I never would have guessed I would be in this position right now. As life goes on, here I am, standing in a wide room, a suitcase held tightly in my hand like it’s the last thing I owned. The room had a single window but the sun’s rays couldn’t shine in with the thick, wooly curtains in the way. The walls were a dull green, signifying that whoever painted it forgot a couple layers. An old rustic bed was in one corner, oddly positioned right next to petite closet. At that particular moment, I was very determined to make sure my bed would not look so out of place, or at least it wouldn’t be near the closet.
I sighed at the sound of my mother’s heels clanking down the wood floor hallway. I simply rotated around at the moment she burst open the door, marched right in, and thrust her hands out for a big hung.
“Oh, isn’t it great, Benny!” She slapped on an exaggerated, cheery smile as I shoved her from her death grip.
“I told you. I’m Benjerman! Not Benny, Benny’s a nine year old and I’m almost fifteen,” I scuffed. In my private brain I thought about how I was going to get bullied if my nickname Benny got out. Of course, I could never confront mom about things like that. She never listens.
“Ah, don’t be that way. We just moved. Put a smile on your face. Look at this wide room,” she said and began walking around like it was Hollywood. Hollywood had some nice houses. Unlike Louisiana’s poor painted houses and oddly cheery people. I liked when everyone minded their own business. Here, you can’t go anywhere without people asking you questions like a kidnapper asking his victim information to prepare his ransom.
“Dinner’s at five and don’t you be laggin’ mister,” My mother said, poorly imitating the Southern accent she wanted to learn,” Only punctual people in this family.” She then strutted out the door. I lifted my arm and glanced at my watch. 3:30 it said.
“Great,” I mumbled. What did she expect me to do? Play basketball with the neighborhood boys? I sighed once again and realized what a nutcase I was. We were going out to eat tonight. She wanted me to go out and make friends. Knowing my mother we weren’t going to leave until I went out and made a friend. I hobbled down the stairs and into the kitchen to grab my baseball cap.
“You goin’ out? Gonna go make some friends?” she inquired, thinking that the Southern accent was taking off G’s and shortening sentences.
I rolled my eyes.”I’m going out alright. The friend thing might be hard.” She laughed like I was kidding. Haha, it’s so funny.
At that moment, I could’ve made a break to the local ice cream shop. I mean, my mom wasn’t with me and that means treats before dinner. I had my wallet, and to be honest, that was my plan and here I am walking ever so causally to the local park’s basketball court. As it rolled into sight, I noticed two boys playing one on one. There was a tall, skinny one, an ideal basketball player. The other one was a little bit more built but he was average if not below normal height, suggesting he might not be so great.
Oddly, he was dominating the court. He could dribble fast and maneuver to avoid his opponent. He could shoot over the taller boy’s long arms and broad hands. The taller one wasn’t a failure, though. When he got the ball it was like watching the shorter boy. The only difference is he didn’t get the ball all that often.
What the heck, I thought, I might as well try to play with them. I had played for my other school and we were a bigger, tougher district. I just hoped they’d let me play. I took my limited chances and walked over there, praying I didn’t look like some nerd.
When I reached the weeded side line the ball was knocked straight out of the shorter one’s hands. It bounced to me and thankfully I caught.
“Here,” I simply said as I tossed them their ball. Good, I thought, that’s a good beginning. The taller one caught it and slung it in between his arms. The shorter one lined up side to side with him.
“Thanks,” the taller one blankly said in his Southern accent,”Haven’t seen you around.” I was a little nervous at the way he emphasized “you.”
“I just moved here from California,” I said cooly,” I’m in the house down the block.”
I could’ve slapped myself right there or kicked myself in the rear. Why in the world would I tell them where I live. I hoped I didn’t sound or look like an idiot.
“You play?” the taller one asked as he rotated the ball on his finger.
“Yep, and I’m pretty darn good,” I said, acting all great.
“Ha! You here that, Jam? He thinks he’s better than us,” the taller one laughed, obviously directing his sentence to the short one. Jam? Or whatever his name was just glared back at me, emotionless.”You’re on! The name’s George. This is my pal, Jam. Short for Jammeul. Yourself?”
“I’m Benjerman but you can call me Ben,” I held out my hand and George and I shook. Maybe this wouldn’t be so hard after all.
“Let’s play,” George grinned and he started to dribble down the court.
(image not mine)