The Trickster Diaries/Chapter 26
Still not back into running. No time. No logical courses. Basketball instead, weekends, usually at the courts in the park off Jefferson in Culver City or near the beach in Playa del Rey or at the park in W.L.A. where—right place, right time—you could get into five-on-five full court games.
It took a while getting in shape for those. Something was off with my jumper. So frequently either before or after work I’d get some practice in.
Six months into the job, (still not getting the outside shot to fall), I decided to hit the W.L.A. courts one Saturday morning. I wasn’t going to get in any better playing shape. Rebounding and defense were back. Screw the 18 footer.
Guy on my team gets the rebound, I’m out on the right wing, one defender. From mid court he throws me an absolutely perfect pass. Right speed, lift, everything. I could tell just by the way it rolled off his fingers and arced into the sky I’d run right under it. Easy two. So perfect I had time to check the defender, plan a move, everything. So I check the defender, look up for the ball and… it’s gone. A split-second later it bounces off my head and rolls out of bounds.
Something was wrong. Really wrong. I took myself out of the game.
First thing Monday morning I made an appointment with Dr. Bleckman, a well known ophthalmologist right there in Culver City. She was booked. Couldn’t see me for a month. Fine. That was fine, I told the receptionist. I’ll take what’s available.
Reading seemed OK. I had glasses for seeing detail at distances. Only wore them for driving. Depth perception? Is that why my jumper was off? Is that why I missed that ball? How could I possibly have missed it?
Lying on the floor with Shana in my big bedroom late afternoon one day after work. Sun setting over the houses on the other side of the street. Stoned. Incense burning. So, so quiet. “Hey,” I said softly. “Do me a favor?”
She sat on her knees in front of the window, backlit with orange. I stared at her from a distance of maybe four feet.
Me: OK. Now switch.
Shana: (Giggling) Why are we doing this, Robert?
Me: OK. So, do you see a kind of halo around my face?
Shana: Uh… huh uh.
Shana: No. Why? Is something wrong?
Me: (Sadly looking away) I’m afraid this means we can’t be friends anymore.
Shana: (Bursts out laughing, starts pushing, tickling me) You’re an idiot! Why did you make me do that?! Oh wait. Stoned… ahhhh!
We keep wrestling around until I have her on her back. I’m sitting on her hips, holding her wrists down above shoulder level.
Shana: (Finally goes limp, looks at me) I have a boyfriend, you know. Shit. What time is it? I have to go.
She skips down the curved steps in front of the house, humming something, then turns back at the sidewalk, blows me a kiss.
The halo meant possible glaucoma.