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All the Talent In the World

All the Talent In the World

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All the Talent In the World

Longitud:
288 página
4 horas
Publicado:
Sep 13, 2019
ISBN:
9781684706655
Formato:
Libro

Descripción

ALL THE TALENT IN THE WORLD is the fictional story of two high school young men, one of whom becomes an attorney and the other, a National Basketball Association (NBA) star. During the next ten years of maturing, the two become involved with scams, con artists, murder, the Polish Mafia, and a humiliating arrest by the Philadelphia police. This story is filled with actual facts and data-based statistics. It is presented as fiction to make it more interesting. There is never a reference to race, curse words, or ghetto slang. The novel positively highlights the life-enhancing value of education.
Publicado:
Sep 13, 2019
ISBN:
9781684706655
Formato:
Libro

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All the Talent In the World - Geary Carver Bush

Burton

CHAPTER ONE

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W hen I was a kid growing up in a small town in Pennsylvania, my best friend was a super athlete named Billy Lincoln. I’m sure you’ve heard of him, even if you aren’t a professional basketball fan. Originally, he was planning to be one of those one and done players. They’re called that because after only one year of college, they jump directly into the National Basketball Association or NBA for short. When it came time for high school graduation, however, Billy had such poor grades, that no Division I or Division II university in the United States could give him a scholarship.

Unfortunately, the rules of the NBA state that an individual can’t be drafted for a year after high school graduation. So, with the aid of a Philadelphia sports agent, Billy spent that year playing professional basketball in Italy. In a heartwarming and loving gesture when he returned to the United States, the first thing he did was buy his mother a new house. After that, he was able to spend all that he made in Europe that year, and even more by borrowing. It was then that most of his troubles began:

Oh yes, I need to add to the fact before I forget it, that the house Billy bought for his mother was a big expensive one. Of course, Billy paid only the down payment. And because his mother, who still worked as a cook in the town’s deli, couldn’t afford to pay both the mortgage payments and the property taxes, she lost the house in a few years later when he filed for bankruptcy. In typical fashion, Billy blamed the bank that lent him the money.

I’ll admit one thing here and now: some ten years ago when we were in high school, I was jealous of Billy. He was everything I thought I wanted to be. We were the same age, but he was always taller and stronger than I was. Trying to even things, I secretly began to lift weights. Finding an old wooden broomstick handle in the alley behind our house gave me an idea. I took it to our school shop and, during one lunch hour, I sawed it in two. I threw away the head with the straw fibers and took the other half home with me that night. Like most houses built in the 1920s, we had a single car garage separate from the house. The double doors opened onto an alleyway. It was too small to house the pickup truck my dad drove to work, so it was used mostly to store junk. I left the wooden rod in an inside corner where no one would bother it. I had a plan.

Next day, I found a couple of stainless steel fruit cans in a neighbor’s trash. The fruit was obviously eaten long before I found them, because they were half filled with rain water. I peeled off the labels and made sure the bottoms were still solidly attached. At the end of our block, I talked to a couple of workmen who were repairing the concrete sidewalk. After considerable begging and finally producing a five dollar bill, they let me fill both cans with concrete. I ran home as fast as I could. It was a warm day and I knew the mixture would not take long to set. Dashing directly into our garage, I grabbed the sawed-off broom handle and stuck it into the middle of one of the cans. Laying it down, I stuck the other end into the second can. By now, both mixes were nearly solid. I used my fingers to pack the gray mud-like material around the wood. I was just in time because moments later, the concrete set hard.

Thus I had made a barbell I could lift to sculpture the massive chest and arm muscles I needed to catch up with Billy. Now I could do curls and make my biceps bulge. And with a bench, I could lie on it and press the weight over my chest. Sometime within the next few months, I told myself, I’d begin to look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. It would be only a matter of time before I passed Billy both in appearance and strength.

But my secret didn’t last very long. As I said, Billy and I were best friends, and within the week he found out what I was doing in our garage after school. Of course I had to let him use my barbell. And of course, he quickly became much bigger and stronger while I showed little of the progress I’d imagined. By then, my jealousy had turned to admiration because, after all, we were best friends and I got to hang out with one of the most popular guys in our school.

Several months later, while exercising in my garage, Billy seemed to be in a particularly depressed mood. He hardly said a word, which wasn’t really like him. Finally, I decided to break the near silence.

