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Chapter Nine: The Basketball Team
Thumping bass hit so hard and low it displaced the gathered smoke swirling from different cigarettes into a basement’s captured air. Mikey Johnderson bobbed his head as he took the final step into the party that had descended into a haze. Johnderson’s lack of stature had always led to a variety of overcompensations, all of which involved a heavy reliance of bombast. In that spirit he squinted implied hellos at various members of Cholo Rodriguez’s West Side and began striding toward his customary adversary with his chest puffed outward.
“You strut like a mark, white boy,” Rodriguez smirked as Mikey approached.
“Great,” Johnderson flushed as he wrapped his left hand around his balled up right, “you know how my boys told me this was stupid, and here you are one minute into proving them right.”
“All right, all right,” Cholo waived his hand at two thugs that had been slowly working their way toward Johnderson, “Let’s all try and be cool to see if this can work out.”
“Yeah, what is this…’zactly?”
“Well, it seems like we both been burned by the same sucker,” Rodriguez said, “You know, that one that’s humpin’ your girlfriend and dancin’ with mine.”
“Oh, wait, CC ain’t hittin’ Loose-EE?” Johnderson asked through laughter that was not reciprocated. Rodriguez looked on while waiting for him to stop. “Whatever,” Johnderson snarled, “What about it?”
“Well, obviously I can’t go to school to show anyone what it’s like. And I don’t think that, you know, these chumps get too worked up with our dirt. If we want to make ‘em hurt it’s gotta be at school, in front of everyone who thinks those suckers are so great.”
Johnderson’s glance took him around the corner and back at Rodriguez. Intrigue overwhelmed all of his instincts and he asked, “So what’choo got in mind?”
“You know,” Beth began, “If sports are, like, tearing the school apart maybe they ought to just get rid of the whole thing. You know? If you can’t play anything nice and what not?”
“May not be a bad idea,” Spurlock said, “The problem is how many of these kids would just stop coming to school altogether if they had no sports to play? Plus where else are they going to learn stuff like accountability, responsibility, the sense of working with others toward a goal. That sort of thing?”
“You mean their gangs aren’t doing the trick?” Ruth interjected, “Sure seems like they are becoming pretty resourceful if nothing else.”
Spurlock laughed at the thought. He was spending more time discussing anything his homeroom wanted as its population was on the uptick. Meghan was making more frequent appearances, and Spurlock was becoming looser with the formality of forced schoolwork and officially switching into his homeroom as it had come to be viewed as a sanctuary. Two new preppy kids had ambulated and officially had their schedules changed. They had not appeared to be friends of Ruth and Beth’s, but merely had heard that Spurlock’s class was a haven for the law-abiding. Even than the official entries, Spurlock’s lunch was immediately following their homeroom, and he had started allowing the kids to bring their food into his room so they could avoid the cafeteria and general harassments that eating in the wolves’ den involved. More than an act of charity, it was gratifying for him to spend a portion of his day working with students who he knew generally cared about their academic performance.
“Don’t get too down on sports,” he told everyone listening, “They teach a lot more good than they cause bad. I think we’re just going through some unique growing pains. Eventually it will work itself back to normal.”
“Sheesh, what is normal?” Beth asked, “I’m totally freaked out by thinking that maybe this is normal. I mean they finally booted that Cholo because he finally hit too many people in the face over the course of a week. But now all this West Sigh-EED is like, hammering out an alliance with the same South Side dudes that they were all fighting just, like, a month ago. I mean… seriously…is it true what all those parenting books say and that young people are really that desperate for…direction?”
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