mano-a-mano

The heat is rising off the black top.

As it has been doing for weeks.

Patience and clothing are both being worn thin in this relatively urban powder keg.

Sounds of the bouncing, well-worn basketball are echoing off the surrounding buildings.

Likely annoying occupants and passers-by.

But they don’t care.

Adidas is down a basket to Nike.

And he is pissed.

Body slams against body.

No quarter asked or given.

Adidas spins.

Adidas bounces a shot off the backboard — just above the bullet hole — and in.

Tied.

He struts a little back to the foul line.

Chest sticking out just a bit more.

Nike whips the ball to him.

Adidas catches it with a smirk.

He lazily bounces it back to be checked.

Nike fires it back even harder — at Adidas’ head.

Adidas dribbles.

Cross over.

A crowd gathers.

Cross over.

The lone cloud in the sky heads off, leaving the sun’s oppressive light uninterrupted.

Through the legs.

A fire truck siren tries to interrupt.

Nike takes a defensive stance.

Sweat drips down faces.

Adidas drives.

There exists a moment, on the edge of violence, when this truly becomes a gritty ballet.

Elbow in ribs.

Grunts.

Pushing.

Adidas steps back.

He shoots.

Nothing but chain “net.”

Nike bends over.

Adidas catches his breath, with his hands pulling on the bottom of his shorts.

“So, how are things with the ladies lately?” Nike asks.

Adidas picks up the ball. He dribbles it a few times, as if each bounce clarifies his thoughts a little more.

He takes a long, deep breath.

“In the utensil drawer of life, aren’t we all just looking for a little spoon?”

Silence for a few moments.

“Dude… what did I tell you about that?”

“Sorry. Sorry.”

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