"Ok, let's get a game of rough house going," Tamir says as he dribbles the ball out onto the chipped up concrete court to make a layup. "Hold up, I called you over to let ya’ll know how business is gonna work. Afterward, we can hoop it up for a little" Tim said as he casually strolled over to the gray metal bleachers to take a seat. "Ya'll come on over here" he shouts, then leans over to Stacy, who is seated alongside him. "Hey, why don't you go shoot around for a little bit while I handle business real quick, Is that cool?" He strips the ball out of Tamir's hands who had dribbled up next to him and passes it to Stacy. "Yeah, that's cool just don't keep me over here too long by myself, "she says with the ball in hand as she starts dribbling up the court towards the basket. “Remember it's all about form, the flick of the wrist,” Tim says." Stacy makes a layup and yell's back "Yeah, uh, okay that's great advice" in a sarcastic, playful voice. Tim laughs, then turns his attention to his friends who are all now seated on the bleachers “Okay fellas I just want to cover a few things before we go down to the dealership". All of a sudden loud music is heard blasting from a late 80's model black Honda Accord, that’s fast approaching the parking area near the basketball court. "Hey, yall hold up," Tim says getting up from the bleachers Rick, Marshall, and Tamir follow suit. Somehow he sensed there was trouble brewing as he carefully watches the car come to an abrupt stop slightly hitting the curb. The music was still blaring, without delay out steps Darius on the passenger side, throwing both arms in the air, then slams the door shut. However, in the distance a white Ford Taurus is slowly approaching the parking lot area as well. "So what's up now punk? Ain't no security out here!" Darius yells from the car as he walks around the car to the trunk which is now open. "Oh boy, here we go again!" Rick says while pounding his fist against each other. Marshall and Tamir start cracking their knuckles in preparation for the ensuing battle that's about to take place. Stacy, who was down at the other end of the court, hears the shouting and heads back over to the bleachers where Tim and the guys are standing. Tim is staring straight ahead in Darius's direction Stacy positions herself directly in his view. "Hey, listen it's so not worth fighting I'm not the least bit interested in him and never will be, let's just go." Tim looks down into her lovely green eyes "Stacy, somethings are worth fighting for" he moves her gently to the side heading toward the car. He realized that sounded like a cool line that she would always remember if he subsequently got beat to death. He was by no means ready to face Darius at least this soon. The main question going through his mind was how did he know he would be at C.L.P? "Let's do this! You want more than a busted lip this time I see" he yells while moving closer. Then four other guys about the same height and weight of Darius, step out the Accord, one with a bat in hand. Meanwhile, the Taurus had pulled up and parked. Tim immediately started to rethink his last statement loudly in his mind. "Man, this guy is way too upset about getting a busted lip sheesh! God, if you can hear me, I could certainly use your help right now" he prayed inwardly. At this moment in time, there was only 500 feet between the two opposing forces. Tim's feet were leading him almost involuntarily yet he did not want to look like a punk by stopping the forward movement. Nonetheless he quickly turns his head to the left, then the right making sure his crew were with him. They were, Darius and his boys are forging ahead looking like a swat team dressed in all black from head to toe. In like manner, Tim and his crew advance forward until they are but inches from being face to face. Then the white door of the Taurus opens and a boisterous voice yells. "Hey, what are you boys doing over there" it was Pastor Ron, who works as a corrections officer by day, dressed in full uniform. He had just left his house going toward the direction of the park when he felt compelled to follow the black Accord. Without regard to his own safety, walks fearlessly right in the middle of the standoff, towering over them all. He was a professionally trained in Krav Maga an Israeli self-defense, which incorporates several other forms of martial arts all in one. Conversely, it also helped that he stood 6'8 and weighed 275lbs of sheer muscle. "Is there a problem here Tim? What ya'll doing here? I know you have somewhere better to be right now?” Pastor Ron said firmly with his deep booming voice. "Surely, there is a God," Tim said to