“On the farthest court from me, three Puerto Rican teenagers played paddleball -two, short twitchy butted girls in hip-high pea-coats against a skinny kid in a brimmed porkpie hat and a premature moustache. The kid was showing off, hitting the ball behind his back, between his legs, smacking one girl on the ass with his paddle, adjusting, readjusting his hat. The girls were laughing, stiff-arming their swings, innuendoing to each other with their eyes. He had a hard-on. Anytime the girls scored a point he groaned or slapped his forehead or said, “Ah must be getting’ old!” Once in a while he slammed a killer just so they would know he was a layback but active volcano.
Candy moved his weight well. They both had good coordination, but it had been a long time, and they played like shit.
By the basketball courts, on our bench, three identically dressed Puerto Rican guys sat on the top slat, backs against the fence, hands in coat pockets, feet on the seat slats. Against the far mesh wall a kid also in a porkpie leaned into his girlfriend, whose back was curved into the fence. His hands were in his pockets and he supported himself by resting his long thigh in her crotch.
That was us. All of it. All of it. Me and Sandy Talla against the fence. Me and Suzie and Dawn and Ronnie playing handball. Me and Donny and Brazil shooting hoops. Me and the boys bullshitting on the bench listening to WMCA, WABC, WINS.
I felt a rush of panic. For a second I thought I lost my sample case. Then I remembered it was in Candy’s car. Outside the playground two sixteen-year-old blond Irish girls walked by in pea coats and I got hit with a sweetness, a sweet horniness, and I remembered what it was like to thrill to a tongue in my mouth, a tit in my hand, perfume in my nose. The delicious gut-wrenching agony of the time in my life when titty was king and I never even knew girls had cunts. Another el train roared overhead, bringing back the millions of el trains that had roared past my window and I started crying.
Nothing heavy. Just misty sadness. It was over. It had been the best and now it was over and nothing had ever felt as good. We had peaked back then, and all we’d been doing since was dying.
I heard Candy groan as though he just got skewered with a sword. I glanced up in time to see the pink ball soar over the factory roof. End of the game. They slowly staggered over to me, breathing heavily. Donny looked miserable. Candy’s chest was heaving like a bellows and perspiration dripped steadily off his nose. I wasn’t sure if it showed that I had been crying. If any of us had had anything real going on in our lives we never would have come back.
“Gentlemen? We are very lost people”.
Donny caught my eye for a second, then looked away. Candy stared at me, still wheezing. Raising his hand above his head, he wiped the sweat off his face with his shoulder. “Speak for yourself, Kenny”.
“Yeah, Candy? Whata you got?”
“Kids. I got kids, Kenny, and they’re the best”. He lightly slapped Donny on the chest with the back of his hand while looking at me. “C’mon, I’ll blow you guys to Tabs”.”
Bloomsbury 1998 (publicado originalmente en 1978)