The Loose Ball Foul

by Roderick T. Long

[Idaho Falls, Sept. 4, 1974. Upon finding this, while I recognised my writing style, the story felt so alien (basketball? glass-guards?) that I strongly suspected this must have been an assignment to write a sequel to, or continuation of, some pre-existing story. (Indeed I was so little invested in it that I didn’t even give it a title until just now, June 2012.) So I did some googling, and judging from the title and cover, I would bet we were given an excerpt from a book called Guards for Matt by Beman Lord. How the book resolved Matt’s problem I don’t know – but probably with fewer clowns than in my solution.

My story doesn’t even make sense; wouldn’t the street have been lined with expectant viewers already, rather than empty?]

Matt went off to practice basketball with his friend Jay. He knew he looked silly with his underwater mask, which almost made him wish he were staying home. However, he made the most of it, and had a pretty good game.

Matt shot the ball up into the net, and running to catch it again, slipped on a Hershey candy bar wrapper that had been left on the driveway. He went flying. He was not hurt, and neither were his glasses, but the ball went bouncing out into the street. It rolled away.

Jay went running after it as Matt struggled to his feet.

The ball rolled into Eagle Boulevard, a normally busy street. Jay wondered why it was so quiet. Suddenly he realized. The city had closed it off for the National Parade that day. He ran to get the ball, but it was too late. A blare of trumpets and marching bands and hundreds of horses and clowns and go-carts swarmed here and there, and Jay watched his precious basketball being lost in the mob.

Millions of people came rushing to see the parade. Jay got confused, and fought his way back to the street.

“Well, Matt,” he said “There goes our ball.”

*     *     *

After the parade was done, Matt and Jay walked to Eagle Blvd to see if they could find the ball. There was no sign of it.

“Look!” cried Matt. “Look what I found! Forty dollars!”

“I wonder who it belongs to.” said Jay. “I don’t see anyone around to return it to. In a large city like this we’ll never find the owner.”

“I guess we’ll keep it, then.” said Matt.

“Yaaaay!” cried Jay. “I can buy a new basketball!”

“And I can get glass-guards” exulted Matt.

And they did.

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