from the book The Seventh Son
by Douglas Brin
We go places, do things. If you call getting your leg cut on a barbed wire fence pickin apples on someone elses property/sneakin in the movies/lookin at the tits of a naked lady parades her ass near the same window doin things.
Felix isnt a total zero. Real good at checkers. And shootin baskets.
Other day we come outta this long movie (big war long time ago: guys couldda died twenty times but didnt, their women home doin dishes till soldier boy stops bayonettin Japs) our eyes squinting Felix says, "lets shoot."
Goof-offs always lets this-lets that. Usually, its a new way to get in trouble.
"Shoot what?" I say.
"Baskets" he says. "Can beat the big niggers on baskets."
Hell he can.
"Can beat the big niggers!"
"Dont talk so loud!" tell him. "Wanna get your lip busted?"
He shrugs. We walk to this playground buncha blacks. Tall mitey-mite blacks with the thick socks rolled down over the tops of their sneakers.
Felix pipes: he can make more straight baskets.
These niggers laugh. "Hey peanut man" says a guy tall as a flag pole. "You cant shoot shit!"
Felix says "twenty dollars."
What twenty dollars? We aint got twenty dollars.
"Lemme see your money" this other guy says.
Lemme see it too.
"Got the money" Felix says. "Somebody wanna play me?"
"Hey Bimbo" one black says to another. "You shoot,"
Bimbo looks around. You dont get too many real laughs these days, right?
Starts tossin the basketball hits the chute. Number one. On the button.
Next shot: in the hoop. Two.
Three. Oh boy.
Four. Flag pole lets out a whistle.
Five and six. Too late to get out?
Seven. Felix stands there, watching.
Nine. Pray for us, Father.
Ten. Were dead.
Eleven. Doesnt make eleven, just misses, rolls off the rim.
And so what?
Bimbo twirls the ball on his finger like the Harlem Globetrotters throws it to Felix, slam. Hard.
Felix drops it. The niggers smile. Smile: look what were havin for dinner.
Felix picks that ball right up doesnt waste a second shoots and makes it.
One of em snorts. Lucky throw, get us on the next pass.
Again. Okay. Three.
Theyre lookin at each other laughing not fun laughing whats-goin-on? laughing.
I stand there. Pray.
Felix goes for four. Again. Gimme five.
Six. This Felix?
Now the blacks aint laughing or talkin. Too busy: watchin.
Felix is in another world. Eyes on that basket. Seven.
Eight. Jesus Christ, three more.
Nine and ten.
Safe, aint we? He misses nobody wins. Tie game.
Doesnt miss. Next throw is safe. Eleven, on the count.
Felix stops. Puts the ball down on the ground, smiles at me.
Then holds his hands out: for money. Blacks just look at each other. Wanna laugh, bad. But somethings stuck in their throats.
Bimbos pal says: "well?"
Tall skinny guy growls "lucky you made it, man."
Lucky? "What lucky? Want my money" says Felix.
"What money?" says Bimbo.
"Twenty. I won."
"You aint won shit. Do it again."
Felix looks at me. Wish hed do his lookin someplace else.
Skinny guy says "you kids in the wrong neighborhood. Right Lulu?"
This Lulu hasnt opened his mouth. No need hes the biggest black of the bunch. A giant. Kong. The big niggers big nigger.
Were in the wrong neighborhood.
"Want my twenty dollars" says Felix.
Bimbo goes up to Felix knocks him down with one finger walks over to me.
"You got a problem man?"
"Yes you do. HEs your problem."
"Real smart white boy" I hear as I half carry Felix outta there.
"Lets go back tomorrow," he lights up smile after a while.
Kick him good.
Better than the screen door.
Copyright © 1997 by Douglas Brin
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