Like Black Chalk on my Hands

My dad never exercised when I was in middle school or high school. He has always been naturally athletic. He was good at baseball, basketball, and football — better than the other dads.

My dad has five sons, including me. I’m the second oldest. We played a lot of pick-up games with him — football in the cul-de-sac and basketball in our driveway.

I remember playing basketball with him during the summer. My family has a portable hoop in our driveway, and we played two-on-two — my dad, my two older brothers, and me. (My two youngest brothers weren’t big enough to play.)

The driveway was cracked, black asphalt that left a residue on your hands like black chalk. Our driveway sloped down so the ground was several inches lower farther down the court.

My dad taught us how to play basketball.

“See the square on the backboard?” he said. “Bounce the ball off the corner for a bank shot.”

He taught us defense. “Stay between your man and the hoop,” he would say.

My dad was hard to guard inside because he had excellent body control and technique. He could shoot outside and cut inside to the hoop.

We played two-on-two tournaments. The games had a strange tempo. They contained periods of serenity as the ball was bounced in a hypnotic pattern, up-and-down-and-up-and-down, and suddenly it transformed into frantic movement, a mad dance. Bodies flexed for position. Feet pounded the asphalt.

The ball flicked between hands and was suddenly launched up, arcing over outstretched arms toward the hoop.

We stopped playing two-on-two after my oldest brother joined the military and I went to college.

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  1. clean, vivid and precise. i would have liked to seen a more drawn out ending though.


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