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Just Jump Part 1
“How much longer are we gonna have to wait?”
“Shut up Gale, no one wants to hear you complaining, ‘specially me ‘n Jump.”
I rolled my eyes, it was normal for Jamal to pick on Gale, his twin brother, just like it was normal for Gale to complain. It would probably drive me insane if I hadn’t had the last seven years to get used to it. Sometimes, I just let them go at each other, but today I was feeling kind of fed up with it.
“Both of you just shut up, okay? Geesh, I don’t want you guys at each other’s throats all during practice.” I said wisely. I was laying down on my back on our neighborhood’s community basketball courts. It wasn’t state of the art or anything, but it worked fine for street ball.
Both of them made a face at me for interfering, and then smiled as they saw another boy running over to join us. Their super white teeth contrasted with their black skin, and they looked as identical as ever. You had to know them to really tell them apart in appearances, but you could tell by their personalities if you didn’t.
“Heya there! Where’s Zane?” The boy asked as he sat down next to me.
“Hi there, Johnny-boy,” I greeted him, smiling. Of the four boys who make up my group (I’m the only girl) Johnny is the one I like the most. I know what you’re thinking, could it be that I like-like him? The answer couldn’t be plainer: Heck no. Johnny’s just the one gets me the best, it’s probably because he’s the older brother of seven girls.
“Hey Jump, where’s Zane?” He asked again, because I hadn’t answered him the first time.
I shook my head, and Johnny groaned. Jamal and Gale nodded sadly. You see, Zane’s the lady’s man of our group, always off somewhere with some girl. It made us all crazy, cause he was always late for practice.
Being late for practice is a HUGE mistake in our group. Street ball isn’t just some hobby, it’s our life. I’ve been playing basketball on this court, in what’s considered the ‘Black Slums’ of our small town of Lillyville for the since I was ten, and I’m seventeen now. I stick out like a sore thumb, because even though my foster parents are black, I’m practically albino. No joke. My hair’s practically white, I’m even pale in the summer, and I have your classical American-girl green eyes, the kind all of the other girls will hate you for. Nobody cared about what I looked like, or that I was the only girl player, because they all know I could school any of them when it comes to basketball.
It’s not like basketball’s just a kid thing around here. Sure, the teams are more or less made of all the teens in the Slums, but the adults come to every game. Sometimes they even make bets. I guess you could say it’s a community event. The police even had to be called to settle a riot when the two best teams played each other last year.
“I swear, I’m gonna wring his neck if he’s with Angela again.” Johnny said angrily. We all nodded in agreement, in fact we’d probably help. When it came to Johnny’s sisters, (Angela was the oldest) we all chipped in to help him watch over them. It would be nearly impossible for Johnny to do the job himself, and that’s just what best friends do right?
“Speak of the little devil.” Gale muttered under his breath to us. I turned to see our final member jogging towards us casually, barefoot a pair of basketball shoes with socks shoved in them held in his hand. His curly black hair was wild, and made him look like he’d just woke up.
“Sorry! I slept in late, man I was out till two last night.” He explained as he neared us, something like a proud smirk on his face.
“Yeah, Yeah, Zane, save it for someone who cares.” I said, trying to sound angry. It didn’t really work for me, though.
He stuck his tongue out at me, and offered a hand to help me up as we got ready to begin practice.
“Aw, you’re just jealous Jump.” He winked, and put his shoes and socks on.
Our team is probably the best there is, though we’re sort of a jumble of persons. Zane’s the shortest at 5’9”, stocky and fast he was our point guard. Down low on post duty is Jamal and Gale, being 6’8” and all muscle. Johnny and Me make up the two wings, Johnny being 6’1” and me stretching up to 6’3”. I know. I’m tall for a girl. No one cared anymore that I was the only girl, and white, though I used to get teased. That was before I earned the nickname ‘Jump’. You see, a few years back I was awkward, everywhere and made of only knees and elbows. No one wanted me on their team, or even near their players. Let’s just say I was prone to falling, and taking people with me. Luckily, my boys were brave enough to stick with me. Now we’re on top, I’m one of the best players around, and I’m called Jump for my uncanny ability to leap higher than anyone else. But we wouldn’t continue to be on top if someone (Zane) kept being late for practice.
“Hey, Zaney who was it this time?” Jamal teased/crooned at him as we began to warm up.
“Just some chick I met at the Cake, Brooke or something.” He answered, shrugging nonchalantly.
I rolled my eyes at him, something I did a lot.
“Dang Zane, that’s the third night this week you’ve picked up some chick at the Cake.” I chastised him. I sighed heavily when all he did was grin at me.
The Cake was actually a bar on Main Street, not really just for the Richies (those who live on the south side of town and attended Lillyville Central instead of Lillyville Public.) and not really just for the Slummers. It was kind of trashy, but they served the best nachos ever. Where a name like ‘The Cake’ came from is beyond me.
“So, watchya wanna do today?” Gale asked after we’d finished warming up and stretching. I shrugged, and he cracked his neck. I made a face at him as he did so. I hat that noise; it gave me the heeby-geebies.
“How about we run through our offensive plays a bit, that sound okay to you Jump?” Zane offered to us.
I nodded. Unofficially, I was always the one to make the finally decision. It wasn’t like I was the leader or anything, and nobody cared that I did so, it’s just how it worked with us, I guess. It was probably because I have the most common sense.
We started out our plays slowly, but soon our sluggishness began to wear off and we really started to move. We have a lot of plays, most of them were made up on the fly, when we had trouble breaking a defense, or couldn’t make a shot to save our life. I was the only one who ever remembered them all, because I’ve got something called a photographic memory. I never forget anything. It’s why I have to take AP classes at our school - not because I’m smart at all - because I can read something only once, just glance at it really, and it’s up there in my brain for good.
After running through our plays, we seemed a little lost at what to do, so we moved on to shooting around.
“Hey, anyone want to play 3’s Knock-Out?” I asked hopefully. Everyone groaned, and backed off, shaking their heads or holding up their hands. I sighed. No one ever played with me, because I never missed a shot. Ever. Remember that photographic thingy? Well, it helps a lot. I don’t have to actually see the hoop, because I’ve already seen it. You get it? So yeah, you could say no one ever gave me healthy competition when it came to shots.
We were still indecisive at what to do next, and Jamal and Gale had begun to argue again when a young girl ran across the court towards us. Her bright yellow sundress flew in the wind, and her short pig tails flopped with ever step. I elbowed Johnny, who was facing away from the girl.
“Yo, Johnny, it’s Chrissy.” I told him. He turned, and closed his eyes for a moment when he saw her, as if to ask for patience. I hid a smile. Chrissy and Johnny didn’t get along at all, even though Chrissy was only seven. They were way too much alike.
“Chrissy. What’re you doing here? I thought I told you to stay home and not to come to see me unless it was an emergency.” Johnny said striding towards his sister, who seemed unfazed by her brother’s scolding.
“Don’t ya get all moody with me, it is urgent. I was at home when Rodgers came to our house and he was looking for you guys to tell you that Mikey got banged up perrrty bad by some Richie, and then Maggs sent me to pass on the news. So there.”