AE – Chapter 13

Dietrich woke up. He was dirty and lost. Of what he could perceive he was in an alley behind a subway station. But all that mattered to him was that he was far from home. He hadn’t eaten anything, but he didn’t know what to do. A billion thoughts were still swirling in his head.

Dietrich had somehow managed to hop on a bus then a subway after that any means of transportation he could find and
finally ended up in a rundown area. He didn’t even know what was going on. He just tried to forget. He buried his face into his hands. He didn’t cry, he hadn’t cried. He just wanted to forget, that was his first reaction. He thought to himself, maybe things were still normal, maybe it was still alright, maybe he was still dreaming. He got up and ran; he kept running and seemingly ran onto the oncoming subway.

The tears wouldn’t come, the thoughts wouldn’t end, and the scene kept replaying in his mind. He couldn’t figure out why he ran, he couldn’t figure out why he did anything. A pair of strange voices nudged at him. Dietrich just ignored it, trapped within his mind. As the train slowed to a stop and a couple hands grabbed him and threw him off the train. He stumbled onto the train platform and looked up. Two punks with huge grins plastered onto their faces cracked their knuckles and started to walk towards him.

One of the punks smashed his foot into Dietrich’s stomach. Dietrich didn’t feel a thing. His body flew back as adrenaline pumped through his veins. The other one pulled him off the ground and stood him up. His hand flew through the air in slow motion and his fist glanced off Dietrich’s temple.

The two punks took turns speaking to Dietrich as they pulled him up by his hair. “As you can see squirt, we ain’t playin around.”

“We’re decent street thugs, so we going to ask you to hand over your stuff.” “So if you surrender us your assets we’ll be off in a flash.”

Dietrich didn’t react to what they said. Another foot connected with Dietrich’s stomach.

“I guess we’re going to have to beat a yes out of you then!”

The two punks took turns using Dietrich as a punching bag as he continued to be pummeled. Finally the two punks picked him back up one more time to see if he was conscious and breathing. They both smiled at him. They pushed him back against the wall.

“So you ready to let us have your belongings now kid?”

For some reason Dietrich replied out in defiance. His voice cracked behind his breath, “no.”

“I don’t like how this boy treats his elders. I think it’s better off we silence a boy like this.”

One of the punks tackled him against the wall, as the positioned himself to choke him. Slowly, the world turned black as the pair of hands constricted tighter around his throat. Dietrich wasn’t sure how to react, he simply looked into the eyes of his assailant and the punk looked back a little confused. He played with the idea of death; he was supposed to have died today anyway, it would be so much easier… Softly, ever so gently, Dietrich closed his eyes as he stared up into the foreign, concrete ceiling. He almost grinned. Everything was so wrong, that it had to be a dream. He concluded it was most definitely a dream and it was time to wake up.

Dietrich gasped and sprung up from his bed and he breathed in deep, the smell of home. The scent was so intoxicating, imprinted onto his brain. Peaches and Cream, his mother had always burned candles around the house and the scent always lingered even after the candles and burnt out. From his bed he could scan his house with his eyes closed; since it was a late Saturday evening he began to play the scene in his mind. He saw his sister in the distance eating her cereal, and he could hear his dad making a phone call from the inside room, and his mother would be preparing dinner. He saw his mother motion him in to try out what she was cooking in the kitchen, she always loved trying new recipes.

Dietrich took a step, and woke up. He stared into the foreign darkness. Then, what seemed like an enveloping darkness was quickly dissipated by a bright light. He found a curtain in his face and tried to brush it away. He was quickly greeted by a cramp in his left leg and crashed down to the ground. He heard a child’s voice speaking with a slight lisp.

“Oh, boy. I told them not to leave me in charge of another person.”

He blacked out once again.

“He doesn’t have a fever anymore, he seems okay. Someone get him some water, please.”

Dietrich opened his eyes but still couldn’t focus amidst the blinding light. He slowly, faintly saw images of heads surrounding him. He rubbed his eyes and felt a rustle of tubes that were connected with his arms. He felt the warmth of the bed.

“You awake newcomer?”

Dietrich groaned from the blinding light and saw a huddle of unknown faces. One of the people motioned the others to back away and return to their rooms. The same hand brought a cup of water to his mouth. He drank it and felt the refreshing liquid coat the inside of his stomach. His eyes seemed to be able to focus a bit more.

“You feeling alright?

The group of people that had been crowded around was herded out of the room by a female voice.

“Can you hear me? Kid, you alright?”

“Yeah, yeah… guhhhh…” Dietrich’s mind became aware of the pain that his body was in, and shrank deeper into the bed. He managed to shake it off a bit and tried to sit up.

“Whoa, whoa cowboy, hold on there.”

The bed ran halfway erect and Dietrich was able get into an upright sitting position. As he managed to shake off the rest of drowsiness he looked around the room to see a boy around five years old sitting on a bed like his. The room looked unfamiliar but somewhat like a hospital. He saw the tubes running out of his arms and his first reaction was to yank them out, but two large hands brushed them away. He looked up to see a large man that nearly scared him due to his gargantuan muscles. He was a giant among humans and certainly built like a great beast. He had grayish hair almost tinted in blue and large eyes that ran a deep brown. By looking at his feature Dietrich knew that the man was certainly older than himself. From behind him he saw a girl that looked so small compared to the giant that sat at his bedside. She had short- medium lengthen brown hair with blonde streaks running through her hair, certainly stylish with her own flair. Her black eyes contrasted against her blonde streaks.

Dietrich was confused by the scene, and didn’t even know what to begin to say or to ask. After a few moments of silence a familiar child like voice spoke once more.

“You going to be okay?”

He looked over the giant’s shoulder to find a boy about six years old with large glasses that almost looked as if they would fall off his nose. He was fitted in what looked like a hospital garb and was sitting off his hospital bed earnestly awaiting a response.

“Yeah, I’ll be alright. I just feel really drowsy.”

The girl let out a giggle and spoke, “You’ll be drowsy alright, we had you rigged to pain killers and a bunch of medication after we picked you up. You’ve been sleeping for over a day.”

The child spoke with his lisp, “Hey Bear, can you put him somewhere else. I think he’s too big of a responsibility for me to take care of.”

The giant spoke, “You did well Max, just do the same thing if he does something weird. Can you be a big boy for me?”

“Gosh, Bear. Fwine…” The boy ran back into his covers and laid on his side looking at Dietrich, his big responsibility.

The girl walked toward the bed and checked the bags hanging above Dietrich and fumbled around with some monitors that displayed Dietrich’s vitals.

“You seem okay now, so I’m going to hook you off IV’s and monitors. Do you feel okay at the moment besides being drowsy?”

“My body hurts, I feel like..”

The girl giggled once again, “Of course, you were getting beat by those street thugs the other day before Bear was able to stop them from nearly killing you.”

Bear stood up; however he didn’t stand as big as he looked. Dietrich gauged the giant at slightly over six feet tall, but his muscles were rippling. He took off the bags and unhooked his tubes from his arms including a few wires running out of his shirt. Bear proceeded to walk out of the room with the bags of IV’s but turned back to ask Dietrich a question.

“You hungry?”

Dietrich’s stomach nearly growled and even Dietrich looked shocked.
The girl this time burst out into laughter, “Bear get him some soup from the kitchen. They should be done cooking it for breakfast.”

As Bear walked out of the room the room seemed to be a lot bigger then Dietrich had first estimated. He saw the movable curtain that he walked into pushed toward the side. The boy named Max was still in the same position. Dietrich was a little freaked out by the munchkin as the boy simply blinked his eyes in response to his stare. The girl began to wrap up the rest of the medical equipment that had been rigged to Dietrich and pulled up a chair next to Dietrich.

“So what’s your name?”

Dietrich fumbled and hesitated as he fought to say his name, “Dietrich.”

“My name’s Claire and that boy behind you is Max.” Dietrich looked back the boy was still staring at him slightly creeping him out this time.

“Say hi Max…” He raised his hand from under the covers and simply waved.

“Max is just shy. He’s incredibly shy around new people, but once he opens up he’s real good.”

Dietrich finally started to think straighter as his mind seemed to gather itself through the conversation. “Sorry, but where am I?”

“Oh! Sorry, you’re in an orphanage. Well, more specifically the orphanage part of the church.”

Bear walked in with a bowl of soup and brought up the attached table from under Dietrich’s bed. He placed the soup in front of Dietrich and his mind whirred and mouth watered. Food. All his body thought was to eat, nothing else at the moment mattered. He started devouring the soup, nearly devouring his spoon as he ate. The three watching were shocked at the sight as in a few moments the soup disappeared.

Max’s eyes went wide stunned at the sight and he sat up adjusting his glasses, “Geez! That was fast! Bear get him some more, I want to see that again!”

Bear hustled out of the room and quickly brought back another hefty portion of soup, and scarffed it down even faster than the first. He let out a large burp, which signaled the end of his feeding.

The three echoed, “Wow…”

Dietrich sheepishly smiled and felt much better with food in his stomach. A simple “Thank you” was all he could give to express his gratitude.

“Your welcome!” Bear cleared the table and took the bowl back out of the room.
Claire whom had been sitting by his bedside suddenly thrust her head inches from Dietrich’s face and sniffed. Dietrich shrank back a little scared and confused.

She pulled back her head in disgust, “Do you remember anything that happened to you? How you got here?”

He stuttered, “w- w- what?”

She giggled. “You are dirty and smelly, go clean yourself up and I’ll show you around today if you’re feeling alright. Since our electronic systems in the building are slightly frazzled, ask Max to call for me whenever you’re ready. I’ll get you some clean clothes.”

