Tuesday, September 15, 2015

the last book I ever read (Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson, excerpt four)

from Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson:

When Charlie was in ninth grade, and that school offered him that academic scholarship with the matching tie and helmet, his father said, This is the end zone, son. This may be as far as football takes you. Your friends now are good kids, a few of them, that is. But most of them won’t amount to shit. I know that. You know that. His father had then steered him by the elbow to the window, where he pointed at Charlie’s friends, who had appeared as if on his father’s payroll: Rock and T-bone were posted up on the corner spitting freestyle, each with one thumb hooked on his belt loops, behind them the busted windows and the barbed wire around the school. Hell, they know that. But your friends at this new school, well, they’ll be somebodies. One might even be president one day. (Charlie had been scouted, courted, but felt like Rumpelstiltskin. When the recruiter made that home visit, he felt like a daughter being married off, like a bride-to-be who, in sight of three aunts, two grandparents, and in-laws, had agreed to marry her high school beau with whom she hadn’t even slept, not for love but only because a tour of duty felt impossibly long and probably terminal. What would he do in a school of white people? Plenty, as it turned out. As he admitted to Daron, Chase and Hunter and Preston were quick to befriend, slow to know, in short, the opposite of Cassius and Hovante and Tyrone. Charlie soon grew to like companionship without the burdens of intimacy, to no longer wonder whether to tease Hovante to cheer him up when his father was bending corners again, or to avoid teasing Cassius because it was his mother this time. And his teachers, Christ. They knew, how he didn’t know, but they knew that his father was wasting away, swarmed him with compliments, one had even said, You’re not going to be a statistic.)

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