Behind the Eight Ball

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Chapter 26- The Pep Rally

I got dressed and desperately wanted to get out of the locker room. Thanks to Jessica I was running late and before I knew it the team had made it out to the floor before me.

Tyler was hanging back for some reason and I hated thinking it had something to do with me. Once the locker room emptied out he stormed on over.

"What the hell did you do?"

"Look, if this is about Sierra?" I started to say but he held up a hand to gesture for me to stop.

"I don't know what your problem is but stay the hell out my life! We are no longer friends!"

He turned to walk away and I grabbed hold of his arm. "Look, I called her. I tried to set things right."

He looked pointedly down at his arm and I let him go. "All you done is made things worse. I was making lead way. She was considering seeing me this weekend so we could talk things over. Then she gets a call from you. She thought I put you up to it. Now she's blocked my calls and texts. I can't talk to her at all, now."

"Damn it! I'm sorry. I just wanted to set the record straight."

"Too late for that. Thanks for nothing," Tyler said and strode from the room.

I heard my mom's voice, speaking into a microphone. "Are you ready to have some fun?!"

I don't know about her but I'm all funned out.

I take my place at the end of the bench. Tyler sat at the other side. The team just kept looking at us both and seemed to become more nervous as time moved on.

The cheer squad did a number to "Light It Up" that was pretty amazing to watch. As much as I dislike Jessica, she really was good at what she does. Being the head of the squad meant she did most of the more dangerous gymnastic type moves.

My eyes wandered through the crowd. No Sierra, of course, and then I see a smiling face that winked at me from behind a camera, across the court.  I couldn't help but smile back and I had seen the cameral flash. Well at least I won't look miserable which is exactly how I felt.

My Mom really does organize the best pep rallies even if the students aren't into sports, many of the them and faculty, still seem to attend just for the fun factor. Currently my Mom has drawn names of people from the crowd to participate in an impromptu talent show.

I sit and watch as two freshmen have a juggling contest and two sophomores have a hand stand standoff. The crowd is cheering them all on. Mike leaned over. "So what's up with you and Tyler?"

"It's personal dude, but no worries. It won't affect the game," I tell him.

"I hope not. See those three guys sitting by Mr. Nolen. They're the scouts coach promised would be here. I'm hoping to impress one of them."

"I'll be sure you look good out there, Mike. You can count on me."

"It's not you I'm worried about," Mike says looking down the bench at Tyler. "You leave your crap off the court. He keeps everything in his pocket. If we aren't a team..."

"We can't succeed. I know," I say finishing for him.

One of the juniors, and Mr. Kirtell are now participating in a poetry slam. Mr. Kirtell is a Junior English teacher, and in his fifties. He's totally gotten into the spirit of things saying his words to a made up hip hop beat.  The Junior gets a beat down and Mr. Kirtell flips his baseball cap backwards and does a "WORD" stance before challenging the seniors next.

I normally would be enjoying all this but I am not use to being unable to fix things. I'm a fixer, it's what I do. I hate having Tyler mad at me. He's been mad before but never like this. I don't want to lose him as a friend.

Soon the rival team will show and the game will be on. How do I keep this team together and working on team plays when the two major players have a love/hate relationship going on?

Truthfully, I wish I could just fast forward to the game being over so I can be on my date with Brynn. I watch as she laughs at the antics Mr. Kirtell is employing to earn more applause than the Senior he is battling. I love watching her laugh, her whole face changes. She almost appears to light up from within.

My mom will soon be announcing our names and we will be expected to show off on court as a way of warming up. I look down at Tyler and he is staring straight ahead.

Okay, I get it. I don't exist.

I keep wondering if what I've done is really as wrong as it appears. How was I to reassure Sierra, when I know her job, my mom's and Tyler's academic careers were all at stake?

"Now, it is the time you've all been waiting for... Give it up for our Leaping Leopard!"

Our mascot comes out doing some pretty impressive back flips, the crowd goes wild and he waves in a fashion signifying he wants them to raise the volume.  They of course comply which is good, I guess, as I can no longer hear myself think.

He's split the crowd in two. Running from one side, then the other, waving his paws to encourage them to up the volume, then holding his paw to his to his ear. My mom starts saying, "Lenape", he runs to the other side, "Leopards." "Lenape!" "Leopards!"

This starts going faster and faster, louder and louder, until the crowd brakes down to just screaming, yelling and clapping, being rewarded by our mascot doing a triple somersault, followed by a some kind of twist and flip.

I don't even know the name of that move. How does he keep his head on during all that?

"Now that you're revved up. Lets hear it for our team..."


Edited: 09.11.2019

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