As Claire left she pointed to the shower on the far side of the room closer to Max’s bed. Dietrich looked at Max, who was still huddled in the same position just staring at Dietrich and Dietrich this time just gave the same puzzled look back. He lifted his arm and smelled. He did need to take a shower.

AE – Chapter 12

Dietrich shivered, no, not because it was cold. His mind couldn’t comprehend what was going on in the kitchen of his home. His father was being restrained by two men. A man he had never seen in his life was pointed a gun to his face. His mother was blindfolded, but tears streamed down her face. His sister burying her face into her mother’s leg so scared. He thought to himself, “Why had I left? Why had I run away? He didn’t exactly understand himself, his body just moved.”

The man pressed the gun into Dietrich’s fathers face then paced back and forth in the kitchen acting like he was looking for something to eat, “Mr. Lockhart, you have become an increasing thorn in the eyes of many powerful men.” He opened a cabinet and closed it shut, opened another and gasped in delight. “MMMMM, matches.” He shoved the matches inside his pocket and proceeded to shove the gun in Mr. Lockhart’s face.

“I will give you one chance to tell us where your son is.”

“You don’t think I know who you are? If I told you where my son was you’d just kill him.”

“Wrong answer!” He swung the gun into his face leaving a giant gash on his cheek.

“You are a smart man Mr. Lockhart, but wouldn’t life be better if you’d all just die together?” a creepy smile rang up on his face revealing jagged teeth. He was obviously having fun. He started to screw a silencer on his gun. “You got one more chance before I give you the blessing of dying first, Mr. Lockhart.”

“Don’t you dare touch my family, who was the one that hired you?”

“Wrong answer!” He swung the gun into his face once more.

“I believe you are not in a position to be asking questions, forget it, he’s probably hiding here anyways.” Mr. Lockhart somehow managed to wiggle his way out of the two men that were holding him down and jumped up to kick the man in his face. Startled he let out a shout and dropped the gun. He pumped his arms into the air revealing two glimmering knives under his sleeves. Mr. Lockhart tried to dodge the knives but his motions were restrained due to his hands being tied. The knives jammed into his chest. Mr. Lockhart’s hunched over and screamed with his teeth clenched unable to bring remedy to the knives as blood poured out.

“You could have died a lot easier, but no. Kill the other’s, I don’t have time to play hide and seek. We’re burning this place down.” The man picked up his gun, walked over to his father and fired two shots into his head. The two men restraining His mother and sister shot two rounds into each of their skulls.

Tears didn’t come to Dietrich’s eyes. He just ran, He leapt over the wall into his neighbor’s yard. Somehow he managed to evade the men that were still outside looking for him. He ran, he kept running, he didn’t know where. He didn’t understand what was going on. He just kept running.

AE – Chapter 11

Dietrich opened his front door to see his mom serve her little sister cereal at the kitchen booth. She waved her spoon in the air delighted to see her brother return from school.

“Hi Dietrich! How was school today?”

“Candice, make sure you don’t have food in your mouth or in your hand when you get excited. You make a big mess!”

“So, good right!?” She smiled with a piece of cereal sticking on the side of her cheek.

“Your sister is just happy to see you Dietrich; do you want a bowl off cereal as well?”

“Sure mom, can I get a bowl of cereal too?”

“Have a seat and I’ll get your cereal.”

Dietrich made his way to the booth seat on the right of his sister. His mother walked over, gave him a bowl of cereal, and poured some milk into his bowl.

“You look like you had a rough day at school, want to talk about it?”

“No I’ll be fine.”

“Done!” Candice had finished her cereal and had a content look on her face.

“Candice baby, it’s not a race! Go get into some more comfortable clothes and practice piano, your piano instructor is coming today.”

“Okay mommy!” She leaped off her seat and dashed up the stairs on all fours.

“I’m done too, I’ll be in my room if you need me.”

“Okay Dietrich, just know your mother is here if you want to talk. I have some things to finish for your father so I’ll be in his office. Cheer up!”

“Thanks mom, you’re the best.”

Dietrich kissed his mom and hugged her and made his way up the stairs. His sister came careening down the stairs in a green dinosaur jumpsuit that she used for her pajamas.

“Roar! Make way for the dinosaur!”

Dietrich shook his head and did his best to hug the wall. He walked up the rest of the way to make his way to his room. He pulled his Navi out and threw us bag next to his desk. He put his Navi on the dock and the wall lit up revealing his boot screen.

“Activate Voice Link, Open Schedule.”

The Navi  flashed *Voice Link Activated*  in bright bold letters and automatically shifted through its content to open his scheduler.

“Synchronize homework”

A bar counted off the transfer between the school server and refreshed to show a new screen with all the homework that the teachers uploaded into the site. He looked at the screen and noted that there was math homework and a few readings he had to complete before the next day.

“Well let’s get to work.”

Dietrich sat at his desk and pulled out his homework from his backpack.

Day had turned into night and Dietrich looked out of the window. He stood up and stretched. The homework had taken him longer than he had expected, and he had trouble concentrating. He looked out to see the nearby park. There was a strange mist floating on top of the grassy field, suddenly the street lamps flickered to life. Something didn’t look right. The cable van that had been parked at the end of the street had moved in front of the house. His brows flicked up. A man got out of the truck and started to fiddle with a phone box in front of his neighbor’s house.

“That is weird.”

He walked out of his room to look into his sisters next door to catch her napping. The telephone rang. He knew exactly who it was. He heard his father pick up the telephone. He continued to walk slowly down the stairs to get into a better position to hear what they may have been talking about.

“Hello?” a pause. “Oh Mr. Jamison! What a pleasant surprise! Excuse me? Hold on something is wrong with the telephone, let me switch you to the phone in the office.” He heard his dad walk into the office. Somewhat of a chill ran down his spine. “Yes Mr. Jamison… Hello?” He heard his dad fiddle with the phone. “Hey is something wrong with the phone? We don’t even get a dial tone…”

At that moment the sound of windows breaking downstairs resounded through the house. Dietrich heard his mother scream. He caught a glimpse of the door being smashed open and two men running in. He froze then ran back upstairs. He ran into his room and for some reason his first response was to grab his Navi. He grabbed a jacket and put on his shoes and started to climb out the window. He didn’t know what was going on. He was scared they were getting robbed. He closed the window and moved on top of the roof to hear more men swearing and the sound of his father trying to fight them back. He heard men break into his room then his sister’s. They were fast. He heard them grab his sister and make their way down the stairs.

He looked into the window, and since it was well lit inside the men that were ripping through his room frantically looking for him couldn’t see. They all had guns and their faces were covered. They almost looked like swat agents, but something was wrong. All their guns had silencers on them. He made his way to the top of the roof and dropped into the backyard. He was out of sight but had a clear view of what was going on.

Dietrich saw his mom and sister in a corner. His mom was being restrained by a man and his sister was holding onto his mother’s leg. His dad was forced on his knees and a man had a gun to his face. Dietrich didn’t know what to do. He was so scared. He pulled out his Navi and nearly dropped it because he was trembling so hard. He pulled emergency but the screen only read error. Something was wrong. Something was terribly wrong.

AE – Chapter 10

     Dietrich jumped into his car and threw his backpack into the back. The rest of Winter break had passed so quickly that everything seemed so much like a blur. The charity basketball match a week ago seemed so far back. He shifted around with the channels to find nothing good on. He was always disappointed in the morning with the radio; he was never fond of liberal radio talk shows shelling out sided arguments. 

As he turned out of his driveway he punched in a playlist and looked up to see a strange car always sitting at the end of the street. It wouldn’t be odd on a regular day, but for the past few weeks the same cable car had been sitting there, would leave, then come back at different times of the day. Dietrich shrugged it off. In a few minutes he would have to deal with the stress of the stretch of school until spring break.

The day was nice. It was cloudy, but the sun streaked through the clouds. He slightly opened the window and took a fresh breath of crisp clear air. His body felt lighter with it.

-page break-

First period was a blur. English class passed out new books; he didn’t even glance at the title and shoved it in his backpack. The teacher passed out packets of work and a new work schedule that would accompany the book. Before he knew it the bell had rung. Dietrich walked through the hallways walking over to his government class waving to his friends here and there. Government class was at the other end of the short hall so getting there wasn’t very hard. As Dietrich dropped his bag and sat down in his second class the teacher handed him a pink hall pass summoning him to the principal’s office. He looked up at the teacher with his eyes wide, he knew exactly what had happened. The teacher just shrugged.

“You should go, one of the office ladies walked here and sent me the letter saying this had to get to you at the beginning of class and I had to release you.”

Dietrich groaned. He picked up his backpack and trudged out of the class. The principal’s office was located at the front of the school and he was a ways off and had some time to figure out a game plan for certain situations. The boys hadn’t talked about the fight since it had happened and the Claremont kids hadn’t mentioned anything about one of their boys getting screwed over. He deducted that it was either a fight, or just that the principal wanted to talk to him about his dad, which had happened before. As he opened the door that lead to the principal’s office all hope that it was nothing was shattered. There were two police officers talking with the principal and Derrick, Grant, Hughes, and Joshua were all sitting in the waiting room. The all stared at Dietrich with a nervous look in their faces.  Grant broke the silence with a whisper.

“Eff that guy man. I just heard that the one guy that was left behind made up a BS story that we jumped him.”
Dietrich looked at Derrick and he had somewhat of a pained look in his face.

“We stick to the real story. They invited us to play basketball, one thing lead to another, and they started a fight. We had to defend ourselves so we did. There’s nothing more to it.” Derrick shrugged.

“All five of you boys come inside, we need to have a talk.” The principal motioned them toward five seats that had been set up in his mid- sized room. “Boys, have a seat. The officers are hear on a police report that has you four names on them allegedly reporting that you five boys attacked a boy from Claremont. Is that true?”

