Top Ten Hoosiers in Fiction: #6

Click here to view the first entry in this series

<— #7

Top Ten Hoosiers in Fiction

#6

John Clark

Willem_Dafoe_as_John_Clark

The term “Badass” is thrown around a lot these days. Nowadays, you just have to be good at something innocuous to gain the label. Someone can be a badass at euchre or basketball or knitting. But Tom Clancy thoroughly modernized and re-invented the original “badasses” of literature. While other writers were busy sowing their characters with concepts like motivation and weakness, Clancy revolutionized commercial writing by generating characters singularly motivated by hyper-patriotism while imbued with Herculean fighting ability.

Clancy’s writing lauds the virtues of American exceptionalism and military prowess. He is primarily interested in what makes the U.S. so exceptional and powerful: technology. As a result, his characters tend to be machines giving life to the deadly weapons of Yankee imperialism and interventionism. John Clark is one of those machines.

Born in Indianapolis, John Clark is the Cato to Jack Ryan’s Green Hornet. Playing second pony to the stallion portrayed by the likes of pretty boys like Harrison Ford, Ben Affleck, Chris Pine, and Alec Baldwin, Clark is stuck with Liev Schreiber and Willem Dafoe. But that doesn’t stop him from overcoming obstacles using basic, rudimentary, almost insultingly-simple methods of deception and then blowing the bad guys to bits with superior firepower.

His most notable accomplishment is becoming leader of the elite international anti-terrorist special forces team known as Rainbow. Whether it’s Russians with nuclear warheads, Arabs with chemical weapons, Sub-Saharan Africans with biological agents, or Latin American drug lords, John Clark and Rainbow are there to serve the xenophobe, technophile, and ‘Murican in all of us.

God bless you, John Clark. And thanks for showing the world what a Hoosier can do given the training and funding of the world’s only superpower.

***

Hey friends, thanks for reading. If you enjoyed it, please support me by buying my book, Of Gods & Dragons, on your Kindle or FREE Kindle app on your smart devices. It’s $0.99 and set in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana. Thanks again!

http://www.amazon.com/Gods-Dragons-Charles-Habakkuk-ebook/dp/B00Q5LZDQE/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1418355629&sr=8-3&keywords=Of+Gods+%26+Dragons

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Top Ten Hoosiers in Fiction: #7

Click here to view the first entry in this series

<– #8 

Top Ten Hoosiers in Fiction

#7

Sam Beckett (Quantum Leap)

Scott Bakula as Sam Beckett

Scott Bakula as Sam Beckett

Quantum leap, a sci-fi series running from 1989 to 1993, has one of the more contrived and corny plots in television history, and a theme song to match (don’t use elevator music to introduce science fiction.) The producer of the show admitted the series was primarily an excuse to write a show about different time periods anthology-style.

At the center of the mess was Sam Beckett, a genius physicist working at Project Quantum Leap for science. When the military decides that the science is not science enough for them, he makes a leap for science and jumps into the Quantum Leap device, science ensues, and now he has to go through time switching places with people throughout recent history to right wrongs. If I were to try to explain why or how, this entry would get too long. So let’s skip it and suspend our disbelief for the moment.

Beckett follows in the footsteps of many great Hoosiers in science like Lewis Terman, Elwood Haynes, Andrew Moyer, Paul Samuelson, Phillip Anderson, and Harold Urey. They are quiet leaders in their fields, keeping their noses to the grindstone and letting others take the limelight of their professions. They’re Nobel Prize winners, innovators, inventors, and pathfinders of the modern age. Yet they are low-key, folksy, and keep to their humble roots.

Beckett is no exception. The Elkhart man with an IQ above 260, seven doctorates, fluency in a half dozen languages, and a multitude of patents faces his problems with a sigh and an “Oh boy.” There’s a certain Hoosier versatility and unflappability in the face of new situations that is epitomized in Scott Bakula’s rendition of Beckett.

He might be in a tough, impossible, or confusing situations, but Beckett is going to do what it takes to correct the problem and take a step home. Thank you, Sam, for your humble brilliance.

