Jackson’s in stop-and-go traffic on Dorchester Avenue with Darius in the back. They’re on their way to the chicken place, both of them regretting the lost opportunity to buy season tickets when Danny Ainge grabbed the last leg of the Big Three and all the good seats got taken.“Yeah, my buddy had four spots in the second row behind the basket, just waiting for my go-ahead to click Purchase. Right there. Where the players fall into the cameras,” Darius says.
“And over where the cheerleaders sit,” Jackson adds.
“Indeed. Over where the cheerleaders sit.”
They laugh and then they both ride quietly for a while. Jackson turns up the XM station he’s floating through a weak frequency in the car radio, and sees his passenger in the rearview mirror, nodding out the beat pensively to Sir Mix-a-Lot.
“Now that the Celtics be winning, nobody’s lettin’ go of that gravy,” Jackson muses.
“I’d rather watch games at home, you know, Jacks? I can do without all the distraction.”
“The T-shirt cannon, the dance cam, the whole Jumbotron in general. You know what I’m sayin’?”
“The fanfare,” Jackson sums up his customer’s point.
“Yeah, the fanfare. The flashing lights, the kids everywhere, the leprechaun on the trampoline.”
“Yeah, what’s with the leprechaun? That’s some racist shit.”
“I know, huh? Lucky.”
“Riiiiiight. Lucky the Leprechaun.”
“Crazy-ass white people.”
“Oh yeah!” Jackson says when the next song comes on the radio, and turns it up. Both men jump in from the beginning, phrasing fast and wordy, spreading out the cluttered parts to prove they know them, then trailing off on the rest.
Mary Clark has an MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa, and has published poems and stories in Ploughshares, Iowa Review, Fiction, and other journals. She recently completed a novel about race, love, addiction, and urban renewal that takes place in Cambridge, Massachusetts. “Many of the Men” borrows from an early chapter of that manuscript.