No one spoke. They shifted their eyes away from the principal. Dietrich looked up and calmly said, “No, we never would do something like that.”

“Then what happened? I believe I want to hear what you boys have to say and I believe the officers should hear your stories as well.” The officers took out notepads and pens and Dietrich began to explain what happened with the rest of the boys filling in information that he had skipped here and there. The officers kept looking at each other and kept exhaling as if they didn’t believe what they were hearing. Dietrich finished the story and the principal looked at the officers. “You men satisfied with this story, does it line up with any evidence?”

“We will see Mr. Jamison, we’ll have to have another meeting with all of the boys together to find out what our plan of action will be. We’ll contact you later today. Thank you.” The police officers both extended the arms and the principal shook both.

“Please close the door along the way, I would like to speak to these boys in private.”

The two police officers left the room and closed the door. Instantly the mood of the room changed. The principal swiveled his chair to face the window behind him and started to mumble to himself. The boys looked at each other a little scared. Finally, he turned around, stood up, and smashed his fists into his desk.

“I am ASHAMED in all five of you! To be students of MY school and go off and have a brawl with a neighboring school. Do you know what image this gives us!? Of course I know that Claremont is full of rich snobs that have their fathers backings, but Washington, WASHINGTON boys should know better!” he paused and stared each of them in the eye. The boys looked back speechless creeping deeper and deeper into their seats. Even Joshua looked extremely scared as he shrunk back due to the enraged principal. He began to speak in a soft but “Deadly”? voice, “I have been following each of you seniors individually. From grades to extra- curricular activities, I look at who you are, what you have been doing, and what you are capable of. You are all amazing boys. Everyone of you, I know all of your stories and where you boys come from.” He paused and sat back down in his desk. “I will think of a due punishment for you five and I will speak to your parents. If things go wrong at the station your futures can get compromised. I don’t wish for that to happen but it may. Return to your classes, we will speak again when I receive more information.”

But I think he was trying to help us. He seemed like he didn’t want anything bad to happen to us.

“Damn This sucks man, if I get screwed my life is over. FREAK, What the hell am I going to do!?”

“Grant, calm down, I think we’ll be okay. The principal sounded like he was just really disappointed in us, but he wanted to help us. He said he didn’t want anything to happen to our futures remember?” Joshua patted Grant on the back.

“ARGH, I’ll make sure nothing happens to my future. My dad won’t allow it. We didn’t do anything wrong.”

“Yeah, well military looks at criminal records. I’m freaking screwed too.” Derrick replied

Joshua tried to calm the group a bit, “And I’m sure that nothing will happen. Just chill we still got school to worry about.”

“Yeah, dude. If at all anything they threw the first punch. We’ll be okay,” said Dietrich

“All this crap is annoying. I hope it’ll be over soon. Have fun in class.” Hughes waved everyone off and left for his class first. Grant stomped off fusing with anger and Joshua sighed and looked at Dietrich and Derrick.

“We should be alright, we should talk at lunch today.” Joshua patted both Derrick and Dietrich on the shoulders.

The three of them split each letting out a heavy sigh. There was enough on their minds to worry about, and with this ordeal in place life wasn’t going to get any easier. Soon it was lunch time and they met at the usual lunch tables with grim faces. Even Joshua looked a bit down. They plopped their bags on the table and hunched over burying their face into their crossed arms. They looked so down that a black cloud seemed to be lurching over them.  Jane dashed over bearing some apples and bananas and looked at all of them. She let out a big sigh and crossed her arms.

“It’ll be okay you guys. Cheer up and eat something!”

They all resounded together. “No Jane…”

There was a long awkward silence as Jane tried to say something helpful.

“Well then… Forget it! I’m done trying to cheer you boys up!”

Jane looked up, made a blank look on her face and took a seat next to Derrick slumping her face into her crossed arms. “You boys make me depressed…”

Soon Jeanette and Kerry walked over with their lunch pails. They looked around a little confused and looked at each other. Kerry took a spot between Grant and Joshua and Jeanette took a seat next to Dietrich and Hughes. They began to open their lunches but looked at each other and felt bad. They sighed, crossed their arms and buried their head into their arms.

Hughes looked up and around. “God we are pitiful. Let’s not talk about what happened today, I don’t think it will help.” He picked up an apple that Jane had put on the table and took a big bite out of it and picked up another and threw it at Joshua who caught it without even looking up. The apple looked tiny compared to Joshua’s big hands. He took a bite into the apple leaving only half of the apple still intact. He swallowed the rest of the apple whole. Everyone looked up, wide eyed at Joshua. Joshua shrunk back, embarrassed.

“What, I think it’s a waste not to eat the whole apple!”

Everyone let out a big laugh, and the dark cloud over them disappeared.

With that lunch was over, and school ended. The boys received a notice in their last class that read.

I spoke to the officer in charge of this case. We are going to speak to everyone that was involved that night and get the story straight. I will personally call your parents tonight.
The final bell rang, and the boys slowly gathered at the front of the school. They each clutched a small piece of paper.

“God, everything is moving so slowly…” Grant took a deep breath in and screamed out, “MAKE IT GO FASTER!!!” The group jumped back shocked at his outburst.

“Hey, Grant. Calm down, at least nobody knows about what’s going on, and if people think we’re a bunch of idiots jumping Claremont kids that wouldn’t be very fun,” said Dietrich

“Yeah, whatever. I need to make sure the phones unhooked or something. I don’t want to deal with this today, my parents will take any little thing and make a big deal and fight over it. Catch you guys later.”

“Yeah, there’s not much we can do about it right now catch you guys tomorrow or something. Teachers that give homework right after breaks are ridiculous… annoying. Let’s go Joshua I’ll give you a ride back home,” and with that Hughes gave his standard wave as he walked away.

Joshua gave a faint smile, patted Dietrich and Derrick on the back a final time and ran after Hughes.

Derrick looked up at the sky, stretched his hands up high, and yawned wrapped his hands on Dietrich’s shoulder who was standing right next to him. Dietrich shoved the note into his pants and started to walk pushing Dietrich with him.

“So, me and Jane have a date tonight at small café downtown, and I was wondering if you want to do a double date with Jeanette? What do you say?”

“Forget it dude, you know we’re strictly friends”

Derrick chuckled, “you guys been friends for way too long, how does a boy stay friends with a girl that he’s known since elementary school and just leave it that way? I say”

Dietrich cut him off mid sentence and brushed his hand off his shoulder, “and not everyone in this world thinks with his balls Mr. Crossroad. Oh, and make sure you announce this to the Derrick Crossroad fan club, cause some of those girls are crazy about you. Ha ha, Have fun with Jane.” Derrick opened his car door and waved Derrick off.

Derrick just grinned largely, “Weren’t you the president of my fan club? So doesn’t that mean you are also my spokesperson? I’ll leave that up to you! I’m glad I got you to get my back all the time!”

“Ha Ha, very funny Mr. Crossroad. See you later man.” Derrick waved back at Dietrich and continued to walk to his car.

Dietrich started his car, pulled out of the parking lot, and drove home. He noticed the he was still holding the note in his hand. He had a funny feeling in his stomach. The sun looked as if it was going down quicker than usual. It wasn’t a good funny feeling, and wasn’t that the note was bothering him. He just had a bad feeling.

AE – Chapter 9

Riverside’s banners and chants were still resounding strong but since Washington had tied the game they’re cheering also kicked into gear. With the score tied up, the next half would show who wanted the win more. Riverside’s giant green and white banner swung back and forth with Yuna and her fob girls screaming chants in Korean. The referee blew the whistle signaling the end of halftime break.

Dietrich stood next to Grant as Washington strategizing what they should do for this next half. Grant had a slightly impatient look on his face, but this time it was because of the fewer touches he was receiving. Joshua knew Grant was on the verge of going on one of his tantrum explosions so he placed his hand on Grant’s shoulder trying to calm him down. Grant loved to be the hotshot, even if the team would lose at the cost of him showing off.

“As long as we do the same thing we’ve been doing on offense and watch for the give and goes we should be fine. So always call the switches,” Dietrich just wanted to win.

“Just give me the ball and we’ll win this,” Grant broke the huddle and the rest of the boys shook their heads. They knew this wasn’t going to work unless they worked together, especially if they made it into the final round. Derrick spat on the ground.

“Man, I didn’t think the boy was going to be this hard to work with.”

Dietrich cracked a smile and nudged Derrick, “its cause he wants to show off to Jane.”
Derrick just sneered at him and followed after Grant to try to talk some sense into him.

The referee blew the whistle once more and grew impatient as both teams took their time gathering at half court. The ball deferred over to Riverside since Washington started with the ball at the beginning of the first half. Hansol inbounded the ball to Joseph and the final ten minutes had begun.

“RI-VER-SIDE! WA-SHING-TON!” Both sides wanted to win badly.

Riverside produced good ball movement managing to spread the ball around the arc. Suddenly Ted managed to run inside drawing defenders inward, then in a fell swoop popped the ball out towards Aaron before anyone noticed. Aaron knocked in a wide open jumper and Riverside took the lead.

“JOSHUA, WHY DIDN’T YOU CALL THAT ONE!?” Grant was furious.

“Calm down, or I quit.” The Washington’s bleachers gasped as Derrick’s reaction silenced the whole court.

Grant looked at Derrick knowing he over exaggerated and simply shut up. He didn’t even bother answering back and ran down court.

Derrick looked at Joshua that had been stunned by Derrick’s comment, “Joshua, you going to be alright?”

Joshua shook it off, “Yeah, I’m used to it already. He does it all the time during basketball practice. Let’s just win this game.” Joshua inbounded the ball and the spirit of Washington had changed. Instantly Grant became a team player instead of a ball hog.

