Andrew Seaman CC
There was no reason Kyle should still be a drunk. Well, yes, biologically his father had been an alcoholic so there probably was some gene and, yes, scientifically with the way addiction worked — Miranda not being a doctor but having at least paid attention when they talked about it in school — the more you drank, the more the liquor got you and once an alcoholic, always an alcoholic, but there really was no reason for the man still to be a drunk today.
No good reason at least and most certainly not the one Kyle continued to give, yelling at the television every March as Duke’s basketball team advanced, saying they called them the Blue Devils cause they could all go straight to hell.
Kyle, you see, was from Kentucky and in 1992 — the state’s first time in the NCAA tournament after a recruitment scandal got them banned for however many years — Miranda didn’t know, Miranda didn’t care — there were these four young men: boys who could have gone anywhere to compete. But they didn’t. They’d gone to the University of Kentucky because they were from Kentucky — of Kentucky — and wanted to play for the home team. And in 1992, they were seniors. They were seniors and got one shot.
It was the shot what done it, Kyle said, Evan Williams sloshing around in his mug, as Miranda thought who drinks bourbon from a mug, why it’s even worse than those guys who put beer in coozies, then wondered not for the first time why she visited her cousin at all.
It wasn’t like she didn’t care, but what she cared about was him — not sports — and a ball game thirty years ago was a lousy excuse to drink today — Kyle screaming even louder, now pointing at the screen, mother fucking Laettner and his stupid ass shot, who the hell coulda made that?
But he had. This Duke player named Christian Laettner had shot the ball in overtime — Kentucky one point up, 2.1 seconds to go — and made it. He wasn’t even supposed to have that ball, Kyle yelled, telling the story every year: The game was over, all but over, Kyle and his sister running through the house, laughing and screaming like mad; even the baby had her face painted. Then another Duke player had thrown Laettner the ball. There were 79 feet between them, but he’d lobbed that ball hard, it’d flown full court, right into Laettner’s hands. And then he laid it up like it was nothing.
The shot went in. It went in on Kyle’s 12th birthday and that night after his mother and sisters all had gone to bed, he sat in the living room with his father — television on, turned to mute — and when he fingered the bottle, reached over not to pick it up, just to show he wanted to, Kyle’s father said I think you’re old enough now. I think you’re old enough to take your first drink.
Terena Elizabeth Bell is a fiction writer. Her debut short story collection, Tell Me What You See (Whiskey Tit), is forthcoming Holiday 2022. Her work has appeared in more than 100 publications, including The Atlantic, Playboy, MysteryTribune, and Santa Monica Review. A Sinking Fork, Kentucky native, she lives in New York. Fund future writing at buymeacoffee.com/terenabell.
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