***

Hey friends, thanks for reading. If you enjoyed it, please support me by buying my book, Of Gods & Dragons, on your Kindle or FREE Kindle app on your smart devices. It’s only $2.99 or FREE with Kindle Unlimited. It’s set in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana, and those who know this town will surely enjoy it. Thanks again!

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Top Ten Hoosiers in Fiction: #8

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#9 <–  –> #7

Top Ten Hoosiers in Fiction

#8

Augustus Waters (The Fault in Our Stars)

Ansel Elgort as Augustus Waters

Ansel Elgort as Augustus Waters

I wish I could put Hazel Grace Lancaster on this list, but there’s only one entry per franchise. That forces me to choose between her and the love of her life, Augustus Waters. And you know, if I was to make any old top ten list and you told me I’d have to choose between Hazel and Gus, I’d say I’d choose Hazel nineteen times out of twenty. But for the purposes of this list, Gus is more Indiana-y than Hazel, so I’m going with him.

Most young women in America now know the name Augustus Waters. He’s charming, sweet, profound, and one of the most tragically interesting characters to come from author John Green (born in Indianapolis, and now living in the good country after a long exodus that ended as Brotherhood 2.0 started.) His penchant for metaphor along with his dreamy features (Gus’, not John Green’s,) spark the interest of Hazel Grace Lancaster at a support group meeting in the “literal” heart of Jesus. They fall in love just like one falls asleep (slowly, and then all at once.) Their relationship will go down in literary history as the modern cancer-themed Romeo & Juliet.

Augustus Waters, played by Ansel Elgort in the 2014 movie directed by Josh Boone, was an all-star high school basketball player, likely to play in college, before osteosarcoma took his leg and his hoop dreams away. He and his best friend, Isaac, spend their days playing video games and reading the exploits of a fictional sci-fi space marine. Despite his outward optimism, the loss of his leg is devastating to Gus. This leads to his most interesting character trait.

Gus’ obsession with symbolism comes from the very real loss of limb. He had a bright future filled with adventure and stardom, but it was all taken away from him. The gap is not interior, like Hazel’s thyroid cancer, hidden away like an interior parasite. And it’s not something he’s had forever, like Hazel’s metastasis. He remembers what it was like to have the leg. He remembers the potential that was lost, and he can’t stop thinking about it.

So he fights the despair through symbolism, taking an effigy for cancer, a cigarette, and placing it in his mouth. He doesn’t light it. He doesn’t smoke at all. Rather, he “puts the killing object between his teeth, but he doesn’t give it the power to kill.” That’s a powerful symbol, and it gives him hope and allows him to be the chipper individual we know and love.

I won’t continue for fear of spoiling the book. But suffice to say, his characterization shows something of the Hoosier spirit. He takes his situation and refuses to give in to depression. He attacks it with, something, anything. And whether it was hopeless or worthless to fight it, I can’t say. But it was worth it to him.

Here in Indiana, we tend to do what’s best for ourselves in the moment. That may sound selfish, but for the most part (ahem, Indiana Statehouse…) we let others do what’s best for themselves as well. It’s not perfect. It doesn’t always work. Call it naïve, call it simple, but it’s what keeps us happy. Okay? Okay. Thanks Gus, for showing the world what it means to keep spiritually healthy in the midst of tough circumstances.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Fault-Stars-John-Green/dp/014242417X

http://thefaultinourstarsmovie.com/

***

Hey friends, thanks for reading. If you enjoyed it, please support me by buying my book, Of Gods & Dragons, on your Kindle or FREE Kindle app on your smart devices. It’s only $2.99 or FREE with Kindle Unlimited. It’s set in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana, and those who know this town will surely enjoy it. Thanks again!

Click here to buy Of Gods & Dragons

Top Ten Hoosiers in Fiction: #9

Click here to view the first entry in this list.

#10 <– –> #8

Top Ten Hoosiers in Fiction

#9

Woody Boyd (Cheers)

Woody Boyd played by Woody Harrelson

Woody Boyd played by Woody Harrelson

You may not remember how big Cheers was if you’re younger than thirty. Of course, when I was a kid I’d get upset when it came on. It was a bunch of grown-ups sitting around a bar and talking without cartoons or lasers, so I wasn’t interested.  But the characters were deep and interesting, yet grew in depth as the series progressed. It dealt with big issues that most comedies wouldn’t dare approach in the mid-eighties: homosexuality, alcoholism, addiction, and the broken American political process.

