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A Season in Green Hills


By

J.V. Rosario

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For Mindy with all the love there is!

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Table of Content

Chapter I
My Dream, My Nightmare!
Page 6

Chapter II
Green Hills
Page 50

Chapter III
Would you teach me . . .?
Page 72

Chapter IV
School Is Cool, But Basketball Is Great!
Page 138

Chapter V
Holidays

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Page 152

Chapter VI
Lake Highland Highs and Luther Lows
Page 247

Chapter VII
Spring Break
Page 261

Chapter VIIII
Why?
Page 447

Chapter IX
Death due us apart . . .
Page 499

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A Season In Green Hills‟

Chapter I

1
The whole thing of the horse looked very natural to
me, when I know that I had never ridden one in my entered
life. As I ride, a strong wind was blowing on my face and the
water was splashing my clothes; the sea was rough. A storm
was approaching to shore. And I was pestering a horse on a
long sandy beach that I had never put eyes on before.
To all these, I was after someone who was riding
another animal in front of me, but far in the distance.
However, it was hard to see who this kid was. The wind was
picking up and the waves were getting bigger by the second.
After a brief fight with the win and the waves I blared a
name to the young person, I wanted him to stop. A gut
feeling was telling me that I knew this boy; we were related
in some way. And in a strange way I knew that something
was going to happen to him. Yet, the sea was rougher and
my horse was frightened with the conditions, so I stopped the
animal. To see what was in front of me was almost

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impossible; everything was getting darker. I shouted out the


boy‟s name but he vanished between darkness, the waves
and the wind.
Then out of the sudden a lightning bolt hit the water
and I could distinguish the boy‟s horse rose on its two back
legs. The animal dropped its rider. I howled the name of the
boy again this time I was scared of the out come. However,
as it always happens I woke up in that same moment.

It was the same dream again, the same vision that I


have since I was a young boy. The difference this time was
that I woke up inside an airplane. I was returning from my
father‟s burial after five days in the island. It was midnight,
and the only thing I had in my mind was to get a good night
sleep. I didn‟t think about him or my mother at that time. She
was going to be alone for the first time in her life after
forty-two years of marriage.
By the time I got to my place the rain covered the
city streets, making them looked as if mirrors were on the
ground reflecting the streets‟ lights. Most of the lights inside
the small boxes that shaped the apartment complex were out;
as if everyone knew where I was coming from, and they

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were mourning with me.


I got out of my car, and then moved to pick my mail
in front of the two stories rectangular structure that I used as
living quarters. The mailbox was full of junk mail, a
magazine and a letter from the HRS office in Robinson St.
In a way this communication stimulated me, because I was
expecting to receive a job offer at any moment. I moved to
that Magic city with the hope of getting a job. I was looking
for something to turn around my life. However, the letter
told me that they filled the position with another candidate.
When I opened the door, I dropped my bags on the
floor and jumped on bed, I was too tired to care about going
to bed dress. Then my dream came to me as if they required
it to have the same vision repeatedly. What does that
sequence of events mean? I did not know, but it was always
there like a companion the can fright me at times.
Then, something else happened that night; it was the
strangest thing that I ever experienced. I opened my eyes in
the middle of the night and I thought I saw someone was
standing by my bed; the image was contemplating me and
smiling with a familiar gesture. I tried to focus my eyes to

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see who or what was there, but in a matter of a second it


vanished.
The following morning I woke up believing that
everything was a new element of my recurring nightmare; I
thought that my father‟s memory triggered that respond. I
fixed my sigh on the bedroom ceiling and recounted the last
seventy-two hours of my life. I analyzed the actual situation;
I needed to get a job soon. The money was getting short with
every day that past, and I was getting bored of the waiting
for something to happen.
I decided to get my life going, so around ten o‟clock I
got out of my chambers. During the last three months I
looked for work all around the city without any luck. So I
went out of the apartment to buy me the newspaper; a source
of employment ads was the Sunday edition of the Orlando
Sentinel. So it was a ritual for me to get to the laundry room
and put two coins in the newspaper stand.
The employment section of the daily paper gave me a
large selection of jobs. And when I was walking back inside
my room, I found it. There it was in the middle of the page
crying for my attention, the ad that I was seeking:

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A Season In Green Hills‟

“Teachers/Coach: Private school looking


A certified P. E. Teacher & Coach, call 854-2516”

The moment that I opened my apartment door after I


read the ad, I began to walk like a tiger in a cage, saying to
myself; “This is it!” Something inside me was telling me
that this job was for me. But, it was Sunday and the school
was closed. I wanted to call immediately the phone number
in the ad to find out where this place was. So, I took the
Yellow Pages and began digging for the number given in the
newspaper.
The yellow pages‟ schools section was full of
different private institutions and academies. However, it
didn‟t take me long to find the name of the school. There it
was, the school name, displaying on the page in front of my
eyes. Green Hills‟ Academy echoed to me as a sophisticated
place, like one of those rich neighborhoods in the movies.
The next step was to find the way to Green Hills, so I could
go in person to ask for the teaching position.

On Monday morning I went to my landlord‟s office

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to ask the woman in charge if she knew where the


sophisticated place was. She picked up the phone and
handed it to me, and let me asked myself to the female voice
that answered the phone. The young lady in the other side of
the dial informed me that the school was between Lake
Helen and Deltona, on I-4 highway, North of Orlando.
Finding it was going to be easy. So, that same morning I
took another challenging experience, I was to find Green
Hills‟ Academy.
The driving took me about thirty minutes. The
distance between Kirkman Rd., where my apartment was, to
the Volusia County borderline, where the Town of Green
Hills was located, was about fifteen miles. However, I made
it in more time. I did not want to get lost.
My first impression of the place became an odd one. I
did not know whether the Town was the school or the school
was the town. I was expecting a town that when you go
through, you did not know whether you cross it or no. Green
Hills‟ was a different case; an immense school was in the
middle of downtown. The school structures could easily be
confused with the City Hall Buildings. Until that point I
didn‟t know that the academy was a boarding school. I

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stopped my car on the middle-of-the-road to say to myself;


“This is too good to be true!”
The beauty of the place enchanted me. The Spanish
traditional style buildings were painted in bone-white. There
were red roof tiles, columns and arches on their balconies,
which marked the architectural tradition of the eight
structures. The facilities were identified with the names of
some important people for the school, with exception of the
Chapel, which impressed me as an Old Russian Orthodox
Church. In the center of the campus a bell tower stood five
stories high, similar in fashion to the rest of the school
structures. The school landscape was well conserved there
were magnolia and palm trees all over the place with
benches under them. All these gave me the hunch that the
school owners cared for its appearance.
I paused to think for a second. There wasn‟t traffic in
either direction on that main road. At that point a sensation
of deja-vu fell on me, mixed at the same time with a
frightened thought. It was as if I had been in this place
before. I sighed deep into my lungs and turned my car‟s
staring wheel to park in front of the main building.

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As I stepped out of the vehicle, I felt the heat of the


summer sun on my shoulders. This put me into the real
world; the place was as real as the sun heat on my body.
Inside the lobby there was a young woman sitting
inside a wooden rectangular counter. She didn‟t work for the
school, as me she was also applying for a job; maybe the
same one I was going too. The young woman was tall and
attractive, but her face reflected that she recently graduated
from college. In that instant a man came to talk to her, and
pointed at something on the lady‟s papers. I thought that she
was filling an application. The man glanced at me when he
was over her and said something that I didn‟t comprehend.
“Par‟ me,” I said.
“Are you here for an application?” he repeated.
“Yes, I am,” I declared.
“Wait just one minute, and I‟ll give you one,” he
said. “I don‟t think that we‟re going to have time for another
interview today.”
“That‟s fine,” I answered. My expectations weren‟t
that high then; I was there to ask for the position. I wasn‟t
pretending to get an interview the same day.
I sat on a lobby‟s chair while the man conducted an

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inquiry with the young woman in his office. From there I


heard all the questions that he was going to ask me.
As I waited in the lobby, I took time to observe the
surroundings of the relative large room. It was full with
trophies, team pictures and plaques of the different
championships that the school was involved during the years.
Green Hills‟ was a sport-oriented high school since its
creation, back in 1917, the year my father was born. Also,
on the walls there were paintings of the former Academy
Presidents. The awards were in four large glass Windows
cases that circled the gray and red room. The light in the
chamber was poor; it was coming mainly from the sun
throughout the two glass doors. This made the domicile
looked dark and in a way cold.
I lingered for a half-hour for the young woman to
come out of the man‟s office. She smiled at me when she
left the room, and told me to have good fortune. Then, the
man walked out of his office, with a paper in his hands.
“Hi! I‟m Edward Milano,” he said. “How do you
do?”
“Find, thank you!” I responded while we shook

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hands. “I‟m Anthony, Anthony Ferrer.” I altered my name,


my parents baptized me as Antonio, but I figured out at that
point that I was known in America and that I needed a
change.
“You have an accent,” he said.
“Yes, I‟m Porto Rican.”
“Really? We have another teacher from your island,”
the Mr. Milano said. He tried to be friendly. “Dr. Walden
has time for you, this afternoon. He‟s school president,” he
asserted as he pointed at one the pictures on the wall. I
thought that he gave for fact that I knew the man on the
picture. “He‟ll have time for you, before he leaves to
Orlando. Can you come at 1:00?”
“I‟ll be here at one,” I declared.
“That‟s perfect! I‟ll see then.”
“I‟ve my resume with me if you want it now,” I said.
“You can leave it with me,” Milano answered.
“Here‟s the application. You can fill it in the conference
room,” he pointed to a door in the corridor.
I ended filling the form in a big conference table in
the room next to his office. After I finished with the
document, I returned it to him and headed back home.

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In my journey home I reflected about the man.


Initially, I thought that he most had Latin blood in his veins,
because his eyes and hair were black. He wasn‟t an
attractive person, his nose was gigantic and youth acne
scared his face. His manners let me to believe that there was
something unusual with him. Later, I discovered that he was
a bachelor that worked for the academy for about twenty
years. As I remembered him now, I never saw him without a
white shirt and a dark tie. It was as if time made a stop for
him in the late fifties; as if he were part of a Dragnet episode.
As I drove back to Kirkman Road, I thought that I
needed a haircut and a shave, and in what to wear for the
meeting. I didn‟t want to let a bad first impression to the
famous Dr. Matthew Walden. A feeling of security and
control befell over me. There was something more than
having an interview for a job; it was the desire of capturing
my goals.

Dr. Matthew Walden was a man that struck me as a

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hard liner from the beginning, a man that doesn‟t lie and talk
straight to you all the time. He was in his late fifties or his
early sixties; his physical appearance was heavy and strong.
His facial expressions were hard to tell because the light was
coming from a large window behind him. His voice had a
sturdy southern accent that made it sometime laborious to
understand him.
On his desk there were pictures of his wife and
daughters. The walls in his office were cover with all types
of trophies and diplomas, the typical things in an executive‟s
office. The room had a dirty red carpet, and the walls were
cover with plywood panels, painted in mahogany. His desk
was in the same dark color, and it was an early
twenty-century vogue.
Apparently, Dr. Walden was using an old approach,
the intimidation task, but I wasn‟t buying his representation.
Milano, who sat beside me in front of the desk, observed
Walden with a light on his face, as if God were speaking
from the other side of the desk.
The two men asked all kinds of questions about my
past experience as coach, and teacher. It looked to me at that
time that they value more my coaching experience than my

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teaching. For them the athletic program came first than the
academics.
“Can you coach volleyball?” Milano asked me.
“Yes, I do! I was a trainer and the coach in St. Mary
Catholic. I was fortunate that the last two years my
volleyball team placed first and second in our division,” I
said. “I taught in St. Mary for two years, right before I
moved to Orlando.” My answers were to the point and with
a grin on my face. I couldn‟t help myself; I knew that the
sport was easy for me.
“The person that we are going to hire is going to
coach two girls‟ teams, the JV and the varsity,” Walden
explained with a serious tone in his voice. “Have you ever
coach girls?”
“No, I had not, but I managed a semi-pro woman‟s team
for about two years,” I answered. “A friend of mine owns the
team, and I learned a lot from him about women‟s sports.” I
know that they liked my response. Their faces were easy to
read.
By the time they began talking about BASKETBALL my
confidence built up. Walden and Milano were in my

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territory. I told them that I have eleven years of experience


in coaching the sport, and that I have several championships
in my belt.
After we were finished talking about the school athletics,
and then we jumped to discuss other issues. My teaching
experience, my discipline, and my thought in education were
part of those issues; however, they were like part of a
secondary affair. I thought that our meeting impressed the
doctor, I could tell by his facial expression. Even though he
tried no to show any emotion, I could feel that I got his
attention.

After the meeting was over, Mr. Milano carried me all


around campus in a golf car and showed the school facilities.
We went from the office to a small structure in the middle of
campus called the Students‟ Center: then to the gym, the
classrooms, the dormitories, and the staff‟s living quarters.
While he drove me around the place, I inquired more
information about the institution and its residents.
I felt that this was going to be a good commencement for
me. I was destined to do what I like to do, coaching
basketball, the sport that I practiced since I was eleven years

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old. At the same time I was going to have the chance to help
young people, my mission in life as I saw it at that time.
Mr. Milano brought me to his office to say goodbye when
the tour was over. He let me know some details of the
benefits and teachers‟ salary. Their teachers received
housing, utilities, and meals --breakfast, lunch, and dinner--
as part of their payment. They estimated the package around
the twenty thousand dollars a year. I thought then that the
whole deal was great for me that I could not ask for more.
As I drove back to Kirkman Road thinking that the
position belongs to me, even though the two men didn‟t say
anything to ensure that. I believed that my father spirit was
behind all these that he came that night to point me this place
out. I was so animated that I called my mother the minute I
got inside my apartment, to tell her that I found a job. I even
prayed to God, and asked he to help these two men to find
the best man for the job, me. The opportunity was so good
that I was going to need all the help possible. They spent
more than two hours with me, in my mind that was a good
indication.
I napped close to four o‟clock that afternoon and in my

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head I discovered that the dream was back. I found myself


riding the same horse, going after someone in front riding
another four legs‟ animal. He looked like a boy of some
fourteen years old, but I could not tell who he was or why I
was chasing him. However, this time the weather was worst
than before, the tides were higher and the sky was even
darker. A feeling of been frightened was agonizing; in some
strange way I was afraid of what could happen to the kid.

On the late afternoon of the following Friday I received a


phone call from Edward Milano. He told me that Matthew
Walden wanted another interview with me. When I hang up
the telephone receiver, I thought that there wasn‟t doubt
about it, the job was mine. They wanted to see me Monday
morning. It took them four days to decide who was going to
be their new coach.
My optimist was considerable, but I did not want them to
see my emotions. So I spent most of my weekend playing
basketball at the Dr. Philip‟s YMCA.
Looking for a job is an odyssey that I do not like to
recommend to anyone with low self-esteem. The YMCA
helped me to fulfill the need of my amour-propre lowest

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point. This place helped me to relax after long day looking


for work. Orlando was an unknown city, which I only
visited as a tourist with my Family. I played almost every
afternoon pick up games with a group of high school kids.
By playing with them I kept myself in one of my best shape
ever.
Basketball kept me from being a loner or an odd ball of
the world. By age sixteen the children in my neighborhood
were calling my mother asking if I were going to practice
their teams. I used to make up games and mini tournaments
with the bunch that I called La Mafia. We played all kind of
sports even those that weren‟t famous in the island, like
football and soccer. Learning them was easy for me, but
teaching them was even easier. With time this became a
natural thing to do. One day my mother was tired of
answering the calls from the kids that she told me, “Those
kids are driving me crazy. They call almost every hour of
the day, and they don‟t say who they are, and why they
called,” she said almost screaming at me. And then she
imitated their voices; “It‟s Tony there! That‟s the only thing
they say. You should be a teacher if that what you like to do.

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You have a magnet inside you, which attract children, and


teachers should have that.” I guessed that the voice of the
experience was talking.
I thought that she was losing it when she advised me to be
a pedagogue, but after a long period thinking about it, I
finally came with the same conclusion. So, I was to be a
history teacher, because I was good remembering dates,
events and places, and I was good with kids. I choose the
path that my mother took thirty years before me.
By the time I was in college I became a good student in
subjects such as geography, history, sociology and
psychology, and all the „ologies that were necessary to take
to become a teacher in the arts of social science. Yet, at the
same time in the summer of 1978 I coached my first
basketball team in a recreational league. Winning our first
game was a rush, even after we loss the first two games of
the season. That first victory made me thinks more about my
team than in my responsibilities, my soul was on the
basketball court while my body was in the classroom.
When we got eliminated from the competition, I
experienced something unexpected. After I came home from
the game I sat on a front porch chair, and cried. I cried like

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never before, for an hour or so, after everyone was gone. I


never thought that this could happen to me; a kid‟s game
triggered that kind of strong response. But, as incredible as
it sound, after all the pain that I felt that night, I made a
decision. I was going to make a team for the next season
with my reaming players of the team. The season wasn‟t
over yet when I began to practice my players for next year.
My boys and I worked are butts off to prepare for next time.
They were eleven or twelve but it was as if they were
professional athletics.
In that same year, I tried out for my college team. I
was a walk-in and the only reason I did so was that I wanted
to learn more about coaching so could help my team. At that
time I thought that the coach was going to cut me in the first
round, but this didn‟t happen. It was a surprise for me when
I saw myself playing a full season with a college team. I
ended with two points, and played about three seconds in
each game, but I wasn‟t ashamed. The important thing was
that I was gaining the coaching knowledge I needed.
The next year, my team ended with a 14-1 record in
the regular season, and we won the championship game by

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twenty points. They were invincible; they didn‟t let a ball


uncontested on the court without a fight first. It was like a
pro team.
That‟s how everything began. I recruited three boys
from my mother‟s school to play in my first team. They
were the first group that I worked with. They became my
focus of my attention for a while. I helped them with their
game skills, and with other aspect of their life. Sometime
they came to my home to do their homework. Other time
they came just to have fun.
Some years later I was driving throughout one of our
neighboring towns when I saw one of them, one of my first
basketball players. His Family moved to the near town of
Morovis, just after we finished playing my second season. I
don‟t remember what I was doing there that night, but I
remember what happened when I saw this kid after many
years. He was no longer a boy, he was a young man, but I
could recognize him. I will always evoke this night for what
he told me, it was something that filled my heart with a good
feeling.
Enrique was standing on his hometown favorite
corner with two friends. He was smoking and drinking from

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a beer cam. As soon as he saw me, I could feel his emotion,


he was very happy to see me. We talked a bout the good old
times, and as we used to do in the old days. He did not finish
high school, and he was working in an auto-body shop near
his house, where he lived with his mother and two younger
brothers. I sensed from him that his disposition for life was
no longer there. It was lost in the process of moving from
town to town somehow. Kique told me that his father left his
Family, his wife and six children, for a younger woman, and
they were having difficult times.
This revelation made me feel bad about him because
I loved the kid very much. However, at the same time I was
happy to see him again. In the old days Kique, as we all
called him them, became my inspiration, if I am a basketball
coach it‟s because him. The boy was like the younger
brother I never had during that time.
When it was time for me to leave, after almost an hour
reminiscing the good old days, he glanced at me with a
gloomy expression on his face, then told me, “Tony, of all
my childhood days, the best year was the once I played
basketball for you.”

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I knew that his future was uncertain; it was not going


to be bright and that he would go for the pleasures of life
without giving thought to the consequence. After meeting
him that night I realized that I was right. However, when he
told that the best time of his life was when he played for me,
after all those years, I felt that the time we sent together was
well invested. It was the best confession someone ever gave
me.
I never saw him again after that night. However,
that doesn‟t matter anymore. He always going to be in my
mind, and I know that I am going to be in his.

When I returned to Dr. Walden‟s office, I was very


nervous, the job was my but they also wanted another tryout.
I wanted the position so bad that I was afraid to make a
miscue that would be jeopardy my position as the
front-runner. So I planned no to talk much in the second
interview. I was going to let them do the talking; both like to
hear themselves doing so. I was going to agree in anything
they say.

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“Mr. Ferrer, we‟re considering you for the Physical


Education and Health Science position, but we need to be
sure about it,” Walden said.
“Thank you,” I said.
So, after another section of questions, Walden finally
said; “Mr. Ferrer the job is yours.”
My job descriptions were to teach a health science
course, four physical ed. classes, coach the girls‟ volleyball
and track teams, and the boys‟ basketball team. At the time I
thought that the whole deal was great. It seemed to me that I
was going to be busy, after almost four months without a job
this was going to be a change. As I was leaving Walden‟s
office, I told him “he wasn‟t going to be disappointed.”

I was supposed to receive from the academy


seventeen hundred dollars that would include: meals,
utilities, and the apartment rent. I was set to move to the
school in less than two weeks. In those days I had a lease for
four months at the Kirkman Road Apartments, so during that
short period I was going to have two places to live.
Mr. Milano showed me an one-bedroom apartment

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during my first visit to the school, which gave me the chills.


When I first saw my new place, I thought that I was going to
be the ugliest place I was ever going to live in.
I didn‟t have any furniture, „cause when I moved to
Orlando my only belongings were my two bags, a TV and a
VCR. So, I asked Dr. Walden if he could help me in this
matter, and he did. He assigned the maintenance chief to take
me around the campus storage to see if we could get an old
sofa, bed and tables.
After all was arranged with the school were made, I
prepared to move into my new enterprise, or maybe a new
life. Time was going to tell if that were going to happen.

I moved to Green Hills‟ Academy on August 23, two


weeks before school began. I wanted to get use to the
atmosphere of the small country town. The community
wasn‟t really important for the school, but I found out that
later when I explored the area, and conversed with the other
school members. I imaged how the whole thing was going
to be; I assumed that if their parents could spend twelve

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thousand dollars in the education of their children, they


should be a pretty dame intelligent group of youngsters. My
inexperience created this candid view of the things that were
coming out for me.

One afternoon, I resolved to take my basketball, and


dribbled it to an outdoor court behind one of the boys‟
dormitory. In my hometown dribbling a ball would create a
magnetic field around a player that would attract any human
being that plays the game. Still, in this place nobody showed
after thirty minutes of trying to call someone with the ball.
But, I gave up. I ended driving to the „Y‟ on Dr. Philip‟s
Blvd., in Orlando.
I was in one of my best physical condition ever, I
weighted a hundred and seventy-two pounds, and my aerobic
capacity was the top since I let from college. So playing
with young people wasn‟t a problem.
The next two weeks, before the school started, turned
to be slowed. There wasn‟t much to do in the academy or in
the little municipality. This made me spent more time in my
apartment on Kirkman, and at the „Y‟. Instead of moving

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my stuff from one place to another, I decided to recreate


myself.
Moving is one thing that I despise most; making new
telephone connections, asking for new mail box numbers,
paying deposit for the utilities, and moving from one place to
another, are things that aren‟t enjoyable. The advantage this
time was that the only things I was going to pay for were the
cable and telephone connections. The rest was paid by the
academy as we accorded it in the salary agreement.

Since the beginning I assumed that Mr. Milano


wasn‟t straight, his manners didn‟t agree with me. I
supposed that he was different. However, when I went to the
gymnasium locker room, after a hoop shooting session, I
read some things the boys wrote on the walls, which
corroborated my hunches about the man.
Nevertheless, being bored makes you do the odds
things, like going to his office to ask him about the teams‟
records. I don‟t really know why I ended in his office „cause
I usually make my own judgment about my players. I do not

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A Season In Green Hills‟

look into records, but, I was bored and I needed someone to


talk too.
So with my basketball in hand, I went inside the
administration facilities to observe the movement in the
office and to find someone to chat with. Milano‟s desk was
piled with mountains of papers and books. I knew that if I
find him there he would give me what I wanted, a mean of
distractions.
“Hi, Coach,” he welcomed me inside his place of
work. I perceived that he called me coach for the first time.
“Hi! How are you?”
“Fine,” he said. “How‟s the moving process?” His
voice tone was fine as if he was hiding something.
“Well, it‟s almost there,” I answered back. “They
install my phone!”
“Alright! Do you know your number?”
“Yeah, I believe that is 854-2024,” I made my first
mistake of the school year. He wrote it on a small paper near
on his desk.
“Are you ready for the volleyball season?” He asked
with an abrupt change of the topic. In his question there was

32
J.V. Rosario

some kind of skepticism, maybe he did have some doubts


about my abilities to coach. I knew that as soon the season
begins his doubts were going to disappear. I was that
confidence.
“Well, I never coach girls before, so it‟s going to be
an experience,” I acknowledged. I was trying to be careful,
because I knew that he was the picky type. It is wise not to
give your back to this breed. Since our first meeting he
stroked me as a dangerous man.
“I can‟t tell you about volleyball, „cause I was
absorbed with my soccer team. Do you know that they play
simultaneously?” he said. “So, I didn‟t have much time to
watch any of their matches, although, I can give you the
score books. Do you want them?”
“Sure! They will be helpful,” I agreed. “That will
give me an idea about them.” Then I asked him; “May I have
the basketball team‟s score book too?”
He gave me four books: the girls‟ records, and the
records of the two basketball squads.
What I found in the books was that any of the teams
had a winning season. The JV won two games of fourteen
and the Varsity earned four of sixteen. In the other hand the

33
A Season In Green Hills‟

boys‟ basketball teams showed that they were little more


victorious than the girls‟ team. With this information I made
a practice schedule for the girls.
“Coach McGuire was the team‟s assistant coach last
year. He might give you an idea of the teams, if you visit
him,” he added as I was leaving the room. “I‟ll call him, if
that‟s what you want.” The way he phrased the question
made me realize that he was manipulating me.
“That‟s a good idea!” I said.
He put me in contact with Christopher McGuire, a
twenty-four-year-old man that looked more like a
seventeen-year-old boy. If I didn‟t know that he was a
member of the teaching staff, I would confuse him with
another student.
Chris came from South Alabama University, as
Walden, he also had that thick southern accent. When we
began our conversation, it took me a while to comprehend
what he tried to explain to me. The man was a kind and
sincere, and tried to give me decent suggestion for the
coming year.
Mr. Milano observed that I was going to find Chris

34
J.V. Rosario

watching football on TV on a Sunday afternoon. And he


was when I rang the apartment doorbell and let me in. His
quarters were well organized; there was a big scream against
a wall, a large rectangular mirror hanging on the wall over a
pink sofa, where he was lying. The mirror gave some kind
of dimension to the room that had many empty spaces on its
walls.
He offered me something to drink before we began
talking about the school. Chris McGuire went into the
kitchen across the small living room. And while he was
filling a glass with ice cubes and soda, I looked around the
room so I could get more information from this man‟s
habitation. There were two pictures on top of the TV set. In
one frame there were Mom and Dad while his five sisters
and he were making a human pyramid on a green grass field
in other frame. Chris was the youngest and the only boy of
the McGuire of Fairhope, Alabama.
We had a chat mainly about the academy‟s sport
program, the kids and the basketball teams. This was the
first time I heard some names, Ryan LeCarre and Victor
Lopes. For Coach McGuire these two were the cream of the
school‟s wags, Ryan was a tall black boy from the islands,

35
A Season In Green Hills‟

and according to Coach he had stinky feet. “He can play any
sport, Coach,” Chris said, “but his attitude sucks.” For him
Victor was in the same situation, a good player but bad
attitude. Coach Brown put him out of the basketball team
during his last season in Green Hills‟.
In one point of our exchange Chris lower his voice to
say something as if he didn‟t want the walls to listen.
“Coach, what you‟re going to find out here is that kids hate
the school, with its owners too,” he said.
“The Waldens?” I whispered. I understood that
today‟s kids don‟t like to come to school but to hate the
Waldens included other things.
As I was about to leave Chris brought up the last
name, Bobby Hunter. He only knew him by reference. “He
was not here last year, but he came to the academy for three
years before the last one, and he‟s coming back.” Then he
added; “Coach Brown taught him how to play basketball,
and he said that he was quite good.”
“We‟ll see how good he is,” I responded as I left the
room. “See you later, and thanks.”

36
J.V. Rosario

We didn‟t talk about the volleyball teams. Coach


McGuire only drives the school bus for the teams. Chris
didn‟t work with the girls on any aspect of the game. In
other words he knew about volleyball what I know about
medicine.
So, I resolved not to think about what he told me that
afternoon, I thought that there was another way to find out
more about the school. There was another teacher from the
island in the school. I thought that maybe she was going to
be more helpful in telling me about the school.
I brought the score books to Milano the next
morning. And I found odd what he said to me. “Don‟t pay
attention to the gossip around campus,” he advised me. “It
happens in every work place and it‟s better not to make a big
deal of any bad rumors.” Then he asked me, “How it went
with Coach?” As if he knew that Chris discussed with me the
day before.
“I don‟t pay attention to gossip-mongers,” I told
Milano. “I think it‟s a waist of time.”
“Good!” the man aired.
I guessed then that I let him with the impression that I
ignored anything that Chris could be it tells me about the

37
A Season In Green Hills‟

school. He confirmed what I thought about him; the man


was a sneaky person. Mr. Milano was trying to get
information from me about Chris McGuire. At the end, he
dared to declare that being careful was better, because there
were spies around watching every move. To that I did not
reply, I thought that he was bluffing or maybe joking.

Mary Valdez taught at San Jorge Academy, an all-


girls‟ school. At that time it was considered one of the best
in the island, and she was proud of that. Their students
always scored high in the S. A. T., and she was part of that
honorable dwelling.
Mrs. Valdez was the strange wife of an obscure
basketball player in our semi-professional league. He gained
fame after making a haft court shot in a play-off game, after
the regular time was over. After that prowess he jumped into
instant notoriousness; from then on all the half court shots
made by any player carried his name.
She moved to Florida with her daughter trying to turn

38
J.V. Rosario

around her life. A draining separation and then divorce


didn‟t give her any other alternative but to move out of her
country. Her husband let her for a classmate in law school
while she was working to pay the builds of his studies.
Everything happened while she was carrying his baby. After
he became a lawyer, he began to make lot money. He
moved with his girlfriend to a luxurious condominium, while
Mrs. Valdez and the baby lived with her parents in a modest
home.
One summer she came to Mickey Mouse‟s land on
Dad‟s spends, who thought his daughter was on the break of
a nervous break down. María saw the magic around the city,
and began to make castles in the air. She viewed herself
teaching in one of the Orange County School District‟s
institutions. So, after an agonizing decision, evaluating the
pros and the con, she asked a group of friends if she could
stay for another week in their home, while she looks for a
job. In that short period of the time she read a newspaper ad
that was asking for an ESL teacher.
At first she believed that Green Hills was the
Promised Land. However, after teaching one year in the
school, her point of view mutated. “When I came here,

39
A Season In Green Hills‟

everyone told me that there weren‟t discipline problems,”


she said to me after we came across each other in front of the
administration building. “But, they lied to me.”
“Why do you say that?” I asked her.
“Because, the kids are difficult,” she continued, as if
she were in a hurry to catch a bus. “You‟ll see how difficult
they‟re. I came from a school that I only had to give a bad
look to my students to keep the order in the classroom. In
here I‟ve to shout constantly to keep my class going.” She
stopped again to capture some air throughout her mouth;
then renewed her exchange.
After we spoke for about a haft hour, I took my path
and she went inside the office building. At first I believed
that this was going to be an ideal situation, but now my
fellow teachers were modifying my opinion. I became
curious to see how bad things were going to be.

That same afternoon I went back behind Eaton Hall


to make some shots in the hoops. It was around four o‟clock

40
J.V. Rosario

and I didn‟t want to drive all the way to the Y. I realized that
this place was going to be a lot different from any other I
worked before. The students were going to live in campus; it
was another language for me; and the people who‟re going to
deal with me didn‟t know. This time I was to begin to make
a name for myself.
It was bright; the sun was too high for the time of the
day. Since I moved to Florida, my notion of time was totally
abnormal. The heat and the lack of humidity burned the
grass on the plain behind the dormitory, typical August‟s
weather, the hottest month of the year in Florida.
I was making shots on the hoops and running back
and forward to burn some energy. I crossed the concrete
floor more than ten times dribbling my old Wilson 210,
when I detected a car approaching the building.
A woman came out of a light gray-blue Honda Civic
station wagon. A lady stepped out of the vehicle with a pack
of cigarettes and lighter in hands. She impressed me as a
tough one, like those that wouldn‟t take anything from
anyone. The woman turned to look at me, and when she
perceived me, she displaced closer to me.
“Are you the new Coach?” she asked me in a friendly

41
A Season In Green Hills‟

tone.
“Yes,” I responded while I put my body in a discreet
position. I noticed that there was a southern accent in her
voice. I thought in that moment that the rest of Florida
wasn‟t like Miami; it was another southern State.
“Hi, my name is Martha, Martha Martin,” she said to
me. “Have you, being inside the Hall?”
“I‟m Tony,” I said, “No, I haven‟t.”
“Com‟ on in, so you can meet Mr. Martin.”
I said yes, „cause it would give me the chance to
learn more about the school facilities and its people. And it
was very kind from her to invite me inside.
Eaton Hall has two long corridors with little rooms
on each side of the galleries unified by a structure that
worked as a lobby. In the back there was entertainment area,
equipped with a TV, a Ping-Pong table and three vending
machines. The Martins‟ quarters were in the center of the
action, between the lobby and the amusement room. Down
the two halls there were thirty-two little accommodations
that were used by the students. Inside each quarter there
were bum-beds, two desks with its respected chairs --one for

42
J.V. Rosario

each occupant-- and a sink with a mirror over. The walls


consisted of concrete blocks, painted in bone-white. These
gave me the illusion that I was in a prison bristle. As a
human being I wouldn‟t like to live in a place with those
fissures.
Ironically, Mrs. Martin showed me the room that I
was going to visit often in the future. The moment that she
opened the door of the little space I felt the present of
something, the room gave me a chill, as if the room was
having a visit from some form beyond. The naked walls
produced in me a reaction while she described the use of
each tool inside the little area.
Once out of the room I felt the air was lightweight
comparing to the room‟s air. At the end of the corridor there
was a man buffering the floor with a machine. I didn‟t know
whether he was real or not at that point, „cause he was not
there before. While we‟re getting closer, I thought that he
was a humpback; there was some kind of deviation in his
spin. Mr. Martin was wearing a light-blue pant, almost
grays, and a white shirt. He was over dress for what he was
doing. Some kind of fog was surrounding him, which made
him looked like a phantasm from the distance. The lights

43
A Season In Green Hills‟

were out and the only illumination was coming from a glass
door window at the end of the hall.
I followed Mrs. Martin with a feeling of security;
provably if I were alone, I wouldn‟t go near the apparition.
She kept on going closer to the man, and then she said to
him, “Donald, this is the new Coach.”
The man stopped the utensil, and glanced at me as if I
were a rear insect. He didn‟t say hello, he just smiled and
showed me his rotten teeth. I moved back a centimeter
because he gave me an alcohol reek.
“Well, I have a player for you, Coach,” he said.
I didn‟t know how to take that, so I answered with an
uhum sound.
“His name is Bobby Hunter!” This was the second
time I heard this name. Then, I knew that Mr. Martin was
serious.
“I play golf. Do you?” he asked.
“No, I don‟t. I play basketball,” I said.
“I don‟t play that, I play golf,” he got angry. “Mr.
McGuire and I played golf all time.”
“I‟m sure he‟s very good,” I tried to be polite with

44
J.V. Rosario

mine respond.
“Ha! He‟s a wannabe,” Mr. Martin laughed. “You
should play with me one day, Coach.”
“Well, I never played before, but if someone teaches
me, I think I could get it,” I said.
I left the building after a fifteen-minute talk about
golf, a sport that I never tried and which I haven‟t had a clue
about. I returned to the basketball court behind the hall to
find Chris McGuire shooting baskets there. He was dressed
in a red jersey with Auburn University logos in the front,
“Who can say that he‟s a teacher in this place?” I thought.
I was going to play a game with someone at last, but
he wasn‟t interested. He wanted to talk about his basketball
team. Chris told me that these kids didn‟t know how to hold
the basketball.
“They all played for the first time last season,” he
said, while he scratched his head with his left hand. “They
didn‟t know how to make a pass, Coach.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” I said while tried to
cut his conversation and put the basketball on his hands. I
don‟t come to a court to talk basketball. “I saw the scored
books in Mr. Milano office. You lost a game by fifty-one

45
A Season In Green Hills‟

points. That‟s pitiful.”


“The Lake Highland Prep game,” he informed me.
“They always get to be rank among the first five teams of the
State.”
“I know! It‟s hard to when you don‟t have the
players,” I said.
Them, he began to tell me all the different drills he
gave to his players. He didn‟t want to shut-up about his
pathetic team, I wanted to play basketball, but, all he wanted
was to babble all this garbage about his team.
He kept on discussing his team. A person on a red
motor scooter approached us. She was the woman that was
sitting on Walden‟s assistant desk when I came for my
second interview. She was wearing a helmet and boots over
her blue jeans; she looked to be a biker. She was the first
person in the school I talked too when I called for directions.
Her name was Alex Miller, but the students called her Alex,
while the Waldens baptized her as Ms. Miller.
Ms. Miller‟s eyes were olive green, while her smile
was warm and attractive. The sun put some ivory on her
teeth. When she took her helmet off, her hair felt over her

46
J.V. Rosario

shoulder like a cascade. The small body frame was graceful,


but her figure was very alluring to me.
My gray matter began to maneuver ways to make
love to her, and use her body to unload my sperm. I felt that
I was getting excited so I did not get close to her while she
talked to Chris. She wasn‟t winsome of him; he looked too
young for her. So there was only one other possibility for
her to stop by where two guys were playing basketball and
that was the new coach. I knew that she was intrigued by me
since I first saw her on the desk in front of Walden‟s office
door.

