Timothy Willis Sanders

Roy and I wave at each other, then when close, we slap each other’s hands. Most days until dusk, or until Roy gets tired of getting schooled, we play basketball.

Roy's cheeks and chins move when he speaks, “You know Frieda and your dad. They’ve been seeing a lot of each other.”

Roy says it so chill. I expect a shit-talking chuckle to follow. I expect a snicker full of shit to follow. Roy doesn’t chuckle or snicker. Roy lobs the ball. The ball bobs on the rim and drops, brick.

He rebounds the ball under the basket. Palming it at his beer gut, he elbow swats at ghosts. I watch the blob of him wobble. ‘Seeing a lot of each other,’ he said, all chill before his brick shot.

Roy passes the ball. I catch the ball, bounce it hard, and pass it back.

Most Fridays Dad stays at Frieda’s overnight. He comes back to give mom a kiss, me a pack of basketball cards. Roy plumply jumps back and releases a jumper, just short, brick.

“All the boys were there. We were too drunk to drive home,” dad said. Roy’s arms flap and he hooks like Robinson. Air ball.

Roy weaves the ball between his hock knees. The ball strikes his Nike, and dives at the street. He pretends a pre-game warm-up and springs after the ball in tight little leaps, his teeth wrapped in his lips. I leave without a slap or a wave.


My parents are reclined, watching Roseanne. Dad is a see-through thing that socks droop from and beer disappears into. Mom’s body is creaking from a week’s worth of selling done in one day. She sips her iced tea and takes a looks at the beeper on her waist. When it beeps, she will go back to work.

Roseanne gets sassy with Darlene. Mom laughs like a squelching radio. The cat spieson the sock drooping from dad’s toe, then splits into ten directions.

Finally a commercial break comes, “Can I talk to you for a second mom?” I point to my bedroom and walk. The hallway is dim. I step dumbly, almost blind. Mom steps in a sure, gentle stomp. Could I say it chill like Roy? I wish Roy were here to say it.

The cat bats at a wadded piece of paper near mom’s feet. She kicks it back towards the cat. He pounces, bats at it. Mom’s beeper beeps.

Timothy Willis Sanders is the author of Orange Juice and Other Stories. His work has appeared in Muumuu House, Hobart and VICE. His new novel Matt Meets Vik is available now. He lives in Austin, Texas.

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