Ginobili vs. Dracula, Chapter 17

Richard Jefferson actually felt safer in New Orleans than in that Oklahoma hotel.

The practice sessions did not bother him. After the first night they grew dull, and RJ snoozed unnoticed in the dark silence. RJ needed the sleep. The dreams left him exhausted.

The first one came the night the Spurs lost in Charlotte, Spurs 72 Bobcats 92. RJ ate alone that night. Even Roger Mason who loved the Cheesecake Factory hurried to the privacy of his room to do something.

The game was no fun. The Bobcats' star, the good-natured Stephen Jackson got the better of RJ, just like he did back when Jackson was the Spur and Jefferson was playing for 2003's Washington Generals: the New Jersey Nets.

The Chicken Madeira and Steak Diane at the Cheesecake Factory consoled, but the Godiva® Chocolate Brownie Sundae ended up being too much. RJ fished for cash so he could leave in a split.

Leaving behind the crisp twenties, Jacksons, RJ walked to his rental mindlessly fingering Jefferson's minted profile on the nickel in his pocket.

Bonk! RJ's head snapped back -- a stonewall?

RJ looked up to barely see tombs on his every side, above ground. He angled through a maze of algae covered monuments -- where was the parking lot? At his every turn he found corridors narrowed until he could no longer turn, only walk where he was led ... He woke shivering in the bathtub, the water steaming about him and just up to his chin.

RJ felt exerted against the Grizzlies, like he running through a court of water, 0 for 6 from the field. He watched from the bench as Mason, Hill and Ginobili fought to come back. Spurs 86 Grizzlies 92.

The Cheesecake Factory usually made him feel better, but RJ could barely finish his chicken and sun-dried tomatoes. At least he felt safe in the booth. The restaurant's decor being the only constant on so many lonely nights. He imagined it a home. He rested his head on a pillow of fettucini.

Almost instantly the above-ground graves enclosed him. Jefferson ran, only to be steer slotted that much faster.

RJ forced open his lids, the only part of his body he could move. He could not feel, but he saw that he was in the bathtub, again. The water covered his clinched mouth and approached his nostril. He broke free with a spasm.He twisted his back, but he could breathe.

He did not play in New Orleans. RJ felt no part of the victory, Spurs 97 Hornets 90. RJ skipped the Cheesecake Factory this time, even though the entire team would be there.

The tepid hotel room was quiet. He submitted to a dreamless sleep. A slender mosquito perched on his collarbone and kissed the crevice of his neck.

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