Chapter 28 The Dreamers
"I want you guys to go through about six set plays," said Coach McKay. "These are the same plays I wish you guys would try running during an actual game. Most of these are only variations of pick and rolls that only required some movement without the ball, something the very few of you seem accustomed to doing. I know most of you only want to play "Street Ball", but if you want to become winners in this league you will have to start playing as a team."
Bob tried to make the most of this short practice session and did his best John Stockton impression, with crisp passes, two of which went off the heads of Knight Players who were not paying close attention. Coach McKay loved it as it reinforced what he had been saying about the Knights not working the ball enough and getting easy baskets, like their opponents seemed to do all the time.
Practice broke up. I noticed that many of the players took a liking to me immediately and respected my playing ability and the fact that I didn’t shoot all the time and was willing to be a part of the team.
"Hey cracker," shouted Mookie, "come on over here a minute. Somebody I want you to meet."
I went over by the bleachers to where he and Marvin had been sitting. There was a much older black women sitting with a child, maybe three or four years old.
"Bob, this is my Mother, Esther, and my son Dwight," said Mookie. "Named him for Doc Gooden, the big league pitcher. We call him Baby-Doc."
"Nice to meet you, maam," I said. I kneeled down to be on the same level as the baby. "Hi, Baby-Doc," I offered while gently touching the child on the knee." The child gave me a big smile and then buried his face in his grandma's chest, faking shyness.
"Never thought I'd be seein that," said Mookie. "Baby Doc being' shy. That's a first."
"Do you come down to most of the practices," I asked of Mookie's Mom?
"I try and bring Dwight down as much as I can," said Esther. "Some times there are other children he can play with here at the park while the boys are playing ball. He just loves it outside."
"The apartment is pretty small and it doesn't take long to get freaked out up there," said Mookie." It's not good to be that cooped up all day."
"I don't blame you one bit.” "Most kids love to be outdoors. Does Baby Doc have a tricycle," I ask?
"No, not yet," answered Mookie. "Can't afford one just yet."
"Let me see what I can do back at school," I offer. "I Might be able to scrounge one up somehow."
"That would be very nice of you," said Esther. I know Dwight would love one."
With that, I take off back to campus to see what I could do about a tricycle for Baby Doc. As I make my way about two blocks away a car honked at me. I finally realized it was Ben who had been watching practice from a distance. He waited so no one would see him pick me up.
"Thanks Ben," I said. "I forgot you were keeping an eye on things this afternoon. We are having a game rescheduled for 7pm tonight. Coach just told the team, that is why practice was so short."
"You better call Jenkins and let him know, Bob," offered Ben. "I just heard on the radio that there was another shooting across town that appeared to be drug related. Two young kids gunned down on a street corner by a drive-by. The report said they got a brief description of the vehicle with two black men inside. You had better be on your toes; Bob, this town is going nuts right before our eyes."
Ben dropped me back at the dorm and I got up and put in a call to Sergeant Jenkins. Jenkins was out so I tried his personal car phone and got through. The voice on the other end said, "Ya".
"Sergeant Jenkins," I ask? "Yes, who's this?" It's Bob Lollar, Sergeant."
"What's going on, Bob?"
"The Knights have a game tonight at seven," I state. "It's a make-up from some time ago. Thought you should know so you have a little time to prepare. Ben also told me about another homicide across town he heard about on the radio. Does it have anything related to what we are working on?"
"Yes, Bob, we believe it could be related," replied Jenkins. "The two kids shot were players in the league. We're trying to interview people who knew them, but everyone in being very tight-lipped about it. Believe most of them are scared to death that they could be next. Knowing what a closed community this is, they are probably smart to be quiet for now and not be seen talking to us."
"Hey, Sarge," I ask? Know where I could pick up a tricycle for a four year old boy? One of the player's kids could use one."
"Think I have one at home," offered Jenkins. "It's in pretty good shape, too. I was keeping it for some grandchildren, but if you can use it that's fine. Meet you about three blocks from the park at 6:15 pm tonight. You can carry it the rest of the way."
"Thanks Sergeant, see you then," I reply as I hang up the phone.
I sat down in the chair at my desk and began pondering all that could happen tonight. Word of the homicide would be everywhere after the 6 o'clock news. It would be interesting how much talk at the play ground was about it, if any.
I put in a call to Father Spencer to fill him in on all that was happening. Father reminded me to be careful and keep him posted. I told him he would.
After I hung up I went off to take a quick shower and get something to eat before the game. I would have to go to the student center where they had a short-order grill. I sat alone and ate my burger and fries. For some reason my thoughts shifted about how many times I had done this very same thing at the diner back home. I thought of Gloria, her folks, and how totally different my and Gloria's lives were now. Different was the understatement of the year.