Tuesday, December 25, 2012


LeBron James,  Dwyane Wade & Mario Chambers bike ride once a month in Miami's Critical Mass Ride.  The route takes them through Omni, Edgewater, Upper East Side, North Bay Village, Miami Beach, Venetian Islands, ending Downtown.   An event that bring respect for the bike rider in Miami.  Thousands ride every month.  What better way to bond with the people of Miami?

The three ride on Christmas Day, after their game with the Thunder.  It is a special ride.

"Hey, guys," says LeBron.  "A little different tonight.  A detour.  We're going to stop in to the Fontainebleau Hotel.  They're having a Christmas Toy Drive.  Whole bunch of little kids'll be there."

"Toy drive?"  says Dwyane."

"Yeah," says Mario.  "They have it every years, give kids toys during Christmas.  Real nice thing."

"But, LeBron", says Dwyane.  "I don't have any presents to give any kids. Only place open now, 7-11?"

"Got it covered," says LeBron."  He shakes a paper bag.  "We'll give these.  They're gift cards. Got a couple hundred or so.  Magic Johnson's Theaters.  Each gives you a year's worth of movies.  Just pass them out.  Kids'll love them." 

"But," says Mario, looking into the bag.  "They must have cost you...?"

LeBron looks over at Mario.  "Come on.  It's Christmas.  Let's go.  It'll take about an hour to get over there." 

North on Biscayne Blvd, twenty minutes, they slow down.  They're lost.  The Fontainebleau is west of the AA Arena, but aren't they traveling North?

"We're lost, I think," says Mario. "Sure this is right?" 

"You might be right.  Let see,"  says LeBron. "We know it's west of the Arena."  He looks into the sky.  "I got it.  We'll follow the lights of the planes landing at MIA. That's west of here. Just follow the lights, and we'll get there."

And they do.  The Lights in the sky show them the way.

Half hour later, relieved, they sail into the parking lot at the Fontainebleau.
Inside, a lady stands at the hotel's reservation desk.  She has no bags.  She's pregnant.

"I'm sorry ma'am.  This place's full.  There's absolutely nothing available."  His voice is grim.  "You must have a reservation.  I'm real sorry, but you'll have to leave..." 

The lady moves back, a tear in her eye, but goes into the hotel instead.  She needs a place to sit down.

"Ma'am, you can't go back there," he says.  He taps the bell for security.

Outside, our Three Wise Men park their bicycles and plow through the glass doors.  There is a red and green sign pointing toward a large room full of screaming children.
"This must be the place," says Dwyane.  He waves to children going in.  They stop and wave back, their mouths hanging open.  They wave back, fun in their eyes.
As the three moves toward the room, LeBron look down a long corridor, and sees a woman sitting on the floor.  She holds her head.

"This isn't right," says LeBron.  He walks down the corridor.  "Are you okay, Miss?" 

"Hello.  Well, I tried to get a room...there are no rooms...I'm having a baby.  I didn't think it was going to be so soon..."

"Your kidding?  A baby?  Right now?" says LeBron.   He scoops her up in his arms.  "We gotta get you to a hospital."

On the run, "Hey, Dywane.  Mario. Another detour. We're not staying.  We gotta get this lady to a hospital."

The man at the reservation desk points.  "There.  Get her. There she is."  Two security guards move from the shadows.

"But...it's LeBron James?" says one of the guards.

"Dwyane Wade...and Mario Chambers?" says the other.  "We can't..."

"But she isn't supposed to be in here?  Arrest her."


The Three...well, actually it's The Four now...rush by the open door of the Toy Drive.  There are hundreds of kids and presents inside.  Pandemonium.

"Here," says LeBron to the guards.  "We brought gifts.  Pass these out to as many kids as you can."  He tosses them the paper bag.  "There's a couple hundred in there.  We gotta go."

Out they fly, piling into a cab.  And they're off, with all four, in unison, yelling, "Jackson Memorial Hospital."

"And step on it." says LeBron. "It's Christmas Day.  And we're going to have a baby."


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Friday, December 21, 2012


Kobe sits in the break room,  right after the Lakers game.  They beat the Bobcats by one.  He watches  Sports Center,  relaxing.  Still in uniform, he sits back, feet up, a Red Bull in one hand, a PayDay in the other. 

Jerry West sticks his head in the door.  "Hey, Kobe, good job tonight.  Pretty close, huh?"

"It was a tough game tonight, Mr. West, but we pulled it out. Still working on defense."

West comes into the room and looks up at the TV.  They're talking about the old Lakers, and showing fast breaks. 'It's Show Time,' they're saying.

"Remember those days, when it was up and down the court, setting up plays on the run, long passes.  You were there.  Rebound, one pass, four on two, and score.  Those were the days."