They dictated the annual faculty meetings and staff in


service during those first days. We discussed the school
calendar and other stuff before the school began. The new
teachers were to meet with Mr. Milano, while the rest of the
staff with Dr. Walden and Principal Hawking.
Mr. Milano discussed the school policies, and
between them the keystone of Green Hills Academy. For
him the academy‟s most important activities were called the

47
A Season In Green Hills‟

discipline board and the daily grade report.


It took me a while to digest all the school rules, and
there were rules for everything, even for taking an extra juice
box in breakfast. The discipline that governed the school
was Walden‟s obsession; it was as if the kids were in Devil‟s
Island. And if a student violated any of the regulations he or
she would suffer a punishment, by getting working hours to
do in the shop or the dining hall. The rules were mainly
negative.
The rules kept on adding as the school year unfolds
in front of the children. At the same time that Milano
explained the policies my mind wonder-off the preplanning
meeting, then I made my second mistake of the year. I
didn‟t pay much attention to the information that he spoke; I
underestimated the power of intimidation.

48
J.V. Rosario

Chapter II
1
I know that a teacher shouldn‟t be a friend of their
students, „cause they could take advantage from the situation
over other pupils. I have to confess that I had sinned from
this in the past. But what can we do? We‟re only human
beings trying to educate a group of youngsters. It‟s a part of
human nature to like and dislike some people.
When I signed the contract with Green Hills‟, I
promised myself that this wasn‟t going to happen this time.
Knowing that this was a boarding school I knew that the
students were going to be in a twenty-four-hour deal the
situation. And I thought that I was too old to be a child‟s
friend; adults were to be with adults and no with children.
The night before the students came to Green Hills‟; I
dreamed about Jose Roman. He was my favorite pupil in St.
Mary, the only private school in my hometown. I always
thought that he was a fair in basketball, but in the other hand
he was an awesome volleyball player.
I met Jose when he was only ten, for his age he was
really tall. I picked him to play basketball for that reason.

49
A Season In Green Hills‟

We were going to compete against other schools in the


island‟s Biddy Basketball League. Since then, I took the kid
under my wings. At first he wasn‟t especial to me, just
another boy in the team, but I found myself driving him
home almost every afternoon after practices and games. His
parents didn‟t take care of him, as they should in those days.
So we became friends.
Jose was a quiet one; he didn‟t make the stupid
remarks that sometimes adolescents do in that growing stage.
He was so gentle that even a St. Mary‟s Brother thought that
there was something wrong with him. A Brother Carlos told
me that Jose was a time bomb, waiting to be blasted in any
minute, but the true were that he really liked to let known his
feelings, and he didn‟t trust just anyone. I found out in those
journeys to the center of the island that he likes to talk. He
proclaimed his future expectations for the future to me. I
learned more things about Jose than his father and mother
put together in one mass.
The boy played basketball and volleyball for me for
about five years. When I told him that I was moving to
Florida, he didn‟t say much but I could notice that he felt that

50
J.V. Rosario

I let him down. I tried to express my affection, in the last


game I coached him, but it did not come out. I felt that
maybe he knew how much I did love him.
We filled our gymnasium with fans from both
schools; there was nothing else to do in the small town on a
Saturday night. The classic confrontation between the public
and the private schools was about to begin. The tournament
caught the attention of my hometown.
I was taping my players‟ ankles in the locker room
before the game started. It was the district championship
final, and if we win, we would pass to a different conference
to play in the State Volleyball Championship Tournament.
When I finished with the last player, Jose approached me; he
was saying with a fake cry that he was hurt. “Tony, I‟m hurt.
My ankle hurts.” He pointed at his right food with a bad
acting job expression on his face. The boy glanced at me
and then screamed as if somebody kicked him on the balls.
“Take your shoe off,” I said.
“No, you‟re going to shoot me,” he cried.
“I wasn‟t thinking about that, but now that you said
so,” I told him while I pulled a cutting knife from my desk
drawer. “I might need to amputate it. It‟ll be better for you,

51
A Season In Green Hills‟

and the team.”


Jose jumped from the desktop screaming like a
monkey in panic, “You aren‟t serious,” he howled.
“Yeah, come on, let us fix that leg.” I thought that I
was believable, „cause I acted as a mad man with a knife in
his hand.
“Coach, I‟m fine now you see, I can walk, see,” he
began walking around the room while the other players were
looking at both of us. They didn‟t know what to think. They
provably thought that we weren‟t serious, because when we
began to laugh, the tension in the room came back to normal
levels.
“Gotch-you! What a bunch of sissies you are; you
thought that we‟re serious,” Jose enlightened his teammates.
Just after I gave my pet talk to the team, Jose
confronted me while I watched their warm-ups on the net.
He hugged me with a brotherly affection that I never
perceived from him. I never imagine something like that
coming from him. My friend didn‟t know how to use words
too definitely his emotions.
“Why did you do that?” I asked him.

52
J.V. Rosario

“I‟m going to miss you,” he said.


“Don‟t be silly,” I said. “You‟ll see me more often
that you think.”
“Yeah, but who‟s going to be our coach now?”
I waited a second or two, and glanced at his face.
Somehow I got serious too, but the only thing that came out
of my mouth was; “You know that this is going to be your
show, Kid.” It was his final game with me as his coach, but
there were other things‟ stated for the night. Everyone on
the crowd, parents, teachers, classmate, and fans were there
to see him perform his talents as an athlete.
“All these people,” I pointed to the bleachers, “are expecting
something from you to night, my friend. And I know that
you can deliver for them the best game of your life,” I spoke
to him from inside my coach‟s heart.
Jose understood, in his eyes there was an anxious
feeling, the coolness of the quiet boy was gone; “What if I
can‟t do it?”
“It would be a disappointment for all, Jose. We
might lose tonight, but I‟ll know one thing after the game is
over, how good you are. For me there isn‟t anyone in this
court that can play like you . . . So don‟t worry, you‟ll be

53
A Season In Green Hills‟

OK! You‟ll do fine!” I said. “When the game is over, you‟ll


see what I mean when I say that it‟s your show tonight.”
The match turned to be a manifest of what volleyball
is today. Both teams gambled three sets of titanic
proportions. Our school won the first and lost the second,
and when we played the last game we were down seven
points in a rally-point set competition. Then we managed to
tie the game at point sixteen, but the ball touched our ground
in the match point.
The opponents‟ Coach congratulated us for our
performance, and took time to say something to Jose. The
game became his show; he played like a man that evening.
I‟ll never forget his face when the ball bounced on our court
floor for the last time. He sat on the bench and cried.
Everyone gave him sympathy, everyone but me. I didn‟t say
anything to him. I was afraid to cry too, in front of others, so
I let the chance to express him how I felt go by. Jose never
knew how much I care for him.
I never said good-byes to him.
The night before the students came to Green Hills‟
Academy, and I dreamed about him. I saw him playing in the

54
J.V. Rosario

gym with some of his friends. I asked him what he was doing
there, but he didn‟t respond. He just smiled. My friend
looked like a ghost.
I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about
all those details that stills bother me to these days. It was
three o‟clock in the morning and I didn‟t want to remember
him. I didn‟t want to remember the day that my mother told
me that Jose was killed in a car crash. I didn‟t want to
remember that he was like a son for me. I didn‟t want to
remember that I never told him that.
It‟s amusing how the mind works early in the
morning. That morning I promised myself that I wouldn‟t
get friendly to any of those students that were coming to
Green Hills‟ the next morning.

Marcel was from Germany; he was the first student to


come to Green Hills‟ Academy. I saw him playing soccer in
front Wallace Hall, the other boys‟ dormitory next to Eaton.
I didn‟t speak to this boy during the whole school year, and I
was lucking that he didn‟t take any of my classes. Teachers

55
A Season In Green Hills‟

said that he wasn‟t friendly, and that he was a little bit


spoiled.
The rest of the students came to stay at the academy
on Sunday, September the 9th. Some of them travel by car
with their relatives. The rest flew into Orlando‟s
International Airport, where some teachers picked them up in
the two of the Academy‟s schools buses. Several of them
came the night before as Marcel, two Japanese students and
the Maxwell brothers. Chris McGuire and I went to pick
them with the help of Dalton Monroe, the other Coach.
Monroe was the girls‟ basketball and softball teams‟
coach. The man was always in a good humor; he made jokes
of everything and everyone, especially the school. In a way
he felt that the school was part of a big joke, and he used this
to boost his classes. He and Chris were buddies to all the
extension of the word.
The night that we went to receive the students at the
airport he joked about the meals served in the Dining Hall.
He asserted that the chicken paddies consisted of cardboard
and that the salad bar was part of the school conspiracy to
make the students go to the toil five times a day. While

56
J.V. Rosario

Monroe expressed his candid opinions about his employer,


Chris was in the driving sit cracking up, laughing as a
nervous hyena.
We were supposed to receive two Japanese children,
a boy and a girl, and two brothers, sons of psychiatry from
New York. The two Japanese kids spoke little English –
some broken words and phrases. The girl told Coach Monroe
her name, and he thought that she was saying Miami instead
of Mayumi, her real name. And when the boy told him that
his name was Dys Cly, Monroe began calling him Andrew
Dies Clay.
The two brothers from the Big Apple were Ron and
Kim. They were two black kids that were mainly in a cool
off missions. Ron had a strong body, when I saw him at the
airport I thought he might be a basketball player. But, I was
wrong with my first impression; he had the abilities of a
kangaroo. Kim, in the other hand, was chunky, and
hyperactive; he didn‟t stop talking the whole way home.
After we separated the youngsters into the respective
dormitories, we turned the van keys in the office. Mr.
Milano, who was that night in the office, he assigned Chris
and Coach Monroe for another trip the next day. I was left

57
A Season In Green Hills‟

without duties, because according to him it was going to be a


better experience for me to see the whole process unfold the
next day.

3
It was amusing to see how the kids reacted when they
saw their old teachers again in the lobby of the
administration building. There weren‟t especial emotions
between these two groups, just a dry hello.
The first one to come inside the afternoon was a dark
skin and green eyes‟ girl with a pleasant smile and a
melancholic stare. She was with her father. I thought that
they were Cubans from Miami, because they spoke good
English, but later I found out that they were from Panama.
“Hello Vanessa,” Mrs. Thomas was the first to greet
her.
“Hi,” the girl returned the greetings with a spiritless
grin on her face. “It‟s good to see you again,” she said. I will
never forget that image of her saying those words. It was a
cold reception from the teacher part, and it seemed to me that
Vanessa wasn‟t blighted to see him again.

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J.V. Rosario

The two Thomas were from Scotland; they moved to


Florida to secure an American education to their children.
Glen Thomas taught math and physics, and coordinated the
science club, while his wife was the drama and language art
instructor. At first Mr. Thomas found a teaching position in
Gateway High School in Kissimmee, but he lost it „cause by
then he didn‟t have his Florida teaching certification. So, he
moved his Family to the town of Green Hills‟, three years
before I got the P. E. appointment. Wanda Thomas aided the
drama teacher for two years, until she was dismissed.
Someone told me that the drama teacher was caught kissing
a boy in a bathroom; she was a young woman.
More students were coming to register in the lobby.
Monroe and Chris were in the airport with an army of
teachers trying to locate the students coming through the air.
At the same time the remaining teachers and administrators
were waiting for the new arrivals in the lobby.
I was doing nothing, just watching who was coming
in and out, and making judgment in my mind about these
people. María Valdez, Beverly Hawking and Wanda
Thomas bearded in the middle of the lobby‟s rectangular
counter to receive the kids, and give them their next school

59
A Season In Green Hills‟

year registration cards.


Kids came form all the parts of the world; there was
representation from all seven continents. They came in
different sides and shapes; it was like having the U. N. in a
small scale. This multi cultural extravaganza made of Green
Hills‟ owners, the Waldens, felt like blue ribbon. They
thought the school was one of the Seven Wonders of the
World.
In the middle of all Mr. Thomas spotted a basketball
player from last year and he wanted me to meet the boy. To
my knowledge this young man was last season point guard,
and he didn‟t look that enthusiastic to see his new coach.
His name was Elliot Zapata; he was the son of a famous
gynecologist from Miami.
“Hi, Elliot,” the science teacher greeted the young
man.
“Mr. Thomas, it‟s good to see,” Elliot shook his
mentor hand effusively.
“Coach, this is Elliot,” Glen Thomas put his right
hand on the boy‟s shoulders and introduced him to me.
“Elliot played basketball for Coach Brown, and he did quite

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J.V. Rosario

well.”
“Hi,” he said with an unfriendly gesture on his face.
At that point I assumed that maybe he was resenting that
Coach Brown wasn‟t there anymore, and that he wasn‟t
going to like me no matter what I could do to help him.
I didn‟t pay too much attention to him because his
attitude, and in that moment another boy came throughout
the glass doors. This one was difficult to tell where he came
from. I knew that Elliot was from Miami, and that his
parents were Cubans, his black hair, dark eyes and olive skin
showed his background.
This other boy was wearing a tang top, so it was easy
to see a homemade tattoo on his right shoulder. He was
really young at least fifteen or maybe younger than that. His
eyes were light brown; almost green, and the sun toasted his
hair and skin, I thought that he was a surfer due.
The guy that was with him was as big as a
professional wrestler; he had a thick beard and his face was
red, it seeing to me that he was a heavy drinker. The big guy
didn‟t have any relationship with the boy. I thought that this
man could be the boy‟s bodyguard. However, the young
fellow seemed discontent with the man‟s present in the

61
A Season In Green Hills‟

lobby.
Elliot acknowledged the new kid by his name; he
called him Victor, and he was joyful to see Elliot. It crossed
my mind that this young man couldn‟t be the Victor that
everyone was talking about. The boy, whom Chris referred
too, was a six-two and two-hundred pound turkey, and this
other one was roughly in his hundred and twenty, and didn‟t
look Hispanic. The two kids began chatting like old pals,
while the lobby flooded with more people. They didn‟t stop
to consider what was going around them.
The foyer took a new life; the arrivers from last year
blended with the new comers, they all looked for their class
schedule cards. In one corner of the counter there were a
mother and her twin sons, Rick and Joey -- that was how she
called them. She told one of them that she was going to sign
his brother for sports but not him. “I‟m going to let Joey play
soccer this year,” the lady put a mean face for her son.
Rick laid his head on the counter top with a sad
bearing on his eyebrows. Then he told her, “Mother, please,
I want to play soccer this year.” Rick‟s gesticulations were
of anguish, as if his life was depending of the soccer game.

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J.V. Rosario

“Rick, you know what the Doctor said about your


hips,” she told her boy with an angry tone.
“Yeah, but he told you that I could play in a couple of
weeks, and it had been almost two months since the
surgery,” the boy complained.
After a little battle with her son, she gave up and
agreed to sign the waiver sheet. I don‟t know how, but I
knew that he was going to win the power struggle with his
mother. In a way she was happy to let the two boys in that
place. She went outside to kiss the twins goodbye and then
fled in her BMW.
I discovered later that Rick‟s hips were injured in a
skateboard accident, and the reason they put the two boys in
Green Hills‟ Academy. They used to sneak out behind their
house to smoke pot with their friends during school hours.
More people were coming that afternoon; some of
them went directly to the dorms, others to the administration
offices to get their registration cards. The kids had a mixture
of dispirited and a festive mood; it was a fusion of things;
summer was over, their parents were leaving them in
boarding school, but at the same time they were going to see
their school bodies again.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

At three o‟clock that afternoon, I went to the gym to


play son basketball, my duties were over and they already
installed every creature in the school in their respective
dormitories. I let the gym‟s glass doors open, maybe
because I wanted to see if anyone was going to show and
play some basketball. But nobody came. Everyone was busy
unpacking their things in their new assigned quarters.
So, after thirty minutes playing alone, I decided to go
back to my apartment, and take a hot shower. But, before I
shut the gym doors, I went to slurp a drink from the water in
the fountain. I sat with my basketball on my lap and gave a
good look to the gymnasium. The structure was built out of
steal and concrete. The gym old wooden floor was carefully
varnished over the basketball lines, it looked translucent.
My admiration for the old building was great; it was one year
younger than I, since 1957 people had been playing my sport
in that facility. And there it was standing as new, like when
you see your new car in the garage for the first time. The

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J.V. Rosario

feeling was incredible, and in a large scale I couldn‟t wait to


coach in this magnificent structure.
In that very moment a boy, who was around twelve,
came inside the gymnasium. The young man began to look
around the large room. He just finished circling the whole
school, and the gym was his final stop. I was going out and
he was going in, so I said to him, “Sorry Kid, the gym is
close.”
“I know that,” he responded with a daring tone in his
voice. “I just came to drink water.” There was something in
the kid that I took me the minute I saw him; maybe it was his
audacious attitude in that small body, or his dark hair
matched with a fair skin tone full of freckles. I was about to
kick him out of the building, but when I saw him moving
toward the water fountain I told him that it was, “OK,” and
pointed to the fountain.
He drank water and then turned to me to ask,
“Who‟re you?” while he dried up his lips with his shirt right
sleeve.
“I‟m the new coach,” I responded.
“What do you coach?”
“I coach basketball and volleyball.”

65
A Season In Green Hills‟

“I don‟t play basketball and I hate volleyball,” he


returned to me while he was going out of the building.
“Hey kid! What‟s your name?” I asked him while he
went through to the doors.
“Bevies, Johnny Bovies,” he sounded as the super
agent 007.
My first thought on Johnny was that he was an
original, because his spontaneous and gay behavior. It was
his first year in the school, but no in his first boarding
school. Johnny had a hyperactive demeanor; in him there
was the necessity to move and play at all cause. He stayed in
Green Hills „cause his mother didn‟t know how to rule him;
his past wasn‟t that clean. There were dark clouds in
Johnny‟s past; his angelical face would fake anyone that
could come across him.
The students‟ record weren‟t supposed to be known
by Green Hills‟ teachers. I called the academy‟s pitch-dark
policy. We worked in the dark when it refers to some disturb
cases that we ended with.

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J.V. Rosario

Being on duty inside the gym once every four weeks


was one of my responsibilities required in my contract. I
was in charge the facility and the students inside the gym the
first night before the school started. This was perfect duty
for me; I was going to observe my volleyball players. So, I
decided that the best way to see who they were was to bring
a ball in the middle of the court, and play with them. Coach
McGuire and Mrs. Valdez were assigned to the gym that
weekend too. We were enjoying the night out; things were
running smoothly with the students.
I took a volley-ball and began bumping it on the
middle of the wooden floor. The place was packed; around
eighty to a hundred kids were doing their own thing inside
the gym. They played basketball or chased each other from
one side to another, or playing soccer with the wrong
equipment. For some boys just talking to the young women
on the bleachers was enough. All my future athletes were
there, at least that was what I assumed by watching them
playing.
This was the first time I saw the famous Ryan
LeCarre playing; I thought that he was disorganized as a

67
A Season In Green Hills‟

player. Victor Lopes was presented too; he was tall and fat.
The popular Bobby Hunter, the kid that everyone was talking
about, he was trying to show off his skills to everyone on the
floor. I thought that Bobby was acting up 'cause he knew
that I was watching him.
The truth was that I didn‟t pay too much attention to
them, Basketball was too far away from our first day of
school, and the volleyball season was over us. Green Hills
commenced later than the other school in the conference, and
that night was my first chance to see the girls perform.
In the other side of the gym a group of Japanese boys
was playing soccer with a basketball. No far away from
them, in another corner of the building sitting on the
bleachers, the Hispanic kids were chatting about their first
experience in the strange land. Their common languages
connected them, and created a bound between them. They
acted shy when it was time to speak English, but when they
were amounts themselves it was another story.
I moved to the middle court with my volleyball to try
to call the attention of the girls. Pamela Wong was the first
one to come to the center; she was Korean, and she was in

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J.V. Rosario

her fourth year at the Academy. Her English was almost


perfect even better than mine. The first thing she asked me
was if I were the new coach.
Other two girls approached us to see if they could
play with us: Morgan Taylor and her friend Monica Rondos.
They were between once in the groups that had some talent
to play the sport. I didn‟t say much. I spiked some balls to
them just to see what they got. Pamela introduced them to
me. Morgan showed to be better than Monica. We volleyed
the ball in a circle passing it from player to player. I thought
that they could be used as setters for the varsity squad.
Three other girls and a boy joined our circle in the
middle of the action. I found that the boy‟s game was very
good; he looked like Ricky Schroeder, the kid from the TV
show Silver Spoon, the typical All American Boy. I tried to
concentrate on the girls but he was a lot better than them. I
compared his game with Jose‟s beginnings. I attempted to
focus in my future players, but he stole the show from them.
“What‟s your name, kid?” I asked him while the ball
kept on flying from person to person.
“Devin,” he answered.
After he acknowledged, the same sensation I had

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A Season In Green Hills‟

when I met Jose echoed throughout my mind. A feeling that


I knew him from some other place or time fell in me, as if I
knew him better that anyone in the school. This took me by
surprise, so I found myself asking him another question,
“Where did you learn to play this?”
“My brother taught me. He plays for Florida.”
“It‟s that so?” I said as if I was interested. “Did you
play for your school?”
“I played in Junior High,” he replied. “But, I sat on
the bench most of the time. The coach didn‟t like me.”
“Why? You play very well,” I told him.
“I have a bad knee, also,” he said while he touches his left
knee.
“What‟s wrong with it?”
“I have a torn ligament.”
“Oh!” I didn‟t understand what he was referring with
that, but I showed interest. I felt some sympathy for this
boy, so I asked the big question, “Do you play basketball?”
“No, I don‟t,” he answered.
With this answered I thought that the case was close,
no matter whom he reminded me too, if he wasn‟t going to

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J.V. Rosario

play basketball, he was a lost soul. There was one


requirement for me to relate with a person in those days, and
that was to play my sport. So, I abandoned him without an
opinion; this was as far as it was going to be. I shifted my
interest to my volleyball players.
The sweat drops were running through my back and
under; my T-shirt was wet. The gym‟s temperature was
around the low eighties, but it was also hard no to get
involved with these kids. I tried to demonstrate the girls that
I could play and coach the sport by showing my volleyball
skills to them. However, being thirty-two is different from
being only sixteen. I was getting tired and losing interest on
what they were doing with the ball. And I thought that I was
going to have more time with them in the tryouts. So, I
stopped and moved to a corner in the gym to observe the
action in the large space. From there I cherished what was
going on. The girls were still in the middle trying to keep the
volleyball alive, while my future basketball players were
pushing each other for a piece of the basketball. In another
corner the aspirants to the junior varsity were playing with
Chris McGuire. On the bleachers the only sport that was
taking place was the boy-girl action. The gym appeared

71
A Season In Green Hills‟

bright and picturesque; it was as if they didn‟t want to accept


that the next day was the first day of school.
From corner to corner I visualized the girls playing,
Monica, Pamela, and Morgan bumping their volleyball.
Bobby made a shot from the three-point-line. Ryan tired to
slam-dunk; the ball in the hoop, and the boy that looked like
Ricky Schroeder was in the middle of the campaign. There
were about twenty basketballs and fifteen volleyballs rolling
around the floor. A radio was playing M.C. Hammer‟s
‘Can’t touch this’, while, María Valdez was sitting on the
bleachers talking to the Hispanic group. Dalton Monroe was
in the weight room doorframe watching the bodybuilders
doing their stuff. And, I anticipated that it was going to be a
good year.
That night in bed I felt nervous about the next day;
everything came bouncing in my head. I didn‟t feel like this
since I taught in St. Mary. I contemplated the ceiling,
daydreaming has always been free, and I saw a bright future,
as if all my dreams were going to come true, and without
knowing why the blond boy was between my thoughts. This
kid reminded another person or place, or someone that I

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J.V. Rosario

couldn‟t get a hold on, and I didn‟t know why or how, but it
was as if I knew him from somewhere before.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

Chapter III

1
There was a bell for everything in Green Hills; it was
like being in a reformatory or a prison. The sounds of each
bell ran the lives of all the boarding school residents; they
would tell everyone what was on schedule for the day; they
announced breakfast, lunch and diner. The sound of the
buzzers marked all the activities; for every hour of the day a
long and loud ring was going to rule what to do and how to
do it. And if the students didn‟t follow those rulings, they
were going to get in a deep-shit-hole.

6:30 A.M.
My alarm clock woke me up for my first day of
school. The sun didn‟t come early that morning; it was dark
when I went out of the bed. I was going to eat my breakfast
in the Dining Hall. It was a requirement to be on time for it,
because they served breakfast at 6:45 A.M., and the whole
student body and some teachers were going to be there. And
if you were late there was a possibility that you wouldn‟t

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J.V. Rosario

find anything to eat.


I dressed in the teachers‟ dress code: a long sleeve
white shirt with dark-tied and dress pants. It was this code
that didn‟t allow the kids to wear blue jeans and any T-shirt
with printed announcement in front. It took me a while to
decide what to wear that morning. I wanted to give a good
first impression to my students.
By the time I got to the dining area it was 7:00. I
walked from my apartment, behind one of Girls‟
Dormitories, to the schoolyard. In front of the building there
were two lines, the boys were making theirs beside the girls‟
file. I perceived that many of them showered that morning,
it amusing to see their wet hairs and sleepy faces put
together. It was obvious that they didn‟t want to wake up so
early.
Inside the large spaces the pupils were already eating
in the twenty-five tables that divided the room in groups of
six people. Every group had their own shapes; the
Hispanics, the blacks and the whites were sitting with their
own.
I sat with four members of the faculty –one of the
few times me did. Charles Brubaker and Benjamin Marquez,

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A Season In Green Hills‟

the school math teachers, and Principal Hawking and his


wife Beverly were sitting together when I put my serving
dish on the table.
Charles Brubaker was a sixty-five-year-old man that
didn‟t want to retire from teaching. He used to say that he
got money and properties in the Lake County area, but he
was living in the faculty apartment with his wife. She was
very ill during the first two months of the school, but he
never took retirement to take care of her during those
difficult days. The man was a fast chitchatted and his favor
subjects on the table were the students‟ character.
Benjamin Marquez and Brubaker were the best of
friends, especially in matter of gossiping about the children‟s
behavior. Marquez was Puerto Rican, but he never spoke in
Spanish with me. He lived all his life in a military base
where his father served in the army. He went only a few
times to the island when he was a boy.
Some members of the staff used to say that the man
smells. María Valdez told me that he had allergies to
chemicals that the common deodorants have. The students
didn‟t like to be around him because of this, and „cause his

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J.V. Rosario

rough treatment. During those days he was going throughout


a separation, his seven-year marriage ended in those days.
Marquez and Brubaker were talking about the
children in a harmonious chorus. The Hawkings and I were
quite, mainly because we didn‟t really know the students,
and because these two people were swaying deplorable
things about the teenagers and their parents. This convinced
me that it was going to be impossible for me to be sitting
with these two during breakfast every morning. The whole
thing put me in a bad frame of mind; I left the table as soon
as possible after I finished with my rations. So, I went back
to my apartment to prepare myself for my first day of school.

8:00 A.M.
The scholars were going to their respective
classrooms. I was heading to my own chamber in the second
floor of the McNeill-Lawrence Building, the oldest structure
of the school, and where they predetermined my classroom.
Only a few of them said hello to me that morning,
they were in a hurry. They all knew that if they were late for
the class they were going to get two hours work with the first
tardy of the year. I saw some of the kids that played with me

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A Season In Green Hills‟

the night before; they were running too. I didn‟t have


students in my first period, but I was very anxious too, so I
went to my classroom and prepared myself for my first
group.
After I finished with my planning duties, I went to
the teachers‟ lounge across campus to see what was in my
mailbox. Inside a little wooden box there were two papers
that the Principal‟s offices emitted to inform about the
students‟ progress to the teachers. The Disciplinary Board
and the Daily Study Hall List didn‟t have names written on;
none was in trouble yet. These report sheets notified how
some particular pupils were doing to everyone in campus.
Seeing how the academy posted the names of the children
that weren‟t doing well to the knowledge of all was really
something damaging. I learned later through those two
sheets that Green Hills‟ Academy discipline method of was
base on crime and punishment. There weren‟t rewards or
affection or loves for those kids that enrolled in it.
Punishment was always harsh, and love was a weakness
coming from their parents or anyone who felt sorry for them.
I returned to my classroom to wait for my third

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J.V. Rosario

period, and spent two more hours reflecting on my life by


myself. I surveyed the changing of the classes from my
classroom window. The disciples moved from one building
to another, and a group was coming to the second floor of
McNeill-Lawrence.

9:40 A.M.
My first class was really something. In it there were
two boys from Mexico, one from the Cayman Islands, Spain,
Columbia, Curacao, and Trinidad-Tobago respectfully.
There were three American girls, one from Panama and
Ecuador; it was atypical mixed. It was as if the United
Nation reallocated into my classroom and it was under my
control. And I was a nervous Puerto Rican teacher who was
going to teach in English for the first time in his life. As I
saw them taking their seats, I got confused. When I signed
my contract with the administration, they informed me that I
was going to teach 7th and 8th grade Health Science.
However, these people were high school juniors and seniors.
I introduced myself, as any other teacher will do in
his first class. The kids were testing my ability to teach since
the first minute they came throughout the door. They stared

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A Season In Green Hills‟

and waited for my first move.


Then, the door opened and there he was, Ryan
LeCarre, late and with a pass in hand. His appearance was
sloppy, but athletic. I thought that maybe he had some
probabilities as a basketball player, tall and lean. His skin
was dark, but I didn‟t consider him black; he was native
from the Caribbean Islands, and his skin was the result of the
mixed between the native Indians, the African slaves and the
European conquerors. One thing I was quite sure, he was
very proud of his body, and his white wide-ranging smile
that he showed to the class when he came through the door.
I found out later that Ryan had an unfortunate proceeding;
the boy had lack of self-confident. Ryan was looking for the
recognition and attention almost twenty-four hours a day.
The term that I spent with this group was productive;
we discussed their families, their countries, and the school.
It was really curious how they like to manifest their opinion
about Green Hills‟. Their discussion was something that
turned into an obsessive passion. A young woman that sat in
the back of the room described it by saying that, “This
school‟s a joke.”

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J.V. Rosario

I asked her name again.


“Carla,” she said. She was one of the volleyball
players in the circle the night before. She was an ugly blend
between Susan Sarandon and Batty Davis; there was
something in her eyes that reminded me the legends of the
silver scream. “Did anyone ever tell you that you have Batty
Davis‟ eyes?” I changed her subject; I thought that she used
strong words for the school and I was in my first day. I
didn‟t want anyone saying that I was gossiping about the
school.
“No,” she was embarrassed. Then the Mexican boy,
in front of line, mouthed something in Spanish that I didn‟t
comprehend. Salvador and Carla were more than friends a
year ago, but they broke their relationship during the
summer. Carla was with another boy and he didn‟t accept
that fact. Salvador thought that he was the only one that
could be with another mates during the summer vacation.
Their affair ran inside the classroom and around the campus,
she blabbed about his manhood and he promulgated that
Carla was a slot. However, it was amusing to see how they
were looking at each other. As we say in my island where
there was fire, ashes remain.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

I made them to tell me where they were from, and


why they where in a boarding school. Antonio, the boy from
Colombia, uncovered his reasons, “I‟m here „causes I don‟t
get alone‟ with my Pap‟s wife. So, my papa . . . kicked me
out of my . . . casa.” His accent was as thick as a tomato and
cream soup. But it did not matter how funny he sounded,
there were something very serious about Antonio.
“It‟s that so?” I was puzzled. I couldn‟t believe what
he told us this the first day of school.
“That‟s my reason too,” Carla interrupted.
“How can that be?” I asked.
“Many of us came to Green Hills „cause we can‟t
stand our folks,” she reaffirmed. “In my case I was in a
rehab-center before they sent me here, and „cause I can‟t
stand my adoptive Mom.”
“I can‟t imagine what you‟re saying. I thought that
you all were here because your folks want a better future for
you,” I said.
“It‟s true, she isn‟t my real mother,” she added. “I‟m
adoptive!”
I paused for a second and observed Carla‟s

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J.V. Rosario

semblance. Many thoughts were bouncing inside my head


from one side to another side. It was bizarre what they‟re
telling me, all in my first day. Their openness affected me; I
never thought that a boarding school was for problem
children. During that first hour I learned more about this
institution than in any of the meetings we had with the
administrators or the faculty. I discovered that many of these
youngsters were there for disturbing reasons.
To the contrary, the foreign students were there
mainly because the parents wanted them to master a second
language. They traveled hundreds of miles to get an
American education.
I heard many complain in that daybreak from that
group than any other time in my time in Green Hills. “I don‟t
get alone with my stepmother. I just came from a drug‟s
rehab-center, or I don‟t know my real Dad.” By the time my
first period was over, I thought that there was a lot of pain
inside the limits of Green Hills‟ Academy.

10:30 A.M.
Next in line was the study hall period, which became

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A Season In Green Hills‟

the day‟s best hour for the rest of the school year. I had only
girls in that session, and again the UN moved in my little
space; two Japanese, one Brazilian, one Puerto Ricans, and
three American girls made the pack. Pamela Wong, Monica
Gomez and Morgan Taylor were assembling together in one
corner of the room.
I introduced myself, this time formally, as their new
coach and teacher. We talked about different topics, and of
course about the Volleyball Teams, and their last season. I
knew their record, but I made it easy for them by not putting
down their teams.
Pamela blamed everything on a girl named Danielle
DeLoch, yet she wasn‟t in school anymore. She told that
Danielle passed on her bad attitude to the rest of the players.

11:00 A.M.
After the end of the fourth period my responsibilities
were to take my students to the Dining Hall for lunch. There
was another group assigned to eat at the same time with us --
Chris McGuire‟s study hall. The group was made up of
boys; Ryan LeCarre and Mark Hilltop were in that bunch.

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J.V. Rosario

Mark was another basketball player from the year before.


This was the first time I saw the kid; he was tall and bulky.
“He isn‟t going to be able to walk on the court,” that was my
first impression.
“Coach, that‟s Mark,” McGuire told to me, “he
fouled out in every single game last year.”
“He needs to lose some weight,” I stated.
“After David Johnson got injured, Coach Brown used
him as his center.”
“Can he run?”
“Yeah,” he said. “Mark gained weight during the
summer; he was in better condition. I think he‟s going to
played soccer this year. That will bring him to shape.”
“I hope so!”
Chris and I settled in a table; he discussed his team
again. Across us, in the other side of the dining hall, the
house parents gathered in their table. The Martins, Alex and
four other parents were eating together. The students sat in
different tables just as they did during breakfast -- each
group with their own kind.
We were to wait until the bell ring at 11:20, then let
our students go to their respective dorms. Chris didn‟t eat;

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A Season In Green Hills‟

he told me that the dining hall meals didn‟t agree with his
taste. I was pleased with it; the menu for the day was
chicken patties, corn and a salad bar with different types of
dressing, vegetables and desserts.
“Wait for a couple of weeks,” he said, “you‟ll see
that they‟re going to repeat the thing every week.” He had an
ironic smile between his lips.
Then, we went back to our apartments to prepare for
the next period.

12:35 P.M.
The school clustered my fifth period with seventh
and eight graders; they scheduled them together because
there weren‟t enough students to make two different physical
education classes for them. They assigned eleven boys and
four girls to this session. Their bodies and minds were
clearly starting to develop into what we called teenagers, that
strange creature that is between two worlds. It was then that
I learned that Johnny Bovies was hyperactive, and that the
group was very difficult to handle too. They were hard to
manage as a group, and there wasn‟t a difference between

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the boys‟ behavior and the girls. I compared them with a


group of savage cannibals waiting to eat the new teacher in
front of the gymnasium doors.
I introduced myself as I did in the other two periods,
and then asked them their names, and where they were from.
An obese girl began to answer; “I‟m Michelle
Johnson, and my father works here.”
“We know that Michelle,” the tallest boy in this class
said, his name was Mickey Destine, and he seemed older
than the rest of the kids.
“But, I don‟t,” I said before I turned for the next kids,
“you,” pointing to a white chubby boy that was sitting beside
Michelle.
“I‟m Craig, and I‟m from South Africa,” he said
without any particular accent in his voice; the boy was as
American as the apple pie. His parents were working in a
country in African.
“I‟m Johnny. I live in Louisburg . . . What are we
doing today?”
“First we‟re going to know each other, and then
we‟re going to do some exercises,” I told them. I thought
that they were going to love my exercise routine.

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“Ahaaaa . . .” they all choroids.


