Two Point Season

Shlurp, shlurp, shlurp, shlurp, shlurp, shlurp, shlurp. I couldn't imagine why I was so thirsty. It wasn't like I had had any playing time in this basketball game, or any other games this season for that matter. The bright side to this was that since I knew I was never going to be wanted on the court, I could sit and enjoy the ice-cold water fountain as much as I wanted.

When I was finally finished lapping up the chilled goodness that flowed from the public school wall, I turned around, walked back through the gymnasium doors and strolled towards the most comfortable spot on the bench, which was recognized as rightfully mine since I spent so much time sitting on it. Before I could seat myself on the perfectly contoured spot of wood, the coach began yelling and waving his arms.

"Maiale!" I was startled, bordering on shocked, to hear my name.

"Get your ass in the game! You're on number twenty-four! Don't let him get by you!"

I stumbled onto the court, still trying to figure out what the heck was going on. Before I had the chance to get my bearings, though, an orange ball with the general texture of my friend's pimply face came rocketing towards my head. My hands instinctively flew up to protect my handsome face when my guardian angel stepped in. The ball miraculously stopped and somehow my hands found their way around it. I didn't know what to do next. I gazed around stupidly and suspiciously like a deer gazing at runners in the woods.

"What theā€¦" my coach yelled from the sidelines.

"Michael! Do something before you embarrass yourself!" my dad ferociously roared. Then I realized that there wasn't a defender in sight. I figured I better seize the opportunity presented by my good luck. I pivoted on my left foot, planted my right foot just ahead of my left one, squared my shoulders to the basket, bent my knees and jumped, hurling the ball in the air with oddly perfect arc. The crowd gasped in shock.

"They don't believe I can make a shot," I thought, "This oughtta show them."

The ball spun as it fell towards the orange ring that was its intended target. Fshwt. The ball fell through the ring perfectly, touching only the bottom of the basketball net.

There was a gasp of disbelief behind me. I was pleased that I really had shown them. Then, there were explosions of cheers like Fourth of July fireworks. I felt a surge of ecstasy rush through me. I had only played for ten seconds, but I had already proven that I wasn't as bad as everyone thought. The rush was incredible and nothing was going to bring me down.

"Michael!" my dad cheered violently, "You friggin' idiot." I took it as a term of endearment. Then I looked around. My coach nodded with disapproval.

Sure, I probably hadn't gone along with the coaches plays, but I had scored. I couldn't believe everyone was behaving this way. Even my teammates looked at me with derision. The other team jeered.

"Maiale, you're out of the game. Get back on the goddamn bench" my coach muttered bitterly. My dad looked at me with disgust.

"How could you shoot on the wrong basket?"

My stomach dropped. My heart sank. The ecstatic feeling that had been racing up my body suddenly seemed to fall out of me onto the floor. My face quickly alternated between white and red. I wanted to throw up.

Parents were cursing at me. Even the referees were laughing. To make matters worse, I really had to go to the bathroom after all that water I had been drinking, but I felt like I couldn't because it would look like I was running away if I left the gym. I sat down on my spot on the bench, my heart racing. My eyes started to water but to keep my pride, I stopped myself from crying. Fingers pointed in my direction, usually accompanied by laughs or scornful glances from the fingers' owners. I became glad that the sharp pains shooting through my bladder were distracting me from my embarrassment. Finally, after the game had resumed and after the number of people staring at me had significantly decreased, I stood up. With my head high and looking straight ahead I walked back towards the doors to the water fountain, and out into the area where the bathrooms were located. After using the bathroom I walked out and turned back towards the gym. I felt a repulsion from the gym, though. I turned around and walked out the doors of the building and sat outside my dad's car, basking in the sunshine, reading a book which I found lying on the ground. As the sun breathed its warmth on my face, I decided that this was how I was going to spend my Saturdays from this day forward. That was the end of my basketball career.