Dressed in his game day finest, Josh Smith walks down the corridor, gazing straight ahead with sunglasses on—he doesn’t see that no one’s watching. Because of his headphones, like biospheres on each ear, he doesn’t hear that there are no cameras taking pictures. He arrives in the locker room.
“James? Dwight? Where y’all at?”
No one answers. The room is dark, but, again, he’s wearing sunglasses and it’s hard to tell.
He changes into his warm-up gear.
“Alright, I guess it’s just me today.” It’s always been just him.
He walks into the gasping space of the arena. He picks up a ball. He warms up. He’s always warming up.
“Hey, Coach, you seeing this?” He dribbles and leans. He dribbles and leans. “This is the play we ought to run.” The play is him shooting somewhere out beyond the arc of all being. He runs it again and again. He’s always shooting.
He saunters back to the locker room. “Hello? Anyone?” No one is there. They’ve all gone home for the summer. “Huh,” he says and puts on his uniform. He returns back down the granitic corridor, like some creature moving in the darkness of a Cormac McCarthy novel. He arrives in that hollow space of the court. “And now for your starting five . . . .” His name is the only name.
He shoots and he shoots and he shoots. He is always shooting. He is always warming up. No one understands the shape of his fire. Why he’s here? Why no one else is? “Jason? Jet? Old man?” he yells. He burns in the shadows and wonders if that last sound was the echo of applause. It wasn’t. It was him dribbling and shooting and never passing.
Bryan Harvey can be followed on Twitter @LawnChairBoys.