The group perceived my reaction, in my face there
was astonishment written all over, they took me by surprise
and they knew it. I never thought that I was going to be
challenged in this way by group of thirteen and fourteen-
year-old kids. I couldn‟t believe my eyes. It was brutal. I
kept on going asking their names, ignoring their rough
attitudes. I continued the class as if it was a normal thing,
but inside me my heart was struggling. I knew that I was
going to have problems with this troupe when the period was
over, and Johnny was one of them. The boy was loud and
full of energy; he will never stop moving and saying what
was in his mind.
When the time was over, I dismissed the company by
following the dismissal policy. The academy required us to
send the girls to the dormitories, so they could shower and
change their clothes. While, the boys would remain in the
gym until they do the same. In our first meeting with Mr.
Milano he stressed this rule, in the past a teacher found a
couple in the process of making the wild thing in of the
locker room.

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I went to the office to rest for ten minutes after


everyone left. I was going to wait for the next class in the
coaches‟ office. I opened the door to find Coach Monroe in
his desk reading the newspaper; “Hay, Coach,” I greeted
him.
“Hi, Tony,” he took his eyes of the newspaper to
answered me. “How are you doing so far?”
“Those kids are hard,” I said.
“Wait for the seventh period, those are harder.”
“You‟re kidding?”
“No, they‟re all like that,” he said smiling with the
same expression that McGuire had when we were talking
about the dining hall meals.
“Are you telling me that it‟ll get worst?”
“You‟ll see,” he said. “The kids in this school are
rejects; trouble makers with rich parents . . . And their
parents don‟t care. You‟ll see,” Monroe aired with a little
twist on his lips.

1:24 P.M.
Dalton Monroe called everyone to the bleachers; we

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were going to make the students sign a contract with the


School‟s Physical Education Department. The contract
alluded to the tardy policy, the P. E. uniforms, and the
participation in class. After they read and signed it we
divided them into girls, who were going to be with me, and
boys, who were going to be with him. I moved all my
twenty-one girls to the activity building, while Monroe
began his class in the gym. My mission was to teach them
volleyball.

2:13 P.M.
We repeated the same process with the next groups;
the girls were going to be in my class and the boys were
going to be with McGuire and Monroe, with the exception of
the soccer players. The students were distributed in fair
shares between them, while Milano was going to have
another group until the soccer season was over. Mr.
Marquez was going to assist him with the soccer players.
I called my entire group inside the activity building
after a short lecture of how the things were going to be in my
class. With the exception of a Puerto Rican boy, who asked

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J.V. Rosario

I to be in my class, all the students were females.


When I was moving them to next doors, I heard
someone calling me, “Coach.” I turned around to see who
this person was, and then I saw the boy that played
volleyball with me the night before. He ran to catch with me
in front of the gym, as I guided the girls inside it.
“What?” I asked; I tried to put a mean look on my
face. I was trying to put character by being a bad ass with
everyone around in a P. E. uniform.
“What are you going to do in your class, Coach?” he
asked.
“I‟m doing volleyball, Kid,” I said with a rough tone.
“Can I be with you?” he asked me without backing
up to my harsh blabbing. Something on his face told me he
wasn‟t enjoying the process, as if he was looking for a way
out.
“I only have girls,” I answered.
“Fernando is in your class, and he isn‟t a girl,” he
defended his case.
“Yeah, but he‟s going to help me with the teams.”
“I can help too.”
I put him on hold for a second. The girls were

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expecting for me while he waited for an answer. His hands


were inside his pans pockets as he carried a book bag on his
left shoulder. As I observed the kid, I had the same hunch
again, I knew the kid. This was the reason I low my
defensive attitude, and said, “OK, Rick, you‟re with us
now?”
“Cool,” he smiled.
“Are you going to help me with the teams?”
“Yeah,” he said without a credible answer.
I began walking to where the group was, when I
heard him calling me again, “Coach, another thing. My name
. . .”
“What about it?”
“It‟s Devin, no Rick.”
“OK, Mr. Devin, you‟re with me now. So you better
change your fancy clothes for your P. E. Uniforms,” I said
back at him.
This hour became an extension of the volleyball
practices. No, everyone in the class likes it, but the
instructions that the administration gave me where to start
with the teams when possible. There was not enough time;

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our first game was going to be in two weeks.

3:00 P.M.
I was really exhausted at the end of this last period; I
could smell my body odor. The next period was easier of all.
It was tutoring-hour. As school rules all pupils with low
grades, lower than a “C,” were to report with the teachers for
help. And if for any reason the student didn‟t show, he or she
was to receive five work hours as a penalty.
In my first day of school nobody showed to this
tutoring class.
3:45 P.M.
After everything was over for the day, I went back to
my apartment to get some rest. I need time to recharge my
human batteries, so I could be an able handle what was
coming; I called for volleyball tryouts that night.
The rest of the year turned to be the same in every
day of the week; no major changes occurred in my schedule
and my daily routine. I had nine months of doing the same
almost every day of the week. I learned during that year that
it wasn‟t the quality or the quantity of your work that counts.
I discovered that sometimes you need to do an extra work to

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keep yourself alive in a place like Green Hills.


In away the academy was a little feudal kingdom;
there were Kings, lords and many, many servants, and the
best way to get the King‟s blessing was to be a brown-nose.
It was a pitiful way to make a living.

In my first practice as a head volleyball coach I had


more than twenty female athletes‟ trying-out for the two
squads. My task was to pick the two clubs out of them, a
junior team and a varsity team. The girls looked out of shape
and timing on the net when I began with the drills. It was
surprising to see that the returning players didn‟t know how
to establish a block on the net, and that their service was still
under hand, and unreliable. When I initiated the basic drills,
I realized that their bumping pass was out of form. The only
player out of the twenty-five that had mastered the skills the
way they should was Allison Shatter. She played for the
Lake Whale High fort two years before she transferred to
Green Hills‟ Academy in her senior year. The rest of the

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team tried but they weren‟t as good as Allison.


At the end of the tryout I picked ten girls for the
varsity and thirteen for the junior squad. The two groups
were one week away from their first game, and they weren‟t
in shape, so, the next four days were going to be difficult. I
knew that the teams weren‟t going to win at least the first
two or three games. But, I hoped that after a couple weeks
their chances to start winning would increase. I selected four
girls that could play beside Allison. Morgan and Monica
were experienced players, and Christina and Tammy played
junior varsity last season.
Christina was the first I reprimanded in practice; this
was the first time that I noticed her. She was running
backward as I required in the drill when she felt and began
laughing.
“You,” I shouted. “This practice isn‟t a joke,” I
proclaimed with authority. “What we are doing here it‟s
serious business, and if you can‟t do it with a better attitude
you better leave.” I finished my little speech pointing at her.
She stood up without saying a word, and she stared at
me with a slaying look between her green eyes. She
obviously didn‟t like that I put her on the spot, but I was

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trying to draw the discipline foundation for the rest of the


season. This was my first experience as a coach of an all
female team, and I was afraid that I might lose their
command.

I went to my place for the second shower of the day


when practice was over. It was a hot night, and I sweated
out my diner working with the two groups. I knew that they
were going to be in pain for the next days. I thought that if
they did not improve they were going to make my first two
months in the school sorrow. As I ate my late snack I
recalled on the groups I coached in the St. Mary, the
dissimilarities were too great to have a fair analogy. Then a
defensive thought crossed my mind; “I trust the school to
understand my situation with these teams,” I said aloud to
myself.

In the next two weeks we worked our butts off; I tried


to put them in volleyball condition. However, there is a

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difference between an athlete who has goal, and the people


who just play for recreation and fun. I have always believed
that if you want to participate in a sport you should have an
ambition, and then have fun in the process. The junior team
case was like that; they wanted to be the best team in the
conference, not because the other schools, because the
Varsity‟s attitude.
The senior squad turned to be a group of bitches; they
were mean to each other, to the other teams and even to me.
But the worst of all was that they were jealous of the junior‟s
sequence of victories.
In our third practice with them I achieved a
respectable performance from everyone on the court. I even
believed that they were going to do a productivity job in the
approaching season. They ran the drills smoothly, and
started to spike and block on the net. Chris, Fernando and I
were setting the volleyballs to them from all sites of net. I
made my drills to create a game feeling in my athletes, the
sensation of blocking and spiking on the net. Everything
was going well until Christina, one of the girls that played
last year, fell to the ground and began screaming like a
parturient woman. She held her left ankle while her hauls

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crossed the gym‟s air space. Her distress resembled a child


who was assuming a fetal position on the floor. We all
bounced to see what was happening with the team‟s tomboy.
“What‟s wrong?” I shouted, while I clear my way
through the group around her.
Christina screamed as if something was out of place
in her body, “My foot, shit, shit . . . It hurt,” her tears ran
from her eyes. Her ankle was obviously sprained from the
fall.
“That happened to her before,” a girl said behind me.
“Pam, go tell Mr. Milano that she is hurt,” I
instructed Pamela Wong immediately. Milano was in his
office; he was on duty that night. I thought that he was
going to take Christina to the hospital as soon as possible.
Her ankle was swelling and the best thing to do was to take
her to a doctor.
“Fernando, get some ice in the Dorms,” I told the
boy. He ran out of the building as if a group of wild dogs
were chasing him.
“I‟ll take him Coach,” Chris said, while he ran after
Fernando. I was so affected with the whole thing that I

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forgot that Chris was there; I thought that he was one of the
kids. “Thanks Coach,” he went out to search for the boy.
“Oh!” Christina howled out her pain.
“OK, let‟s take her to the bench,” I said to the other
girls. Allison and Carla helped me to move Christina to a
chair placed against the red brick wall. While we transferred
her, she cursed her whole Family, the school, and other
animals around. Her limb took the shape of an egg, as if
someone had put a baseball inside her skin. I knew her pain
very well, as an athlete this was the only injury I had ever
had. After a while you can feel the blood running through
the ankle, and the heartbeat pulsation with it.
“Shit, these people aren‟t coming,” I said aloud.
“Coach?” Michelle Johnson opened her mouth with
surprise.
“Sorry,” I apologized after I realized that my
language was not appropriated.
After waiting for around fifteen minutes for some
help Milano showed in the school van with Alma Walden
and her secretary, and they were in a passive mode. Milano
looked at the injured ankle and then said, “That‟s nothing.
Put some ice over tonight, and tomorrow we‟ll take you to

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the clinic.”
“Tomorrow?” Christina shouted and cried
simultaneously.
“Honey, you know this had happened before,” Mrs.
Moira buttered her voice to talk to the girl; she thought that
she was talking to a two-year-old.
“And, what fucking different does that make?” the
girl blared at the smiling woman.
“One moment young lady, you don‟t have to be so
rough with us. We just want the best for you.” Mrs. Walden
opened her mouth to discipline Christina, when I interrupted
her to say aloud, “I don‟t know but the ankle doesn‟t look
good. I think that we . . . “
“Coach, don‟t worry about it. We‟ll take her to the
dorm,” Milano cut my line of thought. “We know the
policies and we know what to do in these cases. Let‟s take
her to the van.” He gave an above-face and headed to the
doors. Mrs. Walden and her assistant followed him, while
Chris, Fernando and I carried the injured body to the vehicle
parked in front of the gymnasium.
“These fucking people don‟t care.” Christina cried,

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J.V. Rosario

while we took her out of the facility. Tammy heeled us


upholding Christina‟s tennis shoe, and saying between her
teeth, “I hate them.”

I came back inside the gym to cancel the rest of the


practice after they were gone. The other players were mad at
Milano‟s position. “They do things like that,” a girl asserted.
“If that would happen in my old school, she‟ll be in
the hospital by now,” Allison expressed to the group.
“They just want to save money, that‟s why they don‟t
take her to Emergency, „cause it will cost money to them,”
Pamela told the group that surrounded her.
“Well, they know what they doing,” I said while I
scratched my head, I couldn‟t believe what I was saying. “I
hope so,” I completed my thoughts aloud. “It‟s time to go,
tomorrow we‟ll continue with what we did tonight. Any
questions you want to ask?” I asked, but their minds were on
the high atmosphere. They all left without doubts in their
heads, they knew that Milano acted poorly.
Chris helped me to turn off the lights, and closed the
gym; he looked as shock as I was about their actions. But, I
didn‟t say a word to him; he went home without saying a

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thing about the incident.


The next day Christina was waking on crutches and
in a cast on her left foot, the Doctor told her that she had a
fracture metatarsal. And she spent the whole night in pain
because Milano played doctor with her.

Our first match turned the same way I had expected


it; we lost in two sets against Deltona Trinity Christian
Academy. Their team was well trained. Our junior team lost
in three, but they gave a better battle. The next two
encounters had the same results, and some sectors of the
Academy began to put pressure over the teams. They
wanted us to turn around the outcomes of the games. Dr.
Walden and Mr. Milano were the two biggest promoters of
this coercion. Walden, with his volitional attitude, and
Milano, with his soccer team record comparisons, called me
to their office to find out what was going on with the teams.
In a formal meeting they craved to know why teams weren‟t
winning games.

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I was prompted to justify myself by the


administrators; never before justified my coaching styles to
anyone. However, this time I found myself in front of a
school president desk. Walden took very seriously the
school athletics; it was something out of measure, as if the
school enrollment depended on the wins of a third class
volleyball team. On this man‟s visage there was a venomous
stare when he began his questioning.
“It‟s only a game,” I said.
“We know that, Coach,” he informed me while he
chewed his southern accent. “You have to be on top of the
situation, and be less focused on the plays.”
“I don‟t follow your meaning,” I told him.
“The plays aren‟t the important,” he said “It‟s how
things look from the outside,” Walden added.
“We don‟t care if you winning or lose,” Milano
reinforced Walden‟s position. “We just want the girls to look
good.”
“Do you mean how they dress, or how the play?” I
was confused with their way of vision the teams.
“It‟s the whole team‟s attitude. You have to change
their attitudes they have to look good to win games.”

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“I understand!” I said. “Thanks for telling me.” They


didn‟t present their case well enough or I was too stupid to
comprehend their line of thought. That words attitude didn‟t
mean anything to me. In my culture it has a different
meaning so it was hard to get what they were trying to say.
So, I got out of the office without a clue of what they really
wanted.
For me the whole school was involved in this
coercion against my players, evens the soccer team players
were talking; for them we were a lost cause and a waist of
time. My problems with their gossiping were that many of
those boys were going to be my players later in the year.
Their team was winning games, and Milano was having a
field day blabbing about my groups. He compared himself
with me around the school, and the boys began to see me as
a losing coach that didn‟t inspire his players.

One Friday evening I was observing the moves of my


future basketball players in the gym; I was on duty that
night. Then, the Batty Davis‟ eyes girl came to say
something to me. Carla was straightforward with her issues,

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and let out what it was being said about me around campus.
“Ferrer, you know what they‟re saying about you?”
she asked me as she pointed at the guys playing in the near
hoop. Bobby, Ryan, Mark, and other boys were on stage
under the gym‟s west board.
“No, what‟re they saying, Carla?” I thought that she
was promoting the gossip. “That you suck as a coach,” she
aired.
“So, that‟s what they‟re venting around,” I said with
a cynical tone in my voice. “And, what do you think?” I
asked her.
Carla paused and glanced at me to make her epigram,
“I think that you‟re OK.” She always struck me, as a person
that doesn‟t kiss ass, so whatever she said was the true.
When she expressed this to me, I gained confidence again,
the confidence that I was losing after my meet Walden. I felt
the intimidation, and I reasoned that he didn‟t have an idea
about what volleyball really is. I was coaching two teams
simultaneously, and they were in different play levels, it was
as trying to put a mouse to play with a lion. Nevertheless,
Walden didn‟t know that, they were looking for a problem
without looking at the big picture.

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“Carla, don‟t worry, the team will begin to win


soon,” I said to her while I stood up. I was going to play
some basketball with the boys. I was going to teach them a
lesson.
I took the ball and made some shots, Jason Campbell,
one few boys that I didn‟t know well, was standing near me
after my first shots went in. I observed his shape and then
squeezed his waist and said to him, “You‟re fat, Kid.”
The boys and I played some pick games that evening,
and by the end of the night they were convinced that I knew
what I was doing.

The next match the girls had was against Masters


Academy, and we won both matches. The two squads played
a lot better this time. Allison showed us, without any doubts,
that Saturday afternoon that she was the best player of the
varsity squad. Yet, the real hero of the game turned to be a
girl from New York City. Tara served eleven points in a row
in the second set, and gave us our first win.

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The season was on its way, and the junior team was
picking up with five victories on a row, and only three
losses, which they got in the beginning of the campaign. In
the other hand the Varsity struggled with two wins and six
mislaying. Their next encounter was against the Lutheran
School of Orlando, who happened to have the best athletic
program of the conference. Its reputation was well known by
all the coaches I spoke too.
My players were always tattling about Luther‟s
teams, which came to our gym in with a 6‟2” tall girl. As
she walked inside the main vault of our facility, all my
players ran to me to ask me about the giant girl. Her side
shook me but I didn‟t show any fearsome sign to my players,
what they got from me was a cool attitude.
The night turned to be a busy one, it was a Friday
night so I set my mind to go to a movie after the games. I
tried to let everything in order so I could leave as soon the
games were over. The whole process of preparing for the
event was exciting; I was responsible for keeping track of
my athletes‟ warm-ups, set the net for both matches, and to
find four students that would help as line judges and

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A Season In Green Hills‟

scorekeeper.
The preparations were fine until I found out that
Fernando was caught smoking in his room the night before.
He wasn‟t going to be a line judge that night, so I was short
by one, and time was running out. He was washing dishes in
the Dining Hall „cause of his smoking habits. I looked to see
if anyone was good enough to fill his shoes, but I didn‟t
know any student well to ask them to do the job. Then, I
saw the blond boy, Rick or Devin, coming through the gym‟s
doors. It was the first time that he showed to see a game,
after he asked me to be in my class and offered to help with
the teams. The kid was wearing one of the physical
education uniforms with a red biker pant under his shorts; he
looked comical to me at that point. He looked around, as if
he were looking for someone.
For a moment I forgot his name again, I was going to
call him Rick, after Ricky Schroeder, but his name came to
my head. “Devin,” I called him.
He glanced at me, and immediately came to where I
was sitting on the bench. “Did you call me, Coach?”
“Yes, I need two line judges for this game. Would

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you help me tonight?” I asked him. “I‟ll give you extra credit
if you help. Remember what you said about helping with the
teams.”
“I know, but you got Fernando,” he answered, “and I
don‟t get alone with him.”
“He‟s working in the Dining Hall,” I told him. “He
can‟t help any more.”
He smiled, and gave no thought to his response, “OK,
I‟ll help you in the first game, I want to played basketball
after.”
“Oh, basketball!”
Devin glinted with his eyes, and grinned as if he were
embarrassed from his revelation. I continued to explain what
he was going to do as a line judge, and then he went to talk
to the game officials. Again his face reminds me of
someone, but I wasn‟t sure whom.
The junior team won in two sets; their match became
an easy conquest. I was so content with them that I even
called for a time-out to say to the girls that they needed more
competition, that the other team was pitiful. They laughed,
and implied that I was mean, in a fun way. I then told them
that I have a new name for the team, “The Eagles of

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Volleyball.” Soon after they made a circle and put their


hands together and shouted in a unison voice. “One . . . Two
. . . Three . . . Eagles.”
When the game was over, I immediately began to get
ready for the next match. I went to see if the line judges
were going to stay for the next encounter. The blond kid was
sitting on the floor laying his back against the gym wall, near
the water fountain. I walked to where he was sitting, and
stood in front of him. I gave him a good look and then softly
I kicked his right foot. I was looking for an answer.
“What?” he asked.
“What‟re you going to do?” I asked in return.
“About what?”
“Well, are you staying for the next game or no?”
“Yeah, I‟ll stay.”
“Good! So you‟re helping me again.”
“I don‟t know about that.”
“Why?”
“I want to make the JV Team, and I need a lot of
practice.” Then, he said, “I‟m way back.”
“I can help,” I said without too much interest, the

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volleyball season was first, and he didn‟t strike me as a


basketball player. Devin didn‟t say anything then, the game
was about to start and I left him sitting against the wall. He
just limited himself to watch me going away from his with a
distrusted expression on his face. I thought that he didn‟t
trust adults, but at the same time I sensed there was a part of
him that was screaming for help.
Devin helped me with the equipment after the second
game was over. The varsity won for the first time at home,
they made everyone thrill, especially me. I felt that I proved
myself in front of the school crowd that night. It was a good
feeling that I didn‟t bother showing. While I advanced to put
the scored board and the tables in the storage room, Devin
observed my reaction to the two wins. “You look happy,” he
said.
“You don‟t know how, Kid,” I responded.
“They played good tonight, better than last time,” he
added.
“Yeah,” I said with surprise, „cause I thought that he
didn‟t come to any of the other games. “You‟re her last
night?”
“Yeah, I had come to all the games,” he said. “I think

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that your JV listens, but the varsity . . . well, they don‟t.”


His expression told me a lot; I was alarmed, he resembled
someone that I couldn‟t put together; it was as if he was part
of a big puzzle that I couldn‟t understand.
We ate together that evening, first of many times that
sit with me in the same table. The kid spoke about his
brother and about his tryout experience with his other school.
I discerned that he was a pleasant kid, well manners and
eloquent. I thought that it was really odd that his parent
enrolled him in a border school.

I told my fifth period that we were going to meet in


front of the swimming pool; it was the first time that I was
going to use the facilities with one of my groups. Johnny
and the rest were excited about this, he and the others
insisted on going to the pool the whole week before, so I
decided to accommodate them that afternoon. The other two
coaches used the pool with their classes in the past week, so
my students were begging me to let them exercise their right

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to use it too.
The pool was semi-Olympic, 25 X 20 meters, and it
was always in bad shape until the last two weeks. The head
of maintenance, Mark Woods, put two suspended students to
work on it.
My group was waiting for me in front of the pool‟s
gate; Johnny and the rest of the gang were wearing their
bathing suit. They were carrying their towels, book bags and
their school clothes in their hands. The whole thing created
a good atmosphere; kids and water make a good
combination. I told them that we‟re going to be the whole
week in the pool, and they were delighted with the news. I
was trying to make the class as fun as possible for them, I
thought that in this way they were going at least to enjoy
something about the school.
This group was very special for me, no because they
were smart or athletic, because I thought that they were too
young to be away from home for such a long time.
Understanding why a child in the middle of the most
important and difficult stage of their life was absent from the
most important people in their life was hard.
It was going to be a pleasant hour, until Mark Wood

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the head of maintenance showed driving his little golf car.


“Coach, aren‟t you using the pool?” he asked, as if he
couldn‟t see that the kids were dressed in their swimming
outfit.
Mr. Wood was a very strange man, the only two
people that deal with him in the school were Walden and
Milano, and everyone else dispels the little man. He drove
the golf car the entire first month of school, at one point I
thought that it was good that the building didn‟t have larger
doors, „cause this was the only reason that he didn‟t drive the
little vehicle inside the school buildings. It looked as if they
glued him to the car.
“Yeah,” I answered. Maybe he didn‟t know what the
kids were wearing.
“You can‟t use it today,” Wood said.
“Why?” I heard Johnny asking him from behind me.
“Johnny, be quite,” I turned to shout at the boy.
“Why is that?”
“It‟s not safe,” Mr. Wood replied while he pulled his
car away from us.
“Coach Monroe used it last Friday . . .” Michelle

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screamed to the moving car.


“Shit!” Craig Calhoun shouted.
“Hay, don‟t you talk like that in front of me,” I
shouted back to the boy.
The incident made me angry and caused me to lose
my control over them; I didn‟t know what to do now. I had
to abort my plans for the week, and the youngsters were
giving me a hard time too. In my mind there was not other
choice, but to take them to the gym and begin a fitness unit
for the rest of the week.
By the time we beached in the gymnasium the
children were in a displeasing state. I tried to get their
attention, but they were nasty and abuse it toward each other,
and in occasions to me. I lined them up to start the exercise
routine that I picked from the top of my head that afternoon.
So, I choose Johnny to lead of the group; he was going to
guide his classmate with their warm-up.
I put my concentration on Johnny while he was trying
to do the exercises. Then I saw a girl stepping on another
boy‟s foot at the same time she squeezed with her hand on
the boy‟s growing. I turned around to see how the group was
doing and caught her in action. He wasn‟t smiling; he didn‟t

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have an agreement expression on his mask; he was as alarm


as I was. My mind shut down in that very moment, „cause I
approached her and smashed her on the shoulder with my
open hand. She gave me a terrifying glare mixed with hate
as she ran away from the gym, crying loud, like a hurt infant.
“God, what‟ve I done?” I shouted. The other
students‟ faces showed a blend of dismay and joy. I was
confused; it felt as if I just finished fighting with another
guy. I browsed around me to get a response from them, but
they were muted. The gym was soundless; hearing the
outside wind palpating the trees‟ was possible. I tried not to
let them get out of control, so I continued with the class as if
nothing happened. Still, my hands were shaking, and I knew
that they could tell my condition.
“Coach, don‟t worry, she deserved that,” Michelle
unveiled her feelings toward the girl.
“Yeah, she‟s a bitch,” Mickey abjured.
“Don‟t say that, it was wrong.” I said then. “I don‟t
have the right to do that. I don‟t know what happened.”
“She‟s always in trouble,” Jason interrupted, “Did
you see what she was doing?” he said while pointed at his

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crutch. A stillness moment befell after Jason expressed his


part, as if nobody understood him.
“OK, let‟s continue the class.” I broke the silence.
This was the most unfortunate days of my life.
Principal Hawking came to the gym to find out what
happened and to see how the rest of the group was doing. I
explained the situation to him, but I omitted that I caught the
girl holding Jason‟s growing, and I never said anything until
now. The girl didn‟t mention it to the school‟s
administrators; she told them that I slapped her because she
stepped on the boy‟s foot.
The following morning Doctor Walden accused me
to be a child-bitter; he hurt my feelings with that remark. It
was the first time that something like this occurred to me,
and this man, that didn‟t know me well, used his tongue to
prejudice my self-esteem. I didn‟t attempt to defense my
situation, because I figured that I needed the punishment. He
told me, “Mr. Ferrer, I‟d in the past to control myself, no
said something abrasive to the child I punished in this office.
But, I would never entertain the thought of putting my hands
on one of them. They‟re hard, I know that, but you must be
always in control.”

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“If you can‟t, Mr. Ferrer, I wouldn‟t have other


choice, but to dismiss you from Green Hills‟ Academy, and I
don‟t want to do that, „cause, I think that you‟re a good man.
I also think that you aren‟t a liar, but you‟ve to be in control
at all moments.”
“Coach, you remember what Mr. Milano said about
you in our first meeting. What was the word you used, Mr.
Milano?” He turned to Mr. Milano, who was in the office.
“Ganas!” he pronounced the word.
“That‟s the word, Gonas!” Walden tried to repeat
after Milano.
“Ganas, G-A-N-A-S,” Milano corrected him.
“Whatever,” he told his second man.
I didn‟t say much; I thought that they were right. So,
when the meeting was over, I left the office feeling that
everything was over. That day I promised myself that I was
not going to go back again to that office. I didn‟t know how
wrong I was when I made that pledge.

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The volleyball season was almost over, and by that


time I knew that the Junior Varsity was heading to win their
conference championship. But, just when there weren‟t
doubts in my senses about the varsity‟s path, they were doom
to end in a fifth place out of six teams. It was a fact that the
girls weren‟t doing a good job by getting alone with each
other. Monica and Morgan had an internal belligerence for
positions and for who was going to set the ball to Allison.
Allison was in the middle of the discord, she was
Monica‟s roommate, and she didn‟t want to speak her mind
because of her. This problem was frustrating for her, she
loved the sport, and she wanted to get an athletic scholarship
to play in college, and she was afraid to lose it because the
team‟s performance.
The evening we went to played Pine Castle Allison
sat by me in the school bus. She wanted to express her
concern about the team‟s failure; “I want this season to get
over,” she said to me. I sensed that she was about to cry.
“I understand you,” I said to her. “I know how you
feel about them, and I‟m sorry.”
“What should I do? I got to get that scholarship; I
need to play in college . . . I‟m not doing well because

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they‟re bitching all the time.”


“The only thing I can tell you is that you should wait
until districts, and see if we can do there,” I said. “I had tried
everything, and I can‟t do more. I admonished and screamed
at them. And, what‟s their reaction? . . . One cried and the
other one bitched back at me. They‟re tarring the team apart
. . . I can‟t do more, your roommate doesn‟t listen to anyone,
she can‟t bend her knees to set you, yet she‟s the only setter
we‟ve, and Morgan isn‟t as good as she.”
“Morgan is a witch, Coach,” Allison affirmed.
“Anyhow, I still have hoped that we‟re going to do
better in the district tournament.”
Those hopes didn‟t come true, the J. V. won their
Conference Tournament, and the Varsity lost their way in the
districts first round. The juniors‟ improvement was so
incredible that it defeated their antagonists in practices most
of the time.

The students were getting into the dining hall very

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slowly; there was a game going on in the soccer field.


Almost everyone in the school was there, watching Milano‟s
team beating their competitors. On Tuesdays, the students
that stayed to watch the soccer games were allowed to be late
for dinner.
I was eating my diner early, and I did not like soccer
that much and Milano began to annoy me with his know-it-
all‟s attitude. As I put one bite in my mouth, I saw Devin
coming to my table; he sat in my table and said, “Coach,” his
voice trembled. “I need a favor from you.”
I noticed him during the last games of the volleyball
season, but he wasn‟t that special for me to grant him a
favor. In the beginning of the year I even thought that he
was a little petulant. So, I gave him a good look; I thought
that he was easy to read; I was going to let him speak, and
then say a big NO to whatever he wanted from me.
“How may I help you, Kid?” I asked the boy.
“I want you to teach me to play basketball,” Devin
sounded as if he were taking a chance in asking this to me. I
saw him grinned, and there it was again, that same feeling
that I knew him from before, but from where or from when, I
did not know. I never saw him before I came to Green Hills,

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but now it was as if I knew him as well as I knew myself.


His request took me by surprise; I didn‟t contemplate
something like this coming from a boy that seen so
uncommunicative with others. I gave him a considerable
look, he was dressed in a white T-shirt with London‟s Hard
Rock Café logo printed in front, and light brown shorts that
ended on his knees, and his shoes weren‟t for basketball. He
wasn‟t ready for a practice or a tryout, and definitely he
wasn‟t ready for one of mine. I figured that he was between
fourteen and fifteen years old, and that he wasn‟t tall enough
to begin playing basketball. In other words, he was too old
and too short to waste my time.
Nevertheless, there was something in his face that
made me remembers another boy that asked the same
indulgence some years ago; “Would you teach me . . . ?” he
said. It was a short question, but it told me a lot about the
young fellow. He wanted to play my sport, the one I learned
from my brother when I was only eleven, and created a great
bond between us. I saw in Devin the same need for doing
something respectable, something that would show the world
around him what he was capable to do. In his blue eyes it

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was written that I could find that fine that relationship


between the boy, the rim and the basketball. Something was
telling me that it could occur in this young man.
I took my time to say something back to Devin; after
all I was remembering all those young people that played for
me in the past. Teaching a sport to a young person is a great
feeling, „cause you can see the results almost immediately.
Still, teaching basketball is more complicated than any other
sport, especially for a white boy that never tried it before in a
serious manner.
“How old are you, Devin?” I asked him.
“I turned fifteen in July,” he returned, with an odd
expression on his semblance. He didn‟t understand why I
asked him this question.
“You‟re too old, kid,” I told him.
“What do you mean?” the boy asked with an anxious
gesture.
“You‟re starting' too late. You should start to play
when you‟re about ten or eleven,” I said. “Believe me. I
know what I‟m saying.”
“You don‟t know me,” Devin defended his case.
“Once I begin to do something I‟ll never quit until I master

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it.”
“OK. If I‟m going to help you, tell me where and
when? I don‟t have time for you, Kid,” I said.
“You‟ve,” he let out. “After dinner we can practice
behind Eaton Hall, and help me with my game. I know that
you‟re finished with the girls, so you got the time, you just
don‟t want to give time to me.”
“I need some rest, Kid,” I said, but he already
convinced. I paused for a second to think about what I was
going to say. “You just don‟t want to give me your time,”
Devin‟s word resounded in my head; they were closed to a
conversation I had with my father. Finally, I said to him,
“OK, but let me tell you one thing. If you don‟t do what I
ask you to do, I‟m out of the deal.” I glanced at him and said
very firmly, “Do you understand?”
“Yeah, I do,” he answered. There was an unusual
grin on his face. “Let‟s go now!”
“Now?”
“Yeah, now!”
“You mean tonight?”
Devin took my hand and pulled me out of the chair; it

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was as if he made his biggest triumph of the day.


“Why me?” I asked him. “Why don‟t you go to the
other coaches?” He said nothing to that respect.
The child made me go to my apartment, so I could
change my clothes. If I were to begin teaching him to play
basketball, I was to do it right. So, I put some shorts and a
T-shirt that Jose gave me years ago in St. Mary, it had the
Boston Celtic‟s Leprechaun printed on the back. At that
time Boston was my favorite NBA team.
Devin was already shooting by the time I got behind
Eaton Hall; he was using an old ball that belonged to Mr.
Martin. The constant use given by Eaton‟s residents pealed
the ball out. I observed his shot and his dribble from the
distance. He was shooting with his two hands and over his
head as many beginner players do.
“I knew that you‟ll come,” he smiled while he
approached my car.
“One thing you‟re going to know about me, I always
keep my promises,” I declaimed.
“Good, I like that.”
“OK!” I wasn‟t sure what I was going to do with him,
„cause he wasn‟t a strong boy. He did not have a shot or a

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ball handling.
There were other students on the court that evening,
and many were even better than Devin. I guessed that they
were puzzled by my present on the court. Kim Maxwell and
Victor Lopes were shooting on the opposite hoop, while we
were under the south board of the large concrete slab.
“Devin, show me how you dribble,” I requested.
He began the task by dribbling from one side to the
other bending his body as if had a painful cramp in his
stomach. In that moment, I imagined that he was provably
an ultraconservative his left-hand was null. It was really
jocular; I didn‟t laugh because I didn‟t want to embarrass
him.
“OK! Stop. I had seen enough.” I immobilized him,
and then called him to a corner in the court. “First, you
would not bend your torso like that when you dribble,” I said
while I showed him how to do it correctly. “And, that
basketball isn‟t going to help you! It‟s lighter than a beach
ball,” I added.
So, I went to my car and opened the trunk to get a
new ball, the one I bought to cure my fever at the „Y‟. I

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J.V. Rosario

threw it at his chest; he made a curious gesture with his lips,


as if he never saw a good basketball in all his life.
“It‟s better than that one,” I pointed out to the
basketball.
He put the ball into action immediately, and then
said, “I like it!”
“Now, you have to learn to put the basketball beside,
no in front of you. You may kick the ball with your feet if
you keep on dribbling your way.” The boy followed my
instruction to the letter. “Don‟t bend your torso.”
Devin raised his trunk to a vertical position while he
bounced the ball against the ground. I showed it to him how
to do it, using the beach ball. “You‟ve to learn to dribble
with both hands, if you want to become a point guard,” I
explained.
“A point guard?” he exclaimed.
“Yeah!”
“Why?”
“You aren‟t tall, and I think that you‟re a smart!”
Devin gave me a “you‟re the boss” look, or maybe an
„I do whatever you say.‟ “If you want to be a point guard
first you have to learn to control over that,” I pointed to the

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tool he had in his hand, “as if you‟re riding a bicycle.”


“What about my shooting?” he asked me.
“Don‟t worry about it?” I said. “That‟ll come to you
later.”
We practiced his dribbling, and we made some shots
that evening. By the time we were done I began to think that
there was hope for him. He was a quick learner. In the end I
made my final dare, “Listen, Dev‟, the next thing that I want
you to do is this.” I sat on my car‟s bumper, and then
dribbled the basketball behind my legs, making a rhythm
with the object. I showed him how to do it, and then I gave
him the basketball to see if he understood what I was trying
to teach him. He sat on the same spot and tried the drill
without success. He was frustrated because the drill seemed
simple, but he didn‟t handle it well.
“Looks easy?” I said, with a mean cue. “If you don‟t
master this for next week, I wouldn‟t come back.” Inside me,
I was really hoping that he could do it the next day.
“I will Coach, you‟ll see,” he was upset with himself
when he pronounced those words.
“Good, I like that.” I glanced into his eyes, and then

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said, “It‟s nice to see that you get angry with yourself . . . If
you want to do anything in life, you have to have that desire.
Like Apollo Creek told Rocky; you have to have the eye of
the tiger.”
“You don‟t know how much I want this.”
“No, but I have an idea. See you‟ tomorrow, Kid,” I
said while I moved away from him. And when I was about
to get in the car, he asked me; “Why do you always call me
KID?”
“Because, that‟s the way I called all my basketball
players,” I told him.
“I‟m your player now?”
“We‟ll see.”
“What about the basketball?” Devin asked.
“Keep it. It‟s yours now,” I said.
I turned my car on the Eaton Hall‟s dirt road, and
while the vehicle advanced I watched him throughout my
rear mirror to see what he up too. He was dribbling the ball
while he watched the Toyota heading forward. I gained his
trust that evening, and since then I never lost it.
I came back the next day, the next week, and he kept
his promise. In less than a week he was dribbling the

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basketball behind his legs, as if he were riding a bike. The


boy amazed me even more anyone before; he caught the
dribbling faster than any other player I had since, and to
watch this was incredible. Devin was getting to be one of
my basketball players after all.