You going out with Michelle Saturday night? I asked. Billy always went out with Michelle on Saturday nights. The rest of the girls were all counting the days, hoping that they’d break up.

No, he answered, a troubled look took over his face. I don’t have any money. How about loaning me some?

Hey, I don’t have any either. What happened to the twenty dollars you had last week.

It was forty, and it’s gone. Michelle’s expensive.

You’re telling me? Why do you keep spending money on her the way you do? You know she only goes out with you because you’re popular and spend everything you make on her.

Billy got that funny look in his eye whenever he talked about Michelle. "Because she’s got it, man, because she’s got it!"

"And I keep asking you what it is…."

And I keep telling you it’s something I can’t describe.

I shook my head. You’ve got the world on a string, Billy. Maybe a college scholarship next fall. Maybe drive a new but hardly used car. Maybe even nice clothes because they say those university alumni guys are supposed keep giving you cash to do chores for them. You know, plenty of women out there would be nice to you. Michelle just treats you like pond scum.

Billy sighed, nodded his head, and said, I know. Believe me I know. I just can’t seem to help myself. She pushes all my buttons. And she pushes them all at the same time. I get around her and I want to buy her stuff, and she always wants stuff.

Like what? I asked.

You know. Jewelry and perfume and shoes and stuff.

You go shopping with her?

Sometimes. Sometimes I just give her money.

I could fix you up with any of a dozen girls who would treat you like a king.

I know, but I only want Michelle.

You playing around with her? You going to make her pregnant?

Man, I’d like to. Then she’d be mine. But she won’t let me do that. Says it’s not nice. Says she’s waiting until she’s married.

I didn’t tell Billy that Michelle was cheating on him. I say cheating, but since they weren’t engaged or anything, I don’t suppose that she could cheat. Anyway, she was going out with this older guy who was at least 22 or 23 years old. The several girls I went out with during the year told me I was just too nice a guy. I wished I wasn’t so darn nice. Besides, I think they just went out with me because I was a friend of Billy’s, and they wanted to meet him. They were always too busy for a second date.

Billy took a deep breath, then moved toward my weight bench. Some changes had been made since I’d made my broomstick and concrete-filled can invention. We were still using it, but one afternoon at a garage sale near our school, we found some old used weights that were covered with rust. A few weeks after that, we found the perfect steel bar that was a precise fit for the rusty platters of lead. While Billy used all the weights he could fit on the bar, I was still trying to get my reps out of the old broomstick. No matter what I did, I just didn’t get any bigger or stronger. But I had another problem with the kids in my class. I got good grades. It wasn’t that I studied so much as I just remembered the teachers telling us the stuff in class, and that made the answers to their tests easy. Besides, I was always good with numbers.

I was branded. I was a nerd. Billy nicknamed me Einstein and it stuck. I hoped and planned to receive a scholarship to college because of my grades and because of my test scores. Billy hoped to become a famous NBA star and make a ton of money. Unfortunately for the both of us, that would be after graduation which was still a couple of years away. We lived in a borderline slum area and I knew it. Although we called it the working poor section of town, both Billy and I wanted to leave it as soon as possible.

CHAPTER TWO

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W e were juniors when Billy transferred into my high school. While our homes were not that far apart they were located in different school districts. Five of the top ten fastest-growing school districts in Pennsylvania are in the Philadelphia region. Somehow, one of the congressmen for Pennsylvania was influenced to put some muscle behind the redistricting of Billy’s and my schools, with the result that Billy was now in my school district. The principal of our school immediately certified Billy’s athletic eligibility. He was quoted in the local newspaper as saying, A student who participates in interscholastic athletics at a school which is a member of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, Inc. must comply with PIAA eligibility rules. We have made sure we comply.

One day my father told me that what our principal was really saying was that Billy’s transfer was legal and that he could immediately begin playing sports for our school. Dad always wondered what was behind that sudden transfer, as did others, but no one ever found out why or how that congressman was influenced. I was just happy that Billy and I were together now in the same school.

After school Billy sometimes worked at the same deli which employed his mother. I tried to do odd jobs in our neighborhood such as mowing lawns or weeding flower gardens. Between the two of us, we earned the few dollars that we had to spend on the weekends. Billy earned more, of course, but since he spent it all on that horrible Michelle, he was usually broke. I tried to save some toward college, but I wasn’t very successful. The local soda shop had the best cheeseburgers in town. I admit that with French fries included, I was an addict.