The original bartender for Cheers was Ernie “Coach” Pantusso, played by Nicholas Colasanto. Unfortunately, in the middle of shooting for the third season he passed away from heart disease. The show doesn’t address what happened to Coach until Woody Boyd, played by Woody Harrelson (Natural Born Killers, The People Vs. Larry Flint,) wanders into Cheers. He exudes a good ‘ole boy charm and delights in simple things, such as the presence of a real brass rail at the bar. He then explains to Sam Malone that he came to finally meet Coach, his pen pal (they exchanged pens through the mail.) Sam informs Boyd (and the audience) that Coach is dead, but hires Woody on the spot to help tend bar at Cheers and make up for his loss.

Woody makes this list because of the iconic way he represents ex-patriot Hoosiers throughout America. There seems to come a point in the lives of many from the good country when we want to get out and stretch our legs before we realize our mistakes and return. Woody’s not content with pulling beers for the “Pig sty with a jukebox, if there’d been a jukebox” back in Hanover, Indiana, so he dreams of heading off to the big city. He’s naïve and gullible, and takes his humor at the most literal level. But he appreciates the chance to work hard and takes it with gusto, becoming a fixture at Cheers until the series concluded in 1993.

Woody’s most interesting role is that of the foil for Dr. Frasier Crane (yes, that one.) While Frasier tends to be esoteric and high-minded, Woody is nothing if not practical and low-brow. Their interactions were interesting enough that Frasier, who’d only made occasional appearances, became a member of the main cast. The humor centered on Woody turning the tables against Frasier; whether it was beating the good doctor at chess, or running for political office (He coined Obama’s 2008 campaign slogan.) And this helps to illustrate one aspect of the Hoosier mentality regarding the elite.

We Indianians love to feel that we are the bedrock of America. We imagine ourselves as the ones who support the rest of the country, and we’re content with that role. Your Frasier Cranes are the ones on the radio with their fancy degrees, but we’re the ones who best him at his own games while handing him his cocktail. Thanks Woody, for representing our simple love for a good day’s work and our working-class consciousness.

 

***

Hey friends, thanks for reading. If you enjoyed it, please support me by buying my book, Of Gods & Dragons, on your Kindle or FREE Kindle app on your smart devices. It’s only $2.99 or FREE with Kindle Unlimited. It’s set in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana, and those who know this town will surely enjoy it. Thanks again!

Click here to go to Of Gods & Dragons

Top Ten Hoosiers in Fiction: #10

You can find Hoosiers everywhere. It seems like some Hoosiers can’t wait to leave the good country, and so they go all over the place and take their quirks with them. That extends to the fictional universe. You’ll find Hoosiers in comics, television, movies, and video games. Here’s my personal countdown of the top ten.

Rules:

1. The character must have been born in Indiana or lived here for most of their life.

2. One entry per franchise (Otherwise, Parks & Recreation would take half the slots.)

3. A character is judged subjectively on their collective cultural influence, their characterization, and my personal preference.

Top Ten Hoosiers in Fiction

#10

Jon Arbuckle (Garfield)

Jon Arbuckle

Jon Arbuckle by Jim Davis

When Jim Davis (a native of Muncie, Indiana,) created Garfield in 1978, the title character was not as important as his owner. That remains true today, as seen in the success of the “Garfield Without Garfield” series. It is remarkable that Jon is funnier and more interesting in the absence of his cat. That’s an excellent illustration for strong characterization.

Jon is a cartoonist living in Muncie. He’s a depressive, bi-polar, schizophrenic wreck of a man who can’t get a date with the woman he’s been hanging out with for twenty years. He’s a fashion train wreck, wearing the most bizarre outfits without irony or self-awareness. Jon begins a trend in Hoosiers found in fiction. Writers tend to see us as gullible, naïve, and falsely confident.