Christina Mallet came back from her injury to play


for the junior squad. At first she was upset with my decision
to put her in the junior team; she thought that playing there
was going to drawbacks her image in front of the rest of the
academy. Yet, when we went to our conference
championship tournament, she saw things in some different
ways. She was the best player of the crew and our only
consistent spikier. She could spike any set, something that
Allison was struggling to do.
After they won the championship game, I moved her
back to the varsity so she could play in the district‟s
tournament. The girls were going to play the first encounter
against Lake Highland Prep, so I gave them five hard

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practices before the main event. The competition was in a


single elimination format; if we lose our first game, we
would be out for good.
The practices I gave them were strenuous; they knew
the importance of the next give-and-take so they play along
with the hard work, but my effort wasn‟t enough. Lake
Highland Prep had a better team; they had what we lacked, a
setter. The two Ms‟ played badly in their positions, they
tried to do the job, but the two young women didn‟t have a
coach in the past that could teach them how to be a setter.
We lost the game, and it upset me to see my players
throw an attitude, to their teammates and me, the coach, all
„cause they didn‟t have the discipline to play the sport. So
when we were coming back I refused to speak to them, in a
way I was glad that the season was over. My coaching
experience with this team was unpleasant. The only thing
that I earned in this season was the J V‟s triumph in the
conference tournament, and I felt very proud for them, while
I experienced disappointment with the varsity.
That night in our way home we stopped in a Burger
King on highway #50 close to Wintergreen. It was one of
our usual stops after a game, and because there were three

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fast foods in the same corner -- B. K., McDonald‟s, and a


Taco Bell. Chris McGuire walked some of the girls to the
golden arches, while I remained with the others in the
restaurant. They unsettled my stomach the whole night, and
the game upset it even more. However, I sat on a boot in the
end of the dining, facing the restaurant glass window; I was
grieving the loss. I wanted to win over Lake Highland Prep,
and my players‟ disposition didn‟t help to achieve that result,
and all these angry me.
Christina and Theresa knew that I wasn‟t cheerful
with the result, so they came to see if they could cheer me
up. Christina sat in the table next to mine, and crossed her
legs, while she put her hand on her cheek. I thought that she
resembled a young Cybil Shepherd.
“Coach, what‟s wrong?” She asked with an alluring
smile on her lips. I stared at her with curiosity; she was very
attractive girl. I grinned back at her, but my mood was not
good. “Nothing,” I responded.
“God, how can you say that?” She replayed. “I know
you‟re mad at us.”
“Christina, I don‟t want to talk about it. I don‟t think

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J.V. Rosario

you‟ll understand.”
“Why? Because, I‟m only sixteen.”
“No, it‟s not that!”
“You people don‟t like to tell us things. You think
that we‟re too young to understand. You think that „cause
we‟re young we don‟t have brains,” she aired. “Coach, I
thought that you‟re different.”
“Don‟t say that. You know that I‟m the standard
type,” I said. “You know that I treated you in another way,
not like the other teachers.”
“Yeah, but don‟t you trust us?”
“I do,” I said in a firm tone. “It‟s just that I don‟t
want to talk about it. It‟s just those girls . . . they
pissed-me-up . . . They didn‟t follow a shit of what I said to
them in the game.”
“Coach,” she glowed while she put her hand again on
her left cheek. I didn‟t have other alternative, but to chuckle
with them.
After a while we stopped the heehaw, and them I told
her, “You know, I think that you‟re the prettiest girl in the
school.”
Christina‟s cheeks‟ bloodshed, she waited about five

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A Season In Green Hills‟

seconds to respond to my remark. “You don‟t mean that.”


“I do!” I said.
At first I thought that she was one of the most
attractive girls I ever saw in my life. My mind could it give
bad thoughts over her body and face. Yet, I was the teacher
and she was the student, nothing could happen, and it didn‟t
happen. We became friends as the year moved on, it was a
relationship between the educator and the pupil, but after that
night I always called her, “The prettiest girl in town.”

10

After their season was over, I spent my afternoon


teaching Devin to play basketball. He was always worry
about if he were going to make the JV, so after every
practice he always asked me the same question, “Do you
think I‟ll make the team?”
“Yeah, I think so!”
“You aren‟t saying that „cause, you‟re my friend?” he
asked me.
“Kid, you can be my best friend,” I responded, but

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J.V. Rosario

basketball is something that I honored. When I tell you that


you‟re doing be good, it‟s „cause I mean it.”
“But, I need to keep working,” he said to himself.
“Sure, you do! You need to work even harder,” I
advised him. “Listen, if Coach McGuire doesn‟t pick you,
I‟ll pick you for the Varsity.” His eyes opened like two
headlights; he couldn‟t believe what I just said.
“No, I‟m not ready to play with those guys,” he
exclaimed with an enthusiastic expression on his young face.
It was the expression of a boy in front of a Christmas tree,
full of presents under.
“Sure you aren‟t ready to play with them,” I said that
while I put my hand over his shoulder. I wanted his attention
at this point. “Believe me when I say this, I haven‟t had, in
my life as a basketball coach, someone that had learn to play
as fast as you.”
“No,” he said. “I don‟t think so, I‟m not doing that
well.”
“Don‟t worry. The time will come when you‟re
going to believe me.”
He followed all the drills in details, his dribbling was
getting better and better with every practice, but his shooting

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needed more work, so I changed my strategy. We moved


from Eaton Hall‟s outdoor court to the gymnasium. I used
small orange cones on the ground to make him dribble
around them for long periods of time. When he was ready to
start working with his shot, I began to make him shoot from
all the angles of the court. At first he wasn‟t strong enough
to make them, but with time and practice he became a fair
shooter from that territory. His progress was evident and I
was feeling proud of the boy.
Devin became important for me, but only because I
was helping him with his game. I thought that there was
nothing else. After practice was over, he turned into another
Green Hills‟ student, another face in the crowd.

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Chapter IV

1
I felt that someone was watching me very closely
during the entire volleyball season. Every time that I crossed
the campus‟s there was a pair of eyes staring at me. At first I
wasn‟t sure of this physical existence, but she emitted some
peeks that put me on the guard.
Alexandra Miller was the director the Daughters of
America Dormitory, but everyone inside the old building
called her Alex. She was only twenty-eight at that time, but
she looked twenty or less. She didn‟t talk when we met in
the dinning hall or the gym. Even though that she only said
a hello every time we met, I always knew that she had a little
crush with me.
Alex came to every home game in Alma Walden‟s
company; they were the number one fans of the girls. The
pair posed on the bleachers in front of our bench to cheer,
and sometimes to help the players with their little problems.
As I coached the games my eyes crossed the court
lines to see if she were glancing at me. In many

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A Season In Green Hills‟

opportunities our eyes ended in a long stare at each other, but


when we discovered that we encountered our glares, we both
turned away.
Ms. Miller graduated from Green Hills as a student in
1980s; during her high school years she became Alma
Walden‟s favorite. Her sister was the first to come to the
academy; Alex‟s Family was from South Miami. I her
mother‟s eyes there weren‟t good public school in that city
for her two daughters. Mrs. Miller wanted a good education
for her two children, so she sent them to Green Hills. In
those days‟ things were a little different in the academy; the
rules weren‟t as heavy on the students. So, Alex‟s Mother
decided that her only relatives alive were to go to a boarding
school.
Alex came to eighth grade and continued in the
school until she graduated. After high school she went to a
junior college in Miami, but she never finished her basic.
She partied more than what she studied in those wild years.
One night she received a phone call from Alma Walden; she
asked Alex to help with an emergency in a dormitory. Two
house-parents resigned their positions in the middle of the

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second semester. So Alex was back in the place she called


her second home.
Her first year as a house parent wasn‟t really her best;
she was too easy with the girls, and they took advantage.
But, all that changed in the years that came after; every
resident called Alex the bitch; they were afraid of her.

Since I was one of the sponsors of the senior class, I


was involved in all types of committees, and the Halloween
Dance was one of them. I was supposed to work in the
activity with Alma Walden and Alex. So, they scheduled
this dance for a Thursday night.
Alex and I spoke in about two occasions before the
activity, but nothing out of the ordinary; she came once to
my apartment to bring me the computer that my mother
mailed to me. Still, she didn‟t say much, a “hello” and a
“goodbye,” in that little time that she was in my place.

The night of the dance all the students dressed in all


kind of costumes, and identifying them was impossible in
occasions. Cowboys‟ pistols, Dracula‟s cloak, little babies‟
bottles, and L.A. Gangs‟ handkerchiefs were the commune

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arrays on the dance‟s floor. Amanda, Christina‟s sister,


ornamented her body in a dairy cow disguise, while her sister
germinated in a prostitute dress. She was in the company of
her boyfriend, Ryan, who decked out with a white pin hat,
and colorful coat. Devin was the Angle of Death; he had on
a skull face with two flashing red lights as eyes. Some girls
were basketball uniforms, and some boys used the
cheerleaders‟ arrays. Mickey Mouse and other Disney‟s
characters were present that night with other things that
weren‟t easy to descry.
The Martins came to the party in clowns‟ costumes,
and Alex, who was with them, was a green witch in a black
monk habit. Mr. Thomas was Captain Kirk, Alma Walden
was lieutenant Uhura, and Mrs. Thomas tried to be Dr.
McCoy, with about forty extra pounds. I joined forces with
them by wearing two pointed plastic ears, to play the
Volcano of the crew of the U.S.S. Green Hills.
That night, I danced meringue with the girl from
Panama who was in my health science class. Her costume
was a little girl attire, with a bottle and pigtails. Her parent
sent her to the Green Hills in view that she wasn‟t the bright

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enough to deal with the regular school. I thought that she


was a great kid, but there was not question in my mind that
her parents were buying her the high school diploma. She
was not smart!
However, the night wasn‟t for philosophers, it was
for having fun and that was what everyone was doing. Mr.
Walden and Michelle Johnson‟s father caught a boy and girl
kissing and squeezing each other in a dark corner of the gym
where the party was taking place. The decoration was very
distinctive, dark and gloomy. The couples were taking
chances by hiding from their chaperons to kiss in the obscure
area created by the dance‟s committee. Walden gripped the
young man‟s arm and blared at him as if he carried out an
immoral act. The boy, around fourteen, pulled his arm of
Walden‟s hands and ran like a gazelle to his dorm. Everyone
around the incident laughed at the fellow and his girlfriend.
They sent her crying to McNeill Hall in company of her
house parent. For both there were waiting two in school
suspension the next day. They were going to work in the
school shop the whole day with the maintenance crews.
The music was loud and confusing; the Wallace Hall
boys were in-charge of it. They brought to the gymnasium

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two LP‟s plates, a cassette and a CD player and an amplifier


with eight speakers. Reggae, rock, salsa, meringue and rap
music were the main effects that the two disk jockeys were
playing all through the nigh. The dance committee was
doing games in the middle of the gym floor; hoopla-hops
competitions, basketball free throws, egg rises were few of
the gambles that the disciples played throughout the night.
Alex and Mrs. Walden took pictures and acted as judges in
the costume contest.
As the dance was going on, I danced with
Panamanian Girl my third meringue. After I finished
dancing, I heard someone calling me. It was Mickey‟s
Dustin sister, Melinda, who was sitting next to Alex near the
gym doors. The girl was bandaged in mummy wraps, made
out of toilet paper and white Band-Aid wrappers. While I
approached her, she asked me to a teacher her to dance
meringue. I wasn‟t sure of her real intention so I said, “No,”
in harsh respond. I thought that she had another idea of what
a teacher-student relationship could be. As a male teacher I
found that some of my female pupils could have an
infatuation with their male teacher. Melinda‟s body

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language and certain words were exhibiting those signs.


“No, I‟m tired,” I said, “I don‟t want to dance.”
“OK! Be like that,” she shouted while she stood up
from the hey-stack, where they were sitting. Melinda gave
me a cutthroat eye, and left to where the Wallace Hall kids
were playing the music. Alex and I watched her displace
throughout the dance floor, and laughed of her childless
attitude.
“Don‟t worry, she‟s like that,” Alex voiced while she
smiled. She knew Melinda from about three years, and it
was to the school knowledge that she wasn‟t an easy person
to deal with.
I sat beside her and noticed that she was in civilian
clothes; she took off her green witch costume off. We
opened a conversation with small talk about the dance.
Then, out the clear blue, she asked me if I wanted to go out
to a bar or a movie.
“I‟m not the bar type,” I shouted, the loud music
made us scream at each other, to understand what we were
saying was futile. “But, we can go to a movie.”
“OK, Yea! What about this weekend?” She shouted
back at me.

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“This weekend I‟m on duty,” I said.


Alex didn‟t say much or at least that‟s what I thought,
the music was so blaring that it was hard to listen what we
were conveying to each other. “I‟ll call you for the movie,” I
spoke at the end. I didn‟t know why I said this. I wasn‟t
intrigued by her looks even though they were pleasant to the
eye. However, I thought that she wasn‟t my type, maybe I
wasn‟t planning to call her, or maybe I was. I didn‟t know.
The only thing I knew was that she was attracted to me, and
that she aroused my thoughts.
When the dance was over, I helped the Martins and
Mrs. Walden to load the school van with the dance
decorations. I was back in my apartment around 1:00 in a
Friday morning. We had classes the next dawn. Yet, I
wasn‟t tired to go to bed, there was an excitement in my
head, but, I felt to recognize what it was. This slowed my
sleeping stage.
I dreamed twice that night, with my father and the
boy on the horse that was running away from me. I saw my
father walking on a bricked street full of trees on the
sidewalk; as if he were standing on a street in Barcelona. He

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was wearing a beggar‟s wraps, while he contemplated me


with a smirk on his face as if he were blessed to be there. I
walked by and glimpsed at him, I though I understood his
message, because I didn‟t stop. I kept on walking and
staring at him; I don‟t know if there was a message in that
vision, since he scanned me with his eyes as if he wanted to
tell me something. It felt so real that when I woke up the
next morning I was anxious. It was November the 1st, and in
five more days it was going to be four months seen he passed
on. Until that point I thought that I over conquered his
death, but my dream triggered the thought of never being
able to conquer his passing.

Alex called me on Thursday to ask me if we could go


to the movies that night. It was her day off, and she was
looking to go out of campus. For a house-parent it was
tough to be on their day off inside the dormitories. Their jobs
were almost a twenty four-hour deal. After working the
whole week in a dorm, they found it impossible to stay in the
place with the students in their free time. She was lucky to

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have the Waldens‟ home as a refuge during her free day.


They allowed her to use one of their daughters‟ rooms, in
that way she would make company to Alma Walden, who
felt in times alone.
I wasn‟t sure if I were going to go out with her. My
perception was that I wasn‟t going to be involved with
anyone. I didn‟t want it to happen, but I gave her my word,
so when she called and I accepted her invitation. I guessed
that I didn‟t have any other choice. So there I was in front of
their door on a Thursday night, picking up her at my bosses‟
address. It gave me the sensation of having a date with one
of their daughters. This was my second occasion in their
home.
The house was huge; it was own by the school
corporation; a nonprofit organization named Green Hills‟
Academy. The first time I visited it, the domicile resembled
a ranch, like those you see in the pages of the Good House
Keeping Magazines. They worked for the Academy for
more than thirty years, and they order it to be built fifteen
years ago. I estimated the value of the home over the
$250,000.00. The place had five elegant bedrooms with its

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two and haft bathrooms, two car garages with remote doors,
a satellite dish, a Family and game room with a pool table
and a treadmill, and charming dining and living rooms.
They assembled the kitchen with all the commodities that
anyone can image in a house. Behind it there was a lake
with a small marina that was school property, guarded with a
pair of black German Shepherds.
I felt intimidated when step out of my automobile,
and walked to the front door. The lights weren‟t on in the
porch, as if the house was giving me an evil eye of
inspection when I rang the doorbell. I waited for a couple of
minute with my hands crossed in front of my body, and
when the door opened Alex appeared. She was wearing a
fine light green sweater, blue jeans and a pair of leather
boots. It was a surprise for me; through the whole first three
months of the school year I saw her in sweat pans and light
shirts. However, that night she looked ravishing, her image
changed, she was not longer a house-parent. Now Alex was
an attractive woman that was smiling at me and invited me
inside. She agitated my lucidity in that moment.
I followed her inside to a great room by the kitchen,
where Matthew Walden sat on a reclining chair facing the

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TV set. She asked me to sit in a large canary sofa. Doctor


Walden was watching the ABC‟s News with Peter Jennings,
who was speaking something about the Persian Gulf Crisis,
and President Bush. I felt equal to an adolescent boy, who
just went to pick his girlfriend at her parent house for the
first time. That was waiting for the approval from of her old
man that acknowledged me with a cold reception.
I knew that since the incident with the girl in my fifth
period his opinion of me was abnormal. I thought that I
didn‟t care about his opinion, but deep inside the whole thing
scared me.
Alex came out from the small hall that goes to a
bathroom, and said, “Hi.” I stood up and mouthed
something about the Persian Gulf situation to Walden, but he
remained silence. In that very moment I knew that he wasn‟t
going to give me a chance for next school year. The man
didn‟t like the action I took with the girl in my fifth period,
but then I thought that he didn‟t like me. Still, I felt the same
toward him.

Alex and I ended in Lake Buena Vista; we continued

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to Pleasure Island‟s AMC Theaters. It was a little late for


the movie we wanted to see, so we settled to see John
Baluchi and Linda Hamilton in Mr. Destiny. The show was
good; it reminded me Frank Capra‟s It‟s Wonderful Life.
The possibility of changing past events has always attracted
me; if we could change some of those bad junctures in our
life then people in this world would never have needed to use
second chances.
After the movie, we cruised to McDonald‟s across
the Hotel Area. We sat in one table near the window and
chatted about us, about the people that brought us out, and
about what we want for the future. Disney‟s charters were
all over the place, they were part of the decoration, and it
was as if the mouse were the owner of the whole town.
“Did you like the movie?” I asked.
“Yeah, it was OK,” she said with an elegant beam on
her lips, her face was charm by them, they were pink and
leafy. Her hazel eyes added to her dial brilliant moreover
sweet face; she had an easy way to express with them.
“I like to go to movies!” I enunciated.
“I like movies too, but with my job at the school, I
don‟t really have the chance to go,” she said.

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“That movie is close to home,” I said. “I believe that


we‟re part of a spiritual plan, or destiny if you want to put it
that way. I don‟t know but I think that there‟s a reason why I
am here in this moment in Green Hills.” I paused for a
moment. I didn‟t know if she were going to be interested in
mine believes. However, I kept on going with my topic. “It
was odd how I found this place. It was as if something or
someone put it in my hands. You know what I‟m saying?”
“Yeah, I know what you mean,” she didn‟t want to
interrupt me.
“Since I was a kid, I had been coaching basketball.
And I didn‟t go to college to do that, but here I am, as if I
were supposed to do it,” I explained. I told her about my
current dream, about the kid on the horse, and about my
father visit to my apartment the night before I saw the
newspaper add.
She was absorbed in my words; I thought that at last I
found somebody that can listen to my longings in the school.
We interchanged our stories; she told me about how she
ended in the academy after being away for five years.
Perhaps we both were trying to escape from our immediate

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past.
From this day on we knew each other better, in a way
I thought that we were alike; she was there, standing by for
something to turn around her life, and I was trying to make
the changes in mine.
When I returned her to the Waldens‟ home, it was
close to midnight. I walked her to the door and then kissed
her; I could it tell in her eyes that she was surprised with the
kiss. Then she said goodbye.
As I walked back to my car, I saw the full moon was
in its high on the night sky. For the first time in days my
mind was free of school pensiveness; I was thinking about
the good time I had with Alex that night.

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Chapter V

1
We played our first basketball game against
Orangewood Christian, and a three-point-shot condemned us
after leading the match in it‟s wholesome. Nevertheless, I
was really happy with the result; Bobby Hunter fouled out
and this made the whole different. He was the only point
guard that we could count on that night. So, in my book we
didn‟t lose the game.
Our second bet was the Lutheran School; they were
rank number seven in the State by the Sentinel, in our
division. And Bobby did the same, he fouled out, and we
lost by fifteen points this time. I pinpointed that there was
some pressure rising again on my coaching style. Everyone
was there to see the two schools play. Milano, Mark Woods,
and Alex watched the duel with a lot of interest from the
stands.
I took all my players to the locker room after
everything was over. Many of them were acting as if

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nothing happened, as if they didn‟t have a concern after the


game result. Everyone was doing that except Bobby, who
was upset by the loss, and his teammates' attitude. He came
out last from the locker room, and I noticed that he was very
disturbed.
“What‟s wrong with you?” I asked him.
“Nothin'.”
“I don‟t that shit! I know that something it‟s wrong.
What‟s up?”
I staggered him with my tone, but by speaking in that
manner I could take the demur away. “Oh! Coach, I worked
my ass off for this team. And those ass-holes acted as if
we‟re going to lose the game before the referee tossed the
ball up.”
“I know what you mean.” I said while I observed his
reaction. He was looking at his image on the locker room
mirror. He was having a problem with his black tide. The
academy enforced the basketball players to dress in their suit
for the away games. “But, you can‟t give up now, we only
had two weeks of practice and we had only played two
games. This is my first time as their coach and I don‟t really
know them and the league that well. You have to give us

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time, and see what‟s going to happen.”


“It‟s not you Coach, it‟s them. They don‟t want to
give more inside the court,” Bobby vocalized with anger.
His teammates agitated him, and if I gave him more time to
talk that night he would cry. I discovered then how much he
loved to play the sport.
Then I said, “You‟ve to give me more then, Bobby.
Give me the chance to work with your teammates. You‟ll
see the difference after I finish with them. We will make
them the players you want to have in a team.”
I mounted the school bus, and I checked if all my
players; the cheerleaders were inside and ready to go back
home too. Chris was driving the vehicle, while Alex and I
were in-charge of the cheerleaders and the players. It wasn‟t
rear to end with double duties in Green Hills‟ Academy. In
one night you could become a bus driver, a trainer, a house-
parent, a nurse, a teacher, and a coach.
I sat with Pierre in the bus front seat; the French boy
was the team manager. Devin was behind us. Alex posted
on the back; she was tending the cheerleaders inside the
vehicle. We were heading to McDonald‟s, as usual. After

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each game we fed the squads in one of that fast food‟s


restaurant on the road. The kids found these small dinners as
part of the heavens; they were tired of eating the school
meals.
Pierre tried to make the junior varsity, but the
coaches rejected him „cause he didn‟t have a clue of how to
make simple lay-up. Everyone in school thought that he was
comical. Devin was his best friend in the campus; he used to
say that Pierre was analogous to Goofy. And in a manner of
speaking they look alike. It was truly amazing how it could
be that a human being looked so much alike to a cartoon
figure. In times I called him Goofy too, but his good humor
didn‟t let him take that as an insult, he was happy to be the
Goofy of Green Hills.
Devin wanted to talk to me about his point guard
performance in the game. His team played before ours so I
had the opportunity to watch him play. He made me feel
superb, the way he executed was better than I expected, but
he wasn‟t sure. The other team stole the ball from him in
five occasions, and he was distress for that. I didn‟t say a
thing to him about the five snatches then; I was more uneasy
about the varsity than about the kid.

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The school bus arrived on the fast food parking lot,


on highway 441; McDonald‟s was usually in company of its
competitor, Burger King. The two restaurants gave our
players choice, Big-Macs or Whoppers.
I was the last one in getting out of the bus, when I noticed
that one of my players was waiting for me outside. It was
Jason Campbell; he had a worry expression between his
eyebrows. I thought that I knew why he wanted to talk to me.
“What‟s up?” I asked. The boy was an average
student in school, academically; however his sport skills
weren‟t common. I thought that he had an excellent outside
shot from the wings, but in the last season Coach Brown
didn‟t use him.
“Coach, what do you think about me?” He answered
my question with another question. I have to admit that he
ambushed me with his mistrusting attitude.
“What do you mean, Jason?”
“As a player, Coach!”
“Why?”
“Coach, I think that I‟m a good player, but I‟m not
producing what I want,” he said. “What should I do to

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improve my game?”
“My friend, you are one of the best players of this
team,” I said. “And I mean it! You shoot well from outside,
and you can dribble even better than me.”
“Yeah, but why I‟m not showing it!”
“„Cause, you ain‟t givin' yourself time to improve.
You know that I believe in your skills more than many of
your teammates. I think that you should keep on shooting
and forget what they say about it. If you have the green light
from your Coach, you shouldn‟t give a dame about them.
It‟ll come to you one of these days, you‟ll see. I know what
I‟m telling you,” I said to him.
Jason glanced at me as if I gave him another reason
to live, then he smirked and voiced to me, “Coach, you‟re
better than Brown.”
“Well thank you, Kid,” I said. “Let‟s go inside. It‟s
getting cold here.”
Jason overwhelmed me; I was delighted with what he
said. In the other hand, I was mad about the loss, and
because Bobby was right. I didn‟t feel that they put all the
effort on the court. The team was going through the motions
and not the emotion of playing.

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I bought a value meal for $2.96, and when I was


going to take a seat in the same booth that Alex and Bobby
were, I felt a hand holding me. It was Devin! “Where‟re you
sitting?” he asked.
“Over there,” I pointed to Alex‟s table.
“No, you‟re not, sit with me,” he insisted with an
affable disposition.
“No, I‟m going to sit with them,” I told him, and then
I saw that his face mutated to a dry expression. I think I felt
sorry for him because I found myself saying to him, “You
can joint us.”
The kid agreed, Alex and I watched him while he left
to bring his food to the table.
“That boy looks up to you,” she said to me.
“What?” Her remark made a curious intake in me.
“Yeah, he looks up to you!”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“He admires you,” she said with her characteristic
radian touch on her face. The boy was coming with his trade
to sit with us. I didn‟t respond to her remark, but in a
particular usage I was surprised with what she said. I

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thought about the promise I made to myself in the beginning


of the school year, and studied the prospect of what could
happen with this kid. I looked at her and saw that she was
also getting to close. I didn‟t want this to happen. I had been
always being afraid of relationship, because the expectancy
of getting hurt from them. The game that we just lost was
also surrounding my head.
The mix of the little things with the large deeds made
my mind build up a level of frustration and enraged. I didn‟t
speak much on the table; I ate my burger, and listened to
what Bobby and Devin were talking about the games. Alex
was staring at me; she knew that it wasn‟t one of my best
days. I thought that with St. Mary‟s Varsity I would kick
Luther‟s ass without an effort.
I focused my eyes on the Styrofoam container, and
without thinking I pushed it with my right hand, as if I were
smashing my problems away. Bobby stopped talking, Alex
eyed at me with an inquiring glimpsed on her eyes, and
Devin smiled as if he knew what was in my mind. I realized
that there were people around me, and then said, “God, that
felt good!”
They didn‟t know whether to laugh, or what. I

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scanned them and said, “I‟m sorry.” An embarrassment


feeling came over me. I was glad that they understood my
explanation after I told them. In the end I felt that Devin was
the only one that understood.
In our way back to Green Hills, Devin sat with me.
As soon as Chris started the bus he asked me about his game
and his performance.
“What do you want to know?” I asked him.
“How did I do tonight?”
“Well, you need to keep working on your dribbling,
your passing and shooting,” I told him.
“I know. I suck!”
I laughed, “I didn‟t say that. You‟re a fast learner.
Do you know that I had been coaching for ten years? And, I
don‟t remember, in all those years, having someone that had
mastered so much in so little time.”
“Yeah, you told me that before,” Devin said.
“And it‟s true,” I said while I get closer to him and I
put pressure with my right hand on his shoulder.
“What?” He peeked. “Why you did that?”
“Devin, I‟m tired of talking about the game, and

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you‟re playing better every day, and you don‟t believe me.”
“Com‟on, tell me what did I do wrong tonight,” he
insisted.
“You‟re stopping your dribbling too soon after you
crossed the back-court-line, and then you wanted to pass
from there. That‟s why they stole it from you five times.”
“Four times.”
“That‟s good, Kid,” I said. “You kept track of your
turnovers.”
“So, how can I improve that?”
“I told you to keep on practicing your ball handling.”
Suddenly, I recalled that Devin was sitting by
Edward Milano on the bleachers while our game was
happening. “Tell me something,” I said to him, “you were
next to Mr. Milano tonight while we played Luther.”
“Yeah!” he answered.
“What did he say, you know about the varsity?” I
asked him.
“I can‟t tell you,” he changed his semblance to a
serious display. “You‟re not going to like it.”
“I promise I‟ll be fine! Tell me.”
Devin paused for about two seconds, and then said;

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“He told me that you were conducting the team in a wrong


way.”
“What?” I hollered. “What an asshole!” AS I said
that I felt that everyone in the school bus heard. So I low my
tone.
Devin smiled like if he knew what I was going to say.
“You promised!”
“Sorry, I shouldn‟t say that,” I felt embarrassed. As a
coach I should know better, „cause it comes with the territory
to receive a faultfinder from wannabe coaches.
The boy‟s face glowed again with the same gesture
that gave me the same feeling; I thought that I knew him
from somewhere. I looked into his eyes to try to find that
resemblance, that mien that would reveal it to me. Then I
asked the question that I should never ask, “Devin, I don‟t
understand why.”
“Why? What?” The boy verbalized.
“Why are you here, Kid?” I finally asked,
“Everybody since to be here for a bad reason, and you . . . I
don‟t get it. You‟re such a nice kid that it doesn‟t make
sense to me. Why are you in this place, in Green Hills‟

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Academy?”
Devin got quiet; he wasn‟t smiling anymore. His
face turned to the vehicle‟s window, and then he told me, “I
don‟t get alone with my mom. She‟s a b . . . !” his last
remarks came out of his mouth with a sourer flavor.
“Don‟t say that . . .” It shocked me, as if was about to
meet Mr. Hyke.
“It‟s the true. You don‟t know her nobody knows
her. It‟s like living with a Wicked Witch of the West.”
“It‟s that the reason?” I asked.
He paused to think, I knew that his head was looking
for a way out of the conversation, so he ended saying,
“While my parents were away, I gave a party for my friends.
So I was sent to Green Hills as punishment.” Devin vended a
little grin as he told me that.
“Well, you got it,” I let out, and then laughed a little
about it.
A melancholy semblance felt on the boys face; there
was something about him that inspired me to protecting.
Devin had a vulnerability that goes between the heart and the
soul, which it‟s hard to pin points in humans with soured life.
I changed the issue to something put us in a close path,

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basketball. In a way I didn‟t buy his story; I felt that there


was something more to it. However, I told myself that I will
never go to ask him again about the reasons why he was sent
to a boarding school. Devin was, until that moment, one of
the nicest kids I had met in the school. And, I didn‟t want to
spoil our coach-player relationship.

It was 8:30 in the morning when I received a phone


call from Walden‟s secretary. She told me that the President
wanted to see me in his office. I didn‟t have a clue of why
he wanted to see me, until I saw Victor Lopes walking to the
administration building.
Victor wasn‟t a bad player, despises that he was a
little bulky; he showed some promising moves in the first
three games. Still, his side made him slows to become the
main offensive player of the team. The problem with him
was that he thought that he was a better player than he really
was. And he had a very particular way to express it himself.
One afternoon he told me that he was sent to Green

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J.V. Rosario

Hills „cause he began to sale drugs. When he was twelve, a


friend shot him with a thirty-two especial in his stomach.
The day that he confessed this to me, he lifted up his T-shirt
to validate his story. At age sixteen he knew more about life
than any other kids I knew. It was as if he never had an
innocence bone on his body. However, I always thought that
there were some rather good inside that jolly body.
We played Pine Castle Christian the night before our
first win of the season. We won by thirteen points, Bobby
put thirty-one points inside the ring, and Patrick O‟Shea
scored twenty-three points. The only incident that happened
in the match was that Victor pushed a player from the other
team. A demand respect, if there is such thing.
The three teams arrived to school around midnight
the date we played them, and to travel in the bus wasn‟t
comfortable for any of us. After we returned all the kids
back to their dormitories, we were to turn the school bus
keys to the office. Milano was waiting in front of the
buildings for us, and beside him was Mark Wood. Wood
gave Milano his version about the little pushing and holding
between Victor and the other kid. That was why the two of
us were meeting with Walden so early in the morning.

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When Victor and I met in front of the office, I told


him that I knew why he was there that morning, and I asked
him to let me do the talking. Victor was frightened more
than I ever expected. They suspended him from the team for
more than ten games a year ago. So he was afraid to be in
the same situation again.
This time Walden received us in his wife‟s office, the
woman was the Vice President of the institution, and her
quarters were even better than his. They decorated the place
with portrays of the Presidents Washington, Lincoln and
Roosevelt in a neon classic style. There was a feminist touch
in the room; the carpet was light-blue-gray, as the walls and
the desk. The two chairs we sat on matched the colors on the
large patterns flower on the walls.
Matthew Walden, behind his wife‟s desk, looked at
us with an intense glimpse on his face. We sat, and he began
his monologue like a stage actor vocalizing his lines in a
second-class theater. I agreed with almost everything he said
because there wasn‟t other option. I considered that Milano
and Walden gave too much validity to a push within to
basketball players on the court. I thought that they didn‟t

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know that thing like that happens in any contact sport. The
league punished Victor by sitting him in our next game. Yet,
now he was going to receive an extra discipline action from
the school President. Inside the mind of Matthew Walden
that wasn‟t enough, he had to punish him more. They should
embarrass Victor in front of everyone in the school, and
discipline his actions in a basketball game.
Wood went to Mr. Milano the night of the incident,
and spelled from his malicious mind all. They never gave
me the chance to inform the occurrence myself; it was as if
the academy had a hidden agenda with Victor. Victor was
bad as it gets for them, and because of that they penalized
him as hard as possible.
When we left the office Victor asked me, “Ferrer,
what‟s wrong with trying to defend myself?”
“I don‟t know, Kid. I really don‟t know.”
“You saw what happened. The Jackass pushed me
first and I pushed him away. I didn‟t even have the chance to
throw a fist,” he said with a puzzling look in his eyes. “The
next time, I‟m going to kick the shit out of the dick-face.”
I thought that his disappointment made him talked
like that, so I didn‟t correct his offensive language, I just

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limited to say, “No, you‟re not.” I understood his frustration,


but this was a time to unite forces with the school in effort to
educate the young man.
“You‟ll see,” he said. “These people make me mad, it
was the same last year, they always wanted me to . . . I don‟t
understand.” Victor wept on his words, it was angry cried.
“OK! Take it easy, Kid,” I told him. “Go to your
classroom and don‟t think about it, you have to continue with
rest of the day. You can‟t let this put you down. Com‟ on.”
In his head there was only one thought, getting even
with someone, maybe the first one that crosses his path. The
hate for the school created an archfiend of Victor. He
despised the prescriptions that Walden gave him; he didn‟t
want to be a victim again of these men who thought
themselves as the axiom of education.

Sometime in the middle of the school year some new


student was enrolled in Green Hills, this was the case of
Johnny Bovies. He came to the boarding school right in the

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midpoint of the first semester. He was almost fourteen when


his parents matriculated him in the institution.
My first impression of this kid was that he was a no-
stop-talker. He didn‟t place pauses between his sentences,
and his focus topic was himself. Johnny was nervous of
being in a new environment, so his respond to that talking
about the stupid things.
I saw him in the Dining Hall for the first time. His
haircut gave an impression in people that he was some kind
of skinhead or something related to a neon-Nazi. This could
be far from the truth; as time past I perceived that he was
well bred.
We talked for the first time in my sixth period, when
all the boys were waiting for the bell to signal the closure of
the class. Johnny was speaking to Coach Monroe, his Phys.
Ed. Teacher, about the teams that he belonged in his old
school. Monroe was not captivated by kid conversation; he
wasn‟t giving attention to him.
Johnny‟s hair was wet; this made it to look like a
porky pine skin. I approached him and put my hand on it to
feel the texture of his hair. “It doesn‟t prick.” I said to
Monroe, who was looking for a pretext to get out of the

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boys‟ site. Johnny glanced at me as if I were abnormal.


Monroe heehawed with his incisive laughter, while
he put his hand on the boy‟s head, “It‟s true, it doesn‟t
prick,” he continued his cackling.
“Stop,” Johnny said repeatedly to us, but he could stop us.
The rest of the students in the lobby began laughing with us
while they came to touch his head. We didn‟t mean harm;
we were only having some fun with the stiff new boy. Our
intentions were to make him feel better. The boy got the
idea that afternoon, because after a few days he asked me to
be boys‟ varsity‟s manager.

