It is time for action. An octogenarian is in dire need. I don’t normally know CPR, but today I do. I hasten from the stands and kneel by old man’s side. I feel for a pulse. Nothing. Place my open hand below his nose to feel for breath. Nothing again. Support the neck to flair the airway, pinch the nostrils and exhale two deep breaths into the old man’s lungs. Find the soft spot below the breastbone and administer compressions. Wow, it really sounds like I know what I’m doing; I must have been paying attention when I watched those medical shows. Back to the breaths. The old man’s glassy eyes come to life, but barely. He takes my hand. His grip is weak, frail. His fingers feel like I could break them away if I squeeze too hard.
The old man speaks. His voice is a distant rasp.
“Douglas,” he says. “Is that you, Douglas?”
I had no idea this man knew my name. It’s a magical moment.
“Yes,” I say. “I’m here, Mr…” I can’t think of his name.
“Holbrook,” he says.
His grip tightens. “I want you to take over,” he says. “Win this game for me.”
I look around. Both teams, the crowd, the refs – all of them encircle us, a mix of concern and inspiration on their faces.
Mr. Holbrook begins to fade. I give his hand a shake to reawaken him.
“Yes?” he says.
I pause. How to say this.
“So…when you say ‘Win this game for me
, do you mean you want me to win it in place of you
, or, like, in tribute to you?
Because I don’t really know you, and I don’t think it would be appropriate…”
“Can’t you do both?” he says, his voice weakening.
“I don’t know…” I say. “I mean, a lot of movies and stuff are dedicated to people just because they died while it was being made…so, what, if you die, you get the whole thing dedicated
to you? That doesn’t seem fair to everyone else who participated. I mean, what if the person who died was just the guy who made peanut butter sandwiches for the cast and crew? Not that you’re the equivalent of a guy who makes sandwiches, but I don’t think you and I have enough of a connection where-”
Despite his imminent death, Mr. Holbrook looks perturbed.
“Fine,” he says. “Do it for your son then.”
I shrug off that idea.
“You know what?” I say. “Ten seconds after a tough loss, he’s skipping around wondering where his next piece of gum is gonna come from, so I don’t really see the point-”
“Fine,” Mr. Holbrook says. “Do it for yourself then.”
I think about it. Start nodding. “Yeah,” I say. “I can get behind that.”
Mr. Holbrook’s body clenches, then goes limp. He’s on his way out.
“I’m going to switch to 1-3-1 zone defense,” I say. “I think your 2-3 zone was going nowhere.”
I take the final slump of Mr. Holbrook’s head as an authorization to change defensive strategy. As he passes out, the EMTs surge past me and try to revive him but it’s no use –he is gone.
As the stretcher is rolled off the court, I gather up the disoriented group of 9-year-olds.
“Alright, boys,” I say. “Let’s win this game.”
I gather them close, and look to each of them with profound meaning in my eyes.
“Let’s do this for me,” I say.
Links: Travelling: Intro / Book Jacket
, Chapter 1: Cribbagegate
, Chapter 2: Two e-mails
, Chapter 3: Pattern
, Chapter 4: Shattered
, Chapter 5: Hilarious Pee
, Chapter 6: Suicide
, Chapter 7/8: Coaching High school, Shark attacks and appetizers
, Chapter 9: June
, Chapter 10: 18 and oh no
, Chapter 11: DNA
, Chapter 12: Peanut Butter Sandwiches
, Chapter 13: Tom Brady and the McGuffin
Labels: Chapter 12, Evil Ted, Peanut Butter Sandwiches, traveling