For the first time, Eddie thought he detected a smile underneath the Celtics cap as the kid quickly looked left, then right, like, Oops, where did the ball go?
He was in a little crouch now, like he was bending over to tie his sneaks.
Somehow D. Gerard had balanced the ball on his skinny ass, because suddenly he was ducking down a little more, reaching behind him in the same motion, flipping the ball over his head to Earthwind Morton, who dropped in a layup as the buzzer sounded and then just sat down under the basket as if he couldn't believe what he'd just seen.
Eddie looked around to see how D. Gerard had reacted, but all he could see was the back of No. 14, disappearing through one of the doors leading to the locker rooms.
Eddie had told Earthwind he'd check him out after the game so they could kick back and talk about old times a little bit, see where his head was at. But Earth was still down at midcourt, chatting up the royals, posing for the photographers, as if the night were still about him.
Only now it wasn't.
Eddie hurried downstairs and kept showing his locker room pass at a series of solemn-looking frogs, and finally came to the Antibes locker room. He was on his way in there when he saw a flash of green down the hall and realized it was D. Gerard in his Celtics cap, a big black gym bag slung over his shoulder, a hooded gray sweatshirt over his uniform, heading toward the exit.
"Yo!" Eddie called out to him. "Hold on, s'il vous plait."
D. Gerard gave him a quick look over his shoulder, pointing to himself. Me?
"Yeah," Eddie said.
The kid was still in that slouch, like he was going to throw that pass again, looking down.
Eddie said, "Parlez-vous English?"
The kid said, "Sure. What about you? English your first or second language?"
"When you're from New York, it's hard to tell sometimes," Eddie said. "I'm Eddie Holtz. I work for the New York Knights."
He paused, then added, "From the NBA? In the United States."
They shook hands. Kind of smallish, Eddie thought, delicate almost, but with long fingers, like a piano player's hands.
"What does the D. stand for?" Eddie said. "In D. Gerard?"
"Dee," the kid said.
Then the kid lifted his head a little and smiled, a great big one, giving him the high beams.
"Oh, for God's sake, let's stop screwing around here."
He took off the Celtics cap and untied all the hair underneath, long black hair, and let it fall down to the shoulders, giving the head a little toss at the same time.
"Short for Delilah," Dee Gerard said to Eddie Holtz. "Except I always hated Delilah. My mom liked Delilah."
Eddie Holtz just stared at her.
"You're a girl," he finally managed.
Dee Gerard smiled.
"My whole life, practically," she said.
Reprinted from Full Court Press by Mike Lupica by permission of G. P. Putnam's Sons, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 2001, Mike Lupica. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
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No Man's Land
by Simon Tolkien
Inspired by the experiences of his grandfather, J. R. R. Tolkien, during World War I.
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