Elliot Zapata reported to the basketball team when


the season was already in progress. His dilate was cause by
an injury in his left thigh made during the soccer season. It
was common knowledge that he had problems in the soccer
team, and one of those problems was Bobby Hunter.
Bobby was away from Green Hills the year that Elliot
became the star of the soccer team. When he came back to
tryout Elliot‟s position, things got out of hands between
them. The other hassle for Elliot was that he was also the

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basketball point guard the same year that Bobby didn‟t come
to Green Hills.
So, Elliot didn‟t like Bobby since the beginning; he
was a threat to his place as a school‟s athlete. In a meeting
with Milano before their season was over, Bobby spoke his
mind about how bad Elliot was playing. Milano threw gas
into the fire by letting them screamed at each other; this
created the first confrontation. Bobby was more eloquent
with words than Elliot, who was the quiet type.
The main issue for me was that Bobby was a batter
basketball player than Elliot in all aspect of the game. There
were not doubts about this, he handled and shot the ball
better, and his sense on the court was one best I ever
encountered. In the other hand Elliot didn‟t practice with the
team before the season began, and his mind was always on
the clowns; his girlfriend was in his brain sucking his
concentration away from sports. Elliot was the kind that will
write poems to his girls, while the teacher was giving a
lecture in Calculus.
Bobby became the varsity‟s point guard, and Elliot‟s
frustration increased with every bounce the basketball took
from adversary. And by Elliot not playing the first three

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games after his returned to the team, helped the animosity


between these two young men. I knew that it was hard for
Elliot, but I never took a decision in any my teams without
seeing a player first. All my choices were bases upon the
players‟ performance in practice and on the court. Elliot
didn‟t understand that at first, which was why he became so
restless in those days.
On the contrary Bobby was having a field day in
every game. His aplomb as the team leader gave him the
control of his teammates. So, he used this position to make
everyone believed that Elliot would never be able to claim
back his team‟s point guard position. And he was not afraid
to say that Elliot was not a basketball player.
This remark went to Elliot‟s hears, and he was angry
with Bobby. He didn‟t try to compete in a positive way for
the position; he just said that he didn‟t like Bobby.
I was in the middle of the struggle, I knew about the
mutual feelings between the two boys, and I made a mistake
in to ignore it. Bobby came to me with the affair, and I told
him that he should try to talk to Elliot and agreed to fix the
bad blood between them.

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“I don‟t know, Coach. I‟m the one that comes to


every game, and practices. The one who always plays hard
to make the team looks good on the court,” he said, showing
his anger while he talked. “He doesn‟t help the team. He
doesn‟t come to practice, and you don‟t do anything about it.
We shouldn‟t allow him to play. . .”
“Wait a minute, Kid,” I stopped him. “If you know
about this game, the way you say you do. You should know
that you needed him as much as the team needs you.”
“Say what? . . . Why? Why should I need the punk?”
“Who‟s our second leading scorer?”
“Me!”
“What position do you play for us?”
“Point,” he responded, while his mouth made an Oh
shape. He understood what I was trying to say.
“Now, you tell me if you would be bettered playing
as a second guard. Don‟t you think you‟ll have more
chances to score?” I requested an answer.
The young man gave thoughts to what I said, and
after a couple of seconds he returned, “He‟s not ready to be a
point guard, Coach.”
“I didn‟t say he is, but, give him time and he‟ll be one. I

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know you can help him.”


“OK!” Bobby followed my line of thought; he knew that
what I clarified was right. “I might give him a chance . . .”
“No, you‟re going to help him.” He glanced at me,
and I guessed what he was thinking. He thought that I was
crazy.

Warner Christian‟s Academy was the best basketball


team of the conference a year ago, and we were going to play
them in our first conference tournament game. The
competition was a single elimination, and my players were
frightened to lose against this squad in our first venture.
I was unsettled with this contest too; it was going to
be the first time against that we play these people. I felt
insecure with an approach made by Walden the day that he
gave me the event‟s schedule. In superfluous words he told
me that I shouldn‟t lose, because it wasn‟t a good standard
for the Academy to lose in the conference tournament. After
the short meeting I practiced my team with a scouting report

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that Chris gave me from last year.


Pierre didn‟t have permission from the school to go
to the game. He got in trouble with his house parent; he
didn‟t go to this activity. So, I invited Devin to take his
place; the J. V. wasn‟t going to play. This was going to give
him the chance to get out of the campus during a Friday
night, something that wasn‟t common for a student in Green
Hills.
The games were going to be in the Bibles school‟s
gym, another boarding school in the town of Mount Dora.
Green Hills brought one school bus full with fans. Everyone
with importance came to see our games; Principal Hawking,
Doctor Walden and wife, Milano, and Alex, who were in
charge of the cheerleaders again, were there with a large
bunch of students from the different dormitories were
present to cheer for our teams up.
I felt a sense of relief after the boys won the first
game. It was as if my own core celebrated the occasion, and
I wanted to share this feeling with someone, so without
thinking I ran to where Alex was standing, near Alma
Walden, and kissed her. She blushed while she put on a very
white smile between her roses cheeks.

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“We won!” I sounded like one of the players.


“I know!” Alex felt overwhelmed with my advances.
We kissed before but not like this, this time the smooch had
some zealousness.
“I got to go with my players,” I said.
“OK!” Alex smiled to Alma Walden, who was as
dazzle as her. Their link was more than a working relation;
it was like mother daughter camaraderie. In a way Alma
Walden approved our near-at-hand friendship.
This kiss was my first show of affectionate for her.
As time passed I began to think more often on her, she made
me feel good when I was around her.

After, I came out of the locker room; everybody was


ready to abandon the gym. I wanted to stay that night so I
could see the game between the Bible School and Master‟s
Academy. It was the last game of the evening, but it wasn‟t
really late to stay and watch them play. I asked my players if
they wanted to watch the next game, but to my surprise they

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weren‟t excited about the idea. Only Victor Lopez and


Devin were interested on scouting the game. So, I asked Mr.
Hawking for his approval to remain in the gym with the two
boys. The other players left to Green Hills in the School
Bus.
The match wasn‟t a prime game, Mount Dora‟s team
massacred Master‟s by thirty-one points. However it gave
me an idea of how to play both teams in the future. I made
notes of their players, and their offensive and defensive style
while the game was going on.

The two boys and I went to eat in McDonald‟s in


front of the Lake Square Mall after the games were over. On
our way to the fast food Victor and Devin chatted about the
reasons their parents had to enroll them in the school.
Inside the establishment I ordered my food and gave
the clerk a five-dollar bill with forty-five cents; I hated
change in my pockets. So then, I told the young women
behind the counter, “You own me a dollar!” She made an
odd gesture with her face; I thought that she was annoying
by my remark.
Devin, who was at the end of the line, made a clever

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locution with his face to me about my observation of the lady


on the other side of the counter. “You own me a dollar,” he
sounded idiotic. “Ferrer, you‟re a butt-head!”
“What?” I said. He amazed me with his familiarity.
“How'd you say that to her?”
“What did I say? What‟s wrong with that?”
“You‟re a butt-head,” he kept on saying. Devin
didn‟t want to be disrespectful; he was trying to be funny; he
joked about my Spanish accent while I did the same about
his cracker looks. We were getting alone very well, he was
earning his coach‟s affection and vice versa.
We sat in the back of the small dinning area. Victor
and Devin were telling each other their anecdotes, and I
couldn‟t decide whether to believe them or no.
“I got shot one night by a friend of my brother,”
Victor told Devin with some rather proud expression on his
face. “My grandma‟ thought that I wasn‟t going to make it.”
“Where did they shoot you?” Devin asked him.
“Right here,” Victor answered by lifting his shirt and
showing the scare on his ads. “I felt the heat cutting my
flesh. God! It hurt bad.”

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“So, that‟s your story,” I said.


“Yeah, and „cause I stole a gun from a friend. He
told me that he was going to ice me if he finds me in his
way.”
“That‟s a friend?” Devin asked blaring in a laugh.
“So what‟s your story, Kid?” I asked Devin.
He turned on a serious aura; I thought that he wasn‟t
really sure on what to say. Maybe he wanted to say a tale
that could match Victor‟s yarns, or „cause he was really
embarrassed about something.
“I did three wild parties for my friends in my home,”
he answered.
“What do you mean?” I kept on pressing him.
“My parents travel a lot for business; you know . . .
Sometime, they let us home alone or with a sitter. So, I
called some of my buddies, and we party until two. In the
last one we did everything, I mean everything.”
“What‟s everything?” Victor asked.
“Sex, liquor and . . .”
“Drugs?” I interrupted him.
Devin paused and glanced at me, in this moment I
felt that he really values my opinion, „cause there was some

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kind of abashing in his eye. “No, no drugs, we don‟t do


drugs,” he said, “Coach, we don‟t do drugs,” he repeated
himself.
“How did they find out?” Victor asked him. I noticed
that there was an air of disbelief on Victor expression.
“Our neighbors, we were loud, and they
complained,” Devin uttered.
“What did your Dad say?” I wanted to explore more
in his narrative.
“He killed me when he came back from his trip,”
Devin continued, “My Dad hit us like men, when we
misbehave.” This sounded to me like a beating by his Dad.
I gave them time to go to the bathroom before it was
time to go back to school. Victor asked me if I believed the
boy‟s story when he went to wash his hands. “I don‟t
acknowledge to anything he said, I think that Americans are
liars,” he said.
“I don‟t know, Victor.” I said, “I had heard so many
tales lately, that I don‟t know what to believe any more.” I
was feeling uneasy with the two accounts, and in a way I
didn‟t want to accept them. “Your generation is in trouble,”

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I told him. “When I was growing up, I never heard anything


like that, what you guys told me. It‟s as if you people want
to age too soon, without waiting for a certain times in your
life.”
The big boy laid his back on the booth seat, and made
a motion with his black eye, then he vocalized; “Ferrer, we
only live once! We‟re going to be young only once, and I
bet that you weren‟t an angel.”
I smiled, it was the old argument of one life, an
argument that I declined to consider. “No, I‟m not an angel.
But, I gave myself time to try life, and didn‟t do what you
and him did at age twelve. He‟s only fifteen, and he looks
younger than that, but according to him he already
experienced all the surprises that life has saved for us.” I
was trying to be in the philosophical side. “Them what, what
are you going to do. Where‟s that innocence? What
happened to your innocence, Victor? Are you going to tell
me that you never have that human condition?”
“He‟s coming,” Victor, announced that Devin was
coming from the restroom. I perceived Victor‟s indifferent
to my words; so then I dropped the issue; making a den in
this boy line of thoughts wasn‟t easy. We didn‟t talk any

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more in our way home; the music that the radio produced in
those days accompanied our trip.
6

Losing isn‟t an easy thing to digest for a team like


Green Hills‟ Boys‟ Varsity Basketball, especially when they
lose against the worst of the conference. Matthew Walden
thought that our varsity was going to lead the tournament,
but his wishes were one thing and the team‟s reality was
another thing. After the weekend was over, the man called
me to his office to say that I didn‟t have control over my
players. He asked me to stop being benevolent to them, and
to be more demanding with them.
“Coach, if your students begin to say good thing
about you it means that you aren‟t doing your job,” the
doctor simplified. “When they say bad things about you, like
they say about Mr. Milano or Mr. Martin. It means that your
effort is sinking in their heads. Or that you‟re doing your
job.”
I unconsciously shook my head in a small movement
from side to side; I didn‟t believe my ears. He somehow

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misplaced his rationalization on education between


discipline and punishment. I disagreed completely with his
view, but I didn‟t vocalize mines then. I thought that if I
didn‟t agree with him they would mess up the renovation of
my contract for the coming year. In my head there was a
battle between my values and my bills. So, I put my career
and my belief on the balance, and it balanced toward my
occupation. At the same time I told myself that I should
listen to the man, and don‟t do what he demanded from me.
I was feeling unpleasant in this dwelling, and his constant
interference with my team. Yet, in the other hand there were
so many other things that could compensate his treatment.
I was disappointed with myself when I left his office
that mid-day. Walden asked me to change my ways to deal
with my players, a thing that I had been doing for a decade,
what make me a different as a coach. I was furious „cause I
wasn‟t in control of my life, and because, I accepted what the
doctor catechized. My rent and my bills were more
important than my principles. I was afraid of losing my
profession and to be perceived as a looser by my peers.
It was noon when I got out his office, the bells were
ringing. It was lunchtime and the students were running to

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the lines in front of the dining hall. I wasn‟t hungry, so I


crossed the campus and headed to my place. In the way
home, I came across Johnny Bovies; he was raking leaves of
the ground --the classic shore for a suspended kid.
I thought that a boy like Johnny shouldn‟t be doing
maintenance work for punishment, which would damage his
self-esteem. I perceived that he was crying, but I didn‟t stop
to find out why; I was trying to justify the possible reasons
of why he was working hours. Johnny was hyperactive, all
the manifestations were there, and raking wasn‟t the solution
for his disorder. Still, my bills were first than him.

The biggest tragedy that could happen to a basketball


coach is to go to an important game without four of his five
starters. This happened to us the day we went to play
Melbourne‟s Florida Air Academy. Bobby and Mark were
in bed with the influenza, while Victor and Jason were
suspended from school for their poor conduct in class. This
reduced the team to three experience players and four

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J.V. Rosario

benches.
Florida Air had an excellent program, their players
were all blacks, and their basketball skills were first-class.
As their center they had a 6‟6” fellow named Charlton
Higgins. In the last encounter, Green Hills lost by thirty-five
points, and the giant scored forty-two points. My players
were afraid of the boy, the only one who was not alarm was
Bobby, but he was in bed with a 104-degree fever.
The Junior Varsity played first that evening; this gave
me the chance to watch their game for first time since they
played Luther. I sat next to Ryan and Johnny on the
bleachers, in front of team bench. Chris McGuire started
with Devin as a point guard. He was improving, but I didn‟t
think that he was ready to maneuver against the Air
Academy thespians.
They began with some slow passes, as their Coach
requested them to do. Devin was doing very well, in a way
I was pleased with his performance. His ball handling was
excellent and his control of the game tempo was close to
what I would expect for one of my point guards. And while
Ryan and Johnny cheered from the sidelines for the team, I
coached him from the crow. I was feeling good about how

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A Season In Green Hills‟

he was doing; in a manner I was proud of him.


“He‟s playing well,” I told Ryan who was sitting on
my right, shaking his legs from side to side in a nervous way.
“Yeah man! He practices every day,” he
acknowledged.
“I think that Coach wants him to play for the varsity,”
Johnny added with a little envy tone.
“He‟s not ready,” I responded. “Maybe next year,
maybe.”
Johnny covered his face with his hands, and then
cried out, “God, I want to play!”
“Why aren‟t you?” Ryan asked.
“Coach McGuire told me that he doesn‟t have an
opening in the team right now,” he said. “I hate that ass
hole.”
“Don‟t you talk like that?” I reprimanded him.
“I want to play, Coach,” he responded while he
closed his eyes and threw a fist to the air.
In that moment Devin dribbled the basketball in front
of Florida Air‟s 2-3 zone. He secured an open space
between the two black boys that were guarding the area. He

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J.V. Rosario

moved to the left and then to the right in small fake turns.
“Shoot it,” Ryan and I shouted in a unison voice.
The boy drove to his right side, and then took a jump
shot. The basketball crossed the hoop without touching the
rim, and the ball friction burned only the net. His release
was perfect; it had the style of a terpsichorean. He ran the
court and placed himself on his guarding position in front of
the one-one-three formation that Coach was using since the
beginning of the game. Then, Devin eyed at us and smiled
with a satisfying gesture on his face. I felt a proud feeling
running throughout my being, like what a father could
experience when he sees his son carrying out a prowess.
“Your boy‟s playing GOOD!” Ryan declared while
he shook his legs and pushed my shoulders with his right
hand.
“OK, OK, I know he is,” I said while I pushed him
away.
Johnny glanced at Devin with an envious
countenance; he was jealous of Devin „cause he was in the
team. I didn‟t understand why he was behaving like that.
Although, I didn‟t care, I was so overbearing of Devin‟s
progress that I over looked Johnny‟s resentment.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

Devin lost the ball in three occasions after the shot,


and his coach benched him with good reasons. He went to
the bench upset with himself, but it didn‟t matter, it was
honorable to be upset. The boy was trying to improve every
time he got on the court.
The JV collapsed by forty-seven points that night,
and the varsity --who usually made fun of them-- didn‟t
make a sound. They knew that it was possible that the Air
Team could beat us by hundreds points in this occasion. In
fact the varsity also lost by fifty-two bricks.
Nevertheless the game gave Elliot the chance to play
as a point guard in its entirely, and it gave Ryan the
opportunity to score his career high, with twenty-seven. But,
the most important thing of all was that it gave me the
chance to scout them for the next time.
Their coach came to me to shake my hand after
everything was over. The man radiated behind his large
mustache with the satisfaction of winning a big victory
gives. “Good game, Coach!” the man said to me.
“Good game for you, Coach,” I returned, “I hope that
you‟ll come to our court in March.”

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“Yeah, we‟ll be there.” He smiled behind the


bicycle‟s handle bar‟s mustache, and a cynical expression in
his eyes.
The way back home took us two hours. The bad news
was that there were Saturday morning classes the next day,
and that I was on duty for the rest of the weekend. The days
were getting shorter as the winter approached, and there
wasn‟t time for a rest, between the basketball practices, my
classes, and the games. My involvement with the school
athletics was close to sixteen hours a day, and waiting for a
free weekend was the only comfort I had in those days.
Alex experienced the same situation in the girls‟
dormitory; she was feeling traps by the long hours the school
requires from us. We wanted to go out of the school another
time to a getaway from all. So after my duties were over that
Saturday Night we went to see a movie at the Lake Square
Mall‟s AMC Theaters, they were showing „Home Alone‟.
The movie wasn‟t important; the thing was that we were
going to be together. Alex began to enjoy my company as
much as I cherished hers too.
We delayed in the same place that I stopped with my
players after the conference tournament game was over. We

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A Season In Green Hills‟

sat in a booth after our order was ready, and began chatting
about our lives, our families and off-course the school.
“I‟ve a sister and a brother, she‟s only fourteen
months older than me,” I said. “We‟re very close. She‟s my
best friend!”
“What‟s her name?”
“Sara. But, I call her Sally.”
“Why?”
“I don‟t know. It never occurred to me to ask why
they call her like that. I think it was my father‟s idea that
started with that tradition.”
“I‟m talking too much,” I said. Alex was in a probing
mood. “Now it‟s your turn.”
“I don‟t talk much,” she said. “I guess it‟s „cause I
like to observer humanity.”
“Do you have any brother or sister?” I asked.
“I had a sister; she died in a car accident five years
ago. She was seven years older than I,” she answered with a
little grin in her lips.
“I‟m sorry,” I felt bad about my intromission. “Keep
on asking the wrong questions.”

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J.V. Rosario

“Don‟t worry. My mother and my Dad separated


after it happened,” she said. “He hasn‟t been the same after
the accident. They just stopped loving each other before my
sister dead, and her accident gave them an excuse to get a
divorce. I lived with my mother until I graduated from
Green Hills‟. Them I went to college.”
“What‟s your mother name?” I was trying to change
the mood of the conversation.
Alex knew that we were getting too serious, and she
understood my message; “Laura and Dan are their names.”
“And your sister?”
“Hers was Rosalyn.”
“I lost my father four months ago, and I still can‟t
forget his funeral. But, enough about sat things,” I said.
“Did you like the movie?”
“Yeah, it was funny!”
We embarked in a process of recalling the movie‟s
funniest parts. The child-actor situated Devin in my head
while I watched the film.
“The kid‟s name in the movie was Devin,” I told her.
“I think that Devin Michaels would it look like him when he
was that same age!”

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“You‟d care for him?” Alex asked me.


“Yeah, I guess it‟s true,” I answered. “In a strange
way it‟s as if I met him from before. But, I can‟t place him.
It‟s like when you have something in the tip of your tongue,
but you can spell it out for a reason.”
“Who does he look like?”
“I don‟t know; it‟s just a feeling, a deja-vu
sensation.” As I said that, I felt goose bumps in my arms.
“I think that I know what you mean,” Alex declared.
“It had happened to me too.”
“Are you done?” I asked her while I pointed to my
burger.
“Yes, do you want to go?”
“I‟m on duty tomorrow, and I need to rest.”

We left the fast food around 12:00 p.m.; the night


was foggy and cool. We listened to a Carly Simmons‟ tape
in our way back to Green Hills. I drove the car slowly while
she sat still on the passenger seat, while I paid attention to
the signs on the road. I was about to turn from highway 441
to a county road, when I broke our soundlessness.

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“Alex, may I ask you a question?” I said.


“Yes!”
I paused for a second, “Do you like me?” I couldn‟t
believe that I was asking her this. She didn‟t answer
immediately, and my breath stopped while she took her time
to respond my stupid question. I didn‟t feel like this since
dated Ada Arbors. It took me five years to get over her.
“Yes, I do,” finally she said, and then asked me back;
“Do you?”
“Do you, what?” Her question disconcerted me.
“Do you like me?” She amplified her
cross-examination.
“I think I do!” I answered.
“Are you nervous?”
“No,” I responded with doubts, then I rephrased,
“Yes, I am.”
“I‟m too,” she said. “I think that I like you since I
saw you coming out of your car.”
“My car?”
“Yeah, when you came to get your application.”
There was honesty in her words; it was as if I knew for many
years back.

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“I was really curious about you when you came on


the motor scooter. You remember behind Eaton Hall,” I
admitted.
We kissed in front of the Waldens‟ doors; it was a
boyfriend‟s peck. I left her in front of the domicile, then and
went back to my place. As I cut across my front porch, I
thought that she was one of the most pleasant women I ever
met in my short existence. Then, I thought about I told
myself when I showed to the academic for the first time.
“Life is full of surprises!” I said to myself.

Gloria Heath was one of my students in my Health


Science class; she was also one of my volleyball players. I
called her secret weapon during the volleyball season; she
was the most consistence server of the team. Her appearance
wasn‟t of an athletic person, or of a volleyball player; she
provably was about fifty pounds overweight, and she didn‟t
move that well in the court. However, her service was lethal.
At first I didn‟t have a clue of what to do with her, but at the

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end I mutated my opinion.


Before she came to Green Hills, Gloria belonged to
an all black gang from South Miami Beach, despised that she
was a white girl. She was attracted to black males and their
sub cultural expression. This was why her dad put her in
boarding school; he didn‟t want her to have a relationship
with a black boy. But, it didn‟t matter what he does to stop.
Gloria became more defiance with him. The man was
fighting against the MTV fashion; the big clothes, the shave
heads, the multiple earrings on the ears and noses were part
of that new generation of kids. Her lexicon and her body
language were part of that battle he was losing. Everyone in
school conveyed that Gloria was a black girl inside a white
body.
Ryan LeCarre was Christina‟s boyfriend, but this
didn‟t sojourn Gloria from flirting with him in anytime, at
least that was my impression. The day after I cut Ryan from
one of my practice, he came to my 3rd period in an anger
disposition. Ryan was a difficult kid to handle; the boy was
a time bomb, and I found that late in the semester. He
revealed me that during the summer he sold drugs so he
could have some money available during the school year. I

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didn‟t believe him at first; it took me sometime to do s but in


the ended I accepted his confession. This became common
knowledge in the school in particularly between the kids.
Ryan rhetoric was that the U.S.A. government should
legalize drugs just like in Netherlands, where he had Family.
The following Monday in my third period, all the
students were working on five questions in the health
textbook –the chapter that discussed teens‟ emotional
behavior. Ryan and I exchanged so words when the class
began about the incident in practice. The boy was not used
to rejection. Since, he came to Academy, Milano and the
other coaches created an indispensable impression in him in
all the sport he played for them. He was part of the soccer,
track and basketball teams, so he saw himself as a star.
However, he wasn‟t that good in basketball, and his attitude
suck. And I wasn‟t going to put on with him.
After the class began, and I had everyone working
Ryan came to my desk.” Coach, why did you kick me out of
practice?” he asked me.
“Ryan, you were a pain last night.” I did not look up
and kept on correcting my papers, I ignored him. I knew that

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he did not like to be ignoring, so I did it on purpose.


“Man, I didn‟t do anything,” he shouted at the same
time that he made a strong gesture with his arms.
I looked up and saw that Ryan was smiling as if he
was not sincere with his excuse, and then told him, “Ryan, I
think you better sit down.”
I put everyone to work in one of the chapters of the
Health Book after Ryan settle down, and I sat in my desk to
grade some papers. Few minutes after I heard someone
saying in the back of the room, “You‟re pounding again!”
With the remark made and without any preview indications,
Ryan stood up and turned around to Gloria; she was sitting
behind him in the end of line. He pushed her head against
the wall with his right hand; a hard push that she didn‟t like,
because she immediately reacted with a kick in Ryan‟s
growing. Then the boy connected a fist on Gloria‟s face.
She felt backwards from the chair, while she tried to kick
him again. One of the boys jumped behind Ryan and
gripped him in a bear hug, while Martha took Gloria out of
the room and ran with her to the dormitory. The whole
incident didn‟t last a minute.
I didn‟t move a finger to stop the dispute; my feet

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were glued to the ground. I was in shock, as if what was


going on in front of me was part of a bad TV show. It took
me a while to react, but finally I called Principal Hawking on
the intercom to inform him about the incident. I was
responsible for the well being of my students, and I felt to
provide it in this day.
The following morning Doctor Walden called me to
his office. I was ready for everything. I thought that he was
going to fire me. I even saw myself moving my things from
my apartment that afternoon. However, it did happen,
Walden gave me a harsh sermon, and I didn‟t say a thing,
because I was in his place I would fire myself too. I guessed
that he didn‟t come to the decision because we were in the
middle of the semester.
In one point of his monologue he incited what I said
when I interviewed for the job. “Coach, you told me that I
wasn‟t going to be disappointed, and I am now.”
The resolves of this whole affair were that they
suspended Ryan for three days and Gloria got two days in
dorm suspension. Both teens became enemies from that
moment on.

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Ryan came to my fifth period and tries to talk to me


that same afternoon. He was afraid that the school was
going to ship him home for the rest of the year. My
concentration was a nonentity, so I let Johnny‟s group played
tennis matches without my supervision on the courts. They
knew that something was wrong and they didn‟t dare to
misbehave. By this time the school knew what happened
between the two youths, and I was thinking that I was going
to get fire because of the two stupid kids.
“Coach, I‟m sorry,” Ryan said. I think that he was
sincere on his faces, but something told me that he needed to
be put in his place.
“You‟re sorry?” I said looking straight at his eyes.
“What I‟m supposed to do with that, Ryan? So what!
Tomorrow you‟re going to have a new coach and teacher.
After what happened today, I know that they are going to
kick my ass out of here, and all because of you.” He didn‟t
state anything, so I continued with my attack. “You don‟t
measure the consequence of your action. You put at risk
Gloria health, my job and your high school diploma. Just
because you were suspended from one practice . . . I can‟t
fucking believed you. I thought she was your friend.”

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“She was, but she began talking shit about me . . .”


“What did she say, Ryan?” I interrupted him, “That,
you‟re pounding. Isn‟t that the truth? Tell me. You hurt her,
„cause I kicked your ass out of a practice. You aren‟t use to
receive a negative answer. Now I‟m the one that‟s going to
pay, not you. You provably are going to end working two or
three days. I‟ll be gone! And what about Gloria?”
The tall black boy closed his eyes, and when they
opened again there were tears drops ready to come out.
There was some remorse very deep inside him.
However, his tears didn‟t touch me, “That‟s not
going to help, Ryan,” I told him.
“Man, I want to be good,” he said. “Everyone thinks
that I‟m a bad ass. Even my parents think so . . . Coach, I‟m
not ... Man, I‟m not . . .”
I felt a little sorry for him at that point; he had a
tough life, which was difficult to be understood by an
outsider. So, I threw the towel at him and then said, “I don‟t
think that you‟re bad. You‟re just different. I don‟t have a
doubt that you can be a great kid. I don‟t have any doubts
about it . . .” The next thing I knew was that there was water

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in my eyes. “I want to help you kid, but you‟ve to change.


You‟ve to stop using that crack. You‟re craving it, and
you‟re going to get hurt, or harm someone in the process.”
The young guy glanced at me and then smiled, his
white teeth were all over his face, “Ferrer, you‟re an
original,” he said while he cleaned his tears with his shirt.
Even today I am not sure of what he meant by that. That was
his only reaction to my remark
It was time for me to go with my group. He was
supposed to be in his dormitory for the rest of the day, until
it was time for Dr. Walden‟s call.
Ryan turned around and went out throughout the
tennis courts gate. I stood for a second or two and saw see
him while he crossed the road; he was involved in something
else --more than a fight with a girl. He was wasting his life
in the world of drugs. The night before the beating, he was
very high, as a rocket man out of control falling from the
firmament.

The names of noble people were written on Green

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Hills buildings loges; the mystery was that the Waldens has
two buildings named after them. The administration offices
were dedicated to Matthew Walden, while the Fine Arts
Center had Alma Walden‟s name on its entrance. It was
really unparalleled to see how they displaced their names on
two of the main facilities of the school. I never saw anything
like that before. Where I came from, the law to dedicate
governmental facilities prohibited the use of names of living
creatures and the private sector follows the rule.
Milano excused the name thing one afternoon that he
was discussing the school policies. He said that Walden had
been with the Academy for at least thirty years, and that they
have done many things for it.
The Fine Art Center was the place where they held
all the collective activities. Graduation, shows, conference,
plays, exhibitions and other stuff were part of the bustles
given in the location. However, the most important weekly
activity given by the school in this structure was the Friday‟s
Students and Faculty Assembly. The student body was
supposed to go to these meetings to receive weekly
information from the administrators. The main

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speakers in these convocations were Matthew Walden,


Edward Milano and Mr. Hawking; they took terns to address
the pupils with different topics. In few occasions they
allowed a faculty member to approach the students, and it
was in rear opportunities that the pupils addressed
themselves.
It was one of these assemblies when I found out that
the doctor was living in the past. In a speech he approached
the issue of state of the world; he said that the fiftieth and the
sixtieth were better times than the one we‟re living. And in
that allocation he also took an interlude to focus on some
particular cases.
“The other day one of you came to me, and asked me
if we could let him go home for a week,” the man voiced.
“This student said to me that going home was important for
him . . . He told me that his parents were divorcing. This
young man told me that they were breaking out, and he
wanted to go home to stop them from ding so. . . What was
going on through his mind? I don‟t know! What he‟s going
to do by going home?” He aired in front of the two-hundred
people sitting in the auditorium, and then he shoved the knife
in, “Maybe, maybe he‟s the cause for his folk‟s separation.”

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When this person said those words I sank deep into


my chair. I was sitting to the back of the assembly hall; with
the rest of the faculty, so seeing their reactions was not
difficult. Beverly Hawking and María Valdez were behind
me with an astonishing expression on their grimaces. The
doctor‟s statements overwhelmed the guidance counselor,
Mrs. Pots, a supporter of the Waldens. I reacted as if
couldn‟t believe what he said. However, I heard right, the
response of the other teachers revealed that Doctor
pronounced those buzzes. There he was, a man with a
doctoral degree in education, ruling those atrocities; he
didn‟t elude the student‟s name, but everyone got an idea of
who this boy was.

10

The Fine Art Center wasn‟t only for Doctor Walden‟s


reactionary rhetoric; there were other things that served the
place, like Mrs. Thomas‟ Christmas drama production.
In Christmas production everyone was supposed to
dress-up for the occasion. Alex and I decided to go together

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as a couple; it was going to be our first time that the school


was going to see us together as so. We didn‟t realize that we
were going to be the center of the attention that night. We
went together to some movies and ate together in the Dining
Hall, still, only a small group of people knew that we were
going out together.
That night play was worthy; it was well acted by Mrs.
Thomas performers. She adapted Charles Dickens‟s
Christmas Carol into the Green Hills‟ Academy setting, and
it came out awesome. After the play was over, the thespians
moved a piano to the stage, and sang Christmas Carols with
the spectators. The whole audience was moved into the best
of Christmas Spirits.
After the activity in the Fine Art Center was over the
student body was moved in the Dining Hall, there was a
Christmas gathering with chocolate chips cookies and fruit
punch. Everyone was in line, in front of the building
entrance, the usual boys and girls lines.
Alex and I were behind the group and we thought
that because it was already dark outside the students weren‟t
going to see us passing through; “Don‟t worry! They aren‟t
going to say a thing,” I said.

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“You sure?” Alex asked.


“It‟s OK!” I replied.
Holding hands we went throughout the two lines. I
think that Victor Lopes was first to howl at us, and after him
the rest of the line shrieked our names, and other stuff.
“Way to go, Coach,” or maybe “Way to go, Alex.” We both
ran inside the building, while the two hundred students
outside acknowledged our couple status.
Inside the Hall we laughed so much that our faces
turned red. We felt as if two little bugs in the middle of a
chickens‟ dance. The Martins and Mrs. Valdez delivered an
uncanny mockery; even Alma Walden approached us to tell
a secret in Alex‟s ear. Seeing how the student body
anticipated us to become a pair was humorous.
We sat in a table next to the doors so we could see
them crow in front of us. Pierre, Johnny and Devin gathered
with us in the same table, they were very cheerful, because
we were pairing out.
I didn‟t know what to think; my feelings weren‟t
clear. I felt an attraction for her, but there it was in my head
that self imposes a pledge that kept me from giving a full

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commitment. I was uneasy with the thought of getting


involvement with anyone, but I was feeling so well off
around her that deciding what to do was hard.
That evening, I didn‟t give much rumination about
what was laid ahead for us, the basketball team, the school,
the Christmas Break or any other destructive thoughts. I
bought an airplane ticket two months before; I was planning
to go home for the first time since my father‟s funeral. I
thought that maybe this trip to the island would give me the
strength to continue with my career as a Basketball Coach.
However, going back home gave me two good reasons to
visit the island again. St. Mary‟s Basketball Coach resigned
and they were looking for another coach. I knew that I was
the perfect choice for the brothers. The other matter was that
my mother was alone after my father‟s death, and at least I
was going to give her company for a while.
In the other hand there was Alex, my vision on
becoming a college coach, and the boy that I was helping
with his game. They began to have an importance in my life
whether I want it to or not. That night of the Christmas
presentation I didn‟t give thoughts to these things, I enjoyed
the whole evening without thinking in any.

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The idea of returning home began to saturate my


mind since Thanksgiving, for me that was the first time I was
going to celebrate the holidays without my Family. Mary
Valdez and her daughter, Johnny --who didn‟t go home for
Thanksgiving because all the hours he accumulated during
the first semester, And Alex and I sat together in same round
table to observe the holiday. The little guy asked Mrs.
Walden if he could sit with us. This brought a mournful
feeling in me; I couldn‟t swallow what Johnny‟s parents
were doing to him. The school should permit him to go
home with his relative in days like this, but instead he spent
Thanksgiving with a group of strangers.

11

Everybody showed their excitement the day before


the Christmas break began; all the scholars were going
home, even those that didn‟t do so during Thanksgiving. For
many of them it was going to be the first time since the
beginning of the semester. The school coercion was

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affecting every being in campus, and it reflected in each


teacher‟s class. This was the reason Bobby Hunter picked up
a fight in my last period with Devin the last day of the first
semester.
It started when Devin inhibited to play a five on five
in Bobby‟s team during P.E., the last activity of the semester.
I don‟t know what sparked Bobby‟s reaction, but I heard him
say, “That boy‟s a punk!” He shouted a loud, letting his
classmate know what he thought about Devin.
I was alert about anything that concern Devin, but I
never thought that it was going to scale to a scuffle. “Leave
him alone, he just a kid,” I told Bobby.
“He‟s a punk, Coach. I asked him to play, and he
doesn‟t care too. „Cause he‟s afraid to play with the men,”
Bobby was shouting. “I don‟t like the punk.” Bobby was
making disaffecting gesture with his hand to Devin, as if he
were alluring the boy for an argument. “He‟s a punk! And
I‟m going to kick his ass one of these days.”
“Bobby, what‟re you saying? He‟s just a kid, leaves
him alone and shut up.” I said.
“I don‟t like him, Coach. He‟s an ass hole,” he blared
while he picked his last player.

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To all this Devin didn‟t say a word, he took the


basketball I gave him, and began shooting in the far left goal.
He was repeating some my drills. Devin was getting better
with every day that passed, and he didn‟t want to play with
the big players yet. In many occasions, Devin asked me for
more basketball homework, but I was running out.
Sometime in practice he collided with his teammates, and he
ended crying on the grown grasping his left knee,
complaining from pain; he cried every time someone
touched that knee. I always thought that there was
something more than physical pain, but I never explored
what was the trouble; I didn‟t want to know. My
gratification was to help him without getting involved with
his personal life, helping as much as possible with the only
objective that we had in common.
Bobby picked Victor, Elliot, and Ron to play in his
team. Patrick selected four other players to sport in his team
so they could do a full court game until the end of the period.
Everything was going smoothly until Bobby ran into Devin,
who was shooting hoops in the same basket.
“Move out of the way punk,” he shouted at Devin as

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he continued moving forward.


