Chapter 4.4A

“Where’s Double-J?” Coach Dan asked as Annie approached.

“Outside, having a smoke,” Annie said, pointing in the direction of the kitchen. Coach Dan turned from her, called Butch over to him, asked him to get Double-J, finally turned back to Annie, who stared intently at him and asked, “What’s up?”

Coach Dan paused visibly a moment, Annie detecting in his face the quick formation of a plan, a response that would be as much calculation as communication. Then he smiled, the mechanism of his cunning seeming to come to a rest, and said softly, “I have an — announcement to make.”

The sound of wet sneakers squeaking against the tiled floor came from the kitchen. “Hey Coach” Double-J said as he entered the dining room, trailed by Butch. “I already know what your big announcement is, so can I just get going?”

“Five minutes,” Coach Dan said, holding up the palm of his hand to Double-J, all five fingers extended, looking as if he were trying to cast a spell that would cause the young man to stay. Double-J shrugged, thrust his hands in his coat pockets, stood to the side of the room, the melting snow from his sneakers forming a pool at his feet.

Coach Dan called for Rex to stand next to him, then motioned with his right arm for everyone to gather in front of them. Butch turned to Double-J, pointed to an empty spot on the floor next to him, his offer met with a wry smirk and a shake of the head. Butch raised his eyebrows, turned to Coach Dan and Rex, shifted his position again so that his back was not turned to Double-J, making sure there was a clear line of sight between the speakers and the reluctant member of the audience.


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