"The day of
the game came around again, and Dominic was still sick. The match was postponed
again, but Jimmy was getting restless, and he said that he wouldn't be put off
again. Finally, the third time, Dominic came. He was bent over almost in half.
His back was bothering him. In that condition, he didn't stand a chance against
Jimmy, but he played, and he made such a good effort that he almost won. Jimmy
was probably the better player anyway. The whole tournament took more than a
month. I would never attempt it again."
Leo has started a
new career lately. He may be the oldest unpaid lobbyist in the country.
"We've been busy circulating a petition for a root over the courts," he
says. "In midsummer we can't play a lot because of the hot sun. We don't
want anyone to get sunstroke, so we have to be careful. We just want a roof,
open on the sides. We may have to build it ourselves, although I am not sure
how we would do it. The area around the courts is all concrete, which would
make it difficult for us to sink the poles ourselves, and the best we would
probably be able to afford for roofing would be some sort of canvas.
Green-tinted glass or plastic would be ideal. We'll see."
He wrinkles his
brow and pauses in thought, blue eyes burning straight ahead out of the
motionless skull. "I can't wait much longer," he says. "The Parks
Department doesn't do one thing on the courts. That's our job. We have men
playing in their 70s and 80s, and Silvio over there is 94. They're proud men,
and they care about winning more than money, but the most important thing for
them is just keeping up the courts and playing on them, and having someplace to
go and people to be with." He hesitates for a moment. "It's their
life," he adds rather grandly.