A man and a boy walked out of the gym. It was dark and the night was tender. The day had been hot, humid and dusty but now things settled down and the air carried a sweet smell. It was late and every one had left. The once crowded gym was now without anyone in sight but the man and boy. They stopped in the shadow made by a tree with an electric lights shone a gentle, orange light over it. In front of them there is a road, a car passed by and soon vanished. Then it was quiet.
“Want some ice cream?” the man asked.
“Why not, it’s hot.”
“I’m tired.” said the boy. He sat down at the stairs and the man sat down with him.
“That was a good game.” the man said.
“It was.” said the man. “some real nice shots.”
“Maybe one of them.”
“No, one of them was great.” answered the man.
“Just when did you arrive?”
“About ten minutes left in the second half.”
“Work?” The boy could see the oil stains on him and smell machines.
The man didn’t answer.
“At least you made it this time.”
“Saw some good stuff.”
“Joe was pretty amazing.”
“Wasn’t the only good thing I saw.”
“Those guys played well, they should have won.”
“Well trained. With a little luck this could be a different story.” said the man.
“They say Joe will be pro one day.”
“Yeah, maybe. Special kid. Every other guy came to watch him.” the man said.
“Coach said if we play defence, the game will take care of itself.”
“And you think he meant Joe would take care of the game.” the man turned to the boy.”Well, he got it all wrong this time. Someone else did.”
“It doesn’t matter who made the shot, if it wasn’t Joe no way that could happen.” said the boy.
“A made shot is a made shot.” said the man. “So what’s it feel like catching it?”
“Just try to get it off.”
“Yeah, huge crowd, a lof of noise, little time left on the clock. I would too.” said the man. “How’s making it feel?”
“Wasn’t like what I thought. None of that exciting stuff on TV.” said the boy. “It was like I was in this clean, well lighted place.”
“With teammates and the crowd? Cheering?”
“No, all by myself.”
“Enlightened” said the boy. “That’s what they call it in the book.”
“The Book? The one you are reading?”
“What was it about?”
“A kid followed his dream, travelling around the world.” the boy said.
“Kinda like what we do, just that none of us had any dreams to chase last time I check.” said the man. “Just how many places we moved in the last few years?”
“First Castle in Northern California, then Ramstien in Germany, Atlus in Oklahoma, then Bentwaters in England.” said the boy.
“Then back to California at Edward, then to here at Shaw.” said the man. “Well, that’s a lot of air bases. You are a big boy now. You can manage yourself.”
“You even took care of me.” said the man. “You bought groceries and made me breakfast before you left to shoot.”
The boy smiled briefly.
“All these moving around and working aren’t easy and I appreciated the help.” the man said. “How’s your shooting?”
“The shooting. You usually shoot well.” Said the man. “Were you thinking about making big shots tonight?”
“No.” answered the boy. “I didn’t even know I would play.”
“Of course you will.”
“I’m new here, coach doesn’t know me.”
“You can play.” said the man. “You should be ready for it.”
“I just didn’t know I would play.”
“If you worked for it then believe in it.” said the man. “Even you don’t know it for sure.”
“But what’s the difference?” the boy said. “Nobody would have faith in me.”
“Joe and the coach did.” said the man.
“How?” the boy asked. “Well I guess Joe passed the ball and coach drew that play.”
“Seems to me like you are the only one that doesn’t have faith in yourself.”
“I wasn’t sure if I was suppose to take it.” said the boy.
“Some one had to, might as well be you.” said the man. “You wake up early every morning for it.”
Trying to catch some breeze, the boy stood up, looking skyward. The man did too, it was a night without stars.
“What if we move again? Everything will come back to square one.”
“Only next time you’ll have faith, and you’ll be known as a shooter.” said the man. “People will trust you with the ball.”
“Want some ice cream now?” asked the man.
“They’ll be bad for me.”
“Drinking is bad, and you should never do it.” said the man. “You could always have some ice cream, on a good day, or a really bad one.”
“Like today.” said the boy.
“I had a good day’s work, you played a good game and made a great shot. We could have some ice cream for that.”
“Are there any ice cream shop open? It’s late.”
“There must be. We will find it and have some ice cream. Tomorrow I will wake up the same way and work and you will wake up the same way and shoot. I know I would, I know you will.” said the man. “I have faith in that.”
“Come on, let’s go get some ice cream.” said the man, walking to his car.