Read Everything That Dunks Must Converge

Read Everything That Dunks Must Converge
by Bryan Harvey

Truth & lies in Pixar's 'The Good Dinosaur'

Truth & lies in Pixar's 'The Good Dinosaur'
by Bryan Harvey

Previewing the ACC-Big Ten Challenge

Previewing the ACC-Big Ten Challenge
by Brendan Brody

To their own devices: Pablo Larrain's 'The Club'

To their own devices: Pablo Larrain's 'The Club'
by Bryan Harvey

"Rooftops": Lakers Take Game 5 against the Thunder

April 28, 2010

Seeing as how the Lakers rolled over the Thunder in Game 5 and Durant went 5 of 14 from the field, it feels like a good time to continue with the Detective Durant narrative, as inspired by some of Edward Hopper's painting "Rooftops."

rooftops-edward-hopperDetective Westbrook uses the tip of a ball point pen to scrape dried dog shit from off his shoe's sole.  He goes about the process with a deliberate patience, much like a dentist or an archaeologist, as if the rubber he's unearthing might be valuable.  He props his left leg over his right in a manner that suggests he's used to waiting in places that cause most people to tighten like rubber bands stretched around too much paper.  After a time, Westbrook notices that his scraping motion is in sync with the waiting room clock's second hand.  This mechanical choreography makes Westbrook uncomfortable.  He stops, puts the pen in his coat pocket, and uncrosses his legs.  At first, he appears to not know where his hands should be placed, so he stands and walks past the elevator to the water fountain.  He leans down and takes a sip.  The water tastes of metal.  He wonders about its lead content and then pivots back toward the green chair he recently abandoned.

As Detective Westbrook reaches the elevator, it opens and a nurse steps out to clear the hallway.  As the other nurses and one doctor push the gurney out the elevator, the back wheel catches on the edge of the door, halting its momentum, prompting the doctor to growl, "Damn it, Nurse Kirilenko, watch where you're going!  This man has slim line to walk without us banging him into doorways."  As they pass, Westbrook notices the name "Mehmet Okur" on the doctor's clipboard.  He looks down at Mehmet's face, with its eyes open and still like saucers.  Mehmet's pupils are faint drops of coffee, barely discernible, almost as if they are staring inward and not out.  The sight of them makes Westbrook ponder his partner's eyes as they looked up at him from a pile of loose bricks.  Were Kevin's pupils that faint?  No, Kevin's pupils were dark and dilated, not squinting to see some inner light.  No, Kevin was in much better shape than this Mehmet character.  Westbrook returns to his chair, crosses his arms, and uncrosses them, watching the clock contemplating the finiteness of coffee cups and heart beats.

Detective Durant went  into the brownstone alone.  He told Westbrook to circle around back and watch for anyone coming or going, and Westbrook did just that.  Westbrook waited outside the row of houses, that leaned and stumbled into each other like drunken lovers on a brisk ferry ride, watching the dark windows and door, wanting to light a cigarette but knowing that to do so might get Kevin killed.  This case had taken up five months of their lives, almost half a year, and not once had they been this close to apprehending their suspect, a man that the rest of the department referred to as a shadow, an obscurity no one notices until it's all around you, like the blackness of night.  Most of their suspect's victims were found with their throats slit and a profound smile on their faces, as if in death their white teeth were a sliver of moon.

The thought of the last body they'd found, a huge man with a huge smile, named Dwight Howard, crept into Westbrook's mind and a chill came over him.   If this shadow could slay a behemoth like Howard, then what chance did his matchstick partner have?  Westbrook drew his gun and headed for the back door.  He fumbled with the doorknob, which was locked, and was about to kick the door  open, his leg already raised, when he heard a window open from above and a gun shot.

Westbrook backpedaled, almost tripping over the curb.  Above him, a body slithered onto the rooftop, hoisting itself up using the brownstone's chimney.  A brick came loose just as the body stood up on the roof and fell three stories, landing about ten feet or so in front of Westbrook.  Westbrook searched the line of the rooftop for the shadowy snake, but saw nothing except for the outline of the chimney.

"Russell, you still out there, man?"

"Yeah, Kevin, he's on the roof!"

"You gotta line on him?"

"If he moves at all from behind that chimney, he's a dead man."

"You hear that, Black Mamba?  There ain't no where to go."  Silence.

Westbrook wasn't sure what the best move from here might be.  The Black Mamba could not come out from behind that chimney to run from one rooftop to another without risking getting shot, and, if he jumped off the front, there were two patrol cars blocking off the road.  He had nowhere to go.  The only question was how long the man could wait up on the roof.  Westbrook envisioned the next day, around noon, and how hot the sun would be.  This was it.  The line was drawn.

Westbrook watched the framework of the chimney, like a cat waiting in the high grasses for its prey.  He imagined the Black Mamba on the other side of the chimney's brick walls staring back at him the way cobras stare through glass plates at the zoo, hissing at all the children who slap the window, smearing their dirty fingerprints all over it.
Durant reached his hand up from the window and slapped the gutter, gave it a tug, found it sturdy, and began pulling his body up onto the roof, pushing against the window sill with his legs.  Durant's decision to act, to poke the cobra inside its basket, was greeted with a grating sound.  Westbrook could see the bricks sliding like the slow quiver of a mirage.

"Kevin, man, those bricks are movin!'"

Durant's foot slipped on the sill; he was not hanging off the gutter by only his arms, no support.

"I'm not the Black Mamba!" screamed the chimney, "I'M RON ARTEST!"

A cascade of bricks emphasized this exclamatory statement, raining down like chunks of hail around Durant.  The gutter gave way from the onslaught, and Westbrook watched his partner fall three stories, landing on the ground underneath a pile of rubble.  Westbrook rushed to the pile and began heaving bricks off Durant's body, yelling a combination of pleas for help and threats at life: "Help!  Man down!  Help us!  You bastard!  You fuckin' bastard!  Help us!"  Westbrook yelled until his syllables became inaudible.

"We'll get him, Russ," whispered Durant.  "I ain't dead, just down."  The look in Durant's eyes was as infinite as the night.  If Westbrook was more religious, he would have thought that Durant must have seen something in his fall, that here was a man becoming the same thing he hunted, but Westbrook dismissed these ideas, closed his eyes, and fell silent as a stone.  Durant's eyes, however, were open wide.

This post originally appeared at The Faster Times on April 20, 2010, when the Lakers were ahead in the series 2-0.


Post a Comment


© 2008-2010 ·The Lawn Chair Boys by TNB