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Sandpit
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TITLE (EDIT)
Sandpit
DESCRIPTION
-
[1,498 words]
AUTHOR
Annacat
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
-
[October 2015]
AUTHOR'S OTHER TITLES (45)
44 (Poetry) - [294 words]
Blame Is A Game (Can't Run From) (Songs) - [233 words]
Casual Embrace (Songs) Life notes for my daughter [205 words]
Comes To Fall (Poetry) - [84 words]
Daughter (Songs) Cynical father to his only daughter about men [231 words]
Depth Of My Soul (Songs) Being strong enough to say never again. [298 words] [Relationships]
Devil's Deal (Novels) A life never lived for a crime not committed... [7,732 words] [Literary Fiction]
Finding Home (Songs) Getting lost is the easy part - coming of age and reconciling with the mistakes we all make. [423 words] [Relationships]
Fine Things (Poetry) - [177 words]
Fire Burned (Songs) The competitive fire of capitalistic success has unintended consequences when parenting takes a backseat to material wealth. [272 words] [Self-Help]
Forever Starts Tonight (Songs) Duet love song [242 words] [Romance]
Hearts That Fear (Songs) - [208 words]
High School Heros (Poetry) Not what you think [243 words] [Motivational]
Hitched To Your Chariot (Songs) Dedicated to those we cannot hope to repay. [323 words]
Jack And Jill (Songs) Sad country lament [172 words]
Lonely Song (Songs) The sound of heartbreak. [240 words] [Relationships]
Look Away (Poetry) This unique madness of ours [210 words] [History]
Lost By Noon (Songs) - [263 words]
Love Anew (Poetry) - [197 words] [Romance]
Magical (Poetry) - [48 words]
Miss Liberty (Songs) We continue to meddle - the Arab spring will lead to a cold winter. [171 words] [History]
Move From This (Songs) Most think our country is headed in the wrong direction - call me most. [217 words]
Never Grow Up (Songs) - [260 words]
Never Hear (Songs) Losing a love dart by dart [146 words] [Relationships]
Nonsense We Believe (Songs) Our political intransigence is in part our own ignorance of the obvious. [348 words]
One Chance And One Time (Songs) Some roads don't intersect [228 words] [Relationships]
Over It (Poetry) - [80 words]
Planting Lilies On The Blood Stained Road (Songs) Syria 2012 [241 words]
Playground Symphony (Songs) - [219 words]
Post A Note (Songs) Growing apart and not talking about it. [203 words] [Relationships]
Raymond (Songs) ...learning things that cannot be taught [204 words] [Motivational]
Ridiculous Me (Songs) - [68 words] [Self-Help]
Run For Me (Poetry) First Saturday in May [166 words] [Animal]
Send It Away (Songs) Why we write things no one reads. [310 words]
Silent Sirens (Songs) - [259 words]
Simple Things (Songs) Love song [146 words] [Romance]
Social Contract (Songs) Inspired by Elizabeth Warren - apparently they don't teach contracts at Harvard Law School [404 words]
Team Of Stone (Songs) - [209 words] [History]
This Town Was Home (Songs) You can go back but you probably shouldn't. [226 words] [History]
Time Is Right (Songs) The right thing at the wrong time lasts forever [152 words] [Relationships]
Timing The Season (Poetry) - [74 words]
Tin Whistle (Poetry) - [272 words]
Treasure To Find (Songs) A long lost love. [219 words] [Relationships]
You Couldn't Know (Songs) Telling the doctor about your life facing death. [240 words]
Your Money (Songs) A KMA to the ex [180 words] [Relationships]
Sandpit
Annacat