Because of the transfer, Billy instantly became the best athlete in our high school. The thought of playing college ball before going to the pros kept him attending his classes most of the time rather than dropping out to join a gang. We both figured he would be a star some day, in college and in the pros. We began to plan for it. Why do I say we? Because we spent every day together. And because we grew up only a few blocks or so apart, I was his best friend and he was mine. Somehow we knew it would always be that way. As the saying goes: time would tell. The saying didn’t mention that we could hardly wait.

The real ghetto of the town was only a dozen or so blocks further South. That was where drugs were bought and sold openly, and the lives of its inhabitants weren’t worth much. The girls were often pregnant by fourteen, and the boys were learning how to strip a car of everything valuable in ten minutes or less. It was a culture all its own, one designed to live off of handouts from the state and federal governments.

Walking out one of the side doors of our school the day after fall classes began, I came upon a gang of boys attempting to cut the chain off of one of the padlocked bicycles. The bicycle was new and belonged to one of the younger teachers who had been hired sometime the year before. I watched for a few moments before I stepped down the concrete stairs and began to walk toward the gang. I couldn’t help myself. The gang was doing something terribly wrong and I had to try to make them stop.

Most folks don’t realize it, but there is more crime in and around the school among the students than vandalism in the streets, including shoplifting. Some of the kids had allowances and actually paid protection to be left alone. I wasn’t one of those kids, so without really thinking of what might happen to me, I greeted the gang with what I hoped was a friendly hello.

Guys, I began, the teacher who owns that bike is a new teacher here. I think she doesn’t have much money, because I’ve never seen her drive a car, even in bad weather. I wonder if there might be some alternative to stealing the woman’s bicycle.

Some alternative? What kind of talk is that? What planet you from? That was the reply from one of the gang members.

I took a deep breath. Right here on earth, actually. It was only then that I began to use my brain instead of my emotions. Desperately, I began to think of some way of saving myself from getting beat up. Saving the bicycle from theft would be another story. Listen, I’ve got a couple of dollars left over from lunch, I said, and maybe I could give them to you and you would leave Ms. Connor’s bike alone.

We’ll take your money, but we think we we’ll take the bike too. Whatcha gonna do about it.

Well, sir, I’m already doing it. I’m trying to offer you money to leave the bike alone. I could feel my legs begin to shake inside my trousers. My weight training told me I just was not constructed to be a big, strong person.

Show me your money, one of the boys said. He walked over to me and held out his hand. You’re not very big are you. Are you as tough as you look? That brought laughter from the assembled group.

I opened my wallet and took out the two one dollar bills I knew were there. No, I’m not as tough as I look. I just have a sense of fairness. What would you sell this bike for? Maybe ten dollars? It would probably cost her a hundred or a hundred and fifty to replace it. I could bring you ten dollars and we’d be even, okay?

Not okay, another of the other gang members said. I think you should bring us the ten dollars just so we leave you alone. And if you know what’s good for you, you won’t tell anyone you saw us take this bike.

I wasn’t going to tell anyone. I’m just trying to save her added expense. Teachers don’t make that much money.

How do you know what teachers make? The big guy, the biggest gang member, finally walked over and stood directly in front of me. He was at least a head taller and maybe seventy pounds heavier. I figured it was only a matter of time before he slapped me or punched me or something like that. The gang began to crowd around me.

Before I could answer, Billy opened the same door I had just walked through. He was dribbling a basketball. I looked at him and saw this funny expression come over his face, sort of a half-smile that wasn’t really a smile. It seemed only a fraction of a second before he was standing next to me. I wanted to reach out and grab him for support.

I think you and your buddies are making a mistake, Billy said in a low voice. I just came here from George Dallas High School. My name is Billy Lincoln. Maybe you heard of me. This here is a friend of mine. Why are you messing around with him?

The biggest gang member, the one standing in front of me, looked Billy over and then took a step backward. I thought you were bigger, he said. He and Billy looked to be about the same height and general builds. But I could see immediately that Billy was all muscle and this other guy was just big.

I’m big enough, Billy said. He stopped bouncing the ball and held it in front of his chest with both hands. What do you have in mind? Like I said, why are you messing with Einstein here? He’s one of the good guys. We’ve been best friends since I can remember.

