Jason M. Jones


Our rites that summer revolved around the spotlight that lit a small court behind the local private school where we played 2-on-2 after midnight, the swimming pool’s glistening blue waters a hundred yards away waving at our slick skin, taunting, lapping at the edges like a flirting girl’s fingertips.

We divvied up the teams, biggest and smallest versus our two middlemen, to keep the odds even, and heaved on into forgotten hours, posting up, shooting, running the length of that miniature concrete slab and hanging king-like from the low non-regulation rims after driving the ball through the net, drops of perspiration dangling from the tip of a nose, clinging, reticent before the fall.

We were trespassing, transgressing, and yet transcending, testing the boundaries of little laws, having mapped escape routes through nascent woods to the road in case blue and red sirens, cutting across the field, surfaced like incandescent shark fins.

Lacking more formidable prey, the police primarily poached for teens in our suburban landscape, and between games, we’d scan the distance, like zebras watch for lions, to detect any car, whether blue and white or dark gray, that might snake across the park with headlights cut and engine settled into a faint hum.

We were stars of the blacktop, two championship squads that struggled for supremacy, back and forth, the strip short enough to sink full-court jumpers and absurd hook shots that hit nothing but net, seemingly pulled by tractor beam through the round black steel.

We heard applause in the leaves and the grass, and we insulted one another like true pros, pushing off, bucking against, a real physical game:

Young gods in their wrestling.

For Wally


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