Luke Walton found himself on a basketball court surrounded by red lights, thin as cocktail straws... not like that slate floored, cold place. The man in black with the number 20 looked like his Master, but he could look him in the face. His head was shaved like a monk. When the monk touched the round orange globe, it reminded him of something he had not seen for how long... what was that feeling, warmth?
* * * * *
Tony Parker tried to stop chewing his nails. But when he closed his eyes the dream resumed: Eva purple skinned and in yellow cheerleader gear, blood on her mouth... He wished he could play so he could think of something else. He spied Eva across the court, chatting with her Desperate Housewives co-star, Terri Hatcher, a Lakers fan. Terri looked younger than Tony remembered, her mouth redder. Collagen?
Eva caught Tony's eye when Terri turned aside. Eva silently exagerated what looked like a "B" sound. Like his mother, she knew exactly when no one was looking. Tony mouthed back, "Tes yeux, j'en reve jour et nuit."
George Hill crumbled to the floor.
Years of Spurs discipline strangled Tony's instinct to jump up and pull the box cutter from his pocket. Did Derek Fisher try to bite George? Tony craned for the jumbotron: the replay only showed a twisted ankle. But the replay also showed Jack Nicholson sitting across the court. Tony glanced at the empty chair covered with a deep purple cape. He wanted in the game so bad so he could stop thinking about all this wierd "SH". Plus, he would dominate Fisher.
"Oh, merde!" Tony shouted as Ginobili grabbed an erant pass and fell away with a soft touch to push the lead up to 9 with six minutes left in the fourth. His team would win this game! Tony gave a thumb-up to Ian on the bench. Manu started at guard for Tony's fantasy league team, too.
Smiling, Tony looked toward Eva. She still silently shouted -- not a "B" -- but two quick V's:
Suddenly wise, Terri tapped Eva on shoulder. Eva stood to attention like an over-rehearsed site gag.
Terri looked straight at Tony and pantomimed powdering her nose. Eva bounced to catch Terri and take her arm. They walked down a darkened hall. Only Eva's eyes looked scared.
* * * * *
Phil Jackson came early to Urasawa, the sushi place where he invited Popovich to meet him for a post-game dinner. He polished off a plate night crawlers with some mineral water and perused a tiny leather bound book marked with hexagrams as he waited.
A waiter brought a wine to the table -- Jackson did not order any -- then he noticed the note:
Sorry, something came up. Enjoy. Pop
Jackson examined the bottle: an Argentenian Malbec. The sun began to sink into the Pacific. His Master would wake soon. Phil shivered, dreading the reckoning. He gnawed on the last of the night crawlers as he stifled a sob.