How it’s Remembered
Return bus trips from away games were always the best times to tell stories—the zipping beams of light from passing traffic, the rattling heater, voices traveling through gaps of darkness, muffled music coming from headphones of Sony and Panasonic CD players and their glowing screens. Forty-eight minutes of running up and down the court and we were still up flowing with energy, joking; laughing.
“I remember the first time I crossed Rayshaun,” I said.
“Awww shit! Here we go,” he replied.
“Ohhh,” “Uhhh,” “Ohhh,” “tell it,” came from the heads out in the isle.
“I came down court, went between the legs to the left, paused—he bit on the hesitation—then crossed right. It was so funny; he slid out the picture.”
“Nah, nah, nah! That ain’t even how it went.”
AAU basketball was all we had; all we cared for, growing up. We lived in a small town where reputation was it and only it, so when our teams clashed in their first battle at the Y, I had to show him I was worth the hype. I was the point guard, elusive, diligent, handler of the rock.
“Aight, aight. I stopped after crossing half court and dribble the ball in the upper corner to kill the clock. He came out to guard me. The reff motioned his arm confirming his count; one—two—three. I faked right; he bit and I crossed over. He was quick and used his speed to catch up, but I used it against him. I slammed on the breaks; his sneakers squealed; I crossed going in the other direction; he couldn’t gather his balance and he fell.”
“That’s some bull!” he said. The bus erupted in laughter. “That ain’t how it happened. He’s always trying to make himself look good.” His voice wavered in denial and laughter.
“You see, there’s your proof. You can hear it in his voice. He can’t keep a straight face.”
It’s amusing how life pivoted and made me the defender.
The fish was bedded down over a nest in the shallows—his shadow-y body visible. Each cast he would swim out, look at the bait, but not strike. My daughter asked why wasn’t it biting. “I don’t know,” I said, “probably doesn’t like what I’m throwin’.” I switched the crawfish out for a motor oil worm and on the first cast he bit.
I had the fish close to the surface then it dove, bending the rod to shape the lower case N, as if saying no, I will not be caught. I spooled out line and reeled him back. Spooled and reeled, spooled and reeled, until the fish gave and floated up; trailing behind the invisible line in a hypnotic trance. I dipped the net in, scooped up the fish, unhooked him and held him up. “See, dad’s the man!”
The fish flapped side to side. I lost my grip; went to grab it. He slipped out of my cupped hands and splashed back into the water. My prize swam off without us taking a photo. The one girl laugh track broke out behind me. “Oh my gawd dad, that was so funny.”
The memory of the fish reminds me of Rayshaun’s defense—swims in the same bowl. Me thinking I had it and its slick slippery body, unable to be held, saying otherwise. I was Rayshaun in that moment, the fish me. I had the fish. It used my confidence against me and when I was overweening, made its move. I was Rayshaun; expecting to be in control of the situation. I was Rayshaun… I laugh. The ball: something I never lost.
Maurice Buckner is a Oklahoma native who grew up on the sun-dried lands of Lawton, Oklahoma. He has just recently obtained his Bachelor's degree in English, with a focus on Creative Writing. He is a son and a father. He enjoys passing time staring out across the land enjoying its flats and hills, or out cruising along a country back road staring at old, rusty oil pumps and cattle. He has grappled with landscape of Lawton for years and has finally come to terms that it is a part of him; it has intertwined with his double helix, and from that dry land he emerges.