I don’t find his characterization demeaning or offensive. Rather, I think it highlights a positive quality generally found in Hoosiers. That is, we try to see the best in people. We take people and ourselves at face value, and sometimes that means looking or acting in a way that seems silly. While the East and West Coasters cover themselves up and work hard for the camera, we’re not afraid to look like fools.

Garfield is a merchandising phenomenon, a multi-billion dollar franchise spanning comics, television, movies, Christmas specials, and video games. But if it weren’t for Jon Arbuckle, I don’t think the comic would have gotten the laughs it needed to get where it is. Thanks Jon, for getting the world to laugh at us the way we laugh at ourselves.

http://www.gocomics.com/garfield

Click here for the #9 entry in this list.

***

Hey friends, thanks for reading. If you enjoyed it, please support me by buying my book, Of Gods & Dragons, on your Kindle or FREE Kindle app on your smart devices. It’s only $2.99 or FREE with Kindle Unlimited. It’s set in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana, and those who know this town will surely enjoy it. Thanks again!

When Watford Hit the Shot…

I wanna tell you about the night when Watford hit the shot. Now, I’d been an Indiana University Hoosiers men’s basketball fan my entire life. I was born in February of Nineteen Eighty-Six, and that day we lost to our in-state rival, Purdue. My devotion was such from birth that I cried the entire night. That’s a fact.

A year later in Eighty-Seven, Keith Smart hit the shot against Syracuse and made Indiana the nation’s champion. My daddy jumped up and down and hollered and made such a ruckus it became my very first memory. I can still see his face getting bigger and smaller as he picked me up and threw me in the air like a watermelon.

In the car, dad and I’d listen to games on the radio with Don Fischer’s narration. Fisch’s voice had the richness of warm coffee and cream. He rejoiced when we did and he lamented when we did too. It was like he was sitting with us as we leaned into the radio to try and get a glimpse of the court in our minds.

God, we hated Kentucky. There was nothing in the world that dad and I despised as much as the bastards in blue. Those cheating, lying, no-good bullies made our lives Hell in the early parts of the season before we went on to play our conference foes. Every year dad would get grumpy the week of the game and use the English language’s choicer words with frequency. On the day of the game he was as tense as a cord of firewood. How the rest of the week went depended entirely on what happened during the forty minutes after tipoff.

Old Bobby Knight had led us to the promised land and champion’s glory three times during his tenure. People painted his portrait everywhere in restaurants or in bathroom stalls and wrote poems and songs about him. We called him “The General” when we were confrontational or just plain “Bobby” when the mood was mild. As my grandmother lay on her deathbed my dad sent a letter to Bobby with a photograph and a check for twenty-five dollars. He asked Coach for an autograph so gramma could have it before she passed, she’d loved the old Boss so much. Bobby signed the picture, tore the check in two, and sent both back along with a nasty note saying his favors couldn’t be bought. That was Coach Knight for you.

And then one day Bobby got in a lick of trouble and he was out of a job. Mike Davis took over and he did alright at first. We made it to the national title game but lost to Maryland. I remember during that run when we’d beaten Oklahoma I went to my first riot down on Kirkwood Avenue. It was all sorts of fun. There was yelling and screaming and a line of police with shields and tear gas. I remember a guy climbed up on a telephone wire above Dunn Street and started swinging around before he lost his grip. I heard a smack and then everyone got real quiet for a second before the noise started up again. Some blond girl got so excited she decided to show everyone what her tits looked like. That was the first time I saw a real set on the female figure.

But after a while it seemed like Mike couldn’t catch a break. It was amazing how Coach Davis seemed to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory at every opportunity. His players regressed and the program took on an attitude that seemed to concede defeat at the first sign of trouble. So they let him go and we got Kelvin Sampson to take over the program. Now he used to be the coach for Oklahoma, but he got in a little bit of trouble down there, something to do with phone calls. All I really remember is he came in with his baby blue button-up shirt and red tie and promised that he’d win another championship. And then he got in trouble, something to do with text messages, and he was out.

That’s when we took Marquette’s coach, Tom Crean. When they introduced him to the Hoosier faithful they asked him to tell everyone why he’d come to Bloomington. All he said was, “It’s Indiana.” Well that was all dad and I needed. It seemed as if a savior had arrived. Crean had a little boy’s smile, but eyes like a rabid badger. He looked qualified to be a conquering centurion, as if a gold filigree laurel wreath rested on his head.

