by Kevin Clifford ’20 – Creative Writing Contest Winner
“Hayward to Irving, that’s for three. Brown’s effort kept it alive temporarily, but Middleton gathers the miss.”
Jack had dozed off during the game, so he decided to watch some of the highlights. “Must have been a rough game if that brick was shown in the highlights,” he thought to himself. But that’s how things seemed to be trending. Jack was not a bad kid. He tried to be nice to people, you know, he held doors and would help an old lady cross the street if need be. It’s funny how very little that opportunity presented itself. When Jack was younger, he had always assumed from TV and stuff that there would be an old lady awaiting help at every crosswalk. Now that he thought about it, there weren’t as many loosely held pianos on the side of tall apartment buildings out in the world either. He was soft-spoken and fairly intelligent. Intelligent enough to get into a good college and make his mother proud. That’s all he really cared about. And the Celtics too, but obviously the mom thing was real.
“We had good memories here, right Jack-o,” his dad interrupted. He had just put down the small dresser and signaled for Jack to help him out. Jack understood his dad’s words to mean, “Your childhood was not bad, right son.” Jack nodded his head reluctantly. His father knew this day would come eventually. But, once it arrived, things became a bit too real. That’s usually when nostalgia hits. That’s why people like talking about Larry Bird and the ’86 Celtics. It’s way easier than talking about anything real. Jack and his dad had never talked about real things. Why start now? Perhaps his dad felt that talking only about sports for eighteen plus years was not the best of decisions. Of course, there were real moments of parenthood. But those were few and far between. Plus, now, things were a bit too real for any effective fatherhood. Jack didn’t hate his father, but he didn’t like how his choices yielded such poor results.
It took about six or seven trips to clear the house. Lifting furniture, carrying trash bags of clothes and trash bags of trash. Trash bags were super convenient, Jack had discovered. They went back and forth from the house to the truck. Then, back and forth from the house to storage. All while the mysterious black suits watched on. They weren’t actually in black suits, and they were in no way mysterious. Just a couple of real estate agents that were gifted the house by a bank. Jack knew they were doing their jobs, and they didn’t seem to enjoy playing the role of the villain either. But it is always fun to have an external enemy. Holmes had Moriarty. Captain America had the Red Skull. Pierce had Lebron. All Jack wanted was something tangible to fight against. Something he could control. The black suits seemed a fitting adversary. Of course, the suits won outright. They were the Bucks dribbling out the clock, while the Celtics had decided not to foul anymore. The game and season were over. So, Jack could do nothing but put his head down and finish packing. He packed half of his life in storage. The other half went in the bin. All his possessions were in trash bags, so Jack was certain that he had mixed something important with the garbage. Not so convenient after all.
“Oh well,” he mumbled to himself. At least it was over.
“Learn from this Jack. Don’t let it affect you but learn from it. Never try to live above your means, son,” his mom had managed to get out. She spoke to Jack like this for a couple of days. Stock phrases and words of wisdom. Jack knew that she was just trying to shield him—and probably herself, too. Jack wished he could think of some words of comfort. Something to make her feel better. Some sort of fix-all phrase. Instead, he nodded his head and bided his time. He thought maybe he could just make a joke. Any joke. It didn’t even have to be funny. Just something that might cheer her up even if it was just for a moment. Eventually, he thought of one. Well he thought of someone else’s joke, but it seemed appropriate to use at the time. He felt that the comedian probably would not have minded this small instance of plagiarism given the circumstance. Plus, it would probably fall under the fair use doctrine anyways.
“You know mom, if history has taught us one thing… it’s that the Battle of Gettysburg was in 1863.”
Jack’s mom cracked a smile, and the two of them laughed for a while.