One of the other gang members said, We were just getting to know him. Seems he’s okay if you say so. We didn’t mean nothing. You the Billy Lincoln who plays basketball?

Yeah, that’s me.

From George Dallas high school?

Yeah, I just transferred over here. Coach likes me.

The member nodded, Good enough for me,

Then the big guy spoke again. Einstein you say. Funny name. Funny little guy.

I don’t think he’s so funny. Not funny at all. Is he a problem?

No, we was just leaving anyway. One of the members began tugging at the big guy.

Billy took a step forward. Is he going to be a problem tomorrow?

The big guy turned around and started to walk away. No, he won’t be no problem. You can count on it. Suddenly he turned and with one of his huge fists, made a swipe at Billy’s face. Billy jerked back so of course he missed. Billy answered by pushing the ball at the big guy’s face so fast and hard that it rebounded right back into Billy’s hands. The big guy fell to the ground as if he’d been shot. Blood began pouring from his nose. He groaned and put a hand to his face, but otherwise he didn’t move.

Billy looked at the other gang members one by one, then began bouncing the basketball again. Basketball is a tough sport, he said. Good for the reflexes. Sometimes people get hurt playing sports. Sports takes lots of practice.

None of the gang members moved or said anything. They just stood there watching Billy bounce the ball with a steady rhythm. I think they never thought of a basketball as being such a potent weapon. I wondered just how long this moment of silence was going to continue.

CHAPTER THREE

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O kay, Billy said, finally breaking the spell. From now on you leave Einstein alone. And forget taking any bikes in these racks. There are better places to visit than this school. Why don’t you drag your friend to your car or whatever you came in. He’s getting blood all over the sidewalk. See you around sometime. Then again, maybe not.

At last the gang began to move. Two of them reached down and helped pull the big guy to his feet. One of them said, I guess we better take him home, or maybe to the hospital. Good luck with the team.

Billy must have known I was getting woozy. He put his hand under one of my arms and lead me toward the nearby steps. I sat down so hard it jarred my teeth. I didn’t feel well and thought about lying down on some nearby grass.

Thanks, Billy, was all I could say.

Don’t mention it, Billy said. Know those dudes?

Never saw them before. You?

Heard of them. The big guy thinks he’s tough. One punch and he quits. Most fights only last one solid hit. Sometimes it’s a sucker punch, sometimes it’s a basketball. Billy chuckled quietly for a minute. Then he said, You going to be okay?

I guess so. I answered. I was pretty scared.

How’d it start?

I was trying to save Mrs. Connor’s bike, over there. I nodded with my head toward the bike racks.

Okay, was all Billy said. We never mentioned it again and the gang never came back to our campus as far as I knew. Mrs. Connors still had her bike at the end of the year. Sometimes I’d see her riding it and get this feeling in my stomach.

By the beginning of our senior year in high school, Billy was already recognized nationally as an outstanding athlete. He played on the football team where he was a wide receiver. The crowds at the Friday night games were always thrilled when our team fell behind in the game during the first half. Then the quarterback would throw the ball to Billy on almost every down. It was a given for the rest of the game that each series for our team would somehow result in a touchdown. The only game we lost that year was one during which Billy got involved in a fight with the captain of the other team, and was ejected from the game. I did my part to show my school spirit. I played clarinet in the marching band.

In the spring, Billy ran track, and once there was a rumor that some people from the United States Olympic Committee were in the stands during one of the meets, but there were always rumors about that sort of thing whenever Billy was involved in athletics. I’ll say this for him, no matter what the game or the number of people in attendance, he always gave it his best effort. I think it was his way of showing the world that he was valuable and important. Maybe it was his way of showing his father, who never gave him the time of day, that his son was a treasure. We never spoke about Billy’s father. I think he was the one person Billy was afraid of.

During the winter, however, Billy came to life more than at any other time. He loved to play basketball. Not only would he play game after game even if it came down to one on one, but if he was all alone, he would practice his shots. He was so good from the free throw line, it was almost boring. I think he missed only one or two foul shots that last season. It was important that he had that reputation, because the opposing teams did not want to foul him. If they guarded him too closely and were charged with some kind of a foul, the play ended up with Billy putting points on the score board. If they didn’t guard him, his shooting from the floor was deadly accurate. It was a no win situation for them.

Then came his skills at passing and dribbling, which were

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