One night in early May, Jdubbs stormed through the front door, right arm laden with a heavy leather sack. He had just returned from his parents' house in Erie and looked like he had ran the whole way back. Mopping the sweat from his brow with his left hand, he released the bag from his right. It clamored to the hardwood floor with a thunderous commotion.
Thed yelled from down the hall. “What the fuck was that?”
I looked up from the Chabon book I was reading. “What’s in the bag?”
“Get up,” dubbs said, “it’s time for practice.”
He grabbed Yiddish Policeman’s Union from my grasp and tossed it into the decorative fireplace. Candles went flying.
“What the fuck are you guys doing?” Thed echoed down the hall.
“Bocce,” dubbs said. “Let’s go.”
“Where are we going to practice?”
“I figure we’ll go someplace close.”
“I’m in,” I said, scooping up my shoes. Chabon could wait. Bocce was now.
Thed came stomping from his room. “Jesus guys, why don’t you make a little more fucking noise?”
“Get your shoes on,” dubbs said. “We’re having practice.”
“Ah dude, I can’t. Working on my blog now.”
Jdubbs and I cast sideways glances at one another. We chuckled.
“Fucking loser,” dubbs said.
“You’re off the team!” I yelled. “Mandatory practice.”
“It’s about to rain,” was Thed’s argument. And then: “I’m tired.”
We refused to hear anymore. Jdubbs hoisted the balls off the floor. We blew through the doorway. The bocce bag collided loudly with the walls of the stairwell as we made our way down. It left divots in its wake.
As we stepped onto the sidewalk, heavy wind and a rumble from far away made us wonder how much practice we’d actually get.
“We still got time,” dubbs said.
“Those clouds are gonna blow over,” I said.
When we reached the end of the street, dubbs said his arm was about to fall off. The wind picked up. We needed to find a place to play. A quick flash of lightning illuminated the swatch of grass dividing the four lanes of Euclid Heights Boulevard.
As fast as we could, we darted halfway across the street and set up a game on the median of the boulevard. The course was rutty and a few times our bocces came close to rolling into traffic, but Jdubbs and I managed to get a game in. Sometimes cars would slow down to watch. One time a guy stopped, smiled, and said, “Bocce.”
Dubbs won of course, for his bocce ability reigns supreme. Right about when he administered the deathblow, it began to drizzle. Thunder beckoned louder. It was time to go. I lugged the sack home. We stepped inside the entryway of our building just before the sky opened up and the rain came. We congratulated each other on a game well played. On the way up the stairs (bag thudding off the wall), we had our first meeting as Don (dubbs) and consigliere (myself). Upon reaching the apartment door, we were still undecided as to whether or not we should let Thed back on the team.