Washington spread down the court and Dietrich passed the ball outside to Hughes. He shot the open jumper but missed. The rebound was picked up by Grant and he rushed toward the basket. Unexpectedly he faked a layup as he was blocked by two defenders and handed the ball to Joshua in midair. Joshua easily put the ball into the basket. Washington went wild.

For the next few minutes the two teams went back and forth, but Washington became a new form fitting team; no one played for themselves, they played for their team and their school. The score was 27-22 with minute left. Riverside was done. The clock winded down and the referee blew the final whistle.

The referee announced, “Game! Washington Advances to the finals!” Washington High School went into frenzy with students pouring onto the courts and random students hugging each other. Two games down and one more to go, the five boys were ready to take on any team and win it.

Moments into the celebration cheering erupted on the other court and the MC took the stage once more.

“Congratulations entering the final round, CLAREMONT AND WASHINGTON!” The board behind Jinju flickered and the brackets moved Claremont and Washington into the final positions revealing this was no lie. The courts went silent in amazement. Since it was widely known the two schools had been rivals the brackets were purposely made that these two schools wouldn’t play each other out of fear that bad blood may erupt. Since getting into the final round was very difficult Claremont and Washington had never gotten to the final round together.

Suddenly a voice erupted through the silence, “LET’S BEAT “EHM!” Everyone’s eyes transfixed on Charlie as he held up a cheer poster. Washington responded with a great cheer that shook the whole arena.

The five boys were given water and refreshments, with other students even massaging backs and giving tips like coaches.

“It’s amazing how a basketball tournament brings a school together.” Hughes remarked as he enjoyed his ice cold water and massage by a few of Derrick’s fan girls.

“Yeah, well. We still have to win this one Hughes.” Dietrich replied.

“We’ll be fine. We have referees this time.” Joshua brushed a few people aside with his massive hands. He never liked that kind of special attention.

The Riverside boys maneuvered through the crowd and managed to meet up with the five boys. Each exchanged a few words and congratulated them.

“Good game, I knew I was in for a fight when I first saw Riverside practicing.” Dietrich shook and hugged Joseph.

“Ha ha, You guys were pretty tough, I almost though we had you guys till you guys came back.”

“You guys would have had us. Good game man.”

Joseph smiled, “Good game just beat Claremont. I don’t like any of the guys on that team.” Just as he completed his sentence Joseph disappeared into the crowd, Dietrich smiled back and shook his head without being able to reply.

Jinju stepped into the center of the stage and gave another set of announcements as student volunteers from the different key clubs rushed to rearrange bleachers and the final court. Many of the students had stayed filling in the side bleachers, while the bleachers at the end of the court were filled with Washington on one side and Claremont on the other. The difference was stark between Claremont and Washington. Some of the Claremont kids even had dress shirts and slacks on for a sporting event.

“Are you guys ready to know this year’s charity basketball tournament’s winner?” It was responded with a cheer like no other. “Get ready cause we’re going to know in the next few moments~! Can we have both teams meet at the center of the courts and all non-players and volunteers clear the courts? Game on!”

Washington’s five pushed through the crowd toward the center of the field as the students cleared the courts. The high fives, pats on the back, advice, and “good lucks” seemed never ending as they finally made it to the center of the court. Instead of having only one or two referees for the final match, all four referees on duty were on the courts. They checked wristbands to see if any were tampered with, and if any team were cheating. The head referee made a few remarks, “I’ve been noted that both schools are rivals. Let’s just have a clean game and good luck to both of you teams.” Both teams stared each other down.

“Let’s skip the greetings and get on with this.” Erick sneered.

Derrick smiled back noticing a slight blackness around Erick’s eye and lifted up both his hands. “What can I say to that? Game on.”

The referee announced that each team had five minutes before the game started and turned to discuss referring the game themselves.

Even though the two teams had been involved in a fight the night before they hardly looked battered.  Derrick noticed Claremont had switched its line up slightly getting rid of their three stooges with a more athletic looking bunch.

Grant’s face slightly twisted up, “Man… They brought in ringers. I know one of those guys, Pro scouts were watching him. I forgot what school he’s from though.”

“It’s fine, I’m pretty sure they didn’t practice so their flow is probably going to be a little off.” Hughes still looked a little nervous as he spoke.

“Let’s figure out a plan before we start this one. Huddle up.” Derrick brought the boys into a huddle and they started to hammer out and refresh themselves with a few of their old basketball plays when they were on the same team.

Jane walked onto the court giving each of the Washington five a congratulatory hand shake. She stopped at Derrick and smacked him in the head. The Derrick fan girls collapsed nearly screaming at Jane. Derrick had to wave his hand to stop the commotion behind him. He whispered something in Jane’s ear and in that same instance gave a small peck on his cheek. Dietrich’s fan girls went from holding their silence to completely fainting. A section of the bleachers were on their backs foaming from the mouth. A few of the students sitting around them started to fan them trying to revive them. Jane walked away as if nothing had happened.

Dietrich’s face had puzzled written all over it. “What just happened?”

Derrick just grinned and winked back at Dietrich. “Guns blazing, what can I say?”  he ran off toward center court. Dietrich and the rest of the Washington boys shook their heads and trailed Derrick.

The head referee blew his whistle and motioned both teams for a jump ball. Terry looked at Joshua intensely, a look that would have intimidated any normal person but Joshua’s will maintained his composure.

The ball floated into the air. Joshua’s hand tipped the ball back into Hughes, and Hughes shot the ball at Dietrich. A surge of adrenaline ran through Dietrich, his body wasn’t ready for the final game but his mind was. Through the screaming of the crowd Dietrich focused his mind, playing under pressure didn’t come easy to him, but he adjusted to situations well. He was smart, and knew he needed to keep his cool and not freak out. Playing point guard he needed to rely on his teammates more then they relied on each other.

Claremont played aggressively early on and Dietrich had to cross over a defender in order to cross half court. His defender was much quicker and a greater reaches then his man from last night. He dished the ball out to Grant sitting on the baseline. He drove in with the open lane, but Terry creating a huge roadblock. It was déjà vu.

Except Grant wasn’t in the air, and Terry was still the blundering big man that he was. He spun around left first, bouncing off Terry’s stomach and confused Terry. He tossed the ball up without looking at the basket. The ball clunked the front of the rim, and then softly swished through the net. Washington drew first blood and 3/4 of the bleachers exploded. It was obvious everyone was on Washington’s side and Claremont was hated by all. The tallest three stooges’ replacement shot a few words at Terry and Terry didn’t look very happy about it. Erick had to mediate between them and Terry seemed to be okay about it.

“So that one’s James Law. He’s the one I’m talking about. Be careful, he’s got a killer mid range jumper. Hughes, you should guard him like we said. Even though he’s a big man he likes to shoot. Just stay with him and do your best.” Grant motioned Hughes toward James.

Hughes sighed and reluctantly agreed, “Man, why do I have to have guard the hardest people today?”

Washington played full court pressure right back at Claremont. James was bringing the ball down court and was skillfully avoiding the swipes at the ball. It was true, he was as good as Grant had said; good enough to be scouted by the pros. He managed to get to the outside three point arc by himself and launch a fade away three pointer that swished through the basket. James had single handedly brought Claremont into the final round regardless of flow or practice. Claremont faintly cheered through the boos. Erick arced his eyebrows and grinned toward Grant’s direction. Grant’s face took the bantering and fire ignited his eyes. As Grant was about to walk toward Erick, Derrick grabbed his jersey and pulled him into a huddle.

“Don’t lose your head now Grant. We still have the rest of the game to play.”

Grant just looked at Erick’s direction and shook it off. Derrick continued, “let’s run zone, forget guarding that guy one on one. Double him up as soon as he crosses half court. He doesn’t guard inside either or play much defense. Go inside, Joshua hold off Erick’s brother for us.” The five boys broke huddle and Joshua inbounded the ball to Dietrich. Dietrich crossed half court easily this time and penetrated inside. He gave the ball to Derrick, and Derrick drew defenders giving the ball right back to Dietrich as he launched himself the alley-oop. The ball landed into Dietrich’s hand and he redirected the ball into the basket. Washington retook the lead.

Back on defense things took a different turn. James tried the same tactic bricking his next few. He couldn’t shake the double team, and he was obviously unwilling to pass the ball. Even though he was good, Washington gave him more then he could chew.  In five minutes Washington pulled away with a 10 to 5 lead and the Washington bleachers were practically already celebrating. Erick jogged over to James and exchanged a few words. James didn’t look very happy but he nodded and they both ran back court. Erick pushed the ball down court to find James sitting on the outside arc. Hughes closely defended Erick and Grant swooped in. This time James bounced the ball in between his legs sending the ball flying toward center court connecting with Erick. With the mismatch Erick sent the quick midrange jumper flying into the air hitting the backboard sending the ball straight into the basket. Everyone was just astonished by Claremont’s play. Even Grant and Hughes that had been guarding James were still confused and processing what just happened.

Joshua inbounded to Dietrich and Dietrich threw the ball to Derrick that was already positioned down court. Derrick dribbled the ball waiting for his teammates to come down court and easily faked out his defender, nearly playing with him in the process. He spotted Joshua under the rim and set up a three pointer hoping that Joshua would grab the rebound if he missed. Instead his defender had slapped his hand in frustration, and Derrick drew the foul connecting with three easy free throws.

Things however didn’t get any easier for the final three minutes. Even though the team had been leading by eight points, the lead was quickly cut out. Erick’s words seemed to impact the replacements and the team was passing the ball around and learning how each other played in the process. Somehow the lead had been cut to two at halftime.