"Mr West, come on," says Kobe. "When we get our team all on the same page, get into synch, everybody's healthy, we can do it.  Maybe my legs were stronger when I was a rookie.  But I'm still fast, you know I am."

"Those faster days," says Jerry.  "We'll get there again.  That's the Lakers.  Show Time."  He leaves with a wave.  "Good game, Kobe."

Kobe lifts his Red Bull.  "See ya, Boss."

What was that all about?  Does Jerry think we should be like we were?  Fast breaks, Running, Show Time,  on every play?  We won with Show Time, but come on, you're talking 17 years ago."

Matt Barnes bounces by, sees Kobe, and does an about face.  "Kobe?  Saw the game.  A squeaker, one point, right down to the buzzer."  He laughs.  "How many of those did I play in when I was a Laker?" 

"Matt Barnes?  What are you doing in here.  Don't you play for that other team?  LA Clompers?"

"Came by to get Jodie Meeks.  I'm taking him to my tat guy.  Get tattoos.  Like to get a crown like you got, but it's been done.  Back when everything was so exciting.  Well," as he looks at the TV, "that excitement, we had, I got it now with the Clippers. You guys were...kinda slow tonight...really..."

Kobe's feet hit the floor and he throws the Red Bull can at Barnes. "Matt go. Get out of here. Go play with your Clompers.  I'm trying to relax here."

Barnes ducks, arms up, then waves.  "Good Luck, Kobe.  You guys'll get it into gear...maybe...someday." Big grin, and he's off.

What?  Again with the Slow?  Are we that slow?  We're a little older, maybe, but come on.  What about The Nicks.  Look at them.  How old are they?  Rasheed, Jason Kidd, Canby.  How old is Kurt Thomas? 75?

He looks up at the TV.

"...Sports Center will be right back with a list of illegitimate children of NFL players.  Darren McFadden, Santonio Holmes, Jason Caffey...there's a whole long, long, loooong list.  We'll be right back..."

"...When your back hurts...get the ICY HOT patch.  I do..."

Pau Gasol walks in, goes over to the glass door fridge, pulls out a large can of Beaver Buzz, and sees Shaq.  "Hey, look it's Shaq, doing another commercial.  How many does he do?  I see him all the time?"

"Once I retire," says Kobe, "I'll be out of my contract and I'll be doing all those too.  Buick, Icy Hot, Pepsi.  I've seen them all?"

"They say he makes $20 million for every commercial he does.  Not too shabby."

"He's so big, they like that I guess." says Kobe.  "I'll be all over the TV too, when I retire."  They bump fists.

"Who's better than you?" says Gasol.  "That stuff in Colorado, everybody's forgotten by now."

They hear Shaq's voice, and look up at the TV.

"Luv Shaq," says Shaq.  "Luv Shaq Vodka.  Of course it's what I drink."

"Luv Shaq Vodka?  Can you believe."  Kobe starts laughing.  "Shaq was nothing more than just a huge center.  Should have been a football lineman.  Now he's everywhere.  His own Vodka? Give me a break.  If it wasn't for him I'd have 40,000 points, not only 30,000."

"Gotta admit, he's a savvy marketeer," says Gasol.  "Shaq's probably known by more people round the world than you, Kobe.  I know he's better know than me."  Gasol throws his towel over his shoulder and turns toward the showers.

"Damn Shaq," mumbles Kobe.  He gulps down the red bull, and chomps off a chunk of his PayDay.  "I can do that too, you know.  I'm a much better player than Shaq. Hello."

Kobe pops another Red Bull, and rips open another PayDay.  We win the game, and all I'm getting here is how slow the team is.  And how come I'm not doing more commercials? What is that?  More people know Shaq than me?  Come on guys,  I lead the NBA in scoring.  What do people want from me?
He wolfs the PayDay, and gulps the Red Bull. 

The door slowly pushes open. Two young high schoolish kids stick there heads inside. They're tall. 

Kobe waves them in.

"Hi," one says.  "It's a pleasure to watch you in action, Mr Bryant.  We're high school all-stars."

"They said it was okay to come back here," says the other.  "Just be real cool about it."
"That's okay," says Kobe. "Just winding down from the game. We almost didn't get it done this time."

"Yeah, but we knew the Lakers would win," says one. "The Bobcats, come on."

"They got tired in the last 5 minutes," says the other. "Couldn't make a three pointer to save their lives."

"There was no passing," says Kobe, "just shoot and miss.  Good defense won the game."

"Good Luck, Mr Bryant."  And they leave.  But Kobe hears as they slowly close the door,  "Yeah, Kobe.  They call him the ball hog. They all say it.  He doesn't like to pass to anybody.  He doesn't set up shots for anybody else.  But he's still pretty good."

