The father sits on his favorite couch. Every father should have a favorite couch. Louis Ford has delivered the mail for another day on the streets of Cambridge, Mass., and his walking shoes have been replaced by slippers. Home again. He is a tiny man with a spike of gray hair under his lower lip. He smokes a cigarette, relaxes. He is still dressed in his blue U.S. Postal Service uniform. The story begins at the end.
"Little Louis had to go to the bathroom," says the father.
Little Louis nods in agreement. He is seven years old and has eyes the size of golf balls. He lies at the foot of the couch, looking up at Dad. He has heard the story a few hundred times, but he does not mind hearing it again. Does not mind at all.
"Three seconds to go," says the father. "Rumeal is on the foul line for the national championship....
" 'Daddy, I got to pee.' "
The adopted twins, Tyrone and Ernie, are in another room. They, too, are seven years old. The father sometimes calls them Bert and Ernie. He also calls them the Devil and the Devil's Advocate. They are playing some kind of game. Their arguments can be heard in the distance. Christine, 14, is lying on the floor next to Little Louis. She also does not mind hearing the story again.
"So what can I do?" says the father. "I take Little Louis by the hand, and we go out through the exit. We hurry to the men's room. On the way, though, I see a television monitor. Se-ton Hall has called a timeout to try to make Rumeal nervous. We go to the bathroom. Seton Hall has called another timeout. We get Little Louis zipped up and we hurry back. Little Louis runs to the seat, and I'm just standing there in the exit. I see the first shot. I see the second shot. I see it all. Don't miss a thing."
Let's see. Melvin, 19, is playing basketball somewhere. Donald, 24, is out, but he had better trim those bushes in the front yard soon if he knows what's good for him. Randy, 18, out of high school last spring, is traveling, figuring out what his next step in life should be. Helen, the mother, moves back and forth between the living room and kitchen. Rumeal is back at Michigan.
That's Rumeal Robinson. His picture is on the wall next to the couch. It's a poster, really, a shot of him celebrating the grand moment when the game and the 1989 NCAA championship were won. A videotape of the entire final—Michigan 80, Seton Hall 79—is in the pile of tapes next to the TV. Helen has not watched it very often because she cries every time.
"That was the final blessing," says Louis, lost in the reminiscence. "I took Little Louis to the bathroom, and I still got to see those foul shots."