Devin was taken by surprise, “What‟s your
problem?” he said, “What an ass hole!”
“Devin, take it easy,” I said to the boys.
Bobby Hunter, who was dribbling the ball in front of
Patrick Shea‟s defense, turned to look at Devin, with malice
in his eyes, and hollered. Devin walked as fast as he could to
where I was standing, near the glass doors.
“What did you fucking call me?” Bobby approached
the boy, and then shouted, “Say it again! Say it, punk,”
Bobby wanted a brawl, as if he forgot where he was, or who
he was. There was anger all over his face; it was easy to see
the blood turning his face red.
“Stop . . .” I shouted at both, while I got between.
Devin was frightened, petrified of Bobby‟s
confrontation; though that he was taller than Bobby‟s; he
wasn‟t stronger. Everyone in the court muted, no one
expected something like this, especially coming from Bobby.
Time stopped for everyone in gym, but for us.
The senior pushed the sophomore on the chest before
I got the chance to stop him. My right hand was on Bobby‟s
shoulder while the other was on Devin chest while the rest

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watched in silent, waiting to see the main event. Bobby kept


on advancing at us and he pushed me to move me out of the
way.
I got a hold of Bobby‟s arms, and then pushed him
hard back, this time I wasn‟t defending the other boy. It
aggravated me that he put his hands on me. “Don‟t push me,
Boy.” I shout at him, and I meant it; I stopped thinking in
that second. Bobby‟s face changed, it showed an alarming
signal. So, he stopped bulldozing at us. Both kids were
paralyzed with my action, when someone came running from
the bleachers screaming, “Mother fucker, why don‟t you
fight me?”
It was Elliot making harsh motion while invited
Bobby to fight. He wanted to hit Bobby with a fist. I held
the new comer in the fight at the same time that Victor and
Mark intervened with Bobby.
Elliot calmed down, and Bobby took his belongings
and left the gymnasium, running like a dog with his tale
under his two back legs.
“Coach, he‟s a selfish son of a bitch,” Elliot said,
“You should let me hit him; I want to kick his ass so bad . .

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.”
“Cool it, Elliot,” I shouted, “It wasn‟t your business.”
I held his arm; I was attempting to stop to go after Bobby.
Bobby left the building; Elliot came to his senses,
while the others observed without emotion the whole drama.
The bells marked the end of the first semester and the
beginning of the Christmas. I told everyone to leave, and go
to his or her dorms, except Elliot and Devin. I was really
angry with myself because I lost control. I knew that Bobby
was out of order. Devin was his victim in that whole mess,
and Elliot acted in an impulse. He wanted revenge with his
competitor-- and I behaved as one of them, I became what I
didn‟t want to be, another chap.
Victor remained in the gym waiting for his friend
Elliot; he wanted to see what I was going to say to his buddy.
A “Why?” came out of my mouth, I didn‟t
understand why I reacted as if I wanted to bully Bobby.”
Coach, he‟s an ass hole. Everyone hates his gauss,” Elliot
said. “He treats people like shit.”
“Yeah, He‟s like that,” Victor intervened. “Oh! How
I hope that once he tries to messes‟ with me, „cause I‟m
going to kick his ass.”

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A Season In Green Hills‟

“No, you‟re not going to do that,” I said. “You think


that I‟m going to let you fight him.”
“Coach, he‟s an ass . . .” Devin jumped in the
conversation.
“Don‟t say anything, Kid.”
“Why?” Devin asked me, “What did I do to him . . .”
“I don‟t know, Devin. The only thing I know it‟s that
I‟m going to talk with him and then I‟m going to ask him to
forgive me.”
“Why?” Elliot fired. “He started it, and then he
pushed you, when you‟re only tried to prevent him from
fighting.”
“Yeah, but I‟m the teacher, I‟m supposed to have
control. What I did was wrong! I‟m goin‟ see him as soon as
I‟m done here I‟m goin‟ to tell him that I was in the wrong,
that I shouldn‟t push him.”
“Coach, don‟t ask me to do that! I hate the Son of the
Bitch. He‟s nothing but trouble,” Elliot spoke his piece.
“Yeah,” Victor agreed.
For a moment silence inflated the gym. The boys
looked at me as if they were waiting to hear a sound coming

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from my lips. Still, my mind flew to the other incidents.


First the events in my fifth period, then Ryan hit Gloria, and
now this with my team captain. To top everything the team
was in the middle of a losing season. “Everything is
crumbling around me,” I thought “God; I‟m going to get fire
from here.” I threw out a load my thoughts; I assumed that
my students weren‟t listening.
“Why?” Devin asked, “That wasn‟t your fall.” There
was an agitation in his voice and his eyes. In that moment I
thought that he was worry about what could happen to me.
“Don‟t worry for me Kid,” I told him. “You better go
to your dorm.”
The other two boys left the facilities before Devin
did; he waited for them to retreat from the gym. I think he
wanted to bring up something to me, but he didn‟t say
anything, as if he lost his courage to do so. Then he helped
me to put away the equipment inside the coaches‟ office, and
lingered around until I was ready to leave. He took his book
bag and walked me outside the gym.
“What‟re you going to do now?” he asked.
“Why?”
“Are you going to practice me?” He said while

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A Season In Green Hills‟

walking backward heading to Eaton Hall.


“Yeah,” I said. “Why not? That will give me a
chance to release the tension.”
“Good, I‟ll be here at 4:00.”
I was steering to the administration building when
something made me turned back and called for him. So I
met him again before he was to far, and then I said it.
“Devin, you can be sure that no one is going to touch you in
front of me.”
He didn‟t speak a word; he just glanced at me, as if
he were happy to hear me saying that. If he were surprised I
was more, I didn‟t know why I said that. In me there was
proud feeling for his progress as a b-ball player, and now
there was also affection.
He stared at me, and then smiled, but never
acknowledges my remark, insteps he just asked me, “Are
you coming at four?”
“Yeah,” I put my hand on his shoulder with my right
hand, and smiled back at him.
“You‟re butt-head, Tony,” he said to me.
“I‟m from the islands, Kid. What else can you

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expect?” I said.

12

Devin waited for me in front of the gymnasium; he


was bouncing the basketball as if it was attached to a yo-yo‟s
cord. He was using the same ball I gave him the day that I
began teaching him the arts of playing basketball. His skills
were improving as the season progressed. The incident
between Bobby and him made me think that he needed to
increase his strength. His body was too fragile to withstand
a fight with someone else.
He paused the dribbling when he saw me coming
across the main road; then he said to me, “Bobby talked to
me.”
“What did he say?” I was very surprised.
“He told that he was sorry about what happened.”
“I knew it, he‟s a good kid. Maybe he was having a
bad day, or someone is giving him a hard time . . . I‟m going
to talk to him tomorrow, before we leave school.” I felt
release.
“Good, let‟s play some b-ball.”

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A Season In Green Hills‟

“B-ball?”
“Basketball, Dummy.” He gestured an amusing
gesticulation with his mouth. “I‟m ready to kick some butt.”
“You wish, Kid!” I said.
I opened the facility, and went inside with the boy,
who ran across the floor showing off his new dribbling
abilities. He attempted a lay up in the east hoop, while I was
getting ready for our little match. I got me a basketball from
the coach‟s office and began warming up my shot. His ball
was wearer-out by the used he gave it during the last two
months.
“Devin, don‟t use that ball anymore,” I advised him
while I threw him a new one from the office.
“Why you always do that?”
“„Cause it‟s to light; it‟ll mess up your shot.”
He agreed, while he shot the new ball to the target,
“This one is heavy!”
“I know what I‟m talking about Kid,” I
acknowledged. “This is what I do for living, Kid”
“Tony, you‟re a butt-head,” he said.
“Let‟s see who‟s the butt-head after the game is

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over.” I replied.
“Twenty-one?”
“You aren‟t scoring Kid,” I enunciated.
“You wish, Boy,” he shouted back.
“Due or dye?” I said just when I took the shot from
the top of the key. The ball crossed the net making a “zzzzh .
. .” sound; it didn‟t touch the metal. I was in a top physical
condition, so when I told him that he wasn‟t going to score, I
meant it, I was about to show him all his wick points.
The ball was my . . .
Devin put his right hand on my waist, and assumed a
guarding posture. His arms were extended and his knees
were flexed, with the intention to follow my footsteps, as I
taught him to do. Then, I made a quick turn around from my
left to my right, and let him behind. By making a full stop I
confronted the glass broad, and fired a jump shot with my
right hand. The ball went throughout the hole again without
touching the metal.
“This it‟s what I do for living, Kid,” I echoed.
“You‟re lucky,” he said to me.
“You think so?” I asked, while I stood on the
free-throw-line.

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The first and second free throws drilled in while the


third one bounced out from the iron ring. The boy caught the
rebound, and dribbled it out behind the three-point-line. He
tried a right side drive to the hoop, but I stole it from his
hands.
“Did I tell you that I began playing when I was
eleven?” I said.
“Yeah, about twenty times.” He was getting angry,
and I was enjoying it, playing against him was easy, he was
very predictable, I repeated my move to the left side, and
shot the ball with the backboard. My first two shots were
from inside the painted area. I used my height and my
weight over him to produce them. I made my free throws
again, and then I asked him, “What‟s the score, Kid?”
“You‟re a butt-head. Com‟ on, shoot the ball,” he
didn‟t answer.
“I believe it‟s 9 - 0.”
“Fuck you,” he shouted at me.
I stood on the free-throw-line; I couldn‟t believe what
I heard from him, “Hey, What‟s wrong with you?” I shouted
back.

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Devin glanced down to the wooden floor, and made a


half smile with his lips, then closed his eyes. All the
indications told me that he didn‟t mean what he said; it was
as if he remembers something from the yesteryear. “I‟m
sorry,” he shook his head. “I didn‟t mean too . . .”
“OK, I don‟t want to play with you anymore,” I told
him.
“I‟m sorry,” he said again, “please, keeping on
playing, I want to score over you,” he declared with a sincere
ton in his voice.
“Fine, but don‟t you ever talk to me like that,” I told
him. I didn‟t make fun of him any more during the game,
but he ended without any points when we finished it. He
was so disappointed that he threw the ball in an angry
manner to the backboard, as if he were going to give up on
the sport.
“Now, what‟s with you?” I asked.
“I haven‟t improved a thing,” he shouted.
“Are you blind?” I said. “You have, believe me.” I
delayed for a second „cause I wasn‟t sure if saying to him
what I felt about his progress was right for me. “In my ten
years as a Basketball Coach I hadn‟t seen anyone that could

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master to play as fast as you.”


I astonished him with this revelation, as if he never
heard a simple truth before. Then he asked me, “Are you
serious?” The boy gained hope from my words.
“I‟m not deceiving to you, Devin. You‟re going to be
good. You are . . .”
“You provably say that to everyone.”
“I never said anything with more meaning,” I put my
hand on his shoulder, “I had seen this before. Many of my
players began like you. At the end, with a lot of dedication
they got better, but it usually takes more time to them than it
had taken you. The only thing that you should do now is to
workout more . . . That was the point! I was making a point
to you by leaving you in nothing. You‟re wicked, you need
to do some weight and run some after school.” I gave him a
little push, to prove my point. “And, never forget to keep on
practicing your skills.”
“I have to work harder?” He murmured between his
lips.
“Sure, you have,” I said.
Devin paused to glance at me, “Do you think I can

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make the Varsity next year?”


“You may be the next point guard. And if I‟ll come
back next year, I‟ll help you like I hadn‟t helped anyone in
my life.” As I finished saying this to him, we silenced for
about a minute. He remained taciturn after my statement; it
was as if his future in the school was uncertain too.
Suddenly, I realized that my fate wasn‟t sure either. There
was a good chance that the school bosses wouldn‟t renew my
contract for the next school year. I felt discouraged of this
fact, but when I looked at him I recognized that he was
giving me a good reason to believe in myself and to fight the
odds. Devin improvement on the court, and considerations
to me gratified my effort as a coach and a teacher.
We played two more games before we left to our
dormitories, but without intensity of our first match.

13

My first words for Devin the next morning were,


“Twenty-one to Zero!”
I was going to eat breakfast with him and Pierre the
next morning. It was the first day of Christmas vacation. He

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turned his head around, and then said his little phrase,
“Coach, you‟re a butt-head!”
“Maybe, but I let you in zero points, Kid.”
“I bet you‟re telling everyone in school,” he said.
“No, just Eaton Hall.”
“Gee, thanks!”
I was in a great humor throughout the morning,
mainly because I was going to fly home the next day. First, I
was driving to Miami to visit my father‟s sister, and to leave
my car in their house. From there I was going to take an
airplane and fly to the Island. In less than twenty-four hours
I was going to sleep again on my bed.
“You‟re loud today,” Devin made the observation.
“Yeah, I‟m going home, Kid.”
“Where Ms. Alex‟s goin‟?” Pierre asked.
“I think she‟s visiting her Mom,” I said. “Why do
you ask me?”
“I don‟t know! I figured that after the other night you
and her would go some place together.”
“After the other night?”
“Yeah, when everyone in school cheered for you

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two,” Pierre said to everyone in the table, he thought that he


was saying something amusing.
“God,” I said. “That was hilarious. But, what made
you think that we‟re going out together?”
He noticed that I was serious, and that I wasn‟t going
to let anyone to make jokes about Alex and me. He put then
an apologetic expression on his face and said, “I didn‟t mean
to make fun of you two . . .”
“Don‟t worry I know what you meant,” I said to him,
and then it came out of my mouth without thinking, “I think
I‟m in love!”
Devin was taking a bite of his hot cakes in same
instants; he decelerated chewing and with a bewildered
locution said, “That‟s great, I‟m happy for you!” His
respond was very mature, not like what he said in the gym to
me the day before. It was curious to see how this boy could
have an adult reaction for one thing and a child‟s behavior
for other.
“Well, you‟re the first to know.” I told the kids in the
table.
“Why don‟t you take her with you?” Pierre asked me.
“I don‟t know what‟s in her mind. And my mother‟s

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an old fashion Catholic.”


“I understand. You want to be sure of her felling,” he
said.
“You‟re right, Kid.”
Johnny came with his trade full of food, and sat on an
available chair next to me. Our conversation shifted to
Bobby and Elliot Incident. I disclosed them that I spoke to
Bobby last night after dinner, and that I asked him to
disregard my actions. Then, Johnny added that they chatted,
after I left the dorm, and that it looked that they settled their
difference. This gave me sense of release „cause it was
going to make things easy after my return from our winter
break. The team needed a reconstruction after the
unfortunate incident.
Devin pronounced a goodbye after he finished eating.
I told him that I was going to be alone in my classroom. He
said that he might come to say a goodbye before his
grandparents come to pick him up. I left the dining hall, and
went to my place to prepare my bags.
Everything was ready for my voyage home; my uncle
was expecting me around 9:00 P.M. He was taking me the

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next morning to the airport.


My duties, in that sunrise, were to take students to the
Orlando International Airport in the company Mr. Johnson.
He was driving the bus while I helped the kids with their
lodges and airplane tickets.
The scholars didn‟t have classes, but they were in
their classrooms with the teachers until the end of third
period. Their excitement was contagious. It was like when
you go to a summer camp for the first time in your life.
Alex was on DOA porch taking care of the last
details. Its residents‟ bags were sitting on the small deck.
We pulled them inside the bus from their instep of the girls‟
rooms.
“Hey! Are you ready for vacation?” I asked her.
“Yeah, I bet you‟re excited too,” she said with a
warm smile on her face.
“I am!”
“Are you coming to say goodbye later?” she asked.
“Sure!”
We kissed with a soft touch on our lips, and smiled to
each other. It was our first public kiss. We broke the
school‟s B/G rule. Then I walked to my classroom

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transmitting happiness all over campus, singing a loud Janet


Jackson‟s “Escape.” She stood on the stairway in front of
the building, and shouted at me, “Boy, you‟re thrilled!”
I turned around while kept on walking backward, and
said, “I‟m going home tomorrow!”

14

Devin and Pierre came by my classroom; they were


dress for a celebration. Devin was wearing a striped T-shirt
and light blue jeans while Pierre in a green long sleeve shirt
and dark pans. They were good friends but they were as
different as the moon and the sun or water and oil. Devin
was the warm and sensitive and serious while Pierre was
loud, goofy and didn‟t have any respect for the sacred. It
was as if Devin was made in the heavens and Pierre in the
hells.
“Hey guys! How come you‟re here?”
“I asked Monroe for permission,” Devin answered.
“He‟s my Study Hall teacher.”
“And, I‟m waiting for my grandmother, she‟s coming

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from Palm Beach to pick me up this morning, so I‟m not in


class,” Pierre said.
“I thought you‟re going to France for Christmas.”
“Yeah, but I‟m going to stay with her a few days.”
“What about you, Kid?” I turned the question to
Devin who was standing in from of the window looking for
someone.
“My grandpa‟ is coming to get me. I‟m going to
Winter Heaven.”
“Winter Heaven? Where‟s that?”
“Like an hour from here, going south.”
“Where're you going Coach?” Pierre asked.
“Home.”
“Look at him. He‟s glad this is over?” Devin added
with a festive tone, but also with a spiritless emotion in his
eyes that only I detected. I didn‟t know why, he should be
jumping of joy, but instep there was a sour taste in his
mouth.
“I feel great, Kid!” I told him while I put my hand on
his left shoulder. “Are you going to call me? Johnny told me
that he‟s going too.”
“I‟ll call you,” Devin answered.

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“Coach, I got to go,” Pierre said. “See you later.”


“See you later, Kid!” I said while I pushed his
shoulder with my fist.
“I got to go too!” Devin looked at me and smiled, but
again the same sad expression in his eyes. “I‟ll call you
tomorrow.”
“If you‟re going to call me remember that there is an
hour difference.”
“Well see you later, Coach.”
“I‟ll see you on January.” When I pronounced those
words, I realized that I wasn‟t sure of coming back after the
holidays. No one knew this, not even Alex.
Devin was crossing the doorway when he shifted to
glance at me; he put his hands inside his pans‟ pockets, and
then said, “Coach, see you later.”
“Goodbye, Kid!”

15

All the DOA girls that were going to travel in the


buses were going to be driven to the airport by Mr. Johnson

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J.V. Rosario

and me. Inside the bus there were all kinds of bags, boxes,
briefcases and other ways of carry clothing, books, sport
equipment and other articles. More than fifty different
packages were loaded in the back of the vehicle, which the
residents of the campus were getting home.
Edward Milano and Mrs. Walden‟s secretary came
inside the vehicle and took sometime to give each student
their airplane tickets and other documents. They stood in
front of the bus to call the attention of the young people.
“Everybody listen-up,” Milano addressed the kids.
“When I call your name, you‟ll come forward to get your
tickets. Make sure that your documents are in order.”
“In some of your packages there is a letter for your
parents,” the lady interrupted Milano. “That‟s only for some
of you that still own money to the Academy . . .”
“Mr. Johnson, Coach and some of your teachers are
going to be at the Airport to help you . . .” They began
calling the names on the envelopes.
I was sitting on a front seat, waiting for them to finish
with their duties, and for Mr. Johnson to move the vehicle to
the boys‟ dormitories. The two of them journeyed with us to
the boys‟ dorms, so they could give the same instruction to

231
A Season In Green Hills‟

them. Our first stop was Wallace Hall; the boys were
waiting in front of the building. Eaton Hall boys were
waiting in the same fashion, with bags in hands.
After we deposited of the baggage inside the school
bus, I sat in the shotgun seat. The boys entered the vehicle,
and with them Johnny came in too. He sat with me in the
front seat. Outside the dorm waiting for his grandfather was
Devin, he peeked at us inside the transport, and then he ran
to get on the bus.
Devin stood in front of us; he glanced at me as if he
wanted to say something, but he didn‟t speak a word. I was
conversing with Johnny when he came in. I glanced at the
kid, and waited for him to say something.
“What‟s up kid?” I asked.
“Nothin‟, I just want to say goodbye,” he said.
This was the second time, in a way I knew that he
didn‟t want to say those words, but I behaved as if nothing
important was going on. I felt an uncertain feeling, when I
saw that he felt grateful for all my help with his basketball.
Devin stood for a few seconds without articulating a
sound. He smiled with the same bright expression on his

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J.V. Rosario

semblance. My respond to him was to shake my shoulders,


as if I didn‟t care, as if he was another student in the bunch.
Finally I broke the silence to say a dry, “Bye, Kid.”
“I‟ll call you tomorrow,” he said.
“OK!” I said, shaking my shoulder again, with an “I
don‟t care” gesture. I didn‟t know why I acted in that way, I
guessed that it was because I wanted to show everyone that I
didn‟t have favorites in school our because I knew that I was
not coming back after the holidays.

16

David Johnson drove the school bus to the airport as


fast as he could. He always gave me the impression of being
tired of the Green Hills‟. The man went to the Academy as a
student seventeen years ago and worked for it for the last
nine. The joke between the students was that he was Green
Hills‟ final product, a custodian. The kids told these and
other tales about this man. Walter Walden used to say that
David Johnson was the best basketball player he had ever
had as a coach. And to believe this was hard for everyone,
mainly because he was a heavy man. His appearance didn‟t

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match the tale, even though it was entirely truth. The thing
about Mr. Johnson was that his actions let not other choice
but to be hate by everyone in school. The teases continued
behind his back throughout the semester, and provably was
part of the school folklore.
“Hey you, shut up,” Johnson shouted to a girl that
was talking loud back in the bus. This was a new experience
for me, a maintenance employee having the same powers as
the teachers to discipline the students. That wasn‟t my idea
of education, but who was going to say something to him or
the people that ran the place? This was an old school; it
founded in 1917, and it is hard to change an old white
elephant.
“God, hate that man!” Johnny said about Mr.
Johnson.
“Don‟t say anything or you are next,” I said to the
boy.
“No, I‟ll never let anyone to howl to me like that.”
“Johnny, it‟s the last day of school, and we‟re going
to the airport . . . You‟re going home to see your parents for
Christmas. It‟s not worsted . . . You understand,” I said

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J.V. Rosario

while I pushed my elbow on his chest.


“Coach, stop, stop,” he giggled. “Man, stop . . .
Coach, stop!”
“Where are you heading, Kid?” I asked him.
“I‟m going to Dad‟s in Virginia, just for this
Christmas.”
“What about your mother?” I asked.
“They divorced when I was four,” he answered back.
“Oh! I‟m sorry,” I said.
“That‟s OK, I‟m use to it.”
“Johnny . . . Why are you here?” This question came
out without much thought. I guess it turned into a habit to
ask this to my students.
“I was in a Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center,” he
didn‟t think twists to answer.
“What . . .” to my surprise I asked again, “. . . do you
mean?”
“Before I came to Green Hills, I was in a rehab center
for nine months.”
“You,” I pointed at him looking for more details.
“How old are you?”
“Thirteen!”

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“And when did you start using it?”


“When I was around seven,” he answered, “my
stepfather gave me my first beer, and by the time I was
eleven, I was using almost everything.”
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“All kind of stuff, Coach: Maui, pills, alcohols, LSD,
coke etc . . .” He continued with a monotonous voice tone; as
if he were rushing to tell everything in one sentence, as if he
was afraid to be interrupted by his interlocutor. I observed
his face; he was hardly thirteen; his eyes were pure blue,
without the aging scars. The boy experienced the
uncertainty of life too early in his existence. Then, I
recognized that I was asking too many questions, and I
thought that it wasn‟t right for me to keep on pressing him
with my questions.
“Johnny, I‟m sorry that I asked you. . .”
“Don‟t be sorry. I really don‟t mind,” he said. “I
told this to everyone I can; it helps me to keep myself clean.
I go to NA and AA meetings, and my therapist told that I
should be honest with myself and other people. If I don‟t
like someone, I‟ll tell the person, and if I didn‟t like you, I

236
J.V. Rosario

would tell you long time ago.”


“Great, I found an honest kid in Green Hills‟
Academy,” I said.
“Coach, I like you,” he said.
“Thanks! I like you too!” I said. In that moment I
distinguished on his right arm a pronounced „L‟ shape scar.
“What happened to you there?” I asked him about it.
“I punched a window,” he answered.
“Why did you do that?”
“I was high all the time, and I was violent too. And
this happened the day I discovered that I have a problem. I
was going to hit my Mom,” he disclosed without any
emotion on his semblance. In times I thought that I was
talking to the robot of „Lost in Space‟.
“Why?”
“She pissed me up!”
“Do you love her?” I asked. I could not resist my
curiosity.
“Yeah,” There was a smile on his lips when he
answered my question. It wasn‟t for me or for anyone in the
bus, it was for his mother. “I was angry with anyone that got
in front of me. That‟s why I was high all the time; I thought

237
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that drugs could control my anger.”


Then, our bus approached the toll station on the
Beeline next to the OIA. The students were in their own
things insides the yellow vehicle. Some of them were
listening to their Walkman radios; others were talking, our
just looking to the empty space. While Mr. Johnson drove
the bus; he murmured a song between his teeth.
As Johnny spelled out his guts out to me; I didn‟t feel
pity for him. He was strong and in a way he was mature; he
gave me the impression that he was going to achieve his
goals. I don‟t know why in that moment Devin pot on my
mind. Both kids were different in many ways, but at the
same time they were so similar. I didn‟t perceive Devin as
strong as Johnny, maybe because Devin seeing to be depress
in many occasion. They were both in Green Hills‟ Academy
for the wrong reasons.
David Johnson paid the toll road and drove the school
bus through the Orlando International Airport ramp. The
main road was in construction, creating a confusing entrance
to the terminal. We didn‟t know where the driver was taking
us. There were barricades on both sides of the main road and

238
J.V. Rosario

the traffic was heavy both directions.


He got mute the moment the school bus made his
entrance to the airport. My questioning also stopped when
we approached the building. The driver parked the vehicle
in front of the US/Air sign. Then, one Wallace Hall boy
helped us to unload what was inside the bus. The terminal
was replete with transits all with different faces and
destinations. Airports are confusing places if you don‟t
comprehend them; their jaws may swallow you if you let
them.
Mr. Johnson and I abandoned the airport after we left
the students on the terminal‟s sidewalk. He rushed through
the Beeline, turned into Sand Lake Road, and them Kirkman
ending on the S. R. 50. He pressed the bus without any
consideration to his fellow drivers on the same route. The
man was a reckless pilot with or without the students inside.
To comprehend how this man was assigned to this task was
very hard.

17

David Johnson toured me around Winter Garden‟s

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A Season In Green Hills‟

back roads; he made three stops in the way to Green Hills‟


Academy. The big fellow was bringing two palm trees to the
school from a small nursery on the back roads. We also
stopped in an Auto Parts place and in a little grocery store on
the way home. He bought all kind things for the Christmas
Party at the Waldens, the one I was going to miss that night.
Alex was waiting in the dorm by the time we arrived
from the airport. She saw the bus coming throughout the
windows in front of building‟s porch. There was a release
on her semblance when she came out of the structure; the
students were all gone so the dorm was quiet.
“Hi! I thought you left,” she said.
“Why?”
“I don‟t know. It‟s late to go to Miami.”
“Yeah, I guess it‟s late. Mr. Johnson made a few
stops in the way home,” I answered, while I extended my
body to kiss her.
“Are you ready to go home?” she asked me.
“Yes, I am! I haven‟t being home since my father
funeral, and I going to have the chance to visit some relative
that I haven‟t see in a long time.”

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J.V. Rosario

“You‟re excited!” She said.


“Yeah,” I said to her. “I need to get my mail. You
want to walk with me?”
“Sure,” Alex answered.
We walked to the main building to get our mail. I
continued soon after to my place to get the car and my
things, while Alex went back to her dorm. She was to wait
for the last girl to be picked by her parents. The whole
campus was as empty as an old ghost town, like those in the
Gun Smoke reruns. A couple was kissing on a bench in a far
corner of schoolyards. It was difficult to distinguish who
these two were; it was too far for my eye site, and I didn‟t
care. The only thing that was in my mind was to pick my
things and leave as soon as possible. It was around 2:30 in
the afternoon and my journey was going to last at least four
hours on the Florida Turnpike.
The apartment was clean and all the things were in
place. I gave a final look to all my commodities. I was
leaving them behind for the next twenty-one days. When I
shut the door, I had a strange sensation; I felt that I was
glimpsing my thing for the last time.
My black Corolla drove me in front of DOA; I was

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A Season In Green Hills‟

going to say goodbye to Alex. I didn‟t know if this were


going to be a permanent farewell. However, I wasn‟t going
to let her know what was in my head that afternoon. So I
acted as if nothing was happening when she came out when
my car parked on the driveway.
“Hi!” she greeted me in front of the building‟s red
tiles porch. She was wearing a white sweat-pan with the
Atlanta Olympics 1996 logos printed in front of her T-shirt.
“I‟m ready.”
“Are you!” she asked or said; it wasn‟t clear for me
what she meant with that expression.
“Yeah, I am,” I responded with a cheerful tone.
“You look anxious. I bet that you can‟t way to leave
us.”
“Well, I‟m not that anxious,” I reached and kissed her
sizable red lips. “What‟re you going to do now?” I asked
while I held her in my arms.
“I have to wait for Melinda‟s parents, they‟re going
to pick her around three o‟clock,” she answered. “You can
come in. Had you ever being inside the girls‟ dorm?”
“No!”

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J.V. Rosario

“Com‟ on in; I had been in your place, but you never


being in mine.” Alex took my hand and pulled me inside the
old Victorian style quarters, and to the second floor where
her little space was. Everything was well organized and in
their proper place. It was as big as my bedroom; she had a
little living room and a bed-kitchen-bath room in the back
place. The walls were cover by wooden panels producing
the sensation of a prehistoric cave, dark and hummed. The
carpet was gray and it didn‟t cover the whole floor.
“Well, what do you think?” she asked while she
extended her arm to the side.
“About what?”
“The apartment.”
“It‟s OK!” I said with a cold look on my face. For
some reason the DOA building always spooked me, it was as
if the I could see the ghosts of the past resident wandering its
corridors.
“You don‟t sound thrill,” she voiced. Alex knew that
my head was on the road.
“Yeah,” I replied. It wasn‟t only going home that it
was getting me restless; it was the attraction I felt for her.
She was disturbing my plans, even though that they weren‟t

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clear enough to predict future for me. Then, I broke my


silence and said, “Alex, I got to go.”
“I know,” she said
I took her head between my hands and kissed her; she
replied with another peck this time. I extended my arms
around her body while we kissed and felt her body heat
sheltering my flesh. My heart was telling me to stay, we
were alone in that big old dorm, but my brain was saying,
don‟t get involved if you don‟t know what‟s coming. Then, I
stopped.
“I got to go!”
“You‟re really anxious,” she repeated, in her eyes
there was a disappointment look. “You can‟t wait to go
home!”
“I can‟t!”
Alex escorted me to my car; we held hands and
kissed on the way out. When I sat on the driver‟s seat, she
glanced at my face as if she wanted to know my feelings for
her. Alex didn‟t know that in those times not I didn‟t know
what I was feelings. I shouted the driver‟s door and opened
the glass window and gave her a goodbye kiss.

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The couple that was sitting on the far bench minutes


ago was gone. The school‟s campus was isolated, as an
island in the middle of the ocean. I put my eyes on Alex to
glance at her for the last time.
“I‟ll call you,” I said.
“I‟ll call you!” she smiled.
“Bye!”
“Don‟t say Goodbye.”
“See you later?” I said.
“That‟s better,” she said. “I‟m going to miss you!”
“I‟m going to miss you too,” I said.
I turned the car on. She introduced her head
throughout the window space and kissed me again.
“Bye,” she said after the kissed and moved back. I
rolled the window up and started driving throughout the
asphalt road on the schoolyard. I put my eyes on the mirror,
and glanced at Alex for my last time.
The idea of going home to see my Family and friends
after five months fostered my thoughts during my long
journey over the Florida Turnpike. The decisions to be made
were going to affect my life forever.

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Chapter VI

1
Witnessing from the sky the small towns on the
island‟s green mountain made me feel that I concluded my
paradox. It was a remarkable sensation of peacefulness and
release to put behind all those unfortunate incidents that
happened in the Academy. It was as if I erased their
memories for the good.
The aircraft was making a big circle in the sky,
turning from one side to another. From the heavens I
scanned the streets of the metropolitan area, and saw the
tower of University of Puerto Rico. The Men‟s Dormitories
building was standing in front of it; I served as a dorm
proctor there in my college years. It brought memories of
younger days mixed, again, with those two words --tower
and dorm-- but this time the white obelisk was far away.
The landing was smooth; the pilot announced the
local time, 11:54 a.m., and the temperature, 84 degrees
--typical winter weather in the Caribbean. When the airplane
touched ground and almost every passenger inside the flying

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vehicle cheered the captain safe landing by applauding. My


siblings and I use to travel with our parents, and these
returning cheers used to embarrass us when we were kids.
They applauded because they were back in their homeland.
As a younger this made me feel like a Jibaro, but this time I
cheered with them.
The airplane took its time to caress the terminal, and
while it was running around the landing field. A fly
attendance was telling the passengers that American Airline
was pleased to have us customers. She spoke in English and
Spanish. After five months in an English-speaking country
it was a release to hear someone addressing a group in my
first language.
I went out of the aircraft with the only bags that I
brought for the trip. I detest waiting for the airline to bring
my bags to the baggage claim area. Traveling light was my
idea of a good wanderer, and I was eager to see my mother
and sister, that were waiting for me in the station.
While I walked to the outside, through the new
terminal building, I noticed the changes inside the Airport. I
didn‟t remember if they built it before I moved out of the
island, or maybe I wasn‟t use to this side of the building.

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The impression I received of the baggage claim


section, where my relatives waited, was that everyone inside
was insane. There were not lines to pick the luggage rolling
on the ramps, and some people were pushing others off to
reach for their bags. People outside the building were
looking throughout the glass windows, one over the other
like sardines in an open cam. They all wanted to see who
arrived in the flying machine that just landed. While all
these were happening, two other flies were waiting in the
claim area making the place to confine for the amount of
people inside.
My Mom was between those sardines attempting to
find her son. I spotted her first; she was wearing a black
blouse and white pans; the proper mourning combination. In
a corner of my mind I forgot, for a moment, that my dad
wasn‟t there to receive his son.
She looked at her youngest son and smiled, as if I
were the most wonderful thing on which she ever lays eyes.
Her old eyes were getting tearful. She began to move from
the corner of the window to the glass door, where my sister
was looking around for her brother. I ran where they were

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standing in front of the terminal‟s doors, and then hugged


them with a tide squeeze.
The way home was a car race between my sister‟s
Honda Civic and all the other vehicles on the road; no one in
island has civilized driving. It was amazing how many
changes I could find in five months, but it was also amazing
that driving habits were the same. The roads were NASCAR
acceleration tracks; if you can drive there, you could drive
anywhere on this world.
When we arrived in my hometown I didn‟t see many
changes. A crowded neighborhood, shopping plazas filled
with cars; the post station, bridges and red lights were on the
same places. The bank in the shopping center was facing the
GM Cash & Carry across Road No.2 which was in an
enduring competition with Grande Supermarket. The same
fancy doctors‟ offices were stilled around Regional Hospital.
The sign in front of our quadrant was fading with the time.
The old neighborhood received its old buddy with a greeting
arm. Nothing was changed; people that worked in
downtown filled our streets with their vehicles in both sides
of the street. And our neighbors‟ homes were coated in the
exact same colors.

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My sister turned the marginal street corner as if she


was driving one of Ben-Hur carriages. Your driving habits
do change when you spend time away from home. I was
acclimatized to Florida‟s smooth and orderly traffic.
She parked her car in front of the thirty years old
house. It didn‟t have alterations; it was just the way it should
be. The same light green and bone white colors coated the
outside walls, and behind the black iron gates the long porch
in a terrace floor, where my father read his newspapers every
day. It was as if could see he sitting on the white iron swing
chair with his bifocals hanging from his nose, like a wax
museum statue. As a boy I used to hate him because he only
had time for his newspaper and not for me. Now I miss his
figure sitting on the balcony chair.
As soon I came out of the car, I turned around to
explore the old neighborhood‟s surroundings. Then, I said to
my mother, “You know, somehow I was expecting to see
him sitting there.” I pointed to a chair inside the porch.
“I know, sometime I think that he‟s sitting there too,”
she said while she looked at the chair too. My dad‟s images
never went away and never stopped following her since his

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passing. It was very hard for her to forget him, they were
married for forty-two years; their love grew stronger with the
passing of time. I didn‟t say more. I opened the gate and
went inside house looking for changes in the living room and
in my room.
Everything was identical, nothing was different,
everything cleaned and in order, it was as home should
always be. It was a comforting sensation to be home, and I
didn‟t want to look back.
In my room I picked from my old dresser a pair of
shorts and got comfortable. It was time to talk about my
experience in the academy, and to ask what was happening
home lately. Mother made lunch in the kitchen while my
sister put a table for three. I sat in the living room and turned
on the TV to see if there was news in the cable channels. It
was as if I never left them, it was as if the last seven months
never happened.
“Tony, come sit on the table,” Mother hailed me
while she put a plate on the dining table.
“Oh right! It‟s being a long time since I‟d have a
plate of rice and beans,” I shouted while I pulled the head
table chair.