What?  That's how people see me?  Ball Hog?  He squeezes the Red Bull can in his hand and shoots it at the trash can across the room.  It hits the rim and bounces back behind the fridge. "Damn."

He looks up at the TV.
"...and 5,000 assists for Chris Paul.  Officially 6 foot, but...5 10's more like it.  Only four other players got to 5,000 assists faster in their career's than Paul, and they're all Hall of Famers...."

Kobe waves his PayDay at the TV.  "Don't have to be a good shooter to get assists.  You just need good shooters on your team to dish it off to. Shaq are you listening?"

"...and the crowd chanted C. P.  Three, C. P. Three, when he got his 5,00 assist.  C. P. Three...C. P. Three..."

Kobe points the remote, the TV clicks off.  He sits there, snapping the PayDay wrapper.

So, when I retire, Jeeez, 17 years at this.  Next year, yeah.  It'll be next year.  So...How will I be remembered?

A Ball Hog?
Not my Champion Rings?  Not my buzzer beaters?  Not my scoring points?  He was a Ball Hog.  That's how they'll see me?

So, okay, I am kind of a ball hog.  But...I don't want to be known...I guess...okay, I'll be a much more giving player in the future. All right already, I'll stop hoggin' the ball. 
Kobe jumps to his feet, grabs a towel and turns toward the showers, an inspired new spring in his step.

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Saturday, December 15, 2012



Warren Sapp filed for bankruptcy earlier this year, but he says he lost his Super Bowl ring from the 2002 season.  When he showed up for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 10 year Super Bowl reunion last Sunday, he was wearing the ring.  He says he found the ring in time for the reunion.  Turns out the thing was under the cushions in his couch the whole time, along with the remote.


Stenciled on the door:  Salvatore Manila,  Attorney at Law.
Warren Sapp and his posse of four push through. 

"Hello Mr. Sapp," says Debbie.  I'll tell Sal..."

"I got this."  Sapp opens the door.  "He said to come over.  So here I am."  He laughs, high fiving his posse.

Debbie looks in. "Mr. Manila, it's Mr. Sapp..."

"Sal, got your message."  Big grin.

Mr. Sapp and his posse wear their best;  Armani, Florsheim, Fubu, Hilfiger, Rolex.
Sal stands, and waves his hand in the air. "Hey guys...Debbie?..."

"I'll get more chairs," she says.  She smiles, and points to the chairs in the other room. The posse brings in the chairs. 

"Gentlemen," says Sal.  "Glad you could all come."

They look around at the mahogany walls, desk, the cabinets.
"Nice,"  says one of the posse.  "Ooooo," says the rest, and flop down in the cushioned chairs.

"Okay Sal," says Sapp.  He giggles, looks around, and crosses his feet on the mahogany desk.
"What's this all about? Get a panicky call from my lawyer.  I gotta change my schedule, you know."

"You got a lot of debts, Warren.  About the bankruptcy.  We gotta talk."

"I owed people money? I know that. There was the bankruptcy."  He looks around, big smile.  "You're the one supposed to pay all my bills for me."

"Hey," says a posse. "Drinks?   I'm feeling thirsty.  Got any Gin and Juice?"

Debbie is at the door. "I'll see what I can do?"

"Okay, bottom line. You Warren, you made $82,185,056 in your NFL career.   You now have $826.04 in your bank account."

"Sal, you said I was lookin' at $6 million in the bank." He puts his head back, and talks to the ceiling.  "Chump change for me."  He giggles. "But still, Sal, that's what you said."

His posse, laugh, but squirm a little in their seats.

"Hey, you're not alone," says Sal. "A 2009 Sports Illustrated study found that 78 percent of NFL players are bankrupt two years after they retire.  And fifty percent of the NBA five years after leaving the league,  broke.  Can you believe?"

"Warren," says a Posse.  "Should've invested in gold, not gold diggers." Big giggles.  Sapp furrows his brow. 

"Hard to feel sorry for someone gets his Bentley repossessed, Warren, come on," says Sal.

"Sal, you're supposed to be my friend.  Didn't we already do the bankruptcy stuff."

"Warren, you went through $82 million." says Sal.  "But it's about the ring." 

One of the posse raises his hand.  "Man got robbed by bad investments, bling bling, balling, getting robbed by whitie collar guys.  That's the truth."

"Got that right," says Sapp.

"Look," say Sal. "Iron Mike blew $400 million on mansions, cars, tattoos, jewelry and Siberian tigers. Bad investments usually a big part."

"You know I got expenses," says Sapp.  "Two kids with Jamiko.  And, well, four other kids with four different ladies along the way."

