Sunday, February 25, 2007

Yonge Line, gearing up for the weekend.

Caucasian male, early 40s, wearing gold rimmed glasses and a black fleece over a navy blue business suit. The handle of a squash racket sticks out the zipper of his gym bag.

Brandenburg, Henry Porter (Orion Books)

Page 250:

He drank three beers and began to despair of the Russian coming. He also decided that the man in the group of five, right next to him, who wore the blue corduroy cap and who'd uttered the most vitriol about the scenes at the station, was taking too much interest in him for comfort's sake.

He sat bent over in the front row, hands stretched out like a catcher, bobbing side to side, issuing the odd punctuation. Yes! Get to the--! Watch her; watch her! Ohh! Yes! Another point won, he exclaimed, That's my boy! The girl came to the back of the court, tapping her racket to get the attention of the ref, a muted, "Some quiet, please?" her repeated request before shooting a glance at the father. She didn't like it anymore than he did. Under 16 and stuck playing the boys in tournaments. But this was the final and her opponent stood 6' 5", weighed twice as much as she did and had the bend and reach of a rubber band. Did she really need the kid's father barking from the sidelines?

The son served. The ball lobbed high falling to her backhand in the corner. She swiped at the air, cracking the wall and swearing. The father clapped his meaty paws. The crowd was starting to get behind the son.

Another serve, this one straight to her gut followed by an apologetic shrug. The ball rolled off her. He flipped it up and motioned to her to switch sides. His back heel touched the line of the box and she felt her fingers twitch. Just one more inch and he'd be fouled. The ball landed just short of the line and she held her ground. The ref called point.

"It was short!" she yelled. The father's face exploded into a host of hungry eyeballs. One point to win.

The son stepped into the box, rocking, looking over his shoulder to see which foot she was favouring. Before he'd even made contact she'd leapt to centre court, her stroke ready. Her wrist snapped, morphing the ball into a blur of mangled rubber, off the front wall and--snap!--into the boy's nose.

As she left the court, the father mopping the blood away from his son's shoes, she accepted the nods of the crowd. Still, winning by default didn't feel like winning at all.

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