Two Vishnu

Nine minutes into the Saturday morning game, Preston huddled over the basketball with two defenders swarming him like two Vishnu deities. He was right beneath the basket, and offence’s valley of death, and his face was gripped by desperation.
“Come on guys, someone get open!” he shouted but his vision was impaired by flashes of red and black from the opposing team’s jerseys. His final recourse was to throw the ball against his defender to reset his team’s failed offence but as he loosened his body, it was punched out of his grip with deathly force. He grabbed at the air like an infant reaching for a balloon just out of reach but it was snatched from the air and pushed past half-court before the referee’s whistle prevented the wide open lay-up.
Everyone in the gym watched bewildered as the referee ran to the scoring table to declare a reach-in foul on the player who had knocked the ball out of Preston’s grip. The parents in the stands clapped for the favorable call and Preston still beneath the basket said, “Thank you!” and high-fived his teammate.
The two defenders looked at each other, puzzled by the call, but made no protest and fell back into a zone defense since the ball would be passed in play from the baseline.
Preston knew the play well and as soon as the referee handed his teammate the ball, he ran up to the free-throw line to set a screen and then ran back down towards the basket. His teammate spotted him wide open and quickly tossed him the ball. The play worked, Preston thought as he jumped for the easy lay-up but as the ball left his hands he felt a forceful breeze and then a flash of light streaked across his vision.
He sat on the floor, disoriented and unable to open his right eye. There was more clapping in the stands and heard his mother cheering. He fought back thick tears and nodded as his teammates picked him up although no one asked him if he was ok.

He found himself at the free-throw line. His teammates lined up and waited for him to shoot. One of his opponents smirked across to his teammate. He shot the first free throw and it clanked off the back of the rim. He shot the second and sank it, the score was 20-1. 22-1 After a quick fast break.

“You guys are getting better,” his mother said as she turned on the car.
“No we’re not, we suck,” Preston slammed the door.
“But this is your first loss. You’ve won three games already.” She offered. “Bobby you have your seat belt on?”
“Mom, just leave me alone, you don’t understand,” Preston would not be consoled. The defeat had been humiliating and he wanted to forget it.
“That team is just really good. Some of the players must have been held back a year or two…there must be a rule.”
“Mom, no they are not, remember, you had to give the coach a copy of my birth certificate?” Preston wanted to stem his mother’s questions early before the whole thing became her project.
“I don’t remember making a copy, it’s just not fair…when a team is that good it takes away all the fun for everyone.”
“Mom’s off her rocker again,” Preston turned back to his little brother who laughed.
“I think you guys could be that good if that’s ALL you did but then you’ll loose out on so many things. I mean they beat you guys by 40 points now but later what are they going to do?”
“Hey mom can we have pizza for lunch?” Bobby offered from the back seat.
“Sure, we can order one, and you and Preston can watch a movie or something.”
They stopped at a light he could a bit further up the street.
As they walked they made exaggerated gestures. Their low lying pants kept them from taking full strides so they waddled back and forth like hooded penguins and seemed to be having a great time. Then one of them made a strange impersonation. He delicately jumped and flicked his wrist as if shooting an invisible ball. He then swung his arm furiously in an arc and gripped his whole face and lowered his whole body as if he had been fiercely struck. The other three laughed exaggeratedly as no one he knew did.
It was an impersonation of him. They were mocking him! The kids from the other team now looked so different out of their uniforms. They wore diamond earrings and colorful hats. They seemed intimidating and urban and He looked at them and lowered below the window. He turned to see if his mom had seen. She had.

Two Vishnu

Sandor

Palo Alto, United States

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Artist's Description

First draft of short story

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