"I got it here," says Sal. "$75,495 a month in alimony and child support."

One posse mumbles, "NFL stand for NEED TO F*** THE LADY'S."
"Oooooo," the others say in unison, laughing.  They point at Sapp. He smiles, and shakes his head.
"Bankruptcy judge called me." says Sal.  "Your Super Bowl ring was not one of the items on your list.  You gotta give it up.  It worth quite a bit of money.  They'll want you to sell it."

"Sell my Super Bowl ring.  No way in hell.  My ring?  I can't, Sal."

"But you got no choice.  They know you got it.  Hell, everybody knows you got it." 

"I'll say I sold it. Sold it to...some dude.  I ain't got it no more.  That's what I'll say.  Why not.  What they going to say.  I'm a lair?"

"If that's what happened, you sold it, then they'll want the money you got. Pay back some of your debts."

"You're my lawyer.  What do I do?  Nobody's gettin' my ring.  Nobody."
"Look, Warren, I can't tell you to lie, but...I can give you a ...hypothetical.  You lost it, could happen, but for something as valuable as your Super Bowl ring?  Might be a hard story to sell."

"I can believe it," says a posse.  "Remember, the Bentley, we had to get it out of impound?  You forgot where you left it. Four in the morning that time?"

"See," he laughs. "I got a reputation for losing stuff.  They'll believe it. So, I lost it...at a bar, somewhere?"

"Maybe we can think up some other place..."says Sal.  "If you really lost it."

"Sal, it'll work, come on, it's me.  They'll believe me.  I was on Dancing with the Stars.  People believe Celebrities." 

"Warren," says a posse.  "We was watchin' Sports Center, eatin' Doritos, you know, and we maybe lost it in the couch?  Under the cushions, you know.  All kinds a stuff gets lost in the couch."

"And I found the TV remote in there too.  That'll work."  Sapp puts both hands in the air.  "Why not?"
"But," says Sal.  "Not saying that won't work.  But...I can't tell you what to say, but...hypothetically..." He rubs his forehead. "This is about as believable as Andrew Bynum saying he hurt his knee bowling."

"Relax, Sal," says Sapp.  "I gotta go to the ten year Buccaneer reunion.  I can't go without my ring.  Miracles of miracles.  I found it."

Sapp looks at his posse.  He jumps up.  "Thanks Sal.  I got it.  I couldn't never give up my ring.  It's sacred.  It was in the couch with the remote.  Crazy, huh?"
"Warren," says Sal.  "Maybe I can make some kind of deal with the bankruptcy court, and you can buy back the ring, so you won't have to...Misrepresent...?"

"Misrepresent?  No way, Sal.  I represent."  Sapp jumps up. "Right guys?  We'll go with I lost it in the couch.  Could happen.  I like it."  Sapp and Sal bump fists. "Okay, guys, I think we all need to buy us a couple of pairs of new shoes...after lunch, of course.  Whadya say?"

As the whole bunch, giggling like hell, pile out of the office.  

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Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Two Brown Pelicans balance atop the far rail on the pier at Paradise Cove, Malibu.

"Hey," says Billy, moving over to Scoopie.  "See the Sports Section in this morning's Times?"

"Hi, Billy," says Scoopie.  "What?  Are we  finally off the endangered list, and now we're fair game again?  What with the economy, you know we're just as tasty as turkeys."

"No, no.  The owner the New Orleans Hornets...NBA...he's changing the name of his team."  

Scoopie raises her eyebrows.  "Okay?" she says.

"The Pelicans.  He's going to change Hornets to The Pelicans."
"I don't know," says Scoopie.  "New Orleans Pelicans?"

"Makes sense to me," says Billy.  "Being it's down in Louisiana.  All those Pelicans down there.  It is the state bird."

"New Orleans Pelicans? I guess?  But wouldn't something like, I don't know, The  Brass be better.  Like the horns in all the parades they have?"  She smiles.   "And when New Orleans team gets a rebound, it'll be the Brass' ball.  Now that sounds cool?"  

A wharf rat sticks his head out from under a piece of ratty canvas. "Brass Balls?  What?" 

"Hey, Plague," says Billy. "You heard?"

"The New Orleans Pelicans?" says Plague.  "I read about it.  Sounds real intimidating.  I'm all scared.  The Pelicans?  They're kidding, right?"

"We're part of the landscape on the Gulf Coast.  As team mascots go, could be a lot worse.  They thought the Anaheim Ducks were a joke, until they won the Stanley Cup."  

"Billy...Scoopie,"  says Plague.  "I hate to say it, no disrespect, but you guys are big, clumsy sloth kinda birds, hanging around the pier, all like slow motion."

