I would rather
not describe the rest of that game. Father made three straight double faults,
during which time his racket contacted the ball only once. At the end of the
game he asked Mr. Brock if he could have time to go home and get his glasses.
He could not take his car, but he would get a bus and be back in an hour or so.
"Well, harrumph, eh, well now," said Mr. Brock. "We'll have to ask
the tournament director."
We led Father to
Mr. Sedgwick, who announced cheerfully: "The rules are the rules, Mr.
Rhoades. If you went home to get another pair of glasses you would, in effect,
be taking a rest period. This tournament is a test of stamina as well as
chimed in Mr. Brock, "I think you're being a little harsh, Mr.
Sedgwick," but he had to say this over his shoulder, as he was already
rushing back to the court to serve.
The rest was
silence. Father chased imaginary balls all over the court but seldom came to
grips with the real one. It was not uncommon to see poor Charley, putting up a
valiant struggle to win it singlehandedly, returning a ball in the forecourt
while Father was swiping at an illusion in the backcourt. Once Father said,
"C'mon, Larry, serve the ball," whereupon Charley said gently: "He
already aced you, Father."
The Brocks won
6-4, and Charley and I led Father to the bus stop. Nobody spoke for a long
time. Then Father said softly: "Boys, I want to apologize to you."
"Apologize?" I said.
know that I'm not a deeply religious man," Father went on, his reddened
eyes focused somewhere above and beyond Charley and me. "But there was
something about the way we lost that makes a fellow wonder. I mean, we went
into that tournament with a very unchristian attitude, and we got—well, we got
I said, "You
don't mean you think that God—"
"I just mean
to say that we went out there to humiliate the Brocks, right? We planned it all
summer, right? And were we acting for good reasons, or bad? Bad! And we got
what was coming to us. My fault. All my fault. I'm proud of you, Charley, but
I'm ashamed of myself."
good losers, Father," Charley said.