The third installment of my short story, which admittedly is in the nascent stages. Still, it is fun to chop it into installments because it makes me look at each scene in new ways. Thank you so much for reading.
(click on the tag James River below if you want to read the first two parts...)
Saturday morning, I was out back of my house when Big Al moseyed up. My dad and I had made a makeshift basketball court four years ago, hauling sand from the river bank and packing it till it was hard and even. The basket was a five gallon pail nailed to a board we’d found and then attached to a tree nearby. That court had part of me in every grain of sand. My dad and I would play one-on-one when he’d get back early from the shipyard. In the summertime I shot baskets out there for hours; I had never beat my daddy to twenty-one. It’s hard to say who I admired most in those days, him or Michael Jordan.
That day, Big Al stood awkwardly at the edge of the court like a stray dog that won’t stop sniffing you ‘till you kick it. I forced myself not to look but to focus on my shots. But after missing three in a row, I got to thinking that I better kick him before he ruined my whole morning.
“What are you waiting for?”
“Nothing, my grandma just sent me to ask if I could have some of your mom’s recipes cause we heard she’s a pretty good cook.” Thanks to the Annual James River Seafood Festival, my mama’s cooking had made us almost famous in the county. Her recipes were secret. Her mama had gotten from her mama and so on all the way back to when grandmama’s grandmama cooked on the Perkins Plantation that was now the Yacht Club. We weren’t in the habit of giving those secrets to white folks.
“She ain’t home.” I answered. “You just fixin’ to stand there and watch me? Don’t ya have anything better to do?”
“Okay, well I’m just gonna keep shooting. I’ll see ya later.” I picked up my ball.
“Ya wanna donut?” Al called.
And right then before my eyes Big Al produced two chocolate frosted donuts from the side pockets of his cargo short. They were wrapped in napkins and some of the frosting peeled off with the paper. Later, when I told my sister, Leticia, about it she couldn’t stop laughing for a good five minutes. “Big Al and the donuts,” she’d say to herself and then start rolling with laughter again.
“No thanks,” I said to him.
“Okay,” Big Al mumbled. He shoved half of the first one in his pink mouth, leaving a smear behind. He stood there a while more, taking huge bites of the doughy circles. The way he chewed reminded me of the cattle we used to own, mullin’ over their cud till it makes you a little sick to imagine it. Finally, he finished them both and lumbered off toward Whistling Plains and I got ready for work.