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As always, her meals were magnificent. She


combined my grandma old seasoning with the microwave
cooking. I ate like a pig that afternoon.
“Tony how‟s school?” she asked. Mother was
anxious to know; in our journey home I didn‟t speak a word
about Green Hills. I only limited myself to ask questions
about Puerto Rico‟s current events; the island‟s politics.
Statehood, independence or the colony were the three
choices that people fought to get in does days, for me it was
pointless a waste of time.
I thought, well, that it was time to answer my mother
questions about my status in Green Hills‟ Academy. I didn‟t
want her to get worry; the death of my father was still
affecting her. Therefore, I wasn‟t going to throw more gas
into the fire.
Finally, I spoke, “It‟s really great, I love it.” I
thought that lying wasn‟t right, but I wasn‟t going disturb
her. “It was what I was looking for,” I said.
In a way this was true, it was the discipline that made
the place shitty, but Mother wouldn‟t understand my line of
thought. As a kid I never remember her taking my site in

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any of my clashes with my teachers; she would take Dr.


Walden‟s site in these circumstances. My sister was the
person to talk; she was the only one that I could speak
without any restraints, except that this wasn‟t the moment to
address my problems.
After we finished eating and chatting I rested in my
old room, it was something I was looking forward at the end
of the semester. It gave me the feeling of being home again.

That same afternoon, I visited the Acropolis, the


Sport Complex I helped to built when I was the parks and
rec.‟s Honcho in my hometown. The Acropolis was my
baby; I was involved since the beginning as if I gave birth
the dame place. It changed my life during those days, as if I
was a TV Personality in my hometown, everybody knew me.
As if I was going to run for Mayor one day.
However, this time it didn‟t happen; I went through
the arena‟s doors, a volleyball game going on. The net was
set on the middle court, the two teams were playing, and the
bleachers were packed with spectators. I explored the people

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A Season In Green Hills‟

on the bleachers to find someone I knew but they all were


strangers. I only knew the one of the coaches and a referee.
In the crowd there wasn‟t a single soul that I could say I
knew. It was like being in a place you knew thirty years
later; I was the same person but those folks weren‟t. “Who
are this people?” I voiced between my lips. “I don‟t know
anyone!”
Three months before I left the job I made the same
kind of activity with a similar crowd. During those days I
knew every player by the first and last name, and they knew
who I was. Now everything was different.
I put my arms over the short fence that surrounded
the wooden floor, which divided the stands with the
action-taking place inside the court. I was really
disconcerted, in my mind I thought that people would
embrace with a standing ovation. The volleyball game was
going on, while I took a good look around the gym from the
corner. Things weren‟t so different; the floor, the two
scoreboards, and the iron benches were part of my
contribution to the place. Yet, the people were the
difference.

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As I reclined over the fence I felt someone palpating


shoulder; when I turned I beheld the face of Tommy Monica,
a friend from my days in the Acropolis.
“I knew it was you,” he cried out.
“Man, how you doing?” I greeted him with
excitement while I shook his hand. It was a release to see a
familiar face.
Tommy was one of the funniest man I ever met in my
life; he was the typical jelly party animal.
“Fine!” he answered, and then said, “I married last
summer, well you can see,” he said while he held his belly
with his two hands.
“It‟s that so?” I congratulated him. We conversed for
about twenty minutes or so; he disclosed many things about
the Acropolis, the City Hall and the new faces running the
recreation department.
Surprise was the word that doubted my state of mind;
things had changed. Everything was the similar on the
surface but the inside was hopeless. When I flew back that
morning, I thought that maybe I could fit back in town. Still,
as we spoke, I realized that I was out of place; I was not
longer king, and to do so I have to start all again.

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Tommy said goodbye and I never saw him again.


During the Acropolis‟ days he and I were partners in crime,
but at that moment we were just aliens to each other.

After the brief tour around town was over, I came


back home. I sat on my father‟s front porch chair; the night
was taking over the day, and the vehicles parked in front of
the house and around the neighborhood were gone, the
streets were quiet and desolate. From the porch I could see
what was going in the house directly in front to ours. Sitting
on her favorite swim-chair was my neighbor; she was
looking to the empty space; watching how her mental sanity
decrease through the years was sad.
Everything came down to my shoulders that night; it
was an odd sensation, the one that was looking for changes,
now didn‟t accept what was going on in his life. I was
thirty-two but I didn‟t want to grow my age. My
achievements were to own a 1988 black Toyota Corolla, and
a light blue sofa, charged to my Sears‟ credit card. My

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friends were already saddle with their families, and in their


jobs. I was the only person of my High School class that
didn‟t have a thing, Family and properties.
My thoughts were disoriented when my sister opened
the porch‟s scream door. She didn‟t see my face because it
was dark; I hide my bewildered feeling from her. However,
she was sensible enough to know that something was wrong.
If someone in this world knew who I was it was she.
She sat on a chair near me and opened the conversation
with the same clever thought. I don‟t know if I had seen
another pair of a sister and brother like us. We discussed our
favorite topics that night --movies, books, music and
basketball-- before she asked me, “Tony, what‟s wrong with
you?”
“I don‟t know!” I said.
“Why? You look unhappy,” she answered, while she
made a curiosity gesture between her eyebrows.
“I think it‟s „cause I‟m missing something . . . but I
don‟t have a clue of what it is!”
“What it is?”
“I have found good people where I‟m working. But,
in some way it‟s so painful to see what‟s going on, that I

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don‟t want to go back,” I said. “And, here everything had


changed, that, I don‟t know if I‟m going to fit here again.”
“Why you don‟t want to go back?” she asked.
“It‟s hard to tell whether it‟s I, or the dame place,” I
put my right hand on my head while I responded. “There are
so many things that I couldn‟t stand, and it‟s so natural for
them. Watch all those kids doing hard labors, been
punished, sometime for nothing. It made me feel bad!”
“I don‟t understand what you mean,” she said.
“I told you before.”
“You mean work, like a regular job with wages,” she
tried to comprehend my words.

The morning before I went back to Orlando, I drove


my old ten speeds bike twenty miles to the most beautiful
beach in the world, Mar Chiquita.
The beach has a legend; people say that the Virgin
María saved some fishermen from the high tide of a storm
forty some years ago. The men implored to the Virgin for

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J.V. Rosario

her protection and according to the legend she made herself


tangible and granted a miracle to the fellows. This element
became part of my life chronicles since I was a boy. And it
was there that I wanted to be to pilfer my thoughts that dawn.
It took me a while to get to the little shores on the
north part of the island. I drove the bike through narrow
roads that guided me to a hill where the panoramic view was
the heaven. The time marked seven o‟clock when I paused
on the top of the mountain. Then I had a glimpse of the
crystal blue sea, the sky, and the gold sands on the beach.
The two giant-like-rocks alienated the ocean from the little
pond, where the water was translucent and warm as sky was
clear and bright. I didn‟t have a doubt that a miracle took
place in that setting.
As I was going down a hill, the win whistled in my
ears with the speed that my body on the bike was producing.
There weren‟t vehicles or people in the way; it was only the
sky, the sea and me. My bare back felt the warm sunray and
the effect that they make on the human skin. I was blissful
to be there again, but also melancholy. It was going to be the
last time in my life that I was going to have my private
adventure with nature, Peter Pan was growing old. It was

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time to make a decision.


I considered my choices in this little world; St.
Mary‟s Principal offered me my old job few days ago when I
visited the school. They wanted me back as their P.E. and
basketball coach again. I found it bizarre when Brother
Efrain called me to his office, he was delighted to see me
again, and he didn‟t hide it. This man‟s rectitude and
compassion, especially with the young people, was totally
different from Green Hills‟ President. While Walden was
cold and harsh with the students, the brother was warm and
caring.
The other choice was to return to Green Hills‟
Academy and to fight the odds, to become the best I could
be, and to let my students to enjoy my class. And the
basketball team was also part of that choice. I began the
season promising them that we were going to end with a
winning record. Then, there was Alex; it was gratifying to
know that she was there too.
All those thoughts crossed my mind while the bike
went down the hill that took me to the sands. The win put its
resistant over my sweaty body; it felt good. I stopped the

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J.V. Rosario

bike on the dunes in front of the blue lagoon, the sand was
warm and desert; it was as if she was waiting for her old
friend. She smiled and greeted her old buddy, the one that
confessed his secrets to her. This beach knew me well; we
were going to have a long conversation, a chat that will clear
my thoughts.

On January 6, 1991, I flew to Miami, where my uncle


waited for me in the airport. Throughout the fly I thought
about the eventualities and the decision made; I wasn‟t sure
if it was the right one, but the balance moved in favor of the
emotional tides waiting for me in the Academy.
The same afternoon I drove three hours on the
Florida Turnpike; it was around six o‟clock when I arrived to
Green Hills. I jumped into the highway on Kendall and
exited on Wintergreen. The difference this time was that I
knew who the enemy to fight was. Then a compromise was
made in to try to survive the school year. On my part there
was a serious commitment into fight the odds.
By the time I drove my car between the two small

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towers I recognized that the school campus was unchanged,


changes never happen in places like Green Hills. The tower
was in the same location I left it twenty-one days ago.

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Chapter VII

1
As I walked from my classroom to the administration
building, I distinguished Dr. Walden in the way. The man
called for my attention at once after he saw me going by. I
stared at him as if I were surprised to see him that sunrise. I
simulated a joyous reaction „cause I was trying to be
friendlier with him this time. It was the first day of the
second semester and I thought that he was going to ask me
about how my Christmas vacation, or maybe do some small
talk.
Dr. Walden drove to work every morning on an old
navy blue bicycle, and dressed up with a gray suit with a
white shirt and a plane red tide. These were typical on him;
many students used to say that the doctor always dressed in
the same clothes. It was as if he were using a uniform for
work.
The man stood by his bike near where I was standing,

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and began the conversation with a dry, “Hello Mr. Ferrer.”


“Good morning Dr. Walden!” I said smiling.
“Mr. Ferrer, do you know that Coach Monroe
resigned?”
“Yes, he told me that he was going to move to the
Vanguard School,” I said. In a flash I recalled when Coach
Monroe told me that he wasn‟t coming back after Christmas.
His reasons for not staying with the school were valid, and
his thoughts were similar to mine about the school‟s rules.
Yet I forgot all these until I met the Academy‟s Head Master
that morning.
“We hired a coach from Tennessee,” he continued.
“His name is William Peters, and he‟s a disciplinarian.
That‟s how I want you to do with your team. You‟ve to have
more control over your players.”
I took a moment to respond; I have been blamed for
many things in my life but never over losing control of my
basketball teams. His remarks that morning carbuncled the
breakfast I ate an hour before. Nevertheless, I was in charge,
it was the first day of school, and I already made up my
mind. He wasn‟t going to spoil my goals for the rest of the

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J.V. Rosario

year.
“Don‟t you worry Dr. Walden, this year the boys‟
team is goin‟ to finish its season with a winning record,” I
replied.
“It‟s not the record, Coach. You‟ve to be in control
of those kids at all time. If you kick out one or two boys of
the team, you‟ll show discipline, I assure you. You‟ve to be
meaning with your players, it‟s the only thing they respect,”
he stated.
“Don‟t be concerned! You‟ll that I‟ll be the meanest
coach for those kids,” I couldn‟t help to grin when I said
that.
“Do you understand my point of view?” Mr. Walden
finally asked me. I noticed that his tone softer. “I‟m for your
protection. Today‟s kids are difficult, and the only way you
can deal with them it‟s by being hard, and don‟t let the guard
down. It‟s the only way that they can learn.”
I didn‟t give my opinion; I wasn‟t going to argue
with him so early in the morning; anyhow it was a lost battle.
So, I made a gesture of being in a hurry, while smiled at him.
Walden understood, and then he said, “Have a good
day, Coach.” And he let me go. I headed to the teachers‟

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A Season In Green Hills‟

launch with an unclear thought in my brain. I was


deliberating about all the things that I learned in college from
my Child Development professor, and what she taught us
about discipline and the child‟s psychology. Who was right,
Walden with his honorary Doctoral degree, or Doctor Casals
a doctor in children psychology. In those years that I spent
in college I found out that confrontation and negative
reinforcements weren‟t the best way to discipline a child.
That negative reinforcement will only create barriers
between teacher and student. However, all that was under a
test in Green Hills‟ Academy for its administrators I was
supposed to make the kids do things without any emotional
attached. They didn‟t permit me to ask them that their
thoughts were; their plans for the future; or to try to
understand the why of their actions. I was there to instruct,
to make sure the job was done the school way; the right way.
Insteps of seeing them as assets, rather than objects or
recipient, we weren‟t allowed to make mistakes, and giving
them the chance to do things in other methods.
That same morning I devoted my time in health class
to listen what they have to say about their school, teachers,

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J.V. Rosario

dorm parents, and administrators. I let them express as


freely as I never did before.

In my seventh period I gave to my students and


players a good work up. Principal Hawking showed up and
supervised what I did with them. The boys‟ basketball team
needed to be revitalized after what happened between Bobby
and I in the last day of school before the Christmas Break;
so, I was being exigent with them. My goal was to put the
team in the best condition possible. Our returning game was
the Bibles school, our eternal rivals. We scheduled the game
for a Tuesday, but I knew that the team wasn‟t ready for
then. The Mont. Dora practiced during the holidays and we
were out for twenty-one days.
I made my students run for almost eight minutes in
the beginning of the class. To do all the conditioning drills
that we taught to them before the season began. The main
activity of the practice was the final suicide with the lines on
the floor. At the end of the session we exhausted the pupils,
but they didn‟t complain because I did the drills and the

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A Season In Green Hills‟

running with them. The kids were dragging their legs, and
were having problems to walk by the time they left the gym.
In the following Thursday‟s assembly Mr. Hawking
took time to commend the faculty‟s performances in our
second semester‟s first days of school. He thanked all the
teachers for their revival enthusiastic attitude after the pause.
He enunciated that in my seventh period, students were
working their butt off when he came to visit.
We, also, had the chance to meet the new coach;
some girls were talking about him during previous days,
before that no one introduced the man to us. One person said
that he looked like Patrick Sweissey, and in a way he did
resemble the actor, with about twenty extra pounds.
Coach Peters‟s wife began to work for the Academy
as the librarian‟s assistant. I never knew her name, everyone
called her Mrs. Peters, and their baby was the attraction of
the season, especially for Alma Walden. She was eighteen
months old and everyone considers her a pretty all American
girl.
Doctor Walden presented the new coach to the
collective as the new Girls‟ Varsity Basketball and Softball

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coach. For the administration Peters became the new star,


and the meanest teacher in the school.
During a P. E. meeting I discovered that the man was
a brown nose; he told everyone present in the gathering,
“how happy he was to be working for Green Hills‟s
Academy and for the Waldens.”
Coach Peters found out about the opening in a
newspaper ad inside an Orlando Sentinel sheet that was
wrapped in a Christmas gift that his uncle sent him to
Tennessee. He called the academy and made an appointment
with Doctor Walden; who after interviewing several people
for the job finally gave it to the man from Tennessee. The
guidance that Peters received from him was to be rigid with
the pupils. The thing was that his students began to despise
him as soon he started teaching them. The reasons were that
he established in his physical education courses; lectures,
written tests and a strict discipline, and he gave hours to
everyone. In many occasions I found a kid in the Dining
Hall working hours because Peters didn‟t like the way they
were sitting in the desk.
I didn‟t like his approach with the kids since the
beginning. I was used to Monroe‟s ways, and because I

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A Season In Green Hills‟

thought that Dr. Walden was trying to transmute Peters‟s


teaching style to the rest of the faculty. The strange thing of
this was Chris McGuire, who was Coach Monroe‟s best
friend, became a bad Peters‟ clone replica. The Thomas, the
Hawkings and Mrs. Valdez were under fire, and „cause of
this new teacher attitude toward.
Anyhow, I kept on doing my stuff; I refused to
become an adaptation of this shapeless embryo.

We lost against Mount Dora, again, but this time in


their home court. Our team wasn‟t ready to play this game,
they were out of shape and their attitudes of some of my
players weren‟t the best. It was here where I began having
problems with boys smoking inside the locker room. I
found out later that almost everyone in the team smoked in
the Bible school locker room when we went for the
conference tournament, and this was an immoral crime in
Green Hills‟. Even Johnny and Devin were involved
lighting up cigarettes that evening. I didn‟t find out until

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J.V. Rosario

Johnny told me few weeks later and by that time it was too
late to punish their crime.
That night Victor Lopes came out of the locker room
wearing his dress shoes without socks, without his tie on and
with his shirt unstuck inside his pans. All these created me
crisis with the administrators. Mr. Woods, who was in the
game as the administration‟s self-proclaimed spy, told
Edward Milano about Victor‟s behavior, and what he
thought about what was going on inside the team‟s locker
room. After this game he continued as the bus driver for the
away games.
Walden called me again to his office the next
morning; this time I didn‟t know why. While I walked from
my classroom to the office I was asking myself, what is the
problem this time?
The doctor discussed again the issue of control; he
used Victor as an example to make the point, for them I
didn‟t have control of my players.
“Coach,” he said. “Victor didn‟t have his socks on
when he came out of the locker room.”
“Yes, so? What‟s wrong with that?” I answered
while I shrank my shoulders.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

“What‟s wrong with that?” He repeated my


statement with a cynic tone in his voice. “You don‟t care for
your players‟ appearance after a ball game is over?”
“Yeah, but I don‟t think that‟s a big deal.”
“Coach you disappointed me,” he said while his eye
browns were getting together on his forehead. “I can‟t
believe that you said that. Our school is very conservative,
and teaching discipline throughout little things like that it‟s
how we do it. You‟re showing me that you don‟t have
discipline.”
“Wait one minute! How could you say that?” I asked
him. This time I was furious, but I kept my temper restraint.
“The team is doing better than last year. We already won
more games than what they did . . .”
“That‟s not what I‟m referring too! No, one is saying
that you don‟t know how to coach, our questioning your
basketball abilities. Still, you see Coach, the other day I
went to one of your practice, and I when saw Patrick wearing
a baseball cap, while you were conducting your practice.
Your players were moving through the motions, without
making any effort, Coach...”

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“Doctor Walden, if I may, you came at the end of


practice,” I said trying to contain myself of not saying
something that I was going to regret later. “They practiced
for two hours before you got there . . .”
“We like things done in right way, Coach. When I
was coaching Green Hills‟ teams, we lost almost all our
games in my first season. But my players worked hard the
whole time. All the other coaches used to tell me that our
team‟s appearance was good, in and out of the court.”
The man continued his monologue for fifteen minutes
without interruptions from Edward Milano, who was sitting
beside me. He was supporting Walden in everything he said.
And by the time he finished I ate my tongue, I was angry but
I didn‟t show my feelings to them.
I went back to my classroom and while I waited for
my students, I thought that these people were going to fire
me at the end of the year. I need to start looking for another
job.

That afternoon the team practiced again, our next


game was going to be at the Vanguard School of Lake
Whales. I felt that the kids weren‟t ready to play these

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people. Vanguards‟ team defeated us in the conference


tournament, so our next encounter with this squad was very
important for the morale of my players. I put a side
what happened at Walden‟s office. My objectives were to
increase the pressure on the plays taught on the first
semester, and to add another zone press to the team‟s
defense. We practiced twice that day, after school and after
dinner the night before night.
Bobby was getting tired of his teammates; they were
unable to learn the team plays. Our relationship began to
improve after the Bible game; we used to discuss all the
team‟s components to improve our effort, and our chances to
win. He was a natural leader inside the court, so I gave him
more confidence to deal with the players inside the court.
The only problem was that there were times when he got
frustrated with the little retention they had in learning the
team‟s strategies.
One night after practice he came to me to talk about a
very uneasy situation that was going in the dormitories with
some of our players.
“Coach, may I speak with you?” Bobby used a

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J.V. Rosario

secretive tone.
“What‟s up?” I asked him as I pack the equipment.
He waited until everybody was far enough to begin
talking. The only one that remained in the court shooting
hoops was Devin. Devin was usually the last player to leave
the gym. In occasions I took him to his dorm „cause he
could get in troubles with the Martins.
“I need to tell you something, Coach,” Bobby didn‟t
want to start „cause Devin was there too.
“What‟s wrong, Bobby?” I asked.
“Some players are puffing before, and sometime after
the games,” he said. Then, he put his thump and index finger
together against his lips, as if he were holding a cigarette
butt.
“I know that . . .” I said, but he continued. “You don‟t
understand! They aren‟t smoking regulars,” he glanced at me
trying to see my reaction.
“What do you mean?” In a second I flashback to
what happened to me with three of my former players years
ago. I forgot what unpleasant situation it was; everybody
lost. We expelled the players from the team, and I had the
misfortune of telling the parents what I knew about their

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children. The team was never the same after what


transpired.
“What I mean is that it‟s happening, Coach! And I
don‟t like it,” he said. “I‟m not a Saint, „cause I had used that
shit before, but not in school and never before a game,”
Bobby paused, he looked at me. He was looking for an
answer, finally he ended saying, “I got to go, it‟s almost
eight, and I need to go my study hall.”
Bobby never said names, or what was being use; he
was more concerned about the team that any other things.
This was his last season and he wanted it to be the best. His
hopes were in a scholarship, and he didn‟t want anyone to
spoil this for him. The thing was that after this conversation
everything began to change in the campus for the players and
the rest of the students.

Vanguard‟s team stopped our rally when we played


them in the conference tournament, but these time things
were going to be a lot different. When we arrived to the

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J.V. Rosario

school, the students and players of both institutions made


friendly advance to each other. It happened that Vanguard
was also a boarding school. Our match was set for 2:00 in
the afternoon, we spent two hours on the road, and we left
early in the morning. Our kids didn‟t eat anything before the
game; we thought that they were going to find a snack bar in
their school, but there wasn‟t anything.
Mark Woods drove the school bus, again, as Alex,
Coach McGuire and I were in charged of the students that
Saturday. We weren‟t in the mood to take care of any kid
that afternoon. Alex and I chatted all the way to the
Vanguard school. The kids knew that we were more
interested in each other than in being around them. Johnny
and Pierre helped me with the score-books; the team‟s
uniforms and equipment, so we could have more time to
ease, and have some fun.
It was an official thing, we were more than friends,
and people in campus were observing our movements to see
if we were going to kiss or hold hands around the school.
Alex was the girls‟ big sister and I was like the boys‟ big
brother, and we were content with those images. The
students were expecting something to happen between us

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since the beginning of the semester. It did happen the day I


came to Green Hills from Christmas Vacation. During the
break she called me from the Waldens, and we talked for an
hour. It was Alex the reason I came back to Green Hills‟
Academy, I felt in love with her since she opened the
Walden‟s doors the night of our first date.
In the beginning of our romance everything was
composed and passionless, but everything changed after the
vacation, Alex and I became more sexually attractive. The
first time we made love she made me run to the Circle K
combine store, to get me some protection, it was „90s and we
were taking our measures. I never felt like this before, it was
like making love for the first time, as if she were the first
woman that I ever love in my life. That night I confessed to
Alex that I love her. It was a confession that came out of my
heart, and I took her by surprise. She reacted as if she were
in disbelieving. I didn‟t know if she felt the same way
toward me, or if she had doubts of her true feelings. Or
maybe she thought that I was playing with her.
The following morning she was with me; we spent
the night together in my place. I woke out feeling as if I

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J.V. Rosario

were on the top of the world. It was peculiar what I felt, in


one hand I wanted to tell everyone, but that wasn‟t a good
idea. The grown-ups do not allow kids to have this type of
information. I didn‟t have any adult friend; my situation in
the academy was unique. We didn‟t know how the
administrators were going to take the news. So we decided
no to mention to anyone the progress of our relationship.
I went to teach a new basketball drill to Devin in the
gymnasium, that same afternoon, and without saying
anything to him, he felt my blessedness.
“You‟re hyper today, Kid,” he said to me.
“I‟m in love, Kid! I‟m in love,” it was the only thing
I said to him; I think I shouted it. There weren‟t others in the
building, so I made use of indiscretion; I used my lungs to
express my feelings.
“Yeah, I can tell that.” Devin knew what happened
the night before; he was ecstatic for us.

Alex and I were in charged of two groups that


afternoon while Coach McGuire‟s team was playing opposite

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the Vanguard‟s Junior Varsity. I watched the competition


with interest since it began. Chris put Devin as his point
guard, Victor Roger, and other three boys as his starting
squad. Coach didn‟t have the control of his basketball team;
the Maxwell brothers and a boy from the Bahamas, who shot
every basketball that he got in his fingers, were the players
that governed the rest of the squad.
Devin‟s occupation was to pass the ball to that
people, and the difficulty was that he didn‟t know how to
repress them, as any good point guard would it done. When
he needed help from his teammates, they were too far to
receive his passes. So, the boy made a mountain of
turnovers, making his coach to take him out, and then he
never put him back in the rest of the bet.
I knew that sometime coaches did things like that
with their players. Especially if they make mistakes like
passing to the opponents, but this was different, they
depraved the attitudes of the other four players. Those boys
fought inside the court between each other; they looked
similar to a pack of dogs in heat running after a female.
Their shot selections were as odd as to believe what they

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J.V. Rosario

were basketball players. Then, Coach took out the only


players that were doing their craft.
They were benched the whole game without saying a
thing. I knew that Devin was really upturned with his coach,
and he had the right to be so.
I didn‟t have the opportunity to talk with him after
the game was over; my game was next game. Mr. Woods
accused some of my players of smoking inside the locker
room. I was a little annoys with the bus driver, who
appeared to be our supervisor and not the maintenance guy
he really was. I lectured my players in the locker room; I
gave them a long speech about the situation, but no one
admitted smoking. In a way I knew that they were saying
the truth, so I let the matter died there. It wasn‟t the
appropriate moment, and the game was more important than
Mr. Woods‟ skeins.
The game turned to be exciting, the first halt ended
with both teams tied at the twenty-six points, but the game
ended with a score of 52-51 in our favor. Patrick shot the
last point on the free-throw-line with five seconds remaining.
It was the victory that we were looking for. It was the one
victory that was going to start the snowball effect, and that

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could give the confidence to our varsity to play Orangewood


and Lake Highland, our next two encounters.
Everyone was energized with the victory over the
Vanguard club, everyone but Devin. He was in the gym with
a serious feeling on his face. He thought that Coach
McGuire didn‟t use him fairly, when he benched him the
whole game. I didn‟t know how to help him this time,
something I wanted to do badly. Chris was spoiling the
work that I was accomplishing with the kid. He wasn‟t the
coach I thought he was going to be; he didn‟t achieve
anything with his players.
It was three o‟clock when we ate lunch that
afternoon; players, cheerleaders and chaperons, which were
dying of hunger before the matches began, were begging the
driver to stop the bus in the closest places. In spite all that,
Mr. Woods delayed the stop until we came by to the
McDonald on the intersection of I-4 and Highway 27.
When the vehicle rested in the restaurant‟s parking
lot, the youngsters ran inside, they were trying to avoid the
forty something people lines would be created in front of the
cashiers‟ counter.

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I settled on a table near the building entrance while I


waited for Alex who was in line ready ordering for us.
Devin was sitting alone in a back booth with an
expressionless face, looking to the empty space.
“Kid, come here,” I thought that I could cheer him
up.
He glanced at me as if he were holding a sign with a
message written on that said, <<don‟t get close the dog
bites. >> So, I decided no to speak to him; this was
something that he needed to work out by himself.
Alex came with two value meals, “That‟s the way I
like it,” I said.
“What?” she asked.
“You working for me,” I said laughing. My voice
was horsy because all the yelling I did throughout the game.
“Next time you get yours,” she stated.
“OK,” I said. “It‟s a joke!”
“You sound like a chubbiness pig,” she returned back
to me. When she finished her sentence Devin walked in our
direction, and asked; “May I sit with you?”
“Sure!” Alex and I voiced at the same time.
“You sound like twins,” he said while he sat beside

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me in.
“Are you eating?” Alex asked him.
“No, I ain‟t hungry.”
“It is money?” I asked.
“No! I aim‟s hungry,” he was annoyed or sad, it was
difficult to tell. It was as if he wanted to talk about it and
that something was stopping him to do so. I thought that it
was the game.
“What‟s wrong, Kid?” I asked while I rested my left
hand on his right shoulder at the same time that I peeked at
Alex. I was telling her that I didn‟t know what was Devin‟s
problem, because I thought that he was about to cry. “Devin,
I‟m you‟re my buddy! You can trust me, man. Tell me
what‟s wrong, and I‟ll try to help you.”
He did control himself, „cause he didn‟t show any tear but
with the same token he didn‟t articulate anything. He just
looked to the empty space in front of us. I took my hand off
his shoulder and continued eating, and Alex acted natural. In
our conversation we tried to entertain him, but he stood up
and told us he was going to buy something to eat.
“I‟m sorry,” the boy apologized as he left us behind.

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Alex and I observed each other, I shrank my shoulder


and she opened her eyes with a curiosity gesture. “What‟s
happening to him?” she asked me.
“I don‟t know,” I said. “This is the first time I had
ever seen him acting like that.”
“You think it‟s the game?”
“I don‟t know, but I hope so, those little problems are
easiest to fix,” I said while ate my fries. “I‟m really curious
about what is bordering him. Anyhow I‟ll ask him later.”
“Tony, don‟t,” she said.
“Why?”
“If he wants to trust you with something he will; you
have to give him time,” she stated, “Eventually, he will tell
you, but if you ask him it will look as if you are pressuring
him. Let him take the first step.”
Alex was right, this was something that he needed to
tell me, it was not just about sport. I didn‟t envision
anything like it coming from him.

I went to speak with Devin in his room at Eaton Hall

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that evening. There were same quarters that Mrs. Martin


showed me the first day I visited the hall. I stopped at his
door and saw that Jason Campbell and Victor Roger were
conversing with him.
I gave thoughts to his problem with Chris before I
went to speak to him, and I figured it out. I was going to
take a chance with him as a varsity player, a move that was
going to surprise the administrators and some students. I
knew that I was going to be criticized for this action, but I
didn‟t care about what they could think about it. I cared for
the boy, and my intentions were to help him with his game,
and maybe with his life.
The boys were talking when I opened the door,
“Ferrer, what‟re you doing here?” Jason shouted the same
moment I crossed the frame.
“I came to speak you,” I pointed at him.
“You know coach you should recruit these two boys
for our team,” Jason said before I even say a word about my
offer.
I was amazed; “How did you know I was going to do
that?”

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“Coach, it‟s obvious. They‟re wasting their time with


. . . Coach McGuire. He‟s a sorry Coach, the niggers tell
him what to do,” Jason kept on talking without any
consideration to my fellow teacher. Yet, I didn‟t say
anything on Chris favor, „cause the youngster was right.
Everybody in campus knew Chris‟ paradox with his junior
varsity squad.
“You should recruit my buddies for the varsity,”
Jason continued. “They know that they aren‟t going to play
as much, but they‟re willing to practice and learn with you
coach. You are better coach than Coach Brown, McGuire
and Peters. Last year Coach Brown was always passing the
basketball to the big men, and we never won a game. But we
love to play . . .”
“Because, I let you shoot the basketball more,” I
interrupted his monologue.
“I love your plays,” Jason finally said.
“Thanks Jason! I really appreciate what you said,” I
told him. “Well, kids, you want to play varsity?” I asked
Victor and Devin.
“What about Coach?” Roger asked. “He‟s being very
nice to me.”

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“I‟m not saying that he‟s a bad person,” I declared.


“But, he can‟t help as I can.”
“I don‟t give a shit for him,” Devin shouted.
“I know that you‟re hurt, but you don‟t talk like that.”
He made me angry then, I said then, “He‟s a good person,
and he doesn‟t need that attitude.”
“I know but . . .”
“Don‟t say a word more,” I interrupted Devin. “The
main thing is that you‟re going to play with us.” I figured
that if I let him say something more; someone would hear us
and would believe that we were conspiring against the
Coach. “The only thing that I want you to understand is that
I can‟t offer you playing time. You‟re going to be benched in
every game, but I promise that I‟ll help you in every
practice.”
“No problem,” Roger said. “I‟m not getting any
playing time now.”
“What about you, Devin?”
“Count me in, Kid,” the boy smiled.

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Bobby Hunter was the only being that opposed to the


new acquisitions for the team. He didn‟t like Devin, and he
thought that Roger would be a threat to the team‟s stability.
“That boy is going to cry for being on bench the whole
game,” he told me. However, after I cleared up my
reasoning for moving up these two up to our team, Bobby
accepted them. He even told that it was a good thought.
The administration, especially Mr. Milano, doubted
that they were going to be useful for the band effort, but at
the end they allowed the transaction without any reservation.
Chris McGuire was the other individual, who I thought was
going to get furious about the whole matter, but he showed
to be a pragmatic man by understanding my arguments.
The main thing for me was to continue helping Devin
with his progress, and with the same token the squad was
going to benefit also with new players. Until that moment
we only have eight athletes playing for the team, five starters
and three benches. When we began the season, I recruited
five other players, but they didn‟t finish with the team at the
end of the first semester. By including these two new boys I
increased the bodies for our practice sections. I was shooting

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two birds with the same bullet. I took care of the practices,
and began to build the team for next year at the same times
that I continued helping Devin, whom Alex began calling,
my blond son! Practices improved after I made this move. I,
also, requested from the school authorities to give us
practices time in the gymnasium by ourselves because until
then the junior varsity trained with us at the same times. This
measure helped with the players‟ short attention span; our
daily routine became more effective in this way. They
concentrated in all the multiple plays that I established for
them.
Our guards were our most important weapons; I was
a fanatic of John Wooden defense philosophy, which I
combined with Bob Fuller views to create powerful zone
press. Except Mount Dora Bibles, the rest of the teams of
the conference weren‟t as good as we in this phenomenon.
The only enigma I was confronting, until that
moment, was that we were winners in our home court, but
we were losers in the away games. So I began to address the
situation to the group. Milano and Dr. Walden were saying
that the reason for losing our away games was that the

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J.V. Rosario

cheerleaders‟ squads were traveling with us in the school


bus. So they took the precaution of dividing them in
different sides of the vehicle, the girls in front and the boys
in the back. Still, this created more backslide feeling
between the students, the administration and the coaches.

The next encounter was going to be against


Orangewood Christian Academy. I hoped that in this
occasion the story was going to be different. We were going
to beat these teams in their own court.
Orangewood is the private school on the corner of
Maitland Avenue and Interstate Four. They were small
institution, but the gymnasium was the best I ever saw for a
school of that side. Their sport program was the best in the
area. Their soccer team went to the Division “A” State
Championship that same year, their volleyball team won the
district, and their boys‟ basketball team was one of the
strongest we found during the season. They had one fast and
aggressive middle distance shooters that in the last battle we
felt to stop. He scored thirty-one points against us.
However, I was determined to stop this kid in this our second
time around.

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Green Hills‟ Teams were ready to play that evening;


first the junior varsity, then girls‟ squad followed, and the
last attraction of the night was the varsities‟ match. The
whole night was full of excitement and expectations, which
turned to tension when Mr. Milano and Mr. Woods came
throughout the gym‟s doors to see the sports.

Outside the country in Iraq a war was being fought it


all began with the bombing of Baghdad by the alliance
forces three days ago. Everyone inside the gymnasium was
listening to the news in their Walkman radios while they
watched our junior team getting beat by thirty-one points the
firsts halve.
I got tired of the game so I went to eat something
from the concession-stand near the gym entrance. Beverly
Hawking and a group of our students were eating snacks and
having a pleasant conversation in the small dinning area. I
sat in her table and followed their chatting; Mrs. Hawking
was in charge of the cheerleaders that night.
She was a counselor for the Galaxy Middle School in
Deltona before her husband moved to Green Hills‟, where

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J.V. Rosario

she became an ESOL teacher. She moved because the


School‟s Board of Trustees hired her husband to become the
new Dean of Discipline, position that later they named the
School Principal. Until that day my opinion of this couple
was not sizable; I thought that her husband was Walden‟s
popped. This was mainly „cause I didn‟t see what they went
through during the first semester. And because in the first
grading period I thought that they asked me to change their
son, Milton, physical education grade. Nevertheless, I
changed my opinions of them after what happened the night
at the Orangewood Gym.
Mrs. Hawking and I sat with a group of students in
the same table. I bought a coke and a large chocolate ship
muffin, and paid for Ryan LeCarre and Johnny Bovies‟s
snacks. Ryan opened the conversation with a remark about
Coach Peters; which followed by Johnny direct question to
Mrs. Hawking.
“What do you think about Coach Peters?” he said
with his typical monotonous voice tone.
“What?” I shouted at him. “You don‟t ask a thing like
that to a grown-up. That‟s mean! She is not going to tell
you something like that!”

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“She doesn‟t have too, Coach,” Melinda Lucas


intervened. “Everyone hates him!”
“I hate him too,” Ryan acknowledged; his legs were
moving side to side under the table while his shoulders
shook in constant short movements up and dawn.
“I hate him too,” another girl spoke from a corner of
the rectangular table.
“Jesus . . .” Mrs. Hawking shrilled as she covered her
mouth with her hands. She was trying to be funny.
“I know you don‟t like him, Coach,” Johnny said
glancing at me, as if he was a prosecutor in a courtroom.
I didn‟t response his statement „cause it was true; the
boy put me on the spot. I didn‟t like the stories that some of
my students were bringing up about Peters. Yet there are
things you cannot openly say to young people, so I changed
the subject. “Who‟s winning the game?” I asked to Devin
who came inside the lounge in that same moment.
“The J. V. lost by forty something,” he said. “The
girls are ready to start their game.”
“Well kids, it‟s time to go back,” I said while
standing from my chair; I was saving by the bell. As we

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J.V. Rosario

began to move from the table to the door, Mrs. Hawking


grabbed me by the arm and said; “I think that he‟s a spy.”
She laughed and hugged my arm with a quaint gesture.
I smiled at her, but I didn‟t know whom she was
talking about; “Who?”
“Peters,” she said with a careful tone.
“I know,” I responded.