"Come on, you know us," says Scoopie.  "We eat fish, not rats...usually... so you don't see the killer in us.  Hey, we can be real ferocious when we want to be.  But yes, we're usually pretty calm.   Unless, you know, some little rat get under our skin."

"Okay, okay," says Plague.  "If they're changing their name, why not the New Orleans Funk?  New Orleans gotta have that funk."

"You ask me," says Scoopie, "We're pretty beautiful, and fascinating.  Pigeons?  Sea Gulls, Sandpipers, come on.  We are the ones that stand out."

"Or," says Plague, twitching his whiskers, "How about The New Orleans Cornbread N' Beans?  You want a home town name.  I got relatives down there on the bayou."

Billy flaps his wings. "Strong, dedicated, selfless and fierce are good ways to describe us. We can carry more than our weight while flying.  Can survive a hurricane and would tear off our own flesh to feed our young.  Can a Baltimore Oriole, or a Cardinals, or a Blue Jay come close?  Don't think so."

 "Why not New Orleans Zydeco," says Plague.  "Zy..de...coooooo, yes."

Both scowl down at Plague.  Billy pokes his beak at him.  Plague scurries back under the canvas, a weak squeak in protest. 

"Hell," says  Billy, looking off toward the horizon.  "We can certainly be fearsome. Take a Raven. It eats bugs, and seeds, and fruit.   Dead stuff.   We eat meat, and only meat, and only if it used to be alive.  And we're not like Eagles or Falcons, or Hawks, we don't scrounge somebody else's kill.  We're not like that." 

Scoopie nods.  "We don't splash around in the water, either, trying to gulp fish swimming by.   No way.  We put our wings back and dive to catch them.  Sardines, smelt, anchovies, grunion.  We are the real Raptors."

"The New Orleans Mardi Gras." peeps Plague. "Talk about something New Orleans-ish."
A Sea Gull, a tad scrawny, drops onto the rail.

 "Scraps," says Scoopie.  "You need to eat something.  Not enough left overs on the beach this morning?"

"Clean as a whistle, sweetie.  Hey, couldn't help overhearing.  New Orleans Pelicans?  Can you believe?  Aren't they the creepiest and scariest birds, with those honkin' long  beaks.  You know that's how people see you.  You can't deny it, you know."

"Scraps, you've seen us do our death dive.  The last thing those fish see is lights out when we chomps down.  Swallowed alive."

To the side there's movement, and Billy sees it.   A man in plaid shorts and dress shoes, a camera around his neck, creeps along the railing.  "Maude, look-ee.  It's a Pelican.  I'll get real close, and grab it's bill.  Watch me."

Adrenalin shoots through him. He jumps up, floats off the rail, then turns and dives straight at the man's chest, knocking him backwards.  He snaps his bill.  "Get lost, pal.  Grab my bill?  Like hell."

"Hey," says the man, scurrying away.  "I didn't mean nothing...take it easy..."  And slithers off back to safety behind Maude's day-glow pants suit.  "Sorry."

Scoopie smiles as Billy flutters back to the rail. 

Plague noses out into the light.  "I got it.  The New Orleans Jambalaya."  He raises up on his back legs.  "Two ways, see.   Jam like they're jammin', or like a slam dunk type jam."  He waves his front paws. "Now that's the perfect name."

"Don't think so," says Scoopie, watching Plague's little dance.  "Pelicans work together.  We practice 'cooperative fishing,' herding fish into a bunch so we can do our dive-bombing.   A mascot that works as a team.  No my friend.  Pelican.  That's the perfect name." 

"Guys," says Scraps.  "Mascots are supposed to be fierce.  Tigers, Lions, Raptors.  Not Pelicans.  It's too...goofy.  You guys are my friends, but come on, jeeeeez." 

Billy shakes his head.  "The real power teams aren't aggressive.  Yankees, Packers, Browns, Maple Leafs, 49ers, Jazz, Nets, Nicks, Red Sox, White Sox."

Scoopie nods her head.  "Pelicans gotta better than Cornhuskers, or Boilermakers, or how about  Beetdiggers.  The Irvine Anteaters, talk about ferocious."

"What's worse?" says Plague. "The name'll be shortened to The Pels.  'Tonight, the Pels face off with the Clips in a battle the silliest nicknames.  The Pels, ya gotta love it."

Scraps starts to giggle.  "How about the New Orleans Popeyes.  Or have I been watching too many TV commercials?"

"Well," says Billy.  "I don't care what you two think.  I like the new name.  It means something to New Orleans, and it's better than the Hornets.  It about the city.  Lakers?  Where's all the lakes in L.A.  Utah Jazz?  Memphis Grizzlies?  Wizards?  There's no connection. "

Scraps looks down at Plague and winks. "New Orleans Gumbo.  Kid gets drafted right out of college, 'I can't wait to be a Gumbo.'"  They both snicker.

