle, over the sticker that Kristi had given him, Lamb Of God. Their team name was The Flock, so Kristi had bought stickers for all of them.

As his gaze swept up the axle and onto the wheel, he had an idea. A stupid idea, but any idea was better than none. He dropped the board back onto the ground and placed himself in the center. He braced himself for extreme pain and moved his legs until he was sitting in a painful position with his hurt leg on top of the other. His back was aching already, but he knew the downtown burbs like the back of his hand, and knew exactly where to go to be able to go downhill the whole way. With a mighty push, he rolled along the ground, searching for a familiar turn off.

-

Where the hell is Chris? Otter demanded, he is never late. I mean, when was the last time any of you got to the meeting place before him? No one answered.

Maybe he got lost, Kristi said, fiddling with her shoulder length brown hair.

Chris? Lost? Impossible! He knows this whole city like his own reflection, dude, stated Mark matter-of-factly.

Well, what if he's hurt? Shouldn't we look for him? Does anyone know his route? I'll go look for him if no one else does, Alex asked, not trying to hide the worry in his voice.

I know both his routes, offered Mark, he most likely went the easy way today because we're not close to a competition. Okay, so two people take the easy route, Alex'll take the hard one, and someone stay here.

-

Chris was in a daze, he felt like he was going uphill, but when he paused he was still moving forward. His arms ached, his back was sore, his hands were cut and bloody, and he was so tired he couldn't see straight. Through all of this , his leg was the part of his body causing him the most pain. Even if he moved his eyes it hurt. Chris didn't know what time it was nor did he care. He sat still and tried locate himself, but it was too much work. He thought he saw a building that looked just like the one with the nice handrails that was on his easy route, but before his eyes could focus he fell fast asleep.

There he is! screamed Kristi, Oh my God, look at him, his ankle is swollen. Jeez... looks like he tried to like paddle his way to Starbucks. she said quickly. Mark ran up beside her, took one look at his best friend and dolled out the orders.

Kristi, get your car, you drove one to Starbucks, right? Yeah, go get your car and get back here as fast as possible! Go! Mark gazed sorrowfully at his bloody, slumbering friend and ordered how it was going to happen. Hey, once we get you to the hospital, you'll get it wrapped, go home, and you are gonna get fully healed for the competition, or else you'll have to watch from the side lines buddy, you hear me? I know that's not what you want. Were not going to stop this time just because of you. We already made one mistake like that with Alex's arm. If you get better I know we can win, man. You don't want us to find a replacement, do you? C'mon, this is nothing. Just get better. You can be that strong Chris, I know you can. It's just an ankle dude, you can get over it...do you hear me?