Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: CHALLENGE (08/17/17)
TITLE: Basketball Confrontation
By Raymond Bouchoc
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Dan stood in the gym with the other kids, the sound of a hundred basketballs reverberating back and forth like a bag of popcorn popping in the microwave. Someone threw a ball to him. He grabbed it with ease and dribbled it in front of him, adding to the cacophony echoing all around. Stopping, he planted his foot right behind the 3-point line, bent his knees, jumped, and shot the ball. Swoosh. It didn’t even hit the rim.
He pumped his arm and twisted in a little victory dance. As he straightened, he glanced across the gym and saw Chet with his hands gripped around Tanya’s wrists. She bent and pulled, but Chet was simply stronger than she was.
Dan slowly edged forward, like a wind-up toy taking one step after another, because it has to. He watched the tussle unfold. He stared, without a glance anywhere else. No one did anything. Why not? Where were the teachers?
Dan saw Tanya sob, though she fought it out of embarrassment. She lifted a shoulder and dabbed a tear from her cheek. Dan’s fists clenched at his side. His face tightened. His lip quivered, showing his teeth. He quickened his pace.
When he stood ten feet from Chet, he stopped. His face slackened with the prospect of what lay before him. His clenched fingers slid in his palms, and he opened his hands. His shirt got damp. Chet’s muscles bulged and tightened as he struggled with Tanya right in front of him.
Then, with a voice that all but squeaked, Dan said, “Let her go, Chet.”
Chet looked at Dan. “Did you say something, creep.” Chet laughed.
What am I doing? “Let - her - go.”
Chet pushed Tanya aside and turned squarely towards Dan. “What you think you doing, chump?” He stepped towards Dan with both arms and shoved.
With fluid precision, Dan stepped to one side, grabbed Chet’s wrist with one hand, and brought down his other hand on his elbow.
Chet bent over in pain, grabbed his elbow, and took a step back.
Dan looked at him and couldn’t believe his eyes. He slackened his stance and cocked his head to one side, furrowing his brows. It was written all over Chet’s face. Fear.
What a revelation. Yes, he excelled at sports and all physical activity, but this? Then, anger roiled up within him, pushing his own fear and anxiety at this confrontation aside.
“Leave Tanya alone,” he said, but Chet had already moved away and mixed among the other students.
Dan turned to look for Tanya, but she, too, had fled long ago. She stood in the corner of the gym with some friends who pointed in his direction.
It didn’t matter, though. Chet had done the right thing. He turned and walked back to his basketball game.
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