My old cousin Eli used to read a section of the Hagaddah every year that was a crowd favorite. “What has afrighted you, O, Mountains, that you skip like rams, you hills that you skip like young lambs?” The poetry in his voice was perfect gravel, a workman’s voice, rough and expressive. I find myself distracted lately, and to that end I go pull the timer off the refrigerator and give myself five minutes until the buzzer to figure it out.
OK, I bring the ball up court in an arena full of ghosts. Nobody here, who am I talking to? A rhetorical question? you ask, rhetorically. At the half court line, 4:12 left on the clock. Thinking about long dead Eli, he seemed ancient, yet ageless, at 80, 82, 86. In the last years of his life we became good friends as I interviewed him like the host of a popular, immensely entertaining talk show. Forget about the last time I saw him, in the hospital bed, tied down but barely restrained, brain shut down, eyes unseeing, only the will to fight left, fists clenched, fighting that motherfucker death.
1:40 on the clock, no time outs left. I look over at coach and see he’s gone too, just two black holes in what used to be his face. Somewhere a plaintive tone signals the one minute mark is now history, can hardly see the damned basket. Give me the pill, I got the shot.
Do it, Sarge! The troops call out, 20 seconds on the timer, 14. Got the ball, 6 seconds, come on, come on. Time.