"No," says Plague. "I still like the New Orleans Jambalaya.  JAM...bull...eye...yaaaaa."

"You want something New Orleans...Frozen Daiquiris." says Scraps.  He guffaws.

"I got it," says Plague, jumping up on his hind legs again, little arms in the air.  "The New Orleans Levee.  Come see your New Orleans Levee's fast break.  Get it?  Levee's fast break?"

He does a jig.  Scraps hops on the rail.  Both howl.

"Ugg," says Billy as he touches Scoopie's wing.  And as they both push off and soar away over the vasty deep, Billy says,  "In the never ending search for the perfect name, and the New Orleans Pelicans is an exceptional one, none can compare with UC Santa Cruz's mascot.

"Yes, my friends, they're the mighty, the magnificent, the unmistakable, Banana Slugs." 

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Friday, December 7, 2012


"Quail, " yells Dale.

"What?" says Hall of Famer Robin Yount.  "Wait."  He jerks up his rifle.  "I see it."  And 'Bang...Bang...Bang.'  He squints, points, and says,  "Go, Beethoven, go get it."  And off goes Beethoven.

Robin holds his rifle in the air.  "I win the $100 bucks,  I got one first."

But there's silence in the Arizona hills.  "Dale, I got  one."  There's no answer.

He looks out toward the trees, and sees Dale.  And waves.  But Dale is down on one knee, hunched over, holding his head.  Blood drips down the side of his face.

Robin rushes up to him.  "Dale, what the hell?"

Dale groans as he looks at his red hands.  They shake as he touches his head.

"Robin, you got me...and it hurts...damn...real bad."  He holds out his hands, all the blood, and wipes then on his shirt.

"Oh my God," says Robin.  "God, I'm sorry.  I was so excited to see the quail...and the $100 bet...I didn't see...I'm so sorry."

"Robin, look at me.  Did I get hit anywhere else?  I can feel pain in my back.  You got me in the back, up high."  He touches his face, his neck, and unbuttons his shirt.  He feels his chest.

They both kneel in the sand as Beethoven bounces up and drops a small quail at their feet.  "Good Beethoven,"  says Dale.  He takes deep breaths.

"What do I do?" says Robin. "I'll call 9-11?"

"Get the first aide stuff.  I don't think it's all that serious."

"Your ear, Dale?  All the blood, and...oh my God...there is a piece missing.  I'll get the kit."  Robin rushes off toward the SUV.

Dale pets Beethoven's head.  "He shot me," he says.  He lightly touches his right ear, and jerks at the pain. "I guess I was too close and right in his sights.  My fault, I guess, partly.  Robin was so excited to shoot something."  He breathes deeply.  "Like Cheney when he went shooting, shoots his friend in the face.  Could've been like this, but I think Cheney was drunk that time."

Again he touches his ear.  "Okay, it's not that bad.  Might need stitches, might not.  Oh Boy."   He rubs Beethoven's neck.  "I came real close to getting killed, my friend. Real close."

Yount is back with a metal box, opens it and starts dabbing Dale's ear with a swab.

"Half inch I would've got you in the eye, or right in the forehead.  God, Dale, I'm sorry.  It was just so fast. Bird was about 50 yards up on the hill..."

"I think there are some pellets in my back, too."

Robin's face is red and sweaty.  He moves around and takes off Dale shirt.    "We gotta get you to a hospital fast.  I don't know...but the blood is stopping."

Robin wipes his forehead.  "How could I do something like this."  His eyes start to roll back at the sight of the blood.  "I don't like all this blood."

"Yeah, I better get checked up.  Must be an emergency room around here somewhere, but don't worry," wiping blood off his shoulder, "all I'm going to say is the bird flew up in front of you, you lost track of where I was and you pulled the trigger.”

"Guess I should've yelled, 'Duck.'  says Robin.

"Funny, but...too early to start making jokes, Yount." says Sveum.  He dabs at his ear.  "You're just mad because the Cubs hired Rob Deer, a .220 hitter, as their batting coach over you."

"I think you're feeling a little better.  I called 9-11.  I hope you're all right?  Nothing more than your ear and your back."  Yount sits beside Dale.  "Once everybody hears about this...It'll be all over the papers, all this about guns and athletes in the news already."

"All these guys dying.  Macho Camacho down in Puerto Rico. That football player Belcher.  Guns kill people." says Dale.

"No, no," says Robin. "It's people who pull the triggers."  He wipes his hands on his jeans.

"We'll be on the sports section right there with Belcher, shoots his wife then shoots himself.  They'd be alive if he didn't have a gun, and started shooting."

