The Lost Diaries of Shawn Kemp: Vol. 5

1995 NBA All-Star Game

Buried deep in the Pacific Northwest, under Ricky Watters jerseys and Pearl Jam records, Ballerball was able to uncover a vast number of writings from Shawn Kemp’s old diary. These are his words.*
Nov. 4, 1994

In the dim glow of a candle that rests exactly between us I see her face. The flame is shaking and dancing around like it’s nervous and the shadows shift every so often to reveal to me something new on her. A line, a dimple, a freckle. Each moment a new discovery. I am Louis and I am Clark and I am hers. We only met for the first time yesterday but somehow she still feels familiar. Like I’ve known her forever, since the rocks and stones were first laid in the rivers.

But then the stares. I hear and feel the whispers coming from others in the restaurant. They cut like knives and enter the space between us. A Supersonic out on a date with a Blazer cheerleader, let’s just stop the world then. Why must they make my life theirs? She’s bashful now, and last night during our conversation in the tunnel she was hardly that.

I try to ease into something fun.

I apologize for all the eyes. I could try to go around and poke all of them out if you’d like?

She laughs like she was obligated to. Like she’s the only person at a bad improv show and she sat in the front row and feels like she owes it to the people on stage to laugh for everyone who isn’t there. I do not need any pity laughs and it stings me. She’s not enjoying herself. We skip desert.

When we leave and walk out into the Portland night there is a chill in the air and some rain begins to trickle out of the heavens. Cameras are popping and flashing and clicking, doing their best to blind us. Whose life is this, Diary?

A young boy in my jersey approaches us with a pennant and a picture of me. He asks if I’ll sign it and I do. He says I’m his favorite player and I smile and tell him that’s crazy, because he’s my favorite fan. The boy smiles wide. I turn to look to her to see if she’s enjoying the exchange but her head is down. She’s focused on a puddle, her reflection bouncing off it, her face lit up by the street lamp across the boulevard. She’s seen none of it. Still, I try. I introduce the boy.

Patrick, this is my friend Alyanna.

He sticks his hand out to shake hers and she takes it like it’s a diaper, holding it out in front of her with her index finger and her thumb. In my mind my head goes into my hands. Oh no. Oh no. This will not work.

I tell her as much in the car on the way back to her apartment and we quietly fight some about it, as if the other cars could somehow hear our inside voices. The next 15 minutes of the drive home are silent, the rain and the tires the only sound. My El Camino eases and crawls along, the street lights humming down, her face far off and distant. She’s done with this and doesn’t want to be with me any longer. I can bear the shadows no more so I turn on the radio. Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” plays and I begin to laugh because of course the universe planned it this way.

I can let go of her, though. I should’ve taken Chris Dudley’s advice and steered clear. He told me she’d been with eight of them already and that she got bored easily. I’m a chaser, though, and the challenge of getting, of achieving her attention, it was intoxicating to me. Alas, Diary, I failed. She’s in my car, but she’s elsewhere. Her mind is galloping away, disappearing over the horizon line way off in the west where the world ends and the sun goes to die. She’s busy with other thoughts and other dreams and needs someone who can provide her with constant action. She needs John McClane.

I cannot do that. Not anymore. Give me a woman who has a voice or don’t give me one at all.

When she gets out of the car she plays the game and says despite what I said she had a nice time. I play along and tell her I did, too. She says to please call her again and I say I will, but I won’t. I can see in her eyes she doesn’t mean it. She’s just proud. I watch her walk to her door, that red dress of hers doing me favors. She flings the door open and a warm golden glow spills out of her apartment for an instant until she shuts it behind her and black is again all I see.

I drive to the hotel empty and alone and Jodeci drips out of the radio like syrup and I look to the sky and there is no moon.

Farewell for now,

Shawn

*These aren’t his words.

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