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"You know, you're leaving the Rapids."
"Oh yeah. I forgot. Next Christmas, I be in some big city that showcases me. So you and me has got to find some hospital in New York or Ellay, right? Hey, you can come stay at my new pad."
"I'd rather you stay in Fort Zack, Doubs," Dickie said. "Why do you have to leave here?"
Double T crumpled his empty root beer can. "You sound like the damn media," he snorted.
Dickie ducked his head. "I didn't mean it, Doubs."
"Hey, I know. But you gonna find out—you gotta look out for number one. Just you look at my stats. I'm due as much as the Doctor, as much as Kareem, as much as any sucker. Man, I don't want to stagnate here. You know?"
"It's just that we love you so here, Doubs," Dickie said. "You mean so much to Fort Zachary. I wish you counted that, too."
Double T came over, and this time he rested his hand on the little boy's shoulder. "Hey, I 'predate what you're say-in'. There be some nice folks here. But mostly I just hear the man's jive. You understand? Just like Christmas. All jive. They say, be a good boy, Santa bring you presents. But he didn't bring me nothin'. And they say, be a good boy and stay on the team and we'll give you presents. Be a part of this community. Don't go jumpin' for the money. Ever'body say that to Double T. But wasn't nobody sayin' that to Midwest Steel when it just up and took itself outta Fort Zachary. And old Uncle Sam hisself. He just close up Wiley Air Force Base and send all them dudes and all that bread down to Arizona. And my man Sanford Parker—you don't think he'd move the Rapids in a minute if he thought he could make a dollar-ninety-five more? Shooot. And ever'body just keep yellin' at old Double T. You understand?" Dickie nodded.
The door opened and Bevo D'Angelo stuck his head in just long enough to tell Double T the X rays were ready.
"O.K., little Dickie dude, gotta go," Double T said. "I'll bring you that ball tomorrow night." He waved at the boy and Dickie waved back with his free arm, and Double T went out the door.