"Robin, it's not the same thing.  This was accidental. You got too excited and shot."
"They'll take away my registration.  I won't be able to go shooting...'

"Robin, I'm not going to tell anybody.  It was an accident.  Belcher had problems.  The team knew he and his wife were in trouble, and they say they..." And he stops.

Beethoven jumps.  A machine gun fires from above the ridge by the cactus.  Right up there.  Dirt flies ten feet in front of them, like fireworks.  A killing machine.

"Holy Christ," says Dale.  There's shock.  Then both scramble behind a large rock, flat on their stomachs.

"We gotta get out of her.  They're shooting at us."  Dale, on his feet, holding his ear, runs wildly toward the SUV.

Robin yelling, "Hey, STOP.  Stop shooting.  You're shooting at us."

Two men lurch into view up by the hill.  They're laughing, walking like rag dolls.  One swings a bottle. 

Zig-Zagging, they make it to the SUV, Beethoven bouncing into the back seat.  They looked back to see the two men hobble back up the hill, both holding automatic rifles, shooting at the sky.

"That's how people get killed," says Dale.  "Crazies, people drunk, showing off, shooting without thinking.  Guys who think killing will solve their problems, and go shoot somebody."

The SUV engages, wheels dig, and they leave dust.  Out of breath, they wave down the Paramedics arriving from Scottsdale, and good luck.  No stitches needed, and a large bandage for Dale's back does the trick.

"Hey," says Robin.  He snaps his fingers. "My 100 bucks.  I got the first quail.  Right Beethoven?

Beethoven nods, winks, and says, "Wwoooff."

"See the football game other night, with Bob Costas at half time.  Guns in football, he says, it's a culture. They all carry guns. That's a major problem that has to be solved."

"Drugs, there's a lot of guns there," says Robin.

"That's for protecting their territory, their profits, but in Sports...Come on, they don't all have guns," says Dale. "It's guys who think somebody else is responsible for their lives, their pain, their supposed hardships. If they looked at themselves, they wouldn't be shooting other people."

Dale looks at Robin, "Unless, of course, they have a gun, and they're so competitive they have to be the first one to get a quail."

"That's right...so...where's my hundred bucks?"  He looks up at the large white bandages on Dale's right ear. "But, if you think...you know...since I shot off part of your ear...and you don't think I deserve..."

Dale pulls out his wallet, peels off a hundred dollar bill, folds it small, and flicks it at Robin, skipping it off his right ear.

"Touche." says Robin, and giggles, trying his best to make light of the fact that he almost killed somebody.


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Sunday, December 2, 2012


"Molly," says McGee.  "See the sports section?  Guy with the Chicago Bears says they take Viagra before their games?"

"Viagra?  You're kidding."  She pours something murky from the Mr. Coffee.

"No.  Listen."  He leans over the table, moving his finger as he reads.  "Brandon Marshall, guy plays with the Chicago Bears.  '...it is such a competitive league, guys try anything just to get that edge.  I've heard guys using like Viagra, seriously.  Because the blood is supposedly thin, some crazy stuff.  So, you know, it's kind of scary with some of these chemicals that are in some of these things so you have to be careful." 

She sits next to him, swizzling her coffee.  She blinks.   "Guess that means linebackers will have to watch out for more than just a stiff arm now." 

He stops, and looks up.  Molly?  He looks off toward the window. "Yeah, you got the quarterback with his hands right there under center, YIKES."  He looks back at her, wide eyed.

"Gives new meaning to a hard count,"  she says, nodding, very serious.

"Post patterns...?"

"Well, McGee," she says.  "They do say football is a game of inches."
They both giggle
"I tried taking Viagra once," says McGee,  "but I swallowed too slow and got a stiff neck."

"My God, McGee."  She shakes her head.  "At least, I have something I can use with the doctors I call today.  Tough on a girl pushing condoms all day." 

Two condom salespeople, sitting in a break room.  On the wall is the company's name;   Randy's Universal Latex, Inc. (NYSE: RUT).  'Make sure your Willie Warmer is a Randy.'

"But this is terrific news, you know," says McGee.  "We got a whole new clientele.  Once this gets out, every football player in America above the age of ten will want to take Viagra.  The Chicago Bears take it, come on.  We're talking every kid from 10 to what...40.  Then those from 40 to 110, they'll want it for sex."  

Molly eyes McGee, sips her coffee.

"Young kid's will be taking it with their morning Fruit Loops."  

Molly brightens.  She sits up straight.  "And what are the awful side effects of Viagra?  You know, besides going blind, it's VD and huge families."  She grabs McGees shoulder.  "A parents worst nightmare.  Their teenage daughter getting pregnant, or catching some kind of awful venereal disease.  We'll be their savior."
"What parent wants their football son sidelined because of disease, or he's quit school to raise a family?  None that I know of."