“What is going on?” Derrick flailed out his hands in frustration.

“Oh, I guess it’s my turn to tell you to calm down Derrick.” Dietrich tried to fan Derrick with his hands.

“Argh, it’s like you think you can hold him down and that guy switches things on you.” Grant vented his frustration, but was calm by his standards.”

Joshua tried to realign the team, “Let’s just stick to what we’re doing. What more can we do besides run our plays and defend like we’re doing?”

“But they’re getting smarter as we play. We get killed on the mismatches.” Hughes was always the smart one.

“Fine, we need to get smarter as they get smarter, got a plan Dietrich?” Derrick looked at their resident Point Guard.

“You can bet your new girlfriend on it!” Dietrich unloaded his strategy as the team hydrated and caught their breath.
Half time ended quickly as the final whistle blew to mark the final ten minutes of the tournament. Claremont would start with the ball since the first possession was Washington’s. Claremont inbounded the ball to James and he quickly swung over to Erick. Erick spun and passed to Terry on the inside. An easy two points, and in the first thirty seconds of the second half, the game was tied.

“Easy, exactly like we said.” Joshua inbounded to Dietrich and the retaliation was on. Dietrich used Joshua almost as a shield. They ran down court in tandem with Joshua nearly shoving defenders aside. As they reached the three point arc both of them sped up, Joshua halted right at the front of the basket but Dietrich continued to run. He jumped placing one hand on Joshua’s shoulder launching him into the air over Joshua. He brought both hands and ball behind his head slamming the ball into basket. Washington and the side bleachers nearly died from not breathing. Everyone was screaming their heads off as Dietrich had just slammed the ball into the basket. Washington looked as if they were ready to pour onto the court as if they had already won.

In the midst of the celebration Terry had inbounded the ball to Erick and they ran down court quietly placing well placed jumper for an easy bucket. The crowd quickly hushed itself. Derrick spoke to Dietrich as they jogged down the court, “After that dunk I think there’s going to be a new Dietrich fan club. I didn’t expect something like that from you.”

“Yeah, I didn’t either. It kind of just happened.” Both boys laughed and Dietrich passed the ball the Derrick. Derrick went to work with his defender easily driving past him once again. He drove towards the basket and dished back out to Hughes. Hughes knocked in a three from way downtown and Washington began to put up some numbers, but Claremont stayed close behind. The two other ringers from Claremont began to heat up knocking in a jumper here, a three ball here, and even a few layups. With two minutes left the game was at a standstill. 36-39. The referees hadn’t called much, Claremont was playing a surprisingly clean game, besides the fact that they brought in ringers from a different school.

The clock ticked down, and stands were rooting for Riverside to close it up. A combination of zone defense and making a high percentage of their shots kept them narrowly ahead of Claremont.

Dietrich held the ball at the top of the three point arc winding the clock down a bit so that there would be less chance for Claremont to comeback. At three seconds left he feinted in then stepped back creating space for a shot, instead he spotted Hughes cutting from his man running towards the basket and decided to bounce the ball over to him. However, he had spotted the ball too late and ended up in the defender’s hands as he trailed behind him. Hughes was still looking for the ball as he thought Dietrich had shot the ball up as the whole Claremont team rushed down court. James easily tore apart the mismatched defense and cut the lead down to one. 38 – 39. There was 30 seconds left on the clock and people were getting worried Claremont may actually take it this year.

Dietrich stood at half court dribbling the ball just waiting for time to run out. Then three defenders made their move by rushed at him desperate to make a final attempt at the basket to steal the win. He tried to hold the ball away from them but instead the ball went flying into the air luckily landing into the hands of Derrick. Instead of keeping possession Erick’s hands managed to fly out of nowhere and tear the ball out of Derrick’s hands. Less than ten seconds on the clock and Claremont was running down court with the ball with a wide open lane.

Derrick and Dietrich both closely trailed behind Erick praying that he made the mistake of exaggerating his layup or even missing. Instead he suddenly stopped in front of the three point line and both Derrick and Dietrich went flying forward blowing past Erick. Five seconds left on the clock. The remainder of Washington defenders caught up and Erick knew it. He spotted James on the right corner behind the arc and lobbed the ball over to him. Two seconds were left on the clock. James grinned, wide open he shot the ball into the air with such great form; the ball spun with such amazing rotation. The arena gasped as the ball simply hung in the air then slowly started to fall. The fate of the tournament rested on this final shot.

In that instance Dietrich watched as all their hard work laid in the balance of the ball in the sky, Derrick couldn’t believe this was happening; everyone’s heads were shaking praying that the wind would change the course of the ball. In what seemed like forever the ball finally came down clonking on the rim, once, twice… then falling down to the ground. James had missed the basket. Washington had won.

AE – Chapter 8

    Echoing choruses of high school chants, shrieks of Derrick Cross’s fan girls, and the smell of adrenaline in the air characterized the four basketball courts loaded with hundreds of high school students in the bleachers. Madness, the high school students’ wait had come down to two ten minute halves to prove that their high school was the best. Only one school would be able to advance into the second round.

The five Washington boys looked stunning in their blue and white uniforms. Their first game was against Lynbrook’s Centurions. Each year their key club had managed to bring their varsity basketball teams’ starting lineup. They had even brought their cheerleaders as support.

Derrick shook his head, “Every year they bring their varsity team, and they never win.”

“Too cocky, not enough determination to win,” Hughes replied back.

The five boys got a good laugh joking around about Lynbrook’s team, but one thing was certain they still had to play hard and smart. Lynbrook’s team was still their varsity starting lineup.

The ref blew the whistle and motioned the two teams to form around half court. A few extra rules were explained and both teams shook hands. The two big men of each team squared off to start off with a jump ball. Simultaneously on all four courts referees popped the ball into the air. Joshua managed to tip the ball into Dietrich’s hands. The tournament was on.
Lynbrook’s green and gold uniforms streaked down the court forming a defensive formation as Washington’s attack advanced right behind. Dietrich pushed the ball further into Lynbrook’s territory only to be greeted by two defenders. He swung the bull out to Hughes but an extra Lynbrook defender swung in causing Joshua to open up down low. Hughes spun around avoiding the defender swinging the ball behind him towards Joshua. He easily tipped it in causing a huge uproar in Washington’s section.

The next couple possessions mirrored each other. Lynbrook ran down court a few times jacking up a few threes, with Washington capitalizing on each of their errors.  Lynbrook’s team was bickering with each other as each player hogged the ball trying to show off. Their circus shots weren’t connecting and Washington was quickly pulling away. Washington led 12 to 5 at the half.

At the start of the next half Lynbrook started with possession of the ball. The big center made a bumbling mistake as he tried to inbound the ball cross court for an easy point instead of passing it to his point guard. Hughes leaped into the air picking off the pass and took off down court with Dietrich trailing. He faked a layup and attracted both defenders leaving Dietrich wide open behind him. He passed tossing the ball above and behind his head as Dietrich cleaned up with another easy layup. The look of frustration and anger started to be more apparent on the Centurions. They were being torn apart.
Washington cut through Lynbrook like a hot knife cutting through butter. Grant crossed over his defender nearly causing him to fall over and ran in as a lane opened up towards the basket. Their big man tried to obstruct his path, but it was too late. Grant was in the air with his torso in his face. The ball tear dropped into the net causing yet another Washington uproar. The final whistle blew and Washington poured onto the court from the bleachers. The first game had been won.
WAH- SHING- TON! WAH- SHING- TON! The game was over and Washington’s morale and volume soared. The five boys were chest bumping, high fiving, and complimenting each other. Even Grant’s demeanor had changed and lightened up. Winning really felt good.

The MC blew a whistle on stage. “Congratulations to the four teams advancing onto the semi-finals! Riverside High School, Oikos Christian Academy, Claremont, and Washington! The competition is heating up and we’ll begin the next round in fifteen minutes!” The crowd cheered, athletes hydrated, and schools regrouped. As the intensity doubled, the number of competitors was cut in half. Washington had relatively breezed past the first round; however the next round wouldn’t be as easy. Dietrich looked at the brackets to find that the next team to beat was Riverside High School. He remembered it was the team that the Joseph boy was part of.

In the chorus of chanting and a midst all the chaos he spotted Joseph and the mass of Riverside High’s students. They had one of the larger groups alongside Washington and Claremont but by far the loudest. Riverside High School usually went all out for these events, painting their faces, bringing their mascot costumes; they even had a small three man marching band.

“Riverside and Washington High School please report to court two and sit in your designated bleachers. Claremont and Oikos report to court one please. Can we also get Julia Kwon of Oikos’s key club president to report with them?” The crowd murmured with rumors of “the curse’. Every year there had been one team that was eliminated because of injury, and it seemed like Oikos had been cursed this year. There was a report that one of the Oikos’s team members got injured in the last game with Monta Vista, but they still managed to close it out. Since the rules stated that only five members from each key club were allowed to play in the tournament; if one got injured, it was game over.

The Washington herd moved to court one and situated themselves in the bleachers. Charlie was awkwardly sitting in the middle of the pack of Derrick Cross’s fan girls holding up a “Go Washington’ poster. Charlie looked at Dietrich and held up a poster and Dietrich waved back in response with a smile. Washington’s team got into a tight huddle. The boys had a look of excitement on their faces yet still displayed a hint of hesitation.

Derrick spoke up in the huddle. “We didn’t play these boys last year cause their team was cursed but it looks like the same team from last year. As long as we take control inside we should be fine. So Joshua, we need you to screen more for us when we drive and all of us need to swing out to guard the open man.” Each member listened carefully. Even Grant knew that Derrick knew what he was talking about, and so he gave his respect and attention. “Grant, make sure you make the extra pass to the open man, and stop driving if you don’t have the open lane. We can’t keep backing you up forever. Alright?” The group nodded. Let’s do this together, Derrick turned around and got the group to interact with him, “Washington on three; one, two, THREE!” The crowd exploded, “WASHINGTON!”

