Home > The Song of David (The Law of Moses)(15)

The Song of David (The Law of Moses)(15)
Author: Amy Harmon

“Kobe Bryant leads the league in free throws.” I had no idea if this was true. I just threw something out there to see if Henry would engage.

Henry’s eyes snapped to mine and he shook his head, indicating my stat wasn’t the case.

“He’s the tallest man in the NBA?” I knew this wasn’t true.

Henry started to smirk.

“He has the biggest feet?”

Henry shook his head.

“His best friend is named Shaq?” I asked.

Henry shook his head so vigorously I thought he was going to fall off his stool.

“Kobe Bryant is the youngest player in league history to reach 30,000 career points,” Henry informed me. I gave myself a mental high five that he was talking at all.

“Oh, yeah?” I asked, nonchalant.

“He was also the youngest player to ever start in the NBA,” he added.

“Big deal.” I waved my hand. “Everybody knows that.” I winked, letting him know I hadn’t had a clue.

“Did you know he was named after Japanese beef?” Henry boasted, pulling his Sprite toward him and taking a long pull at the straw.

“No kidding!” I started to laugh. I moved away from him to take care of some customers a few stools down, and greeted Axel, my Swedish sparring partner, who slid onto a stool one over from Henry and said “tack”—thank you in Swedish—before guzzling back the beer I placed in front of him.

“Shaquille O’Neal and Kobe Bryant aren’t friends,” Henry said seriously, and placed a pretzel carefully on his tongue. He looked at his now empty glass despondently.

“No? Why not?” I asked, refilling his Sprite.

“Giants don’t make good friends.”

“Are you talking about Shaq or Kobe? They’re both pretty big.” I tried not to laugh because Henry wasn’t laughing.

“Giants don’t like when someone is bigger than they are.”

“I don’t know about that. Look at me and Axel. We’re both pretty big.”

“Who’s the biggest?” Henry asked.

“I am,” I said firmly, and at the same time Axel thumped his chest.

Henry looked at me owlishly, as if I had just proven his point. Axel started to laugh, and I laughed with him, but Henry didn’t laugh at all. He just wrapped his swollen lips around his straw and drank his Sprite like he was dying of thirst. I waited until Axel turned his attention to Stormy, who had stopped to flirt as she waited tables.

“Henry? Are you having problems with a giant?” I touched my lip and looked pointedly at his mouth.

“The Giants won the World Series in 2012,” he said softly. “In 2010 too. They’re very popular right now.”

I wasn’t sure if there was a hidden message in the popularity of the Giants or if Henry just wanted to change the subject. I tried again, using a different approach.

“You know the story of David and Goliath, right? David’s just a little guy, Goliath’s a huge warrior. David ends up killing him with just a sling-shot and Goliath’s own sword.”

“Your name is David,” Henry said, his eyes on the game.

“It is. Do you need me to slay a giant for you?”

“The Giants’ bench is deep.”

I narrowed my eyes at Henry. He didn’t look away from the television. It was like conversing with Yoda. Or R2D2.

I sighed and refilled his drink again. “When all this Sprite catches up with you, the bathrooms are down the hall on the right.”

I didn’t want to upset Amelie, but when she checked to make sure Robin had come and retrieved Henry, covering her dancing “uniform” with a Tag Team T-shirt and leggings, I pulled her aside and stressed once more that she should bring Henry by the gym. It wouldn’t hurt for the kid to learn how to take down a bully, or a giant, if that’s what was going on.

AMELIE AND HENRY didn’t come by the gym the next day. On Saturday, I thought I saw them once, beyond the wall of windows along the front of the gym, but when I looked again they were gone. I shrugged, deciding Henry must not have been as excited by the idea as Amelie thought he would be. A few minutes later I looked up to see them hovering near the speed bags, Amelie holding firmly to Henry’s arm, Henry looking as if he was about to bolt like a runaway seeing-eye dog and drag his poor sister with him. They were garnering some strange looks—Henry with his crazy bedhead, his darting glances, and jittery hands and Amelie because she stood so still with her eyes fixed straight ahead.

I called a quick halt to my bout, escaping Axel, who was trying to pummel me into next week, and slid between the ropes that cordoned off one of the octagons.

“Amelie! Henry!” I called, noting how Amelie’s face was immediately wreathed in a relieved smile, a smile so wide it spread to her eyes, giving the illusion of sparkle and life. But Henry started backing up, pulling his sister with him.

“Yo, Henry. Hold up, man.” I stopped several feet from them and lowered my voice. “Did you know that Jack Dempsey versus Jess Willard was the very first fight to be broadcast over the radio?”

Henry stopped moving and his hands stilled.

“Do you know what year that was, Henry?”

“1919,” Henry said in a whisper. “The first televised fight was in 1931. Benny Leonard vs. Mickey Walker.”

“I didn’t know that.” Actually, I had only known about the Dempsey, Willard fight because I’d seen a biography on Dempsey on Netflix the night before. God bless Netflix. The mention of the radio had made me think of Henry and the sportscast blaring from his bedroom. “You wanna tell me more?”

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