himself. Darius, visibly upset, shaking his head, pacing back and forth in the middle of the basketball court. "Naw man, he's right where he needs to be to get his teeth knocked down his throat!" he says sharply to Pastor Ron. Pastor Ron squints his eyes, zeroing in on Darius's face. "Hey, wait, aren't you Darius Bartholomew Jones?" he asked as he gets directly in his face. Rick, Marshall, and Tamir burst into laughter. "Bartholomew?" Tamir says, "What kind of a name is that?" Darius is now heated like a tea kettle ready to whistle "Yo, who are you? And why are you trying to play me man" looking mad enough to bite Pastor Ron's head off if it were possible. Pastor Ron moves so close to Darius's face, he could probably detect every piece of food he had eaten for lunch. "I'm somebody that knows your momma, where you live and what goes on in that house. I also know you're that your brother Marcus is locked up in my jail. So, let's just assume I know more about you than you would like me to know. And while I'm making assumptions, I suppose you guys came to play basketball along with a little baseball it appears, based on that bat! Oh, and wait, my last assumption is that if you know what's best for you, you better get out of here now!” Darius is furious but steps back slowly with so much anger in his eyes that if looks could kill, both Tim and Pastor Ron would be dead. All things considered, the consequences of challenging Pastor Ron to a duel would not be in his best interest, as he turns to his friends. "Y'all, let's go! He looks at Tim "It still ain't over church boy, next time, you gonna need Jesus himself to save you, not your Pastor!" Pastor Ron still standing in the middle of the circle which he has now broken up says "You still here? And, um, Batman aka Jerome Brooks, (the holder of the baseball bat) your license is suspended good luck getting home. I don't want to see you guys on this side of town anymore". The guys disperse as fast as possible Jerome looks at Darius "Man, I better not get pulled over coming out here to beat this dude down, that's all I'm sayin'. You know I'm riding dirty, got me coming over here for your little stupid beef with this dude." In a matter of fact way implying that Darius would have to deal with another fight on his hands but this fight would involve Jerome.
Straightaway, Darius and his crew drove off so fast they left burnt rubber marks in the in the pavement. As a result, Tim and his friends were standing in the middle of the basketball court with Pastor Ron. "Hey, why don't you guys split as well? It's no need to stay up here today. Stacy, tell your dad, I'll stop by tomorrow with the truck so we can go get that washing machine he's been asking about. By the way do you need a ride?" He says as the crew begins to walk back the same path in which they came. Pastor Ron extends his massive arm grabbing Tim by the shoulder pulling him into what looked like a one arm bear hug. Without hesitation, Tamir quickly answers Pastor Ron's question directed toward Stacy just when she was about to speak. "Nah, she's cool, I mean, I'll make sure she gets back safely sir.” Pastor Ron looks at Tamir confused as to why he’s answering for Stacy but nonetheless skeptically responds "Is that okay with you? I need to have a little talk with Mr. Tim here". "Yeah, I'll be fine Pastor but thanks though, I'll tell my dad about the washing machine,” she said. At that point Pastor Ron smiles at her then begins walking to his car signaling for Tim to follow him over “Hop in son" he said. Tim is apprehensive at first, but reluctantly walks toward the car. He would much rather walk back with his friends, especially Stacy. All of a sudden Tim stops in his tracks and yells."I can't ride back with you, I almost forgot I rode my bike over here” he said hoping the excuse would provide him a way out of the ride home. "Oh no worries, that bike will fit perfectly in the back seat, it's only a little BMX, not a big ol 10 speed!" Pastor Ron says sensing Tim was looking for an excuse to deny the ride. Realizing no reason will suffice Tim decides to stop making excuses and accept the ride back. Thinking to himself “How bad could it be?” He runs back to the court gets on his bike and rides back toward the car jumping off the small curb, then puts the bike in the back seat. With the bike barely squeezing inside he closes the back door then gets in the front seat and closes the door. Not wasting any time Pastor immediately starts a conversation "So, tell me, what are you into these days? I haven't seen you down at the church in about a year's time. What? Does my breath stink or something? Is that what's been