The two teams met at the center of the court and greeted one another with a hand shake. Riverside’s team wasn’t particularly big, but was fast. Even their big men were quick. Most of the players attacked the basket instead of looking for the jump shot, and they knew their way around each other well. Hansol was their tall lanky rebounding machine making it hard to take inside shots. Scott who was even bigger than Hansol played forward being able to both drive and shoot with his quickness. Aaron was the shortest of the group able to hit the outside shots, but had an uncanny ability to hit some circus shots driving inside. Ted was the former track star they had picked up and simply put, he was incredibly fast. He had the ability to pick up loose balls and was a demon on fast breaks. Joseph walked up to Dietrich and shook hands.

“I heard the score against Lynbrook and I was a little shocked.” Joseph was lean with a look of a soccer player since he was primarily one. He had a funky walk as he swayed left and right horizontally, but Dietrich had watched his past games and knew he was athletic and a great distributor playing the point even though he didn’t look it.

“We knew how they play so it wasn’t that hard to take “ehm down.”

Joseph smiled, “Good luck man.” They shook hands and hugged.

Dietrich knew this one wasn’t going to be easy for him. As both teams were set to play the MC had retaken the stage to give another announcement. “I have a special announcement, due to the injuries suffered by Oikos, Claremont will play Monta Vista instead of automatically advancing to the finals. There was a mixture of cheers and disappointment. Monta Vista had gone into a frenzy as they got a free chance to advance to the finals even with the lose, and Claremont was pissed since their free ride had disappeared.

The referee blew the whistle on court two. “Let’s go, we still got a game to play here”

Hansol and Joshua squared off for the jump ball and the referee popped the ball into the air. Hansol easily out reached Joshua but mistakenly tipped the ball into Hughes’s hands. Washington rallied to strike for first blood. Hughes looked for Dietrich but since Riverside’s man guarded him well he bounce passed to Joshua. However in the middle of the pass Joseph ran in and stole the ball flying down court. Hughes and Grant ran down court hoping to block him, but they were too far behind. Joseph jumped and carefully tossed the ball into the basket and the whole Riverside bleachers erupted into cheering. The three man Riverside band started to play a victory melody, a girl named Yuna stood up and yelled something in Korean. Riverside High School had a predominately Asian population, thus reflecting their all Asian roster.

Washington tried to regroup. Joshua inbounded to Dietrich and they ran down court with the ball. Dietrich feinted inside and tried to cross Joseph but Joseph was a persistent defender. He passed to Derrick, which found a cutting Grant for an open shot; nothing but net. Each team made it clear; every possession was going to be a fight to the end.
“DE-FENSE! DE-FENSE!” Washington’s bleachers kicked back at Riverside’s screams. Joseph and Scott pushed down together as the rest of Riverside’s team set up an offense. Joseph trotted over the half court line swinging the ball over to Ted, which in turn swung the ball over to Aaron. Aaron tried to plow through Joshua but ended up hitting a brick wall.
“FOUL!” The referee blew his whistle. “Riverside ball up top.”

Aaron lobbed inbounds at Joseph, but this time Derrick swooped in stealing the ball careening down court. The Derrick fan girls went nuts as he connected with a wide open layup. “The score is 4-2, Riverside ball!”

Riverside pushed the ball down court once more. Joseph bounced the ball over to Ted and he ran straight for the basket. Hughes’, whom was guarding Ted had managed to stay in front of Ted; Joshua stepped in to help from his zone. Ted launched himself and spun around to face his back toward Hughes, he scanned the court to find an open Scott planted on the three point line. Ted swung the ball over and Scott popped in the open three. The lead had already changed. 5-2.

“Let’s change it up a bit, let me run the point.” Grant looked slightly annoyed as Washington let Riverside have two easy buckets. Dietrich hesitated and decided it was okay for Grant to run the point for a while, and if things didn’t go well he’d just switch back.

Grant and the Washington boys ran back down court to retake the lead. The look on Grant’s face seemed to change and it was no longer fun and games. As soon as his feet touched the three point line he stepped back from his defender and jacked up a three, air ball. “What the heck are you doing man?” Derrick was obviously not very happy at Grant’s decision.
“My bad, I had the open look”

Derrick just shook his head and ran down court. It was obvious that Washington was slowly falling apart. Grant looked indifferent as he looked on towards Riverside pushing down court. Riverside’s chanting and cheering was almost going out of control; Washington on the other hand was silent with worried looks on their faces.

Joseph pranced down midcourt waiting for the open man. He found Scott at the baseline, but just as he received the ball he was swarmed by Dietrich and Hughes. The ball was ripped from his hands by Hughes and placed into Dietrich’s hands. He slowed the ball movement down a bit. “Stop getting restless and regroup. We still have this one if we calm down.” Dietrich got a nod from each of the boys.

Washington managed to hold their own against the Riverside boys slowing the game down and getting good looks for their shots. At half time the game was dead even at sixteen a piece.

AE – Chapter 7

Dietrich breathed in deep and reached for his toes. The five boys moved in sync as they stretched out their muscles. The morning dew was still evident in the air as the sun began to creep out of the clouds warming the boys. They had arrived a little earlier so that they could shoot around and get warmed up. A few key club officers had been working to set up the four basketball courts and stage.

If there hadn’t been banner strung up to indicate that this wasn’t actually a basketball tournament and a charity event, one could get lost in all the competition. This event was one of the biggest events during the school year. Funds were created by tickets sales and no other event sold more tickets. There were eight schools, eight teams, forty basketball players representing their pride, their home, and friends. It was either win or go home; winner take all, single elimination. None of them cared about the charity; it was all about the pride and glory.

Jane, president of Washington’s key club was not far off taking care of the administrative aspects of the team. Charlie her secretary was right next to her shadowing her with a clipboard. He was busy scrawling down notes as she spoke.

“Make sure the MC from Riverside High School is ready thirty minutes before the tournament begins just in case, and did you make sure our team was registered?”

“I’m not sure, I think Grant was supposed to get back to me.”

“Make sure our roster is finalized, and that they are registered members or else they aren’t allowed to play.” Jane turned around and shouted at the five boys. “All five of you boys get over here and make sure you’re registered with Charlie!”

The five boys looked at her and continued to stretch ignoring her order.

Charlie was puzzled not knowing what to do.

“Forget it, let them get ready. Make sure you get all the President’s together so we can run through the rules and regulations for today.” Charlie was even more confused in processing the command and stutter stepped left and right.

“Charlie, just go get the president’s here. Go!”

The five boys had finished stretching and started to shoot around. The tournament area started to fill in with students from eight different schools. A few different teams were on the court as well, some wearing jersey’s and other’s wearing school shirts. A boy wearing a Riverside High School t-shirt trotted into Washington’s court to retrieve a lost basketball.

“Hey guys, do you know what team you are playing first?”

At that moment a short girl also wearing Riverside High School let out a loud shout, almost inhumanly possible to come from such a small body.

“Can all the basketball teams report to the registration table!?” All heads turned to the girl and she shrunk back in slight embarrassment. She whispered semi-silently “Thank you.”

“My name’s Joseph. What high school are you guys from?”

Derrick responded, “We’re from Washington High School. I guess we’re the only one’s not in uniform today.”

Joseph smiled, “It’s cool. I heard you guys are pretty good. I hope we don’t have to play you first.” He took off with his team before Derrick could respond.

At the registration table Julia Kwon, the Key Club President from Oikos Christian Academy was giving out rules and regulations. They gave out five wristbands for each school, so no team could play any non-registered member. The tournament area became louder and louder as the stands came to life. The women key club presidents were frantically running around figuring out last minute preparation. Balls were collected, and forms were signed. The time had come to start the tournament.
Jane was furiously running around with Charlie shadowing her.

“The riverside MC is ready? We need to get started right now.”

“I believe she is going on stage right now.”

Music started to play as a short Korean girl moved to the center of the stage. She looked a little nervous as she waited for the music to stop and for everyone’s attention. Silence fell on the crowd as she spoke up with a small voice.

“Hello everyone! Are you ready for this year’s annual basketball tournament?” The crowd went exploded with cheers of excitement. “My name is Jinju and I will be your MC today.” Again, cheers of excitement, this time possibly not for the basketball tournament. “Let’s announce this year’s tournament bracket.” She turned around to a giant poster board covered by a giant white sheet and tore the sheet off revealing the tournament brackets. “Each group will go and meet their referees at their designated playing courts and receive directions from there. Good luck to all the teams!”

A hush fell over the crowd once again as minds began working with the chances of their tournament bracket. None of the teams were going to be easily taken. The crowds began to split up into their high schools and to their designated courts filing into their designated bleachers. Dietrich looked up to see that the eight teams were split into four on each side; with two moving into the semi- finals, and the third game being the final. Washington’s first opponent would be Diamond Bar High School. The five moved over to the court furthest from the stage. Their faces showed their nervousness. Dietrich and the fives boys looked at each other looking slightly unsure of each other. The pressure was on.

Out of the corner of his eye Dietrich saw Jeanette struggling with a large box.

“What the heck is Jeanette bringing here?” Derrick scratched his head.

“Hey guys, I got uniforms for all of you!” Jeanette plopped the box in front of them, pulling out blue and white uniforms with Washington emblazoned on it’s chest. “I didn’t know you’re sizes so I had to guess. But I’m pretty sure it’s right. My dad donated some stuff so get these on, and don’t you dare lose!”

The boy’s faces instantly changed from their nervous faces to all smiles. Anxious turned to determination.

