Chapter 24 The Dreamers
Sergeant Jenkins finished his presentation including the mapping out of their "infiltration strategy" in which I was to be a major player. The goal was to get me involved as a player on the Chicago Knights team, do my best to become one of the "guys" and see how much the players begin to "talk" and get as much intelligence as I can. If I am able to be-friend a couple of the newer players and determine if they trying to be "recruited" for any illegal activity, it would be a start.
Jenkins reminded everyone, "this could possibly take some time and that it is important that everyone was careful about what they said about the operation and who they said it to. It was important that, you Bob, maintain your cover as just a "Moody Student" looking to play some organized basketball and wanting to work with wayward youth. Nothing more and nothing less was to be the appearance."
Sergeant Jenkins closed out the presentation, "Bob, I hope your athletic skill is as good as everyone says they are. These kids may not be academically gifted, but they can play some mean street ball. In the "paint" it will be a war. Make no mistakes. For many of these kids, this IS their life, their fame, maybe even their fortune, we’ll have to find that out," he concluded.
"Where and when do you want me to start," I ask?
"Here is a new ball for you to carry to the "yard" tomorrow," said Jenkins as he tossed a brand new NBA synthetic covered ball to me. He also handed me a map of the area with the courts highlighted in yellow.
"Show up at Beaupre Center tomorrow just like you were going to shoot around," added Jenkins. "You should have no trouble getting into a game at first. Just take it slow. Things will happen fast enough."
The meeting broke up with Fr. Spencer asking Ben and I to come over to his office. We walked slowly over to the Admin. Building rehashing all that was said. Ben offered that he had some contacts with the Chicago Bulls as one of his high school teammates was now a player and could possibly get some tickets we could use help me become more "popular".
We made our way into Father's office and took seats in front of his desk. Fr. Spencer sat quietly in his chair for a moment, kind of starring off into space out the window to his right. He kind of startled himself back to reality, realizing he had guests, me and Ben.
"Sorry fells," apologized Fr. Spencer, "Didn't mean to go off like that. I was just thinking about the seven homicides Jenkins talked about and how such a seemingly good idea of Midnight Basketball can be turned into something bad by the devil himself. Bob, you must promise that you will be as careful as you can and don't pull some "Starsky & Hutch" stunt trying to save somebody. We need information, not heroes."
"Don't worry," I respond. "I am not looking for some posthumous medal or award. I would like to be around for a while. Besides, Ben here is going to keep me out of trouble. One look at him will make them think twice, I hope."
"Come on, Uncle," added Ben, "Bob will be O.K. Let's pray right now and ask God to take care of it right now."
Father Spencer led a very heartfelt prayer asking God to protect me and give me the spiritual guidance I would need to make the right decisions and keep me safe from all harm. He also asked for God's help for Sergeant Jenkins and his team and seeks a spiritual revival for all young people, especially for an opening of the hearts of the youth involved in this basketball league.
After the prayer, Ben and I left Father and when down the hall and got the rest of my schedule of classes and times. Western Philosophy-3 hours-8am-M/W/F: B. Applegate; Sociology 1 - 3 hours-9am-M/W/F: S. Miller; and New Testament 1 -2 hours-M/W: B. Close. I got the campus locator map so I would know where to go for class. Classes started next week.
Ben had class himself, and left me to head over to the Campus Book Store to get my books and the study supplies I would need. I made his my back to the room and got myself situated.
Other students were making their way in the dorm and greeted me. The campus was beginning to bustle with activity of the new school semester. As I went into my room I thought how sheltered college students were. Safe and secure, their parents spending tens of thousands of dollars for school, or partying, which ever was the case, totally oblivious to what was happening for all too many of the inner-city youth. They would take their liberal political philosophy and cry how the government should be doing more, but never get their hands dirty or really be involved themselves.
Spending a few tax dollars of other people's money would take away their "guilt" I thought. They didn't mind getting involved as long as it meant using someone else’s money or the time it took to earn it. I realized that what I was about to do should and could make more of an impact. It didn't make sense to spend millions subsidizing midnight basketball only to loose more youth than we save. There must be a better way. I hoped that I could part of making it work.