Ginobili vs. Dracula, Chapter 25

In which games are played in the dark, and Dracula takes in some art.

The ebony parquet seemed darker than his memory. No matter -- Kobe Bryant no longer needed to see to pick up a dribble. The darkness fell into itself. Upon falling in bounds, the dribble muted. As if the ball's spirit had yet to bounce off a distant floor. Still the ball itself kept returning to Kobe's hand. Its trajectory guided him down the lightless court.

Kobe picked up speed for lay-up, eyes closed. He felt a net brush his cheek on the way down. He knew from muscle memory where the ball would meet his palm scooping the floor. "Where is that Son of Bitch?" Kobe thought.

* * * * *

The Dark Lord straddled the home bench as he sipped deep red-black Gatorade from an iron imitation of a paper cup. He yawned, stretched and watched Kobe run easy lay-ups back and forth across the court. Feisty pups become the most loyal hounds, once broken. He would savor this one.

A jog along the beach, perhaps? Some art? His day staff installed a new sculptural piece by Sterling Ruby on the breakfront: a flatbed trailer of rusty pig cages altered to fit human proportions. The steel wire bars played games of form with delicate shadows thrown by bone arrangements set wabi-sabi among the dunes.

* * * * *

George Hill and DeJuan Blair sat on the edge of the hotel room bed, each with a PlayStation controller and 2010 NBA Live queued up. George's sister hacked the console so they could both play as Manu Ginobili. George grabbed a fist full of popcorn and the remote. He chewed as he rode down the brightness and contrast to the negatives. The screen black, DeJuan hit start. George spit the half-chewed popcorn at DeJuan and fumbled for his controls.

* * * * *

Tony Parker felt the bass rumble from behind the door of George Hill's room. The syncopation was unmistakable: RZA, "Knuckleheadz" by Raekwon with Ghostface and U-God. Three years ago that would have been his room, but that was before Eva.

Tony fiddled with the lock of Pop's door. Eva wanted another bottle of that wine -- Tony wondered if Pop would spare it or if it was better to flinch it and replace with something nice later. Tony fished in his warm-ups for the extra key had swiped from desk.

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