Miracle on Westholm Street

It was the middle of the night. I couldn’t sleep. In fact, I was wide awake.

I got up, dressed, and decided to take a little walk.

As I headed out the door, I noticed it was unusually warm for 1 a.m. in early April. The moon was nearly full and cast a supernatural glow on everything uncovered by roof or tree.

I was struck by a certain magic in the air.

Westholm Park was just a few blocks away, and the walk would provide a pleasant stroll through a sleepy neighborhood.

As I neared Westholm Street, I heard the sound of activity up at the park. The unmistakable squeaking of sneakers and pounding of leather told me the basketball court was in use.

As I drew closer, it seemed strange that only the moonlight illuminated the court.

Apparently, someone else wasn’t sleeping and decided to burn off a little energy. Perhaps a couple of workers un-winding after a long swing shift…

A thick wall of ivy neatly woven into the chain-link fence prevented me from seeing the action. I was  intrigued, considering the hour, and the sense of mystique in the air. I decided to keep my distance, hide in the shadows and just listen.

It’s amazing what the ears can perceive when the eyes are blocked. I quickly discerned there were only two players on the court. It was a one-on-one competition and it was more than just a friendly shoot-around.

The distinct absence of huffing and puffing told me these guys were in shape. The deep, mature tone in their voices indicated full-grown men, probably in their prime — not boys.

The frequent, unmistakable ripping sound of a clean long-range shot; the percussion and timbre of the powerful dunks spoke to me of extraordinary skill and strength. The sound of bone meeting bone, of grunts and groans told of more than just casual contact.

My interest was piqued. I moved closer to better hear the obvious trash talk.

“Dang, bro! Where’d you pick up that move…in a Gheorghe Muresan training video?”
“Watch me now.” (shuck, jive, drop-back)…rip!

“Earv, my man. I just made it up on the spot – like this!”slam!

“Helluva move, Mike…’Tarheels suck!” (juke, stutter-step)…rip!

“Lay off my boys, Johnson. Your Sparts are weak, unlike this!”whong!

I couldn’t believe my ears! The voices were so familiar. And their verbal barbs only confirmed my growing suspicions. I was desperate to have a peek.

But no—I caught myself. This was too special.

It occurred to me that beholding this moment with my eyes might somehow cause the whole scene to go “poof.” I slithered back into the shadows long enough to hear their parting words.

“I’m pooped, Mike. Let’s call it a draw.”

“OK, Johnson. But this ain’t finished. We’ll meet again.”

Spooky silence. Only the light of the moon and the calm, warm air. I never heard the sound of a gate swinging closed, or fading footsteps into the night. Somehow I just knew they were…gone.

I slowly turned to walk back down Westholm toward home.

I was struck by a certain magic in the air.

(written in April, 2009)

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Published in: on November 19, 2010 at 8:54 pm  Comments (2)  
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