But the players didn’t see it that way. Almost everyone from the previous year left, and Crean had to start from scratch. That first year with Tom, we had the worst season in the history of the program. We won only six games and lost twenty-five. But you couldn’t tell that to the Hoosier fanbase, we had one of the best attendance rates in the nation. The next year we did a little better. And then the next year we did just a little bit better. Along the way we picked up a couple of pieces like local boy Jordan Hulls, feisty Will Sheehey, speedster Verdell Jones III, athletic Victor Oladipo, and old man Christian Watford.

And then Crean got South Indiana native Cody Zeller to come with him to Bloomington. Now Zeller had two older brothers, but both of them left the good country to pursue basketball elsewhere. It felt a little bit like treason when they did, but we doffed our caps to see them off as they went. We understood that things weren’t what they once were at Indiana. But after years of disappointment, Crean suddenly oozed the confidence and fortitude needed to sway Cody to stay home. He was a seven foot tall beanpole with a lanky figure and a goofy smile, but he was one of the best players in Indiana high school history.

Dad and I went crazy. This was it. We had all the pieces. Hulls was a sharpshooter, Oladipo could slash like Michael Jordan, and Zeller would anchor the middle. We had a year, maybe two, to actually do something worthwhile. God, we were excited.

Now, back in Nineteen Seventy-Six, Bobby Knight led the Hoosiers to an undefeated season and the national title. We were very proud of that, and arrogantly proclaimed that there’d never be another men’s basketball team to match the feat. So on December Tenth of Two-Thousand Twelve when The University of Kentucky men’s basketball team came to Bloomington with an unblemished record, you can imagine how our hatred of the Wildcats multiplied. And not only were they undefeated, they were truly great. All five of their starters would play in the top professional league, and some of their reserves as well. Their starting center, Anthony Davis, would be the first overall pick for the NBA at the end of the year. And their coach, John Calipari, would be whispered in the same breath as John Wooden, Mike Krzyzewski, and the General himself as one of the greatest to pick up a clipboard.

In college basketball there are only a handful of blue-blood programs. My list ends at UCLA, Kansas, Louisville, UCONN, North Carolina, Duke, Kentucky, and Indiana. There are a lot of great programs after them, but these are the ones that get special status in my book. It doesn’t matter how bad any of these programs are doing in one particular year. If one of them meets up with another one, you can put money on it being on national television. This night was no exception. Even though Indiana had been in tough straits for the past four years, ESPN was not going to let us and Kentucky meet without being there and sending in Dick Vitale, the greatest college basketball television personality in the history of the game.

I wasn’t in Bloomington when it happened. I wasn’t even in Indiana. I was going to school at a little college up in Chicago called the Moody Bible Institute. And it was finals season. I had enough papers coming up to fell the Morgan-Monroe State Forest. If I wanted to pass my classes, I’d have to spend all week in the computer lab writing my papers. That included the night of the IU-Kentucky match.

That morning I put on my IU sweater and did one-man chants in the hallways and cafeteria. I didn’t care that no one else in the school knew what I was doing or saying. I had to, in my own little way, rile myself up for the contest to come even though I wouldn’t see it. I kept putting work into my papers, hoping beyond hope that by gametime I’d be able to get away and watch my Hoosiers and their gladiatorial struggle against the most hated rivals.

And as the minutes passed I kept my nose in the books. And when tiptime approached a fine mist of sweat glistened my brow. And then the game started, but I resisted my heart’s cry for basketball. Duty to my GPA overwhelmed me, and I soldiered on.

But something fluttered in my breast. I kept misspelling words, Crean instead of cream, Zeller instead of zealous, Hulls instead of held. God, I wasn’t going to make it. I had to make a choice between my education and my state. And just like Robert E. Lee before me, I had to choose my state as awful as the cause was.

I livestreamed a feed in one corner of the computer screen as I typed. I worked furiously during timeouts and commercials. But when Indiana had the ball, I placed my fingers, filthy with grimy book smell, on my mouth to keep from shouting. In the first half, it was back and forth. Kentucky struck first, but Zeller and Watford led Indiana back. Hulls threw in a three-point dagger. Sheehy hustled against their attack. Jones interrupted their passing lanes and harried their offense. At the end of the period, Indiana led by a single point.