Sandpit


“Stop me if I’ve told you this story.” He hesitated and hoped he hadn’t but the memory of yesterday was not as vivid as the tale he could tell.
“I’d like to hear it.” She was eighteen years old volunteering at the nursing home in hopes of getting into medical school someday. All of that seemed so far away and nights like this were precious to her. No parents, no boyfriend and no pressure she was being paid to listen and she felt guilty taking money for it. She would miss him when she went away unlike the rest of it.
“So it started on a Saturday my first year in medical school at the Watervliet pavilion. The pavilion was a covered open tennis facility where the tennis rats congregated and found games more times than not for money. I was a good player in college and would have played more seriously if not for my calling and lack of talent. “ She grinned and settled into her seat. She loved the sound of his voice and the way he painted the memory.
“Anyway I had no game that day and there was this guy hitting against the wall who I had never seen and after sizing him up for awhile I asked if he wanted to hit. Little did I know what would follow? His name was Nick. There is a certain sound a ball makes on a wooden racquet; yes tennis racquets were made of wood back then and the sound was distinctive when the ball was on the center of the strings. His timing and hand eye coordination were superb and in a short time I easily recognized as superior to my own. We played and I saw things that I had never seen in Division I competition. He could hit any shot and anticipate and basically handled me more easily than I could believe. I always met him at seven in the morning because even after that first day I had a plan and keeping him out of sight was part of it. Every year there was one tournament I targeted and always thought I had a chance. The Rockwell Park Open otherwise known as the “Sandpit” was a semi-professional event attracting all the good local pros and to anyone who wanted to qualify. Played on true clay it was a single elimination three set format until the final, which was five sets, and it set up perfectly for my baseline game. I always thought I could win it and I had gotten through three rounds last year losing in the semi-final to the eventual winner in a match I could have won. But the other thing was the betting and that was where the money was and at that time in my life that was all I was thinking about.” He coughed and reached for his water glass and closed his eyes.
“Can I get you a pain pill?”
“Yes please.” She brought him a Lortab and a fresh glass of water.
“I think I won’t be telling this story many more times. Maybe this the last time.”
“No just rest you can finish it tomorrow.” She hoped he would object.
“I’d like to finish it.”
“Okay but take your time I am not going anywhere.” She loved to listen to something so distant from the usual non-sense she was dealing with.
“ So we played daily for the two months leading into the Open and I finally sprang it on him. I told him I was playing and thought I could win it and that his game wasn’t suited but hey it’s a fifty dollar entry fee, and he was beating me so why not? It was that easy. All that time I was trying to find something in my own game that would never be there and testing his game and well, there were always answers. I had fifteen hundred dollars to my name and we were in different brackets and when the Calcutta came up the blind betting made him twenty to one with my thousand being the only bet on him. He didn’t and couldn’t know. In the last week before the tournament we played hours each day and I made the rule that neither of us could come to the net just so he could reset his game to the baseline approach required at this level on this surface. To my amazement he could stand on the baseline and pound away for as long as it took.”
“Why not tell him?” She said.
“The reason I tell this story is not prideful. But I’ll go with the explanation that has served me well through the years. He had never been in a tournament and I had seen him play absent pressure and thought he was unbeatable. He was a natural; something I can’t begin to understand or explain and he didn’t know it and I thought that was his best chance.”
“So you felt bad about taking advantage of him?” She knew the answer but this was part of their routine.
“Sadly not for many years but now for what it is worth…yes.” His lip quivered and he took a deep breath. “So the first two rounds were nothing for either of us and visually I was much more impressive only giving up 6 games in four sets. He actually went to a tiebreak in his second match but it was against one of the favorites and it was a good win. But the way he was doing it wasn’t what I had stressed to him. He was playing a type of tennis not suited to the surface with too much net and too many gambles. He needed to stand and pound because with his precision I didn’t think he could be beat. I was beat in the third round by a seventeen year old kid. He was good and supposedly ranked nationally but I wasn’t impressed just out worked and a part time twenty four year old lost to a full time seventeen year old. My sadness was extinguished watching Nick get through to the finals. He played a near flawless match and spent most of his time ending points quickly doing the things that only seemed to work for him and on clay no less. At this point he wasn’t a surprise but there really wasn’t a playbook to beat him. But the pounding that I took for someone used to playing that game bothered me. Five sets would be a stretch and maybe his style and stamina wouldn’t hold. For two thirds of my savings it occurred to me that not having seen him lose was a bad omen.”
“I would have been so nervous.”
“No you would never have done anything like this. And don’t.” He grimaced because the Lortab never took the edge off the inevitable end.
“Do you need another one?”
“Yeah this story is almost over.” She brought him another pill and he swallowed it willingly.
“So I guess you had to be there but the first two sets were magic. Smoke and mirrors and maybe a little seventeen-year-old nerves but it was 6-4, 6-4 and really not all that close. The third set turned and the kid started to hit clean and a 2-6 third set looked like a rest. But I was there and I saw something that unnerved me. He was figured out, old, tired and defeated. He looked at me and mouthed something to the effect of “I’m okay I know what to do” or something like that. I wasn’t so sure and figured my twenty thousand was evaporating. I thought about telling him and realized that it would not serve either of us and decided to let it ride.” He put his head back and closed his eyes and there was a pain on his face that far exceeded the pathetic cancer that was taking him.
“Mr. Jones are you okay?”
“I’m dying with pancreatic cancer and it is the least of my problems. Please let me finish this. The fourth set lasted two hours. He stood at the baseline and rallied consistently drilling slice backhands deep on the backhand corner to his opponent’s two-handed backhand like we practiced. He figured out the only way to win was by minimizing his energy and maximizing that of his opponent. And he lost that set and won the war. When they went out for the fifth set he went back to his usual game being unpredictable and ending points quickly. The end came quickly and he walked to the net to applaud the youngster who he had out gutted. I collected and Nick held the trophy and then died in a car accident a month later. And I have this story I tell that always ends the way I don’t want it to.”
“You look so tired.”
“You would never make the mistakes…
“Mr. Jones?”

 

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COPYRIGHT NOTICE
© 2012 Annacat
STORYMANIA PUBLICATION DATE
June 2012
NUMBER OF TIMES TITLE VIEWED
1074
 

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