keeping you away?” Tim almost lets out a laugh. For those who knew Pastor Ron on a personal level they know he has a great sense of humor and a big heart. Luckily for Tim he knew the real side of Pastor because on the outside looking in, the pastor could be seen as a tremendous threat to any opposition. Three years ago when Tim's parents' divorce was finalized and Loretta took off to Arizona with his sister, his dad started going to the Lux Lounge after getting off work. He would often use the excuse that he was working late Tim knew the car dealership was not open past midnight. During this time, Robinson met and jumped feet first into a serious relationship with Sunny, who began to occupy all of his free time. The reality was that he was trying to get his mind off of his divorce by continually staying on the go. Pastor Ron was a good friend of Stacy's dad Johnny they had grown up together in the neighborhood before he moved south. He would usually visit their house around 10 pm to have Bible study with Johnny, who is housebound due to an undisclosed illness. Often times leaving after midnight while driving down the block Pastor Ron would notice Tim on the front steps. He would be on the steps in his chair with the game light reflecting on his face. The truth is he would be out there playing handheld game system for hours. Being the kind of guy Pastor, Ron is after seeing this scene play out 3 times in a row he became curious and pulled in the driveway one night to introduce himself. He asked if his parents were home, without hesitation Tim lied. He feared he would get taken away to child protective services, considering he was a minor being left alone in the house. Pastor Ron seemed to always know when Tim is not being truthful but, he also knew how to get the answers he needed anyway. He invited Tim along with his parents out to service two blocks away on Florence Ave. He also let him know that even if his parents couldn't come the church doors were always open. It just so happens Robinson and Sunny went away on a three-week cruise. His dad was so caught up in the planning and shopping for the cruise he neglected to stock the house with food. At first Tim was unconcerned but after virtually depleting his savings, he finally broke down and decided to go check to the church to get something to eat. As it turned out, he discovered he enjoyed the going to the church. From that point on Tim would start to come on a regular basis, initially because they would serve an incredible breakfast. The spread included Mama Rose's homemade blueberry biscuits topped with butter, which would just melt in your mouth. Secondly, because he found some great new friends to hang with. And lastly, it helped him get an understanding of how to pray and the purpose of it. "No, pastor, you breath doesn't stink. I've just been chilling, working and getting ready to start working even more" as he reclines his seat as far back as possible. "You know Tim, there's one thing I can always say about you man, you always had a good head on your shoulder. I can't front either, we miss you down at the church. You just up and disappeared on us". Pastor Ron is purposely driving slowly to maximize the rare opportunity to speak with him. Meanwhile, Tim, is reclined in the passenger seat looking out the window silently watching the houses go by. Then he notices Pastor Ron makes a left onto Florence, which leads down to the church. Nonetheless, he chose not to make mention of it. "Yeah man you know it's so funny running into you like that today. I was driving through the neighborhood and I saw those guys driving crazy fast, then I noticed one fool had the bat visible from the passenger side window. So me being me, I said I should probably follow these knuckle heads to see what was going on. And low and behold, I find you, I assume that the bat was for you, am I right?" Pastor Ron says as he looks over at Tim laying back still looking out the window. Tim responds in a very nonchalant manner "I guess it looked that way, but I was just coming to hang out with my friends. By the way, we passed my house". Pastor Ron continues down the road to his intended destination before speaking again. "Oh, yeah? I did, didn't I? My bad, I just thought it would be good for you to see some of your other friends. That's not a problem is it?" He said is a low tone. As cool as Tim wanted to appear he knew the truth was he was thankful to God the Pastor showed up when he did. Not for nothing seeing his other set of friends would be refreshing, as there was no pressure to live up to anyone’s expectations.
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