I couldn’t believe it. I half-expected the Kentuckians, well-coached and top-ranked, to wipe us clean from our own floor. The years of failure had dampened my optimism and made me a hopeful skeptic, but now something welled in my gut like the surge of a rollercoaster. Those boys in the crimson candystripe pants held on with the tenacity of a doberman. We were the hornets in the bonnet of a grizzly, and the bear was stumbling.

One of their best forwards failed to get a rebound the whole first half. Anthony Davis committed early fouls, limiting his time on the floor. And we hit nearly half our shots against them, a feat no team had yet managed against their defense. And even though we had a lot of turnovers, we held on. God, it was pretty in an ugly kind of way, like a newborn baby.

During halftime I scraped my patience to keep at the millstone of my studies. I read and I read, and I typed and I typed, but by the start of the second half, I found it hard to breath. Friends in the library couldn’t help but notice my stifled cries and sighs as they worked. They came over and chuckled when they saw that study was the last thing on my mind. And finally, when Oladipo slammed home a wicked basket against the Kentucky front line, I had to get to a real television.

I packed up my books and shuffled through the December night to the girls’ dorm. There was a television lounge there, it’d have to do. It was quiet, I was the only one watching the game. I muted the volume so as not to disturb the four couples snuggling together and begrudging the lack of privacy on campus. I paid them no mind. I sunk into a couch and watched my Hoosiers battle.

Indiana led by ten, and then a nightmare slowly crept up on my dream. We missed easy lay-ins and committed fouls. Kentucky inched closer. Watford kept us in it with his timely hits and big rebounds, but they stifled Zeller, forced Jones into bad shots, and harassed Hulls into costly turnovers.

The lead was cut to seven. Then five. Then three. Then one. Back went Kentucky with the ball, Oladipo stepped out to defend, a man in blue beat Victor to the ground, the ref held the whistle, and the Wildcat put it through the hoop for the lead. Two minutes remained, and a visible air of inevitability began to seep through Assembly Hall. Resignation, worn into my soul by the years of mediocrity, took over. I began to accept that we’d lose the game, but my loyalty and the dim optimism that only a true fan can keep in such times kept me glued to the television.

On the other end, the Hoosiers played hot-potato with the ball. No one wanted to be the one to miss the big shot. Zeller took a pass on the right block and turned, but he flipped the ball out to Hulls. Hulls pumped, but pulled it back down before he let fly. The ball went to Oladipo, but Davis blocked his shot. It bounced around the players’ feet, and as the men tussled to the floor, the referee awarded possession to Indiana on a Kentucky travel. Zeller inbounded the ball, and then found Watford.

Now Christian Watford was a good player in his own right, but he was a bit of an anomaly. In a game predicated on speed, he was the slowest man on the court. Everything about him, from the way he loped, to his shot, to his demeanor all seemed to hold the grace of a wizened grandfather figure. He played a young man’s game with the cleverness of a fox, though, and when he got the ball in this moment he spun around the defender and right to the rim for a basket. Indiana led by one.

But on the other end of the floor, it seemed like the Hoosiers all went to sleep for a moment. A Kentucky player went right around Hulls and nobody stepped to help. Kentucky retook the lead. Verdell Jones held the ball for an eternity, letting the clock wind down under thirty-five seconds. Eventually, he fed Watford at the elbow. The old man spun and shot, but it clanked off iron and Davis rebounded.

Now Indiana had to foul and pray. But, by miracle or chance, the boys in blue inexplicably put the ball in the hands of Anthony Davis, their worst free-throw shooter. Zeller got to him and fouled with nineteen seconds to go. Davis missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving Indiana the ball back with a chance to go in front again!

Hulls advanced the ball past the midcourt line and Coach Crean called a timeout. I leaned on my knees and leered forward. My sweater now felt moist at the neck. My bangs stuck to the creases of my worry-wrinkles. God, this was too much. I clutched at my chest, feeling for my heart. Don’t quit on me, don’t quit on me until the end of this, damn you.

