Slightly slumped in a sitting chair whose wooden arms and legs were carved in curlicues and sworls, Connie Unseld raised a tumbler of Scotch to her lips, then set it down on an equally baroque side table. The click as she set down the tumbler - there was no coaster to cushion its impact - echoed through the wood-paneled sitting room. The last few rays of sunlight entered through a set of tall, narrow windows and lay long across the floor. Connie's right hand held onto the tumbler, ready to reraise when the impulse struck, which it would. Her left hand massaged her left temple.
Wes was out. Mr. Pollin - Abe - whatever - had called him in to discuss the team's struggles. Doubtless Wes was sitting across the big wooden desk from Mr. Pollin right now, sharing a cigar, pushing aside papers so they could talk more intimately about defensive intensity and offensive spacing and pace and psychological minutiae of the players and whatever else they talked about. They had talked about all of it, all day, every day, when Wes had been GM. Of course, then, much of it was Wes' doing.
Connie was dressed in a white sweater and navy pencil skirt. She could still pull it off. She crossed her ankles and slumped toward the right ever so slightly. She gazed out the window at the paling day.
Connie loved her husband. A simple statement to make, but one with consequences. When Wes went away, Connie had a lot of time to think, and she didn't like that. The job provided motivation and fulfillment, but you have to have more than a job. There's a home to come to.
She watched the games, of course, but Steve and Phil just made her brood more. Books provided some distraction, but lately, every few pages she just looked up and sighed. She took up knitting once, and dropped it, the pastime feeling ridiculous, playing with bright-colored yarn and shiny needles. Lately she'd been watching that callow Steinbog fellow on Comcast yammer Internet catchphrases in his reticent countertenor, hiding under a man's hat. It had not yet proved compelling.
It wasn't necessarily that she and Wes had long talks about Schopenhauer or took strolls in the moonlight with the wind whistling through the pines when he wasn't sitting at Mr. Pollin's desk strategizing. It was simple: He was with her. And she loved him. Any room felt happily full with they both were in it, at least for Connie. Even before middle age had made him fill every room a bit more, she had felt this way.
The thing was, when Wes had been GM, they had either been winning or losing, and either way he had to be out all the time. Connie understood this. But now that he wasn't GM, Mr. Pollin only wanted to talk to Wes when he couldn't figure out what to do, and needed a sounding board. Or a commiserator. The best way to keep Wes home was to keep the team winning.
And that was doubtless how she had gotten into this thing with that Storey kid and his voodoo bacon head that coincidentally worked when Arenas was playing well and didn't when he wasn't. Storey could watch the bacon change colors or whatever all he wanted. Arenas wasn't going to be great like Wes had been. Too frivolous. No - that wasn't what was holding him back. He desperately wanted to step behind the arc of fate and shoot the seed of talent into the basket of greatness. He was serious about his desire. But he didn't have to, in the way that the ones who became great did.
Admittedly, she thought - jumping back to Storey - the voodoo bacon head was well-supported by a certain type of literature that would forever remain beyond the ken of the casually inquisitive. A Xerox here, a story you heard there. That memorable episode of "Oprah." Being the wife of an NBA player gave you a lot of time to learn things. Storey had nothing but time to watch the bacon, and she knew it had created a kind of background resonance that had elevated Arenas to a new level this year, however halting his advance sometimes seemed. But still - something had to impel Arenas. Waiting on it wasn't going to help.
She knew some ways. But she needed deniability, which comes when you get someone stupid to do the risky but necessary thing you want done. Storey couldn't hang around Verizon anymore without raising suspicions, and obviously Wes needed to be safe from any possible blowback.
Suddenly: Wise, from the Post. She took another sip from the glass, then bent down to retrieve her purse. Wise was who to call. Blithe yet resourceful idiocy. Why hadn't she thought of this before?
She took out her cell phone and began dialing.
--posted by intern Rex Immensae Majestatis Chapman