"Oh, Doubs, that would be the best Christmas present."
"No Christmas present. Just a present from me to you. I ain't into Christmas. I ain't behind Christmas, you know?"
"What do you mean, Doubs?"
"Christmas," Double T said, sneering. "That jive white Santa Claus tellin' he be bringin' presents to all good little boys and girls. Hey, little Dickie dude, when I be growin' up, don't matter how good I be, I ain't gettin' nothin' Christmas morning. Maybe my momma gimme a toy truck or some dollar-twenty-nine rubber ball. You know? Hey, when you be poor, Christmas is the baddest day."
"I'm sorry," Dickie said. "I never thought about that. I guess I've been lucky."
"You be home Christmas?"
"No," Dickie said, dropping his head.
"So hey," Double T cried, "that puts you on my team. See now, I won't be home for Christmas, either. We got to go to Cleveland Christmas Eve so's we can play the Cavaliers for television Christmas afternoon. Is that somethin'? Now you know, I ain't married, I ain't got no children, but all the dudes on our team—hey, man, they can't even spend Christmas with their families. So you see, don't tell me about no Christmas spirit. What's the league care for my Christmas spirit if it can sell a few more tickets? Right?" He turned away. "Hey, you wanna soda, little Dickie dude?"
The boy nodded happily, and Double T went over and got two root beers out of the machine. He handed one to Dickie, and for an instant the little boy and the big man looked square at each other and smiled. It got Dickie's courage up. "Hey, Doubs," he said, "we're having a Christmas party here Christmas night. Could you come? I mean, after you get back from Cleveland?"
"Hey, man, I'd like to. I really would. But we gotta play Houston on the 27th, so we fly there from Cleveland."