It was a grey cloudy morning. Rain cascaded down upon us; thunder shook the ground beneath us. It was as if God himself cried, and howled and moaned at the atrocities of the world. And there we were. We four, we brave four, against the world.
Saturday morning in Coppell, Texas was not like any other morning in any other suburb of any other city in Texas. This was different. Danger clung to the dust particles in the air. Reckless abandon surged through the blades of grass in the fields like electric current through copper wiring. And I found myself staring down the Russian mafia on the rain slicked basketball courts in Coppell, Texas.
It all started with a phone call.
“Hey, some of the guys are going to get together for a basketball game tomorrow if you’re interested.” The voice said.
It was my friend from college. I was definitely interested. It had been a long time since I last played basketball. Basketball. The Golden Sport. The Game of Aristotle. America’s super real favorite past time. Hoop. Basketball.
I’d sworn off basketball ten years ago. I said I would never go back, not after what happened. I would never want to relive that moment; the moment when my stunning “Lights out” performance on the court literally knocked the lights out of ten city blocks.
Oh sure I scored 37 points, but tell that to little Billy Zwagger, who got trampled over by an elephant who escaped from the town zoo when the electric locks failed.
23 rebounds mean nothing to Edna Hollis who was in the middle of a gastric bypass surgery when the power went out. Now all she does is eat Twinkies in her one bedroom apartment.
Yes, we won the game that day. Indeed we beat the Greensboro Tomcats 137-63, but I would take every one of those points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks, and forced turn-overs back, if little Devon Harrison could see out of her left eye once more.
“What the hey?” I figured, “That was like ten years ago. Who cares?” I said to myself.
Who cares indeed?
“You will not stop us.” The big one said in a deep Russian accent.
The four of us had walked into the park for a simple game of basketball, what we found was horrific.
Four large men in dark black suits were loading dozens of orphans into a van. The children were all crying. “Please don’t take us to Russia! We don’t want to go to Russia!”
“You will go to Mother Russia! You will stop crying, or I shall be taking your shoes!”
“Hey!” I yelled. “Just what the hell are you doing with our American orphans red?”
“You will stand back Amerikan! We shall take your orphans, and you shall do nothing about it. You only think you have won the cold war yes? But no! We shall take your orphans, and your Amerikan Bald Eagles!”
I hadn’t noticed before, but just to the left of the dark van was a giant cage full of baby Bald Eagles.
“Those bastard Russians are trying to take our orphans, and our Bald Eagles.” Said one of my friends.
“They might as well piss on the Lady Liberty herself.” Said another.
“It’s like they’re tea-bagging my grandmother.” Said the third.
“And that’s taking it too far.” I said gritting my teeth.
“I said put the kids down Ruskie. I don’t want to have to tell you again.” I said sternly as I walked toward the van.
The large Russians pulled out their guns and pointed them at us.
“What are you going to do Amerikan? You have nothing but basketball. We have guns.”
“We’ll play you for them.” I said.
“What’s the matter Commie? Scared? I didn’t realize that Stalin was Russian for yellow.”
“Amerikan pig! We will show you yellow when I am taking you to school on a bus that is of the same color on your Amerikan basketball court!”
“Bring it on Khrushchev!”
My three friends and I played those Russians. We played them with the orphans and the endangered Bald Eagles looking on. Their futures hung in the balance with every dribble, every shot, and every pass. They cheered when we scored. They moaned when we were scored upon. The game was a stalemate. We played for 7 hours and 46 minutes. The rules were simple enough. First to 21 wins, must win by two. All baskets scored are worth 1 point, unless they are scored behind a certain line, where the baskets are then worth two points. Losers out. The score was 176 to 175. We were down. It had been back and forth all day long.
I was tired, my team mates were tired. But so were the Russians. I could see the fear in their eyes. I knew they were going to fold.
Quick dribble penetration, past by a vicious screen placed by one of my teammates, simple give and go, the game is tied.
In bounds pass telegraphed, I step in take the pass, a steal. This is it. The chance to win the game. For the Bald Eagles. For the kids. For Lady Liberty. For me. For little Billy Zwagger.
The Russians in a panic let out their secret weapon. They had a bear, a giant Russian bear stored in the back of their van. The bear ran at me. I ducked under the swiping bear, and tripped the lethargic animal so it fell to the ground, all the while making sure not to pick up my dribble. The Russians pulled out their guns and started to shoot at me, I ran, dodging bullets, back behind the two point line. I leapt up into the air, shooting the basketball. The bear swiped at my torso as I was in mid air, sending me flying off the court.
The shot was good. The kids were free. They came running out of the van, cheering, tears of joy running down their little orphan cheeks. The Eagles, the noble endangered Bald Eagles would be set into the wild.
That’s when I realized I was going to come crashing down on the Bald Eagle cage. That damn Russian bear pushed me onto the Bald Eagle cage. I twisted in the air at the last possible moment, avoiding the eagle cage, but at the expense of something else. My ankle.
I heard a pop. I felt the breaking of bones. I felt the shattering of dreams.
The Russians and the bear ran into their empty and drove off yelling, “You won this round Amerikan, but you have paid the price of freedom with your ankle. HA-ha-ha-ha!”
“I guess those are the breaks!” I yelled back, holding up the van’s break line, which I had cut earlier in the game.
The Russians looked stunned as they proceeded to drive into a lake. Their van quickly took in water, and sunk to the bottom.
“You gave up your ankle to save those Bald Eagles!” a little orphan said.
“They would have done the same for me.” I answered.
“It’s the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.” She said.
That’s when I realized that little orphan was Devon Harrison. Apparently my act of heroism gave her the ability to see once more with both eyes.
“Well, let’s get me to a hospital.” I said.
“And let’s get us back to the orphanage!” a kid shouted.
And we all laughed.
Seriously… having a broken ankle sucks. I can’t really do anything or go anywhere. My armpits are crazy sore. My one “Good” leg (good in quotes cause it’s the leg I had knee surgery on, so it’s the weaker of my two legs, and it’s not happy that it has to be the load bearer) is sore and cramping up all the time.
I’m down right miserable.
Special shout outs to my friends Scoop and New York Mindy who have called me everyday to see if I’m doing well (it’s only been two days, but spend two days in bed- against your will, and see how long it feels). And to my dad and my brother who get me stuff, because walking from my room to the kitchen now takes me like five freaking minutes.
If you’re thinking of breaking an ankle for fun… take it from me… don’t.