Derrick’s face had his signature hot shot grin. “Let’s do this. Alright, All Hand’s in. Washington on three! READY!?” Washington volume level exploded.

Game time was approaching, ready or not.

AE – Chapter 6

Derrick knocked on the door of the two story house. There was a single window lit on the second story room of the house. Derrick knocked once more as a shadow of a girl walking down the stairs sped up.

Jane opened the door, “Jeez Derrick, Why are you so late…” She was startled by the cuts and bruises on the boy’s faces. “Oh my goodness what happened to all of you!? Come in, Come in!”

The five boys followed Jane and moved into the house, down the hallway to enter a spacious living room. Jane flicked on the lights and motioned them to sit down. She started to look through the cabinets to find some rubbing alcohol, cotton balls, and band aids.

“Uhh, I don’t know if that’s necessary Jane, I think you’re freaking out.” Said Derrick.

“Yeah, have you looked at your face? You got a gash right above your right eye. Just sit down.”

A few girls walked into the Living room and almost froze at the sight of the five boys.

“Derrick! You boys get into a fight!?”

“No Kerry, we went bull riding and the bull won.” Derrick replied.

Kerry was tall, had a slim build, red hair, and freckles graced her pale skin.  She had sharp eyes, and her face slightly glowed in the darkness. Kerry was Jane and Jeanette’s close friends and associated herself more with the girls. This was partially because she was too busy practicing archery that she couldn’t go out to play very often. Transferring into Washington only a year ago gave her the label of the “new girl in school”.

Out of the darkness Jeanette emerged from behind Kerry. She dashed at Dietrich and smacked him on the arm. Dietrich gave a puzzled look.

“You idiot! You’re supposed to be the rational one!”

Dietrich tried to explain himself, “First of all, Ouch… That really hurt, and second of all you had to be there Jean, there was no way out of this.”

“Seriously Jeanette, we could have finished it once and for all with those Claremont idiots if the cops hadn’t shown up.” Said Grant.

“What!? COPS!?”

“Ok, it seems like they have some explaining to do, but let’s clean them up first. Grant you look like you’ve been hurt the most.” Jane said.

The three girls worked to clean cuts and made ice bags to put on bruises. There wasn’t much talking as the boys winced from the rubbing alcohol cleaning out their cuts. After everyone had been looked after the boys explained the story to the girls.

“Ok, so you’re saying that they wanted to play basketball, but instead started a fight. And in the middle of the fight, the cops came so you guys all split?” Jeanette inquired.

“Yeah, but they didn’t really want to play basketball. They just wanted to fight” said Derrick who had been telling most of the story.

“Wow, boys are really stupid. I don’t get you guys.” Jeanette crossed her arms and rolled her eyes.

“It’s a good thing you guys didn’t get caught. I heard colleges look at EVERYTHING.” Jane said.

“Forget it, we can take them on again, and next time there won’t be any cops or any stupid three on ones,” retorted Grant.

“Hey it’s getting late, I think we should go” said Joshua.

“Oh, yeah it is. Let’s go.”

Hughes who hadn’t spoken a word since getting into the house spoke up.

“I think there was a Claremont guy left behind.”

“WHAT!?” The boys stood up shocked looking at Hughes.

“Yeah, while running up I remember looking back and seeing a guy on the ground. I think one of us knocked him out pretty bad and he might have gotten overlooked by the Claremont kids.

Grant was about to lose it. “What!? Why didn’t you say that before!? He’s gonna rat on us. ”

Dietrich tried to cool Grant off, “Calm down grant. Hughes, I didn’t see anything. Are you sure?”

“I wasn’t sure, so I was running the scenario in my head the whole time”

Grant seemed to regain his head, “Whatever, let’s worry about it tomorrow. We’ll see you tomorrow.”

The three boys started to leave and Grant looked back at Dietrich and Grant.

“Hey, it felt like old times with you guys with us. We haven’t done much but I just want to thank you guys for being there with me today.”

Jane scoffed, “Wow the jerk has a soft side.”  Grant kept walking and waved it off.

“Yeah Grant, it’s been a while man. I’ll call you tomorrow, we do have the charity tournament tomorrow right?”

“Yeah, and we’re gonna kill them there. See you there tomorrow.” The three boys walked out of the door and closed it behind them.

Dietrich stood up and stretched his hands high, “I got no problem with that guy, even if he’s a jerk. It’s just the way he treats certain people, especially Charlie.”

“Ha, yeah Grant’s been having a lot of problems, especially since his parents are going through a divorce,” said Derrick.

“But I don’t think that’s a reason to be treating Charlie like crap, you know? Charlie never did anything to deserve that.” Dietrich laid down on the rug and stretched out his hands above him.

“I agree, but I didn’t know that Grant’s family was going through a lot. I would never have known. Dietrich you should talk to that guy,” Jeannette said.

Dietrich stared at the ceiling and thought for a second. “Maybe tomorrow, communicating with Grant is a little rough.”

“Well, I’m glad I have friends like you two Jane said.” She stood up. “Any of you guys want something to drink?”

“Here Jane let me help you.” Kerry followed to prepare some drinks for everyone.

“Me THREE!~ What do you have to drink.” Derrick jumped up and followed the two girls into the kitchen.

“Jeanette, You don’t usually hang out with these three… weird to see you here”, Dietrich asked.

“Yeah, little loner me was invited over by Jane today. We’ve been hanging out more, it’s kind of weird we found a lot of common ground.”

“That’s good. That means you don’t have to hover around me all day.” Dietrich made a funny face at Jeanette.

“HEY! Last time I checked it was YOU hanging out with me!” Jeanette threw a pillow but Dietrich managed to evade. The trio reemerged with glasses of orange juice on a platter. Each took a glass of orange juice.

“So here’s to Save the earth club! CHEERS!” Jane thrust her glass of orange juice into the air, which made Derrick swing his hand up and promptly move her hand back down to earth nearly spilling her orange juice.

“You crazy Derrick!?” Jane extorted.

“No, you crazy Jane? You gotta lay off save the earth club during times like this. We’re all friends here, not save the earth club. Let’s cherish this moment, cause in all the chaos if you haven’t noticed we never get to meet.” Derrick began to point at everyone one by one. “Kerry is always busy with archery, you are the president of all the clubs at school, Jeanette is a little new but all of us have been friends with her, and that leaves me and Dietrich to hang out by ourselves doing who knows what.”

Derrick thrust his glass of orange juice into the air and stood up.  “This one’s for us. That with the rest of this time we have at school together, we will build each other up. AND, we will always be there to help each other in the future, NO MATTER what. We take on the future TOGETHER. Cheers to that!”

Everyone echoed and clinked glasses together, “Cheers!”

AE – Chapter 5

There was a single lamppost that dimly lit the field. The sky was clear, half a moon and a thousand stars littered the sky. The skyline and stars mirrored themselves; one could only see city as far as their eyes could see. The boys lined themselves up one against another forming a semi circle. This showdown was going to happen. The two schools had stared downed, trash talked, scuffled their way to this point since the few past years. This would be the deciding factor; someone had to be better than the other. The Claremont boys didn’t call them out for basketball; it was no coincidence they were outnumbered at a clear disadvantage.

Derrick straightened up his jacket and dusted himself off. He straightened his body in a fighting stance. “I’m guessing you pansy boys want to rumble.” Derrick gestured at Erick.

Erick glared at Derrick, “Shut up, you’re gonna get your ass handed to you today.” As Erick completed the sentence he rushed at Derrick, catching him of guard, and landing a punch squarely on his stomach. With that all chaos broke loose.

The three Claremont kids that tripped Joshua had decided to switch and turn on Grant. One of the boys jumped on top of Grant, forcing them to both fall to the ground. Joshua dashed over to help his friend. He managed to rip one of them off of Grant. Regaining his footing he looked towards another target. Out of the corner of his eyes he could see Terry lunge over, but by the time his mind registered what had happened the taste of dirt and grass filled his mouth.

Dietrich wasn’t too far off. The boy he had been guarding had tried to land a hit, but he had managed to evade his kicks and punches. The boy was slow and looked out of shape the entire game. The boy punched in, and Dietrich feinted out. As he fell forward Dietrich’s fist met his face halfway breaking his nose. He straightened himself up and scanned the field to see who might need help and found Grant getting beat down by the three boys. Dietrich ran, jumped into the air and kicked a kid from behind.

He got back to back with Grant as the other three boys circled them.

“Three on two may even things up a bit”, Grant said glancing back at Dietrich.

“I just don’t get these kids, I wish they would just stop. There’s no point to any of this fighting” Dietrich replied.

The three boys rushed in swinging. Grant and Dietrich easily took out the first two boys managing to knock them out. Grant finished off the last one by grabbing him and throwing him to the ground. The moment the boy landed on the ground one of the Claremont boys yelled.


In the distance flashing lights started climbing up the bottom of the hill, and they were climbing fast.

“Shit! One of the neighborhood people must have called the pigs. We’re leaving, let’s go!”

The Claremont kids dropped what they had and started to run up the side of the hill to their cars. Dietrich looked around to see that all of his friends were running beside him as they chased behind the Claremont boys

Joshua spoke in a low unurgent voice, “We got to get out of here, if we get written up, and that’s not going to be very fun.”

“Let’s meet at Jane’s house! I’m supposed to meet her there tonight, I’m sure she won’t mind the company!” yelled Derrick

Cars screeched out of the parking lot leaving the opposite direction of the cop cars racing up the side of the mountain.

