Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Zeus

The amber lights coming off the building were barely luminous in the cold dark winter storm. It was the kind of imagery that could remind one of the end of the world. Yet, it didn't stop over a hundred cars from lining up their way through the driveway, into the parking lot. Patiently slipping and sliding. Never honking. They made their way there, to see the boys play the game.

They weren't the brave ones, the ones in cars. But the kids that had to walk to meet up with friends, not a long walk for most. Maybe fifteen minutes tops. In a cold blizzard an eternity. But friends were waiting, and game was about to start. So kids walked silently in the dark. Trudging through slowly, in the deep snow covered short cuts. They made their way there, to see the boys play the game.

For some of the kids who were new to the town. It came, as a bit of a shock, that the boys would be so celebrated in this backwards, small town, for basketball. It didn't seem to fit with the stereotypes. It would seem more likely that football, or baseball, or hockey would be received with crazed passion. That these would be the games that hundreds of people would show up to, to watch. Not basketball. The new kids didn't realize yet, that if there was a sport being played, that was traditionally considered to be a man's sport; the town was going to show up.

It was that kind of town. So boring, the life blood of the town depends and thrives on the performance of any sport played by a small group of sixteen year old boys. Value of character for everyone is measured, judged, rewarded and punished by the proximity, enthusiasm and envy that is showed for the boys who play the game.

They were sixteen year old gods. Some of the players were good old boys, who didn't see it that way. Others took the glory that they received, willingly and gladly, inherently knowing that this wonderful time, like all things; would end. But there was the one, there was always one. The leader, the Zeus, of the group.

He was great at each sport. Football, he was the star receiver. Baseball, he was the star hitter. He casually played track and won each event. He was star forward for his hockey team. For him, his future only seemed to have the problem of deciding which scholarship was he going to take? Football? Baseball? Basketball? The future seemed bright and unlimited.

Except, no one in town had ever seen any scouts. There was always talk about how, surely, scouts were going to be coming to pick up "our" boy. Take him to the big leagues. They would get him a scholarship and he would head off and make his town proud. Make his school proud. It wasn't any pressure for him. He believed them, he believed that he was just naturally going to make it all happen. He had so far, he had no reason to think otherwise.

He won the game in the blizzard. He won most of the games. Even when the team didn't win, he did. He always won. He won that year, and the next. And when it came time for school to end, and for the group of kids to move on, that's when it dawned on him. No scout had taken him. No scholarship was headed his way. He wouldn't be playing university sports of any type.

 In fact, he wouldn't be going to university at all. After the summer, it seemed that he disappeared. The town didn't wonder about him. This happened to most of their star athletes, they all left town. Never to be seen again. No one really knew why.

Eight years later, he was heard from again. In a small town not too far from his old one. Working as a bouncer at the pub. He was bigger than ever, clearly not naturally. He had a boy of his own, kid was four years old. Already playing catch like a champ, at least as far as he could tell, every second weekend.

Back in the town.The amber lights coming off the building were barely luminous in the cold dark winter storm. It was the kind of imagery that could remind one of the end of the world. Yet, it didn't stop over a hundred cars from lining up their way through the driveway, into the parking lot. Patiently slipping and sliding. Never honking. They made their way there, to see the boys play the game.