Church Ball

Last night Chris and I lifted his dad’s keys to the church. Mikey helped us make our very own; no one else would do it because the key said, “DO NOT COPY.” It didn’t matter. Now we could get in and out as we pleased.

The light from the stage shone onto the basketball court. It felt better to do this in the dark. Tables with shining white cloths were huddled in the corner of the room; someone was getting married tomorrow. Today they were just in the way.

The basketball court was alive with the sound of shuffling feet. Chris and I picked the teams, five on five. Shirts and skins. We stripped in preparation, our bodies all shiny and new. Then we played.

Our games aren’t like the ones on TV. This is Mormon church ball. The same game might be played in prison, if there weren’t so many guards.

Call your own fouls. Elbows were expected. Pushing, reaching in, and rough-handled shots are normal. The only taboo is traveling.

Only pussies called fouls that didn’t draw blood.

My pale skin glistened with hard won sweat. All ten of us sparkled under the stage lights like Stephanie Meyer’s vampires. The court feels like a sauna before long.
All of our sweat makes the room feel humid, like the minutes before a storm.

There was a hustle and flow to the movement of the ball. Squeaking sneakers and the dribbling ball make a music that echoes through the hall. Our grunting and calls sound out in tribal rhythm. The ball flies through the air amongst elbows and knees on its planned trajectory. The ball hits the rim with more of a feeling than a sound.

And I jump.

So does Chris. He throws his elbow toward me and catches my nose with a pop and a sound like grating sand. Bright red blood sprays with my breath. I drop to the pine
and the game moves on.

“What the heck man?” I said, jumping to push the offender.

“That was clean!”

“Clean? My ass!”

“You’re too much of a pussy to play the game then you should just go home.” Chris pushed me with all his might.

“ I’m not a pussy, I can kick your ass.”

“Bring it on cock muncher”

We dance like in middle school, too far to touch, but still too close for comfort. The room is filled with rancorous shouting like speaking in tongues.

“Fight, Fight, Fight, Fight, Fight!”

Chris’s hand flies to my face and my body freezes. I watch in slo-mo as my nose flattens again. Tears and blood flood the floor as I hunch over, gasping in pain from the reopened wound. Chris finds my chin with an uppercut that blows blood all over his hands and bare chest. The shiny white table cloths are sprinkled like spray-paint. I drop to the ground and the room buzzes. Chris stands victorious; proud like a statue. I feel hands pull me up from the ground and start to drag me off the court.

The light flickers and sparkles as I gasp for breath, starved for oxygen.
I pick myself up, sprint at Chris and drive him to the ground like a football player. Deep hard packing sounds fill the room as his face turns into hamburger. My hands are like hammers, each stoke driving in his nose like a nail. His gasps turn to gurgles and then, silence. The shouting has stopped. The room sounds like death.

Lamoni runs and grabs his phone. The ambulance is on its way.

Paul and Alma drag Chris outside leaving a trail like dripping bread crumbs. Chris’s blue eyes stare at me out of broken sockets as he’s dropped out of doors. Alma pins a note to his chest because we’re afraid he won’t be recognizable. The court is quiet and stained. The once-white table clothes lay still. The lights from the stage sparkle and shine as we all make off like thieves. I run until my legs feel like rubber, and my heart pumps battery acid. The siren of the ambulance sings from the church parking lot and I know it won’t be long until different sirens sing for me.

Mike Youngberg is a writer living in Salt Lake City, UT and is our resident Chuck Palahniuk.


Lighthouse said...

Wow. Great writing! Makes you really think through the meaning of "Church Ball."

Austin said...

This should be filmed!

Barry said...

my heart pumps battery acid

Post a Comment