AE – Chapter 4

The park was an elevated stretch of land a ways off from the main part of the city. There was an overlooking cliff that was popular for couples as it had a nice view of the city’s skyline. The park itself was not very well lit except for the basketball court. Even though the park looked very nice there wasn’t very many people around except during the daytime. Dietrich pulled his car up into the parking lot and took a sip of his Gatorade. He was a little early and could see that there was already a few of the Claremont boys shooting around.

The Claremont/ Washington Rivalry had started as soon as Dietrich’s school opened its doors a little over ten years ago. Even though Washington High School was a “public” school, the school itself operated much like a private. Students were handpicked, interviewed, tested in, or a little of all the methods. Many of the students would go to the college of their choice, with many of the boys heading straight into officer training school. Claremont on the other hand was a full on private school. Since tuition was ridiculously expensive only high class families were able to afford the tuition; this brought a snobby atmosphere to the school. The Claremont students weren’t necessarily rejected from Washington, but rather had past generations deeply rooted into the school. However, even though these students from Claremont were from upper class, they just looked like a bunch of thugs. They were always talking trash on other school students. They always looked as if they were suffering through internal power struggles, but got together when met with opposition to “represent Claremont”.

As Dietrich stepped out of his car and felt slightly apprehensive. He never understood those rich kids at Claremont and didn’t like this “friendly” invitation to play basketball. In his experience Claremont just wasn’t that friendly. He spotted a row of headlines and a convoy of cars rushed into the parking lot. He could make out Derrick’s sports car as well as Grant, Hughes, and Joshua’s cars as well. They stepped out of their cars dressed in basketball clothes. Each seemed ready and pumped to play some basketball.

A Claremont kid called out from the basketball court, “Hey, you kids ready to play some ball? We didn’t think you girls would show up.” The boy emerged as the leader of the Claremont group. He had a shaved head, wore a white beater with black basketball pants standing at six feet tall. He had sharp features on his oval shaped face and spoke in a booming deep voice.

“You wanted to practice, we’re here to beat the shit out of you guys”, replied Grant.

Derrick whispered to Grant, “Hey some of these guys don’t look like they’re from Claremont”

Hughes replied in full confidence, “Whatever, we just need to beat them today and they probably won’t even show up for the tournament tomorrow.”

The two schools met at half court; the bright lights lit up the court as well as the faces. There was no one at the park, not even the usual dog walker. The scene played out like an old western flick, both sides waiting for the other to make a move.

Hughes broke the silence. “You guys called us out so we’ll get court and ball.”

The leader exploded, “You crazy? We’ve been practicing on this side, so we call court but you get ball.”

“Fine whatever Erik” replied Grant. Erik threw the ball he was holding over to Dietrich.

“Hey you guys have like eight people, you guys sitting? No subs, that’s unfair if you guys stick in subs” Grant said.

“Yo, chill man my cousins just wanted to come out and see us kill you guys” Erik gave an evil grin as he looked at Grant.

“We’re playing straight up to thirteen; twos are ones, threes are twos. Let’s run this!” Erik clapped his hands in excitement and he and his four ran back to the back of the court preparing them in zone defense.

Dietrich looked at Grant with some hesitation he didn’t like this feeling. “So the big guys name is Erik? I’m guessing he’s the leader of the wannabe gangsters.”

Grant replied to Dietrich, “Yeah, he’s Erik, his brother Terry is probably going to play Center. So Joshua, you’re going to have to stick with him, but watch out he plays dirty.”

Joshua nodded at Grant. Ever since Dietrich knew Joshua, he wasn’t one to speak many words; he never really had much of an opinion.

“Besides that we should be able to evenly match everyone by height, so we’ll be good. Make sure you just call the screens and don’t take unnecessary shots.”

Derrick gave Grant a wide grin. “Aye yay Captain, it’s not the first time we played basketball together.”

The five of them used to play basketball, but Dietrich grew disinterested in the game of basketball, and Derrick lacked the discipline for practicing and quit. A great divide rapidly emerged as Grant, Hughes, and Joshua decided to stick with basketball and Dietrich and Derrick dropped out.

Dietrich passed the ball over to Hughes and the game was on. The Washington team jogged down the court. Grant was running point guard as his teammates moved into position. Joshua was slightly taller than Erick’s brother Terry, but Terry clearly had the greater advantage in body mass. Hughes was always the outside shooter and was hanging outside of the three point line. Grant passed the ball over to Hughes. Hughes rushed past one of the Claremont defenders and spun around to find Grant cut across and swung him the ball.

Grant fainted left, and tore off to the right. He had an unblocked path straight to the basket. Just as Grant was jumping up to throw in an easy layup Erick’s brother, Terry dashed in front of Grant. Grant couldn’t stop in the middle of his drive and decided his momentum might be enough to get him near the basket where he could at least try to toss the ball into the basket. As he leapt into the air two monstrous hands came down on him slamming him into the ground. The ball went flying out of Grant’s hands, and he lay on the ground groaning.

“What the hell was that about!?”, yelled Derrick

“Sorry about that my brother is a football player before he’s a basketball player.” the look of satisfaction beamed on Erik’s face.

Derrick walked over to Grant and helped him up. He looked back at Erik, “Well I’m a person before I’m a monster.”

“Ha ha, pansy can’t take a hit? Take it from the top,” Erick kicked the ball over to Dietrich.

At the top of the key Dietrich held the ball as his teammates scrambled for position. Derrick signaled that Hughes was open on the outside, but was quickly guarded. Dietrich knew that if they were to have a shot at winning this game they’d have to take more shots than they would like from the outside. Luckily Hughes would be able to knock some threes down from back court, but outside shots wouldn’t be able to guarantee victory once the other team caught on. Dietrich passed the ball to Grant and he passed straight to Joshua. Joshua pushed backwards a few times to bump Terry back; he turned around and tossed the ball into the basket. Washington’s team exploded with celebration.

Erick yelled at his brother, “Don’t let him do that, keep your feet planted or push him forward if you have to!”

Terry took the ball from the top of the key. In the commotion he tried to throw the ball to his brother Erick, however he completely missed his brother lobbing the ball into Derrick’s hands. Derrick ran up to make a layup which resulted in one of the Claremont kids running in to try to swat the ball, but instead swatting his hand. “foul!”

The Claremont defender frowned and kicked the ball in Erick’s direction.

“Ball goes to you, don’t get to happy now,” Erick said, then pointed at one of the Clairmont kids to defend Dietrich as he switched to guard Derrick. Dietrich spotted Hughes in the left corner wide open from the three point line. Dietrich didn’t waste time as he passed the ball to Hughes. Hughes caught the ball and in one fluid motion, shot the ball; nothing but net.

Grant looked at Erick, “You kidding me man? This all you guys got?”

“Shut up you fag, hurry up.” Erick was noticeably angrier as he ran down down court.

“Dietrich let me be point this time, let’s switch it up a little,” Derrick said.

Dietrich passed Derrick the ball and the team ran down court. As Dietrich swung left Grant and Hughes swung right. The defenders tried to jumble their way toward their men. Joshua inched back toward the basket as he struggled with Terry’s body mass. Spotting an opening Derrick swung the ball towards Hughes as he spun around. His defender didn’t give him a chance to put up a shot. Reading his defenders moves, Hughes used his defender’s momentum to spin past him and ran towards the basket. He continued to run toward the basket however, Terry and Joshua were standing in his way. Being less reckless than Grant he decided to pass the ball over to Joshua. Joshua took the ball and tried to use his body mass to push Terry back, however Terry was ready for the tactic. Terry had sunk down using his body mass to push forward, Joshua was virtually trapped. He dished the ball out to Derrick but in the confusion the ball had landed in the hands of one of the Claremont players.

The Claremont player ran down with Erick to make an easy basket. In the next few possessions the Washington defense crumbled, this coupled with Claremont playing dirty shot Claremont forward. The score ran ten to five in favor for Claremont.

Another Claremont ball sunk through the basket and Dietrich looked at Joshua that had been taking the brute of the damage and shook his head. As the two passed Joshua whispered into Dietrich’s ear, “We either play just as dirty or we’re going to lose. I’m tired of this crap.”

Even though Joshua was taller and better built than Terry, it was hard for him to play aggressively. Terry had been capitalizing on this weakness with the use of his body mass. Dietrich needed a plan, but the only one that seemed plausible seemed to either set more screens, or attack from the outside. The only problem with setting screens was that they were at a disadvantage pound for pound. The other plan would be attacking from the outside, but the defenders were playing dirty. The only attribute that they had an advantage they had would be their speed. Terry was showing that he was tiring quickly after running up and down the court, and the majority of the Claremont boys were slowing down considerably.

Dietrich was once again playing point and dribbled down court. He passed over to Joshua on the inside, but getting slapped around by Terry he dished the ball out to Grant. Grant took the ball and drove in once more. However, this time Joshua tried to stop Grant from getting pummeled, he rushed into Terry sending him flying over to the other side. Grant made an easy basket. Terry in a blinded rage jumped up running after Joshua. He struggled to control his momentum and slipped to the left slamming into Grant. Grant and Terry went flying, tumbling down the side of the hill. Curse words flew left and right as everyone ran down the hill.

Dietrich ran down with Joshua at his side. Joshua looked extremely worried; Dietrich knew that he had probably felt responsible for what happened. As they ran down the hill someone from behind came and tripped Joshua sending him face first into the ground. Dietrich confused turned around to spot three Claremont kids. They were Erick’s cousins and friends that had stuck around even though they weren’t allowed to play. Dietrich continued to run but looked back to see if Joshua was okay. Joshua got up and turn around to face the three boys, it was almost like a giant facing three children. At the bottom of the slope Terry and Grant had untangled themselves and miraculously seemed unhurt. Joshua came running down with the three Claremont boys tailing him.

Tension ran high in the air. The Claremont boys outnumbered them eight to five. A fight was inevitable.