Drexel’s teeth clenched and he paced back and forth. He stopped and glared at the ball, his chest rising and falling with each infuriated breath. Suddenly he lunged, slapped his hands around the ball and tore it from the couch. Tucking it under one arm, he flung open the front door; birds scattered from the lawn; light flashed behind the clouds and a peal of thunder rumbled in the distance. Drexel matched onto the street, turned to face down the hill, then held the basketball up in his trembling hands. It was as brightly coloured as the day he bought it. He stared at the ball for a moment; rain drummed upon its round synthetic surface—the same rain drizzled down his forehead and into his eyes. He grunted and shook the water from his face. Holding the ball out at arm’s length, he took a step forward, dropped it and punted it down the road. Up it sailed into the grey, before arcing back to earth and striking the asphalt with a hollow, rubbery thump. It bounced away, down the hill. Smaller and smaller it rebounded off the dark, glistening surface, like a skimmed rock losing momentum before it sinks beneath the water. Red, white, blue, red white, blue, the ball rolled. At the bottom of the street a car whooshed by on the adjacent road, fans of water spraying from beneath speeding tyres. Across the road, among reeds and trees, was a muddy ditch, home to a lost hubcap, an abandoned shopping trolley and dozens of long-forgotten discarded items, now half-sunken in the muck.
As the ball neared the bottom of the hill Drexel turned and went back inside. His mind churning with frustration, he took off his damp shirt and used it to wipe his face and hair. He went to the laundry and threw the shirt into his top loader washing machine—swish. He grunted and went back to the living room. Lying down on the soft, warm carpet, he stuck a cushion under his chest, then picked up the remote and turned the T.V. volume up. But he couldn’t concentrate. Though he watched the screen, his gaze roamed somewhere beyond. Red, white, blue. The noise of his favourite show shrank to a soft babbling in his ears as a strange emotion filled his chest. The Harlem Globetrotters’ theme whistled in his head.
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