January 27, 1978
It’s a little after nine.
I have until ten to get some shots up before a priest throws me out of the yard.
It’s getting colder by the minute.
But I don’t care.
People are walking by the yard looking at me like I’m crazy. It snowed earlier tonight so there’s a little snow on the court. I dribble around it. If I had a shovel I would scoop it up and toss it to the side.
All of a sudden, I see someone walk in.
Holy shit. It’s her!
Haven’t seen her in three weeks.
What is she doing here?
It’s a school night. Well for her it is, not me.
She lives way down on Church Avenue.
She must have taken the F-train two stops.
I act like I don’t she her.
Finally I glance over towards the entrance of the yard.
“Oh hi, how you doing?”
I take a couple of dribbles then shoot a back shot from the right corner. While I release the ball, I take a quick peek over at her. My coach always said to keep my eyes on the goal.
“I knew you would be here,” Maria says as she gets closer to the court.
I don’t respond.
What the hell is she doing here?
“You been here long?” Maria asks.
“Since about eight,” I respond.
“Eight? WOW!” she answers in amazement.
I see those snow white teeth.
“Ain’t you freezing?” she asks.
The moon is shining down and I can see her beautiful eyes sparkling.
“How was school today?” she asks.
“It was okay,” I answer. Damn she asks a lot of questions. But I love her voice. It’s soft and sweet.
I take a few jump shots as Maria stands under the basket rebounding and passing it back to me. She’s a good passer.
“Meet any new friends at school?”
Maria has no idea I stopped going to school.
I take a few more shots. Then without warning I dribble down court towards the church wall and pull up for a long jumper.
“Hey, you don’t like me or something?” Maria shouts from the other end of the court.
All I can do is look down at her and admire how good she looks.
She is wearing jeans, black boots and a black coat.
Maria jogs down to my end and starts to play defense. Just like she did at East 5th street a few weeks ago.
I stand there with the ball and watch her.
“Come on Red, try to score.”
I shake my head and dribble past her to the basket, making a lay-up with ease.
Looking back at her she’s standing by the foul-line.
“Hey, that’s not fair,” Maria says.
I’m thinking it’s getting close to ten. The priests will be throwing us out soon.
She’ll probably leave and then I won’t see her for another three weeks.
“You wanna go over to the park?” Maria asks.
I stop dribbling.
I don’t even think about shooting.
“The park? Sure,” I answer.
We walk out of the schoolyard and head down Howard Place.