Jim Trainer

Too Skinny, Too Small by Don Bajema

In Uncategorized on September 13, 2013 at 12:36 pm

“Eddie..you’re going to have to play this week, you know that don’t you?”
My heart pounded so hard it shook my vision as I put the cell phone on the beveled glass table in front of the plush snow-white couch in the sunken lounge area in a suite, fifty floors up, that could almost contain the entire cul-de-sac of nose-to-nose trailers I’d grown up in. Well, what the hell was I gonna do to catch my breath? I left out the part about his violence and just yelled down to the table,
“He never really talked much.”
“Eddie, you have to play. The word is you’re on suicide watch..so if you don’t..then.”
I knew what he meant.
I slid the phone by a magazine with a picture on the cover of some inner city kids all wearing my jersey number forty-one, while I sliced the cigar paper with the tiny scissors of one of the little red Swiss knives I was forced to buy in every town I went, not even wanting to risk putting them in the teams’ approved luggage cart at the airport and the guys could get guns, steroids, drugs and about anything they wanted through any airport.
I crushed a couple sticky, though perfectly dried buds into the brown paper and picked the cell up again knowing the writer was still waiting there-at this stage they’d wait days if I kept the line open.
I added a little more to sum up what I was trying to say.
“I never knew what was going on in his head.”
This Johnson guy, the one I was supposed to be able to trust, the writer who supposedly had no axe to grind, and was ‘on my side’, his exclusive the agreed upon condition of my having this hide-in-plain-sight Manhattan penthouse, but I knew was persistently building his case through insinuation and any ‘evidence’ that he could twist from the genetic link because my father was a devoted and unashamed hate-filled racist and that through the osmosis of family I was one too.
It was a pressure they were putting on me. Donna was there to administer my suicide. I wasn’t supposed to have any of this figured out.
The guys in the owner’s box didn’t care one way or another-I was the golden goose-villain, hero or martyr didn’t matter if I was a racist killer, or a suicide, money-wise it might be better if I was. You get a kind of theater out of it, cathartic, like the bear baiting or public executions just down the road from Shakespeare’s Old Globe. So long as I was loudly denounced and what do they call it-censured? Though, of course they ran their plantations with the excuse of huge salaries, but they loved their Mandingos like horse people love their horses. And they never made money like this before-the whole league was going through the roof and it started with me and Chad Washington.
And, I guess, after all, I am a racist, one way or another. I’m American-and like it or not, we all are, black or white, red, yellow, brown-enlightened-articulate-morally determined-sentimental-well meaning-advocates for civil rights, for all things fair and positive-we’re still racists. We’re all different, we bring all manner and variety of difference to the game, and that should be celebrated not forced into the homogenized politically correct pool of nothing everyone tries to lay claim to. The irony is our racism doesn’t have to be a bad thing-the bad thing is in the denial, the stereotyping, the assumptions, the lying, the hypocrisy. We’re so terrified of being individuals there’s no way we can let anyone else be, so we’re blind to ourselves and everyone else, categorize everyone else, identify ourselves with something. And what do you get from all this denial, identification, fear, lying and hypocrisy? You get hatred. You get violence, you get fear and you get perpetuation. Fuck it, I’m tired of thinking about it, and if you think I’d say any of this into a cell phone to a reporter then you must think I’m crazy.
So I stepped down a notch and feeling like I should give Johnson something I said somewhere in the territory of confession-because that’s what they want, I said,
“But I think Dad and I do share a few things, because he would not be, at all, just looking at him, be what you’d think would be an alpha among big psychotic criminals and the worst kind of societal nightmares, anymore than I’d be, some would, or at least up to last week, think was at the apex of professional football-we are both in our worlds-too skinny and too small.”
I smiled at that again because there was so much more to that than being less than six feet and under one-ninety.
Maybe we’ll get into that later.
I licked the paper, and mercifully pushed the hang up button on Johnson and looked out my floor to ceiling window the lights below winking like a thousand diamonds.
I was lonely. Man, I was more than lonely, I was iso-fucking-lated. I was scared. I was pissed off. I was newly rich. So famous I couldn’t go anywhere. A hero and a pariah at the same time. I had everything I’d ever dreamed of outside of being a lightning rod for society’s ills, being a walking, talking debate about race and violence and a few of the other hallmarks of American identity.
It’s a long story.
Donna kicked the sheets off her ankles on the bed, the champagne bottle bounced on the mattress.
The phone spun on the glass as the vibrator went off. Being a little high I watched it awhile, animated on the glass, like it was confused and didn’t know which way to turn.

Tune in for Chapter 2 next week.

Pages: 1 2 3 4

  1. I know that voice. Another great boy up in the sky story.


  3. […] last week Aho. There he is. I dropped the ball last week and failed to bring you Chapter 2 of Too Skinny, Too Small. But as I mentioned, I blew out my back and this much madness was too much sorrow.  I’ve […]

  4. […] process). That book kept me alive. Kept me current. Prompted me to reach out to great writers like Don Bajema and reconnect with great writers like Butch Wolfram. The rest is history except I wasn’t […]

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