The Dedicated Follower

It’s strawberry season again. The Boys’ Final unfolds on the Graveyard Court. The prima donna fist-pumps of these proto-pros mimic what the men will be showing each other now. My lens elucidates the boys’ gestures. If either reaches that real Final someday, these images will prove the swagger that was in him all along.

Above, guarded by rust-tipped ivy, Centre Court’s scoreboard tells the statistics of today’s main event. My man is inside the Cathedral of Tennis, chasing immortality. The loaded and the lucky see what I can only calculate. Heated roars rise out. Millions watch at home. Blind, I must stay near-at-hand.

Onwards. Fans droop, parched, in Court Two’s brand-new grassy well, gazing rapt upon screens made ghostly by sunlight. Fifth set; fifth hour: a sweaty joust with weapons of graphite and guts, hold after hold. It will end soon, won’t it? Do I stay, or watch it later, maybe? Not flame incandescently alive in the moment when he wins, which he must? Avoid the jubilation if he fails? Nobody waits outside the Clubhouse yet; crowds will pour towards it when only applause and speeches are left to play out. I could go, wait at the front and capture the Cup in the Champion’s grasp.

Taking that lonely spot, I can’t see the score. I should have had a fancy phone for that.

I know there is a winner now, but all applause sounds the same.

People chatter, bodies press. I shut them out, praying. Someone emerges to salute the worshippers. I frame the trophy in his famous hands. It gleams against his whites. On it, I know, it says: The Single Handed Championship of the World. It is hard to be bitter when the man looks so happy, but I am. I have my perfect shot, perfectly unwanted.

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