in Fiction

No Game

The door slams shut. Too loud, I think. But I’m upset and in such cases, drastic measures can be called for. A little less hard next time, I think. After all, a broken door would bring mother raining hell over me. Not to mention the grounding for eternity, or being forced to do the laundry, or make the bed in the morning. It seems there is never a dearth of awful chores around this house.

Moving in swift, precise circles while waiting for the elevator, I feel a slight restlessness. Feigning anger requires immense discipline of the mind and the muscles. Intense focus. It’s almost like going on a one-man tactical mission. Once you choose that path, there’s no second-guessing there. One cannot lose the credibility of their fake anger.

In the lobby, I move fast and steady — straight — pretending to be someone with a singular purpose, knowing exactly where and when to place their next step. There are no mistakes. There is nothing to distract, to break the rhythm of the walk towards my purpose. In reality, I’m only going out to field where the neighborhood kids hang out. I’m looking to blow some steam, shoot a couple of balls into the net but the field is empty. I find Tim slouching on the lone bench, studs by his side. I sit down.

Tim says, No game today. Everyone’s out.

I say, Sucks. Game’s been getting slow lately.

Yeah, it’s no fun at all.

Yeah, no fun.

We sit there, staring out at the field, digging our feet into the earth. Then, a pause. Tim shuffles on the bench, slouches further down. He looks over and says, Mannn you wanna smoke? I don’t get why he pulls out this Bob Marley accent every time. It makes him sound stupid, but I’ve never told him that.

You rolled? I ask.

Yeahhh. Been here for a while.

I look over at him and see him staring out at the field like the man’s about to spit out some philosophical theory in that instant. I know him though, and the dude’s got an attention span of a fly. Tim’s always been slow, a bit of a flake really. Always moving on to things before his time. No game, he says, so I rolled. But he’s also not a complete wuss. In fact, I kind of like him.

In his sophomore year of high-school, Tim used to have the hots for this senior named Eva. Tim being himself let Eva know one day, who in turn let her body-builder boyfriend know, who in turn came around lunch one day and told Tim to Back off you fat scumbag. Tim had a tuna sandwich for lunch that day. I remember this because of two reasons: one, the sandwich smelled awful, and two, because of what he did with it. Meticulously, he separated the two slices of bread holding the tuna and smacked them right into the boyfriend’s face. Dude still cherishes that moment, though he got beat in the parking lot after and had a bruised ribcage for two straight weeks. He ended up dating Eva in high school but they never worked out.

Lately, though, he just evades things. Once he smokes, he’ll find something else to distract him. It’s like he’s just constantly escaping the present. He passes the joint over.

Nah, I’ll pass, I say.

You going to Dr. E’s today? he asks, letting the smoke out in bursts. The smell is intoxicating, rising slow and uniform in the summer heat. If I look hard, I can see each distinct layer of his exhale. There is no wind. No one on the field. It feels as if we’re suspended in time.

Yes, I reply, wanting but choosing not to say more. A wave of exhaustion passes over me. I’m going to head back, I say, rising from the bench and slicing his lingering cloud of smoke with my hand. You should go to Dr. E’s. She said you haven’t come in for weeks.

Alright, alright, I’ll see, he waves his hands in a dismissal. But all she wants to talk about is feelings, feelings, feelings, mannn. He’s pretend-choking his throat, but we both know Dr. E’s isn’t horrible. He actually likes her sometimes.

Ok, see you at night? I ask, walking away shuffling my feet in the grass, and looking back at him over my shoulder.

He puts out the joint and stands up. Right O’ clock tonight, then, he calls out as he walks away.

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