She smiles.  "And how do we prevent that?"  She slaps the table.  "With a Randy."  

"Now," says McGee, "Viagra will be taken for energy.  Sex becomes the ugly side effect."  

"Wow," she says, scootching her chair up to the table.  "And how is this going to work?    After the game, kids will not be able to calm down, one thing on their mind.  And what do they need?  Condoms.  And who makes the best?  Randy."

"Viagra is better than caffeine for athletes." says McGee.  "It's better than Red Bull, even  5-hour Energy." 

"Commercials like...Your brain on crack with a fried egg.  Show some small intestines, you know, body parts with V.D.  Protect yourself, get a Randy.  Or a picture of a fifteen kid family.  Child support could be a real problem."

Her brow furrows.

"I'm just saying."

"McGee, this is big, really," says Molly.  "I don't have to concentrate on selling to,"  she ticks off on her fingers,  "Cops to protect field drug samples, gangsta mules, gun dealers.  They use them to keep their silencers clean."  She takes a breath.  "Not to mention all the arrogant hospitals buyers I have to bribe."  She sighs.  "I can contact families of football players."

He takes her hand with both off his.  "Molly, were on the door step of a whole new Randy world."

They both take deep breaths.

The NCAA." he whispers, breathing heavily.  "Every university, college, high school athletic department.  Viagra, and Randys will go together.  Can't think about one without the other. Like Harley and Davidson, Rock and Roll, like Bonnie and Clyde." 

"Yeah," says Molly.  "Like Oysters and Champagne, vodka and orange juice, like Thelma and Louise."

And together, "Like Viagra and Randys."

They high five.  But he holds onto her hand.

Their eyes meet.  "Viagra will be over the counter, soon, since they've sold so many.  We make a package deal with Pfizer, people who make Viagra.  I can see it now.  Little quickly packs, 25 Viagras and 100 Randys in a plastic bag.  Buy them at Rite Aid on your way out, at the register.  Ralphs,  Big 5,  Dick's Sporting Goods."
They hold each other, and begin to shake.  Faces get hotter.

"Every gym, too," says McGee.  "24 hour fitness, Gold's gym,  Easton's,  Bruno's No Bullshit Workouts."
"A Randy Sampler," she says.  "Oh man, this is wonderful."

"Yes," he says.  "10 Viagra, along with 15 assorted condoms, like the Leviathan, the Earthquake, or the Funicus Maximus."

"Oh, oh, the Funicus Maximus," she says.  She squirms in the chair.  Her eyes start to roll back.

"I feel it, too," he says.  "We'll get NFL endorsement, their logo on each wrapper.  Advertising in Sports Illustrated, Men's Health,  GQ.  This is big."

They begin to pant.

"Here's the thing," he says.  "We get with Senator Fibber.  This company's got to have some clout with the guy, get him to get with the FDA."
"Yes," she breathes. "The money we'll make." 

"We get the FDA to make it a crime not to sell then together.  Viagra and Randys."

"Yes, oh, oh yes."  Her voice gets higher.  She licks her lips.

"And high school vending machines," he says. 

She almost chokes.  "Oooh Boooy.  Like the automat in NY City, like in Gentlemen Prefer Blonds."


"Never mind..."

Their faces come close.

"And Molly."  He strokes her hair.  "We give doctors a commission."


"Yeees.  Like car salesmen get.  Why not doctors.  HMO's pay doctors extra to keep costs  down.  Ten cents for each Randy prescribed. They'll love us.  We'll make soooo much money."

"Yes, yes, oh yes."  She jumps up and hugs McGee.

"We'll get Brandon Marshall to do our ads.  Why not?   If Shaq can do those Icy Hot commercials, come on..."

Molly's face flushes.  "Our commissions will be...ooh  oooh oooooh."
They crash together and kiss, hot, shaking, clutching.
Then she stops and jerks back.  She stares, stunned, then turns, and quickly smooths down her skirt, and checks the buttons on her blouse. 

McGee winks, and steps back. 

"Sorry," says Molly.

"Yeah," he says, "I don't know what came over..."

They rush off to their cubicles. 

McGee phones his stock guy, and buys stock in Pfizer, (PFE), and Randy Universal Latex, Inc (RUT).

Molly flops into her chair.  "McGee, McGee, McGee, " she mumbles, fanning her face with her hand.

And while she too calls her broker, she wonders what if the NBA takes up this Viagra craze? 

Those thin shorts?  Cameras looking up from the floor?  Guys hanging from the hoop?

She fans her face with both hands.

"Oooooh boy."  


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