The ball went to Oladipo, he careened into the lane, he met three Kentucky defenders, spun and—

— He lost the ball…

As the ball bounced from his hands and into the arms of a Kentucky player I shut my eyes against the only outcome left. God, I didn’t want to watch… But I had to. I had to. I gathered my bag and donned my cap and got ready to head out the door. I now stood only a few feet from the television, awaiting the end, awaiting the inevitable made free throws and the missed halfcourt shot to come.

The Wildcat went to the line. The referee signaled two foul shots. The Kentuckian dribbled. He set himself. He wound up. He shot.

He missed.

The door was open. Something glimmered in the back of my brain, but I suppressed it. For too long I’d known the bitter sting of hope unfulfilled. Coach Crean called a timeout. The players huddled together one last time. They went back to their positions for the next free throw. The Wildcat went to the line. The referee signaled one shot. The Kentuckian dribbled. He set himself. He wound up. He shot. He made it. Kentucky led by two now. There were five and a half seconds left in the game.

Watford picked up the ball, inbounded to Verdell Jones. Cody Zeller set a screen, and Jones broke free! The Wildcats bore down on Verdell, pooling their effort to stop the speeding madman from making a clean run. None of them noticed the elder Watford taking his time up the court and setting up in his favorite spot beyond the three point line.

Jones slashed like a wild horse toward a Kentucky defender but suddenly reared up and tossed the ball to a waiting Watford. Watford bounced. Let go of the ball. It sailed through the air. I bit my lip and ducked my head.

The shot went through the net like a pebble in a bowl of water.

I didn’t see Watford standing with one arm in the air as the team mobbed him. I didn’t see the Kentucky players mope off the floor like a pack of beaten dogs. I didn’t see the throng of Assembly Hall storming onto the floor like a wave of ants.

I was taken up with wild whooping. “NO WAY! NO WAY! NO WAY! NO WAY! NO WAY!” I shouted over and over again. I leapt from one end of the floor to the other. I twisted my knee. I sprained my wrist when I slapped a concrete column. It must have been a sight for all those couples cuddling down there, this one man in a bright red sweater making a ruckus in a place normally as quiet as a country cellar. I didn’t care. There were four empty couches in that lounge, and I flipped over three of them before I got lightheaded and had to fall down into the fourth.

A riot took place that night. Apparently, they choked Kirkwood until the morning light came. I sure wish I’d been there. Meanwhile, I went out into the plaza of the Moody Bible Institute and danced and sang “Indiana our Indiana” for everyone to hear. I was all alone, but yet not alone. A nation danced with me that night along the banks of the Wabash.

My dad called and we cussed and hollered until our voices got hoarse. That was the last time Kentucky would come to Bloomington. We’d play them again in the NCAA tournament and lose, but they were the best team in the nation so that didn’t affect me none. We had our moment against them, and that was all I needed.

***

Hey friends, thanks for reading. If you enjoyed it, please support me by buying my book, Of Gods & Dragons, on your Kindle or FREE Kindle app on your smart devices. It’s only $2.99 or FREE with Kindle Unlimited. It’s set in beautiful Bloomington, Indiana, and those who know this town will surely enjoy it. Thanks again!

SUPPORT CHARLES HABAKKUK, BUY OF GODS & DRAGONS HERE 

Of Gods & Dragons is now live!

My new book was published a few days ago and is now live for you! You can get it for only $2.99 for your Kindle, your mobile device with the FREE Kindle app, or on Kindle E-reader for your PC.

Byron is a Christian, a husband, a seminarian, a Moon-landing enthusiast, and a liar. He’s lived for eight years with a secret too terrible to face, and he’s distracted himself with his imagination and religion to keep it from of his mind. But that secret is now coming out in snippets of insanity and a suicidal voice that has haunted him all his life. Byron must struggle against himself and God if he’s going to save his marriage, his friendships, and his own life. Of Gods & Dragons deals with sexual abuse, racism, gender issues, religion, and anti-theism. It is written through the lens of a geek struggling to re-define his faith and himself in the light of tragedies both past and present in between tabletop gaming sessions.

BUY IT HERE!