Authors: Eric Walters
Copyright Â© 2001 Eric Walters
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a
retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, without the
prior written permission of the publisher or, in the case
of photocopying or other reprographic copying, a licence from
(Canadian Copyright Licensing Agency),
1 Yonge Street, Suite 1900, Toronto, Ontario, M5E 1E5
National Library of Canada cataloguing in publication data
Walters, Eric, 1957â
PS8595.A598H66 2001 jC813'.54 C2001-910202-X
Library of Congress Catalog Card Number:
Orca Book Publishers gratefully acknowledges the support of
our publishing programs provided by the following agencies:
the Department of Canadian Heritage, The Canada Council
for the Arts, and the British Columbia Arts Council.
Cover design by Christine Toller
Cover and interior illustrations by John Mantha
Printed and bound in Canada
Orca Book Publishers
PO Box 5626, Station B
Victoria, BC Canada
IN THE UNITED STATES
Orca Book Publishers
PO Box 468
Custer, WA USA
03Â 02Â 01Â â¢Â 5Â 4Â 3Â 2
This book is dedicated to Al Alilovic, Jordan Henry,
Mark Pupavac and Nick Walters: four young men
who made it all the way to the semifinals of the
-sponsored three-on-three tournament
in Toronto, and let me come along to watch
“What do you mean you can't play!” I barked into the phone.
“It's not my fault, Nick!” Jordan pleaded. “My father just sprung it on us last night.”
“Sprung what on you?”
“We're going on vacation. He's being sent away on a business trip and the whole family is going.”
“When do you leave?”
“On Friday. We'll be gone for two weeks.”
“Can't you just tell your parents you don't want to go?” I asked.
“I told them. They said I had no choice.”
“Can you come back for a couple of days in the middle so you could still be on our team for the contest?”
“Can't do that. We're going to Europe.”
“Europe!” I exclaimed.
“We're going to see eleven countries in twelve days. Do you know what that means?” Jordan asked.
“Besides the fact you won't be here to be part of our three-on-three team?”
“Besides that. It means I'm going to see museums and art galleries and historical stuff in more countries than I have fingers or toes.”
“That doesn't sound too exciting,” I admitted.
“Can you spell boring? It's going to be awful.”
“Maybe your parents will let you do some fun stuff,” I offered.
“Why do parents love boring old stuff so much?” I asked.
“I don't know, but my parents just love museums.”
“Maybe it's because it reminds them of when they were young,” I suggested.
“Maybe. I'm really sorry about bailing out on everybody, but it's not my fault.”
“I know, I know.”
“And I'd much rather be staying here and playing basketball,” Jordan added.
“And there's still the three of you. I'm sure you can find a fourth person to replace me.”
“A fourth person is easy to find. Replacing you isn't,” I said.
Jordan was our âbig man.' He was tall and had long arms and springs in his legs, and shoes that were only one size smaller than my father's. Imagine that, a kid going into grade four who wore size nine sneakers. It really would be hard to have somebody âfill his shoes' for this tournament.
“You want me to send you a postcard or two?” Jordan asked.
“That would be nice.”
“Of course you have to realize that whatever I send will have a picture of a museum or art gallery on it,” he said forlornly.
“That's okay â¦ I guess.”
“I'll call you as soon as I get back. You'll do well. Bye.”
“Sure, take care,” I said as I put down the phone and left the family room. Maybe something to eat would make me feel better.
Poor Jordan, having to see a bunch of old and dead things with his parents instead of staying here and hanging around with his friends and playing in a basketball tournament.
We'd been talking about the tournament for months â Kia, Mark, Jordan and me. It was a special three-on-three tournament and was sponsored by the NBA. It was held in cities across North America throughout the summer and it was coming to our city â our city!
There would be hundreds and hundreds of teams of different ages and we'd be part of it â at least we
going to be part of it.
“Darn!” I said as I kicked the side of the fridge.
“Hey, easy on the appliances,” my father said as he put down the newspaper he was reading at the kitchen table.
“Sorry,” I mumbled.
“You don't want to get that fridge mad at you or it may stop feeding you. So what are you so upset about?”
“Jordan isn't going to be part of our team.”
“That's serious. What happened?”
“Family vacation â¦ Europe â¦ can't get out of it.”
“Stuff happens. You'll have to find another player,” he said.
“I know what I have to do. Doing it is harder. Everybody we know is already gone, going, busy, or they suck.”
“That is a problem,” my father said.
“What's a problem?” my mother asked as she came into the kitchen.
“Jordan can't play with us in the tournament so we have to find another â”
“Basketball,” she said with disgust, cutting me off. “I don't want to hear another word about basketball!”
“But you don't understand,” I protested.
“I understand. What you don't understand is how sick I am of basketball.”
“How can you ever get sick of basketball?” I asked.
“Easy. When you first started playing when you were little, it was just in the winter. And then it started to be a game you played in the fall and winter.”
I guess she had a point. Besides playing pick-up ball on the driveway, Kia and I were on the same rep team, and we'd been on the school team, and we'd even been part of the winning three-on-three team in a contest at school.
“It seemed like the year had only two seasons â basketball and summer,” my mother continued. “At least we had the summer free â¦ but now? It's summer so there shouldn't be any basketball.”
“Come on, Mom, it's not like it's the whole summer. It's just one day,” I argued.
“The tournament is just one day long. The planning and the practice and the discussions never seem to end! So now do you understand why I don't want to hear about it?”
“We understand,” my father said softly.
“Sure,” I said, shrugging my shoulders.
“Good. Now here we are together on a wonderful, warm Wednesday evening. How about if the three of us go for a bicycle ride?” she asked cheerfully.
“Not me,” I said. “I've got to make some phone calls and try and find a fourth player for our team for the â”
My mother shrieked, threw her arms up into the air, and ran from the room. My father and I exchanged a look.
“She took that better than I thought she might have,” my father said. “You make those phone calls and I'll go and talk to your mother.”
“I didn't mean to get her upset.”
“She'll get over it.” He smiled. “Maybe I'll even offer to go on a little bike ride with her.”