I settled beside Devin and Pierre on top of the


bleachers; we were trying to watch the girls‟ game. Some of
Peters‟ players that played volleyball for me and now they
were the best players in the basketball team. It was curious
to see them playing such aggressive sport. Even Though
they were losing by a lot against Orangewood they never
gave up, and we cheered for them as if they were a head for
twenty.
From my seat I looked around to find where the three
big men were sitting. I tried to guess what these three
individuals were doing together up there on the gymnasium
highest spot. Edward Milano postured shoulder by shoulder
with Mr. Woods, while David Johnson set one seat away
from them. Milano was doing all the talking, while he was

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listening to a small yellow Walkman radio. It was hard to


tell if he was talking about the game or the war against Iraq,
or maybe he was discussing the two subjects simultaneously.
Johnson‟s expression was of discomfort; I was sure that he
wanted Milano to shout up, but he didn‟t know how to say it
to his superior. In my view Woods was kissing ass to
Milano by giving attention to his conversation.
I figured that David Johnson didn‟t cherish the
exchange because he stood up and moved away from the
other two. From were I was sitting I followed the big guy
until he disappeared throughout the gym‟s doors. Instantly, I
turned my eyes to where my players were sitting, and began
counting head aloud, “Victor, Ryan, Roger, Bobby, Jason,
Elliot, Mark, Patrick, Devin, Johnny and Pierre. They‟re all
here.” I didn‟t want anything to be said about my team the
next morning.
“What‟s wrong with you?” Devin distracted my
concentration.
“What?” I exclaimed.
“You look worry, kid,” he said.
“Well, I am a little bit, Kid . . . You see those three

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men up there; I don‟t know what to expect from them,” I said


to the boy.
“You don‟t like Milano,” Devin asked me.
I looked at him and I knew then that he could be
trust, so I said, “No, I can‟t say I do! And I don‟t like the
other two either; I think that they are Walden‟s spies.”
“You don‟t like it here,” he said with a curious
expression on his eyes.
“I don‟t,” I answered.
“Are you going to be here next year?”
“I don‟t know, Devin,” I said. “You see! I don‟t like
the rules that they have for you. But, I like to work with the
students, you know. Especially you, Kid!” At that time I
didn‟t know how much these words meant to him. I always
thought that the best way to coach was by giving my players
self-assured. Except, I never knew how effective I was until
I met Devin.
In that same moment David Johnson came back to
gym, but this time he was marching; he practically ran up the
stares all the way to say something in Milano‟s hears. I
turned my head to the game, and said to Devin, “I think
we‟re going to have a bumpy night, Kid!”

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At once Milano sent Victor Roger, who set two


bleachers ahead from him, to call me. I glanced at Devin
and smiled at him. “I‟ll tell you.” I said to him just as I stood
up to go see the king.
Mr. Johnson was standing behind Milano breathing
as if he just finished running a cross-country race. Mark
Woods was smiling with a maniacal twist on his eyes, as if
he could foretold the future. And Milano postured on his
chair like the king of the flock. I didn‟t know what was
going on then, but while I was heading to where they were I
thought that it most had to something really importantly.
“Mr. Ferrer,” Milano spoke first; his tone was
demanding. “Mr. Johnson told me that he thinks that some
boys are smoking in the bathroom.”
“All my boys are sitting right there, and they haven‟t
moved for a long time. Are you sure it‟s not another team or
a grown-up?” I asked Mr. Johnson. As I asked him that his
face mutated, now he was not sure.
“Well, Coach, let‟s keep an eye on them, you‟ll never
know what can happen,” Milano dismissed the conversation
and added at the end, “especially with Victor Lopes.”

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“That‟s what I‟m doing,” at this point I wasn‟t a


happy camper with the intervention of these two outsiders.
So I turned around to find where Victor Lopes was, and
howled at him. “Victor, had you smoked in the bathroom
tonight?”
“Me? Man no!”
I faced Milano and then said to him, “No, Victor is
not doing that.”
The man opened his two black eyes with an
astonishing expression. He didn‟t expect me to ask the boy
about his smoking habits in that fashion. Then, I left the trio
and sat again beside the boys who observed the incident
from their seat.
“What was that all above?” Devin asked.
“Nothing, they said that you‟re smoking in the
bathroom,” I said.
“They‟re so full of . . .”
“. . . Of shit,” I said.
“. . . of crack, Kid,” Devin finished the sentence.

The girls‟ game was on the court, it was the second


quarter when I noticed that Allison was having difficulties

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with her breathing. She was about to make two free throws
when she contorted her body looking for more air. Ally was
asthmatic, and when she played for me she had an asthma
attack that scared the hell out of me. So I learned to
recognize her symptoms. I knew that she didn‟t tell Coach
Peters about her conditions, because she didn‟t say anything
to me either. I found out the hard way. I began to worry
about her vitals in that point, so I shouted to Carla, who was
beside her in the lines getting ready to get the rebound. “Ally
is having troubles again . . .”
Carla figured Allison out, and immediately she knew
what was going on. She ran to her bench and explained
Peters the situation. In that minute Allison wasn‟t doing
well, her breathing was agonizing. I was about to move
down to the floor when Bobby ran to help. The referees
stopped the game because the girl was obviously not able to
continue. Peters sent Mr. Woods‟ daughter to substituted
Allison, who began to scream for help. By the time they
took her out of the game she was kicking and shouting, each
time louder and harder. Beverly Hawking dashed to help the
girl and subjected to take her outside the building, so she

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could get fresh air.


Peters and Bobby lifted her throughout the back door
to the outside while Chris kept on coaching the remaining of
quarter. Carla substituted herself out of the game, and took
out a paper bag and Allison‟s asthma medicine inside her
shoulder bag. The young woman was getting increasingly
agitated with every second that passed.
Bobby placed the paper bag on Allison‟s face and
began calming her little by little until she mellowed down
her breath. The young man assumed control of the situation;
he did the right thing in the moment. An Orangewood‟s
coach brought a chair out of the gym to help us set her out in
the cool breeze coming from the North sky.
After everything was over, Peters went back to the
epilogue of the basketball game. The rest of us stood in front
of Allison, who sat on the metallic chair staring at the
emptiness with tears running from her eyes.
“You scared the shit out of us,” Bobby said smiling at
her; he was trying to say something laughable.
“Are you feeling better?” Mrs. Hawking and I asked
at the same time.
She smiled.

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Right after Allison‟s asthma attack as I was walking


back to my sit Ryan LeCarre stopped me to ask if he could
go to the lounge. Knowing Ryan as well as I knew him I
told immediately, “No.”
“Why?” He shouted back at me.
“Ryan, don‟t put me in that position,” I said, but, he
kept on staring at me looking for an answer that will satisfy
him. “Because, I don‟t want you to go, that‟s it.” My
answer was final. I forgot that he was only a six-foot tall
child, with a mentality of a thirteen-year-old in occasion.
My major concern was that I didn‟t want any of my athletes
smoking in the bathroom or outside the building. I was
vigilant of the three big scouts, and their morning report to
the School‟s President. I was disconcerted after what
happened to Allison, and Ryan‟s petition came as another
possible crisis.
“Coach, I‟m hungry,” he explained by putting his
hands on his mid section. I didn‟t listen to his reply; I turned

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around and walked away from him when I heard him saying
to me; “Fuck you!”
I turned to face him; he boiled my blood with that,
“You aren‟t playing tonight.”
When Ryan heard my verdict, he hustled out of the
building exposing his anger with his coach by slamming the
gym doors against the wall. I stood right where I was, I
didn‟t follow the angry boy going through the exit, and
nobody did. I glanced at the bleacher top seats where the
three overseers were posing. The men stared at me; Woods
smiled with his cynical grimace on his eyes, while Milano‟s
face showed skepticism. The whole world ended as I walked
back to my place where Devin was waiting for me, I took my
place and said nothing about the business with Ryan.
Pierre was sitting on my seat beside Devin when I
returned; they knew that I wasn‟t contented at that point.
Both boys observed me as if they were cautious of my next
reaction. They wanted to do something for their coach, but
he wasn‟t affable enough.
Pierre moved closer to me and chanted, “What‟s up
Coach?”
This boy was a school goof, his parents were

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French-American who lives in South Africa for job reasons,


and that wanted their oldest son to have an American
education.
I met Pierre one afternoon in the beginning of school
year; he was playing tennis in the courts on the field near the
track. Tennis was his sport; his father taught him to play
very well. The thing with him was that at school he tried for
all the sports the academy offered the boys, and they cut him
out in everyone. Nevertheless, all these set backs never
diminished his peculiar and funny attitude. Pierre was a
happy camper of Green Hills‟ Academy.
Pierre was Devin‟s friend since summer school, when
both got sixty hours for a smoking violation. They ended
installing the electric outlets and the carpet of the new
Principal‟s living quarters that were in construction in those
days. Pierre was proud of this fact, but Devin never talked
about his summer experiences to me, so I learned about it
from the French boy. Later, he told me that Devin didn‟t
want me to know that he smokes.
“Not much,” I answered Pierre‟s Bugs Bonny
question. “Ally almost dies of an asthma attack, and then the

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jack ass of Ryan made a riot because I didn‟t let him go out
of the gym. And those guys over there are watching my
movements to tattle tail Walden tomorrow,” I said while
pointing to the top seats on the bleachers. “The only thing
that we need now is to lose the game, and in our way home
the bus gets broken,” I declared with a bad flavor in my
mouth.
“Who is going to play for Ryan now?” Devin asked.
“I‟ll play for him,” Pierre said with a smile on his
semblance. “Coach, if you let me play, I‟ll Jordan a
three-sixty on the enemy,” he said while he united his hands
together in the air to fake a slam duck on the air.
“Who‟s going to be our manager, Kid?”
“Devin!” he said. “I‟ll use his uniform. . . No, no!” he
stopped, “I don‟t like your number boy; fourteen is a fag‟s
number.”
“You‟re full of shit,” Devin aired while he punched
his friend‟s right shoulder. I didn‟t have other alternative,
but to grin.

There were seventeen seconds remaining from the


girls‟ match third quarter, when I called my players inside

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our locker room. Pierre and Johnny were already inside


preparing the players‟ uniforms, the water bottles and the
team‟s basketballs for the game. As I walked through the
hall, followed by the athletes, but before I reach the lockers
Elliot pulled me by my right arm and sought my attention.
He wanted to speak in private so I chased him to the end of
the corridor.
“Coach, Ryan‟s hungry to play, and he told me that
he‟s sorry of what he said to you,” Elliot sent Ryan‟s
message.
“Where‟s he?”
“He‟s right there, sitting on the stair, behind that door,” he
said while he pointed to a wooded door with an emergency
exit sign written on.
When the door opened, I saw the young man sitting
on the second step of the stairs, he was crying. In that instant
I found out that Ryan was hungry for affection, something
that he never received from anyone in his young life. I
didn‟t have the heart to stopping him from playing that
evening. The boy cried as if his world was about to end. I
was taking away the only thing that could let him shine.

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My mistake was that I didn‟t make him promise to do


it again; for me his guilt was enough. So after a short
conversation I ended saying; “Put your uniform on, Kid!”

After I spoke to Ryan LeCarre, I went inside the main


vault to found out how much time was left from the other
game. When I saw Coach McGuire with a pale expression
on his face, the man was scratching his red head as Stanley
Lawrence did in the silent films.
“What‟s wrong?” I asked him, I thought that he had
indigestion from what he ate from the concession stand.
“Mr. Milano heard on the radio that Iraq fired two
Scott Missiles against Israel equipped with nuclear war
heads,” this was Chris McGuire Answer to my inquiring.
I didn‟t say anything back to him; I knew that this wasn‟t
possible, but McGuire believed this incredible story that his
supervisor told the people near him. Milano was the type of
man that becomes excited of the smallest things, and when
he heard about Scott Missiles he provably added the nuclear
warheads. So when I went back to my players in the locker
room, I quieted the information to them. Nevertheless, when
we came out Carla and another girl was crying, someone

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passed the war news to them. Our game was approaching so


I didn‟t pause to clarify Milano‟s tale.

The game began with Orangewood‟s Varsity taking


the lead by eleven points in the first quarter. Their squad had
players that in our early encounter didn‟t exhibit his full
potential, and when I made my scouting report the boy only
scored four points. Still, this time the tall boy massacred my
jocks under the boards. In the game first half he scored
sixteen points and took eight rebounds, taking my players
and me by surprise. Our press wasn‟t effective, because our
opponents were aware of it. To add more to our calamities
my shooters were off that night. Bobby‟s mother present in
the game made him too eager to concentrate in his job as our
point guard. She visited him from West Palm Beach.
Patrick‟s shooting average was less than 35 per cent. The
only player that was hitting from outside was Jason
Campbell.
When the first half was over, we were losing by
fifteen points. Bobby and Victor were arguing between each
other. Ryan was upset of what happened between us and

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because he wasn‟t giving all. I was mad at them because


they were talented enough to defeat Orangewood in any
court, but they weren‟t doing it.
Mr. Johnson followed us inside the locker room after
the first half was over. He came to listen what I was going to
tell my players. In a way this didn‟t bother me, and in part I
was glad that he was there. I thought that maybe this time
him and the others were going to have something good to
chat about; after all the man was going to hear my half time
pet talk. It was going to be a good, because my stay of mind
was determined to give a solid one.
The boys assembled in front of me inside the little
room and waited for me to begin speaking. I glanced at them
with mean look; Patrick was sitting in the middle of the
wooden bench between Victor and Ryan. Bobby stood in a
corner beside his teammates, with his left leg on the ground
and the other on the bench. Jason, Elliot, Devin, Roger and
Eric filled the empty spaces behind Victor, Ryan and Patrick.
While David Johnson counterbalanced on the right corner of
the room opposite to Bobby, as Pierre and Johnny stood by
the big man, they all had a decisive glare on their faces.
They knew that I was frustrated with the way they played the

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first half.
“I can‟t believe my eyes . . .” I began my speech.
“You know what people are saying about you? That you
can‟t win your away games, which you can only win against
shitting teams, like Pine Castle and Trinity.” I paused to see
their response to what I said, particularly Mr. Johnson‟s face.
It was the first time I saw an approval gesture from the man.
“We need this game bad. You know why? „Cause our record
it‟s five and six. If we win, we‟re going to be with a five
hundred averages before we play Pine Castle and Lake
Highland.”
“Listen,” I shouted. “I checked Green Hills‟ past
year‟s record, and it hasn‟t had a winning record since 1976,
the year that I graduated from my high school. You know
how long ago was that? Shit, fourteen years . . . You have the
change that this year, to break the circle.” I was excited; I
moved my hands like a Latin America Dictator. I pushed
myself then, because I could see in the back of the room how
David Johnson was making gesticulation of agreement with
my elocution. “I know you can do it, guys!”
“Sure we can!” Bobby Hunter shouted showing his

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team spirit.
“I don‟t have to tell you how important is this for me,
and how important is for you. We have to go out there and
show to everyone outside this room that you‟re the best team
that you‟re better in any court or gym.”
“What we have to do now is to press numbers
thirty-four and twelve. These two are killing you on the
boards. I can‟t believe you, Victor,” I pointed to him. “In
your corner, twelve is taking your base line and you‟re
making Mark giving up his fouls.”
The boy glanced at me with as if he was saying I
didn‟t do it with his face expression. “Boy, you aren‟t giving
all you got!” I said to him when he gave me that stupid look.
“You‟re playing half of what you can give me. We need your
help inside the paint.” I said to him.
“Ryan, whatever happened between us before the
game, it‟s over,” I turned to the tall black boy. “You‟ve to
show me that you can play basketball.”
“Coach,” Ryan spoke. “The referees aren‟t calling. .
.”
“So what? They aren‟t calling anything for both
teams. Use that as your advantage and play hard. You‟ve to

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look for a good position to take the rebounds.”


“The only player doing his job is Jason; He is
shooting and hitting from the outside. Bobby keeps on
passing the basketball to him, and keeps pushing the zone
press. If we don‟t cut this peoples lead in the next five
minutes of this second half, we aren‟t going to win the game.
So go on and press them from the locker rooms. . .”
“Coach, it‟s time,” Johnny suggested while he
pointed on his wristwatch.
“OK, let‟s go and kick some ass,” I finally exclaimed
The athletes ran out of the little room showing theirs
team spirit. I stood behind them and rested my mind in one
minute when I saw David Johnson coming toward me. I
waited to hear something nasty from him and to my surprise
he said; “Good job, Coach!”

In the second half the game began with two middle


distance shots from Jason Campbell, cutting Orangewood‟s
lead to a four-point game. Jason was playing the best game
of his life; he forced our competitors to call a time-out so
they could stop our offensive boom in those first three

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J.V. Rosario

minutes of the third quarter. When their players came out of


the shift, they were determined to arrest Jason‟s offense.
At this point the match turned into a two by two
scoring round, keeping our opponent‟s six points advantage
almost through the entire third quarter. Ryan maneuvered to
make his inside lay-ups in their zone, so they changed their
defense to a man-to-man for the rest of the period.
Before we went to play the last quarter, I asked my
boys to press fifty percent of the court and to trap on the
sidelines with our 2-1-2 defenses. Bobby was in charge of
the calls inside the court. We looked for both alternatives,
Jason and Patrick outside shots, and the inside gambles of
Ryan and Mark.
We had the possession in the beginning of the fourth
quarter. Bobby dribbled the basketball down court into our
territory while they changed to a 2-3 zone. Bobby called for
a guard switching offensive pattern. He passed the ball to
Jason, and then switched to the left wing with Patrick. Jason
immediately returned the ball to him who was completely
open on the top of the key. He received the pass and without
bouncing the basketball; He jumped and shot it to put us
down by three. It was the first time we were that close to

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them that night.


“Fifty . . .” I howled at Bobby from the bench.
Bobby raised his hands above his head and then made
the fifty press signals so the rest of his teammates‟ line on
their positions. Their point guard was confused when tried
to cross the back court line through where Jason and Bobby
were standing in guard. Jason stole the ball from the
disordered thespian, and then run with the dribble into our
offensive ground. Two other rival players ran after him to
procrastinate my player‟s drive to the hoop.
Jason took his two steps and jumped for his lay up
just when the other two boys flew over him. He shot the ball
while trying to avoid the defense that collided with him in
the air, making him felt and sliced on the ground and ending
on the bear naked wall.
Both benches stood up to find out if Jason were hurt.
An official called a foul in that instance then stopped the
encounter to check out the boy on the floor.
The athlete stood up on his two feet after the impact;
he shot his two free throws that were given by referee.
Apparently he was fine, but when the contest began again he

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asked me to take him out.


“Coach, my back hurt,” he said while he made a
painful gesture on his face. This was not a common thing for
Jason; he would never ask to take out of the game.
“Go and ask McGuire to put an ice pack on your
back,” I told him. Our school didn‟t have a trainer and there
wasn‟t one in the building that night. “Lie on the ground and
don‟t move until I say so.”
He crossed floor holding his right backside with his
hand and ended talking with Chris McGuire, who took him
inside the locker room immediately.
The Orangewood club opened the score after Jason‟s
impact with the wall; finally we lost by fifteen points. This
wasn‟t the right evening to come out and play basketball,
everything in nature was against us. The Gulf War drained
our concentration, and all minor affairs between made the
evening go to an unfavorable trajectory.

We did not have any other choice but to call 911 for
Jason, he was as stiff as an iron board. His back was injured

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and there was nothing we could do to help him that night.


Milano and Woods left the school premises as soon
as everything was over, they didn‟t stop by to find out about
Jason‟s health, or at least to probe if we need something for
our way home. Mr. Johnson was our bus driver and he
thought that he was in charge. So he began to order everyone
around and insisted to put the boy inside the school bus so
we could head back home.
The debate was if we were going to call an
ambulance or not, while Jason lay on the ground in front of
the vehicle. We tried to get him inside the bus twist but he
cried like a wounded animal in pain, while Mr. Johnson and
Beverly Hawking argued about where they were going to put
him --in a school bus, or in the ambulance. David Johnson
vented the school policies to Mrs. Hawking, but she
disagreed with the big man. In her point of view the boy was
to hurt to get back to the academy so the right thing to do
was to take him to a hospital as son as possible. In all these
deliberations Chris McGuire and William Peters were muted,
they didn‟t say a thing. They retired inside the large
transport to deal with their own squads and nothing more.

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J.V. Rosario

My two managers helped the poor boy lying on the


ground, as Mrs. Hawkings and I fought David Johnson
intolerance. Finally, she called her husband at school for
instructions. The ambulance came ten minutes later.
The paramedics put Jason on a wooden stretcher that
prevented neck movements. The vehicle rushed Jason to
Winter Park‟s Memorial Hospital near where his Family
lived. Jason‟s girlfriend, contacted his parents to inform
them what when on and that we were taking him to the
medical center. By the time we got to the emergency
room Jason‟s mother and stepfathers were already in the
building.
I noticed that his mother didn‟t display any emotions
toward firstborn, and that she was frightened of her own son.
The lady moved closer to the boy lying down on the
stretcher, held his hand and asked him how he was. Jason
responded with a smile, a smile that she didn‟t return. It was
obvious to me that their relationship was not in a good
situation.
I left the emergency room and went inside our
transport that followed us in the ambulance time was near
midnight. The whole affair took us at least two hours to

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solve, and we were hungry. When I came inside the bus,


everybody began asking for Jason. I answered that he was
OK, but I was more scared than what I showed. This time it
wasn‟t an ankle or a knee, it was his back and the boy
complained that he couldn‟t bend at all. It was more serious
than it looked; I taught that it was his spin. I was very afraid.
I sat near Devin, Pierre and Johnny on the same seats
line; I was think about Jason at that moment. He could it be
a pain in the ass if he wanted too, with other teacher, but I
never had any problems with him.
The driver took us to the Burger King‟s restaurant in
the corner of Colonial Dr. and Kirkman Road. The time was
12:15 in the morning.

I sat with Devin, Johnny and Mrs. Hawking in the


same booth, far from the establishment cashier counter. We
gave my money to Devin and Johnny so they could buy our
meal that night, we stayed in the table I wanted have an
opportunity to talk with her alone. She was as furious as I
was about the attitudes that the other adults embraced in the
whole episode. David Johnson‟s conduct endured the worst

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J.V. Rosario

part in our exchange.


“I can‟t believe this guy,” she said.
“He‟s a jerk,” I stated.
“I know,” she said back at me. “That‟s the only nice
word that can apply to this guy!”
“I don‟t understand how Mr. Walden gives so much
authority to a jerk like him.” I continued, “I mean that he‟s
only a maintenance person, he‟s not a professional. He
doesn‟t know what could happen to Jason‟s back . . .”
“You think it can be serious?”
“I don‟t know,” I said. “The only thing I know is that
he was hurt, and when you hurt there, you should not be
treated lightly.”
“Coach, another thing that ticked me off,” she said to
bite her lower lips. “That Mr. Milano and Mark Woods
didn‟t wait to find out about Jason. They should wait until at
least we left the school grounds.”
“That‟s another moron,” I said.
“Who‟s the moron?” Devin asked, while he sat in
front of me with the trade full paper bags. We didn‟t answer
Devin‟s question, but he knew that we weren‟t pleased with
what had happened between Johnson and Mrs. Hawkings.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

“You cut in line, Kid?” I asked him.


“Yeah, I‟m hungry you know, Kid, and you‟re too.”
“I think you‟re getting to know me.”
“Ferrer, I know you better than you think.”
“Hay, I‟m hungry too. Where‟s my food?” Beverly
Hawking enunciated, while she turned to glance for Johnny
in the cashier line.
They scattered the other children around in different
booths inside the small location. Theresa, Jason girlfriend,
sat with Christina while Elliot and a boy from the Bahamas
sat on the same booth. Victor postured alone with Pierre in
the corner oppose to ours, while the rest of the crowd lineups
in front of the counter.
At that same moment our bus driver came to where
we were sitting and articulated something to Beverly
Hawking, but we didn‟t understand. He voiced it fast and in
a humble tone then left. We looked at each other to retrieve
out what he expressed to her.
“What did he say?” I asked.
“That we‟re going get home late,” she answered
while she bites her lips again.

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J.V. Rosario

“Oh! I hate that guy,” Devin uttered.


“That‟s the jerk, Kid,” I expressed to the boy, and
then I said while I looked at Beverly Hawkings, “We‟re
buddies.” I pointed at the boy that was sitting in front of me.

10

Our victory against Pine Castle Christian Academy


was important, the final score came to 86-46, but it didn‟t
make me feel better about the way we played. Our squad
couldn‟t defeat teams such as Orangewood, Luther, Florida
Air and Lake Highland.
Lake Highland Prep was our next engagement, and
we were ready to deal with them. It was just a matter of
patience for him, patience with his teammates. He was a
demanding point guard, and our communication inside the
basketball court was almost perfect. It was a continual battle
for the control of the other players‟ game. There were times
when I added a new offensive play and he would oppose to it
having as an excuse his teammates‟ short attention span. He
used to say that my plays were to advance for them.
Anyhow I forced him to carry out them.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

The night of the match I thought the team was in the


peek of its physical condition, and that blowing our rival
away was possible for us. The event began as always with
the junior varsity and girls‟ varsity games. McGuire‟s band
became close to win their fight, but the loss by three, while
twenty-seven points defeated our girls‟ team.
Alex and I sat with the fans on the bleachers and
watched our other two clubs get killed. My heart was
pumping blood to all my body‟s systems; I was nervous. As
we observed the matches, I tried to decide the best
alternative offense and defense to stop these people. Jason
wasn‟t going to play. He spent one day in the hospital and
three at home; his back was soured. So my starters were
going to be Bobby as our point guard, Patrick as the shooting
guard, Victor and Ryan under the boards as forwards, and
Mark in the center. Our main obstacle was going to be the
football athlete turned into a basketball player by the Lake
Highland Prep Coach. This boy had one of the best three
points shot of the conference, so playing him with a zone
would give him the opportunity to assassinate us from
outside. I didn‟t want to try a man-to-man defense because

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J.V. Rosario

he was also an excellent penetrator.


“That‟s it! That‟s how we‟re playing these people,” I
shouted to the gym‟s air.
Johnny, Pierre and Alex, who were sitting next to me
while we watched the first half of the girls‟ match, They
glanced at me as if they knew that I was losing my mind.
“What?” Alex asked me smiling.
“Coach?” Johnny called me to find out what was
going on.
“He‟s losing it!” Pierre goofed.
“Yeah, maybe so, but we‟re kicking some asses
tonight,” I responded, then without measuring my words.
Who was around? Mrs. Walden and her husband set two
spaces to back us, while Mrs. Hawking posed two students
from Pierre‟s left one bench behind. They showed up to the
games every Tuesday night.
There were students from all the dormitories
attending this particular game. But, we weren‟t alone; Lake
Highland brought a big group of parents and students for the
games. I estimated that between the cheerleaders, our fans
and Lake Highland legions a total crowd of three hundred
people sitting on one platform. Even Mr. Car, the history

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A Season In Green Hills‟

teacher, was in his usual beach chair in the gym‟s entrance.


“Guys let‟s get ready for the game,” I told my
managers.
“The uniforms are inside the coaches‟ office,” Pierre
declared.
“Well let‟s go. I help you tonight!”
“We can do it Coach,” Johnny said.
“I‟ll help you!”
I couldn‟t sit still that night so I went to the locker
with the boys to help them with the uniform. I got the
feeling that something good was going to happen for us in
this game.
“Good luck!” Alex wished me with a soft kiss on the
lips.

Green Hills‟ varsity came out running from the


locker room‟s doors in the company of Queen‟s tune We
Will, We Will Rock You. The boys ran twists around the
basketball court while the crowd on the stand went crazy
screaming and cheering for them. A lot different from when
our visitor came out of their room, we used the white and

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J.V. Rosario

royal blue uniform while they wearied the red and black
costumes. A coach from the opponent fleet approached me
to shake my hand and wished us luck. The referees, the
timekeeper and both teams‟ scorekeeper were ready to begin
the encounter. The two competitors warmed up with rhythm
of the music played by two Wallace Hall residents on a
stereo system that played rock in a resonant manner inside
the gymnasium.
A referee gave both coaches one minute to decide
before the game start. The stage was set; I started Ryan
LeCarre insteps of Jason Campbell. Patrick was set to jump
the basketball in the middle circle on the court. Bobby,
Mark and Victor guarded their men assigned by me in the
last minute gave by the referee.
Patrick won the jump ball but Lake Highland Prep
gain control of the basketball, costing us the first two points
of the match. Bobby put the ball in the offensive court and
asked his teammate to set the offensive pattern that we
practiced the whole week.
Patrick took our first shot of the evening, and he
missed. Lake High Varsity rebounded it and rushed the ball
in a fast break to our defensive court and made their third

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A Season In Green Hills‟

and fourth points, and received a foul from Mark Hilltop. It


was four to nothing when their little point guard tried his free
throw.
I jumped from my seat and called Mark and Bobby;
“Listen, it‟s to early for to begin giving stupid fouls,
remember what happened last year.” I said with authority to
Mark, whom until now managed to stay in each game
without giving up his five personal fouls.
“OK, Coach,” Mark, replied with his head down.
“Bobby, we need to surprise these people, doesn‟t let
them take advantage in this half . . . Work on the triangle and
two,” I instructed our captain.
Lake Highland never lost their five points‟ advantage
from the encounter first minute. After that first minute the
match turned into give and takes contest, if they scored on
us, we scored back on them. We called only one timeout in
first half; something was telling me that I was going to need
many timeouts at the end of the race. I didn‟t press in the
first half; my boys weren‟t in a disposition to do so. The
only real substitution we had was Elliot, and he was always a
nervous rack in games with that intensity.

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J.V. Rosario

We were losing by same five points when the first


half was over. I met the team in the locker room; James,
Devin, Eric, Roger and Elliot didn‟t see action in the first
two quarters. I played only five players. The fouls‟ situation
was really healthy, the only one that ended the half with
three fouls was Mark Hilltop, but he was too vital to be
sitting on the bench.
I went over of what we were going to do in the
second half while Pierre and Johnny gave a cup of water and
towel to each player. I spoke my strategy to the athletes; this
time we were going to press 50 per cent of the court and
guard man to man combined with a triangle-and-two zone.
I was lecturing my players when Johnny interrupted;
“Coach, referees aren‟t calling a thing.”
“OK, Kids!” I said. “Listen to me now. The first five
minutes of this half are very important. They are leading by
five, if they score in the next five minutes and you don‟t,
we‟ll lose. So you need to play with your hearts. Don‟t let
these people from the school say that you can‟t win against
difficult teams,” I shouted.
“Yeah, let‟s shut their mouths up,” Mark screamed.
“Let‟s kick ass.” Bobby jointed Mark choirs while

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they all put their hands together in the center of the small
room and cheered in a unison voice, “win, win, and win . . . “
The game ended tied in the third quarter. Elliot
substituted Mark who gave his fourth foul. The Cuban boy
attempted to impress his coach, and he did, before this
match, Elliot was an erratic ball handling. However, this
time he made me change my position; he helped me to put
Bobby in a shooting guard position, and added quickness to
team. Lake Highland‟s coaches asked for two timeouts
before the quarter completion; they didn‟t know what to do
with our defense zone press.
When my boys came back to the bench after the final
shot of the third quarter, people in town listened to the
crowd‟s hollers two miles out of the school grounds.
The Prep School began the fourth quarter with a jump
shot from their little point guards. This was the first time the
boy scored over Bobby, who guarded him very tide since the
beginning of the venture. After the little guy burned the net
with his release, Bobby glanced to the bench with an
apologetic expression on his eyes.
Mark Hilltop put the basketball back into the match

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J.V. Rosario

with a pass to our point guard. The boy came dribbling the
basketball across the floor, calling a set play with his left
hand. Our competitors emerged in this part of the encounter
with a man-to-man defense. Their little guard was with his
hands all over Bobby Hunter.
“Double stack . . .” Bobby howled. He was trying to
attune a double low post under the hoop.
“Ryan, you‟re with Victor in the corner,” I shouted to
help Bobby to organize his teammates. The tall boy posted
near Victor Lopes in the left corner of the painted area, while
Mark and Patrick were in the opposite side. Bobby, whom
they heavily guarded, moved to the right and passed the ball
to Patrick.
He received a pick from Mark and caught the pass
out of the zone. The kid bounced the ball once and then
turned on his pivot foot to face the rim, and then he jumped
to release it from his hands over his defending player. The
ball crossed the air as if the time were suspended in that
second. The crowd didn‟t react at all until the ball drilled the
metal ring and the nylon net. Cheerleaders, teachers and
administrators, parents and students blasted from their seats
in a simultaneous jump. It was as if every fellow on the

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A Season In Green Hills‟

platform simultaneously makes synchronize jumps with


every basket made.
The contest was tided again, and again, and again . . .
Lake Highland didn‟t want to surrender his position as one
of the best team of the conference. However, we also
wanted to be in that standing and the only way was to defeat
them.
The baskets‟ exchange lasted until the minute and
forty-three seconds of the regular time. The score was
65-63 and they were leading, when Mark Hilltop passed the
basketball to Ryan, and the football kid stole the pass from
his hands. The multitude screamed when the Prep School
took the chance on a fast break. LeCarre went running after
a red uniform player and tried to stop the lay up when the
boy intended to shoot.
“NO! No fouls,” I shouted at Ryan, but it was too
late, the foul was given. Ryan jumped behind the husky
player and slapped his face while the basketball circle the
ring twists before it went inside.
The kid that made the shot lifted his arm making a
victory sign with his right hand, and shouted while, “We‟re

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number one. . .”
“Call a time out,” I asked Bobby, a thing that he did
immediately after the shot.
The clock ran fifteen seconds in all that drama. I felt
our fans‟ quietness in that point, and the celebration of the
other squad while they ran to their bench.
“Shit, Ryan! Why you didn‟t foul him before he tried
the shot,” Bobby said to him, with killing visages.
“Sorry, Man! I though that I could pack that punk,”
Ryan said with a stupid expression on his face.
Johnny gave me the click board, while Pierre
provided water and towels to the players. Coach McGuire,
who was my assistant that night, informed me about the team
foul situation. Bobby, Ryan, Victor, Mark and Patrick sat on
the bench, while Elliot, Devin, Roger and Eric stood and
watched behind me and listening to my instructions.
“We‟re losing by five at this time, and that‟s bad
right now. But, we can‟t collapse now, we still have time to
win it,” I said shouting at them. “We have to make a quick
play and score now, before the clock loses ten more seconds
. . . If we miss the shot, I want everyone to go for the
rebounds, even you, Bobby. We fight for the ball and make

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A Season In Green Hills‟

it go in, in the next twenty five seconds . . . After you


scored; we‟re going to press full court, 2-2-1 formation. If
they cross the back court line, you‟re going guard man-to-
man.” While I spoke to the boys, I wrote the plays on the
green click board, that my sister gave me for my birthday six
years ago. “Don‟t let them make easy shots. You better foul
them before let them take an easy basket . . .”
“Coach, it‟s time,” a referee came to our bench and
informed us.
Green Hills‟ players stood up and put their hands
together, and shouted in a unison voice; “win, win, win . . .”
Lake Highland felt to hit the free throw and we took
the rebound. They came to the court floor with a
man-to-man defense.
As soon that I saw what their defense was, I called
Bobby and asked him to look for a clear in his right corner;
“Bobby, it‟s your play.”
Bobby dribbled the ball down the court; the clock
was running faster than ever. Our point guard was showing
to everybody inside the gymnasium that he was the best; his
dribbling was outstanding. He stopped on the top right

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J.V. Rosario

corner of our offensive territory, and requested a clear from


Patrick and Mark that were standing in front of Bobby on the
same post. They both moved to the left side corner, dragging
their guards with them. Then Bobby began his drive to the
hoop; he faked his guard to the left and ran to his right taking
three dribbles and two steps. The ball burned the net and the
audience went crazy again.
We were down by three when the Lake Highland‟s
coach asked his little guard for a time out with fifty-seven
seconds remaining in the regular time. I knew what he was
going to do; they were going to try to run the clock as long
as possible without making a shot. My players came to the
bench, and I was ready to give them a pet talk. I was ready to
make them guard their own mothers, if that was possible. I
discharged on them all my passion for the game, “Listen you
guys it‟s not the time to bow against these people. They‟re
going to try to play with the fifty-seven seconds left. You‟ve
to battle with your courage, and force them to turn over the
ball. Make traps on the corners, they aren‟t going to shoot
the ball now, so they going to use the four corners of this
gym.”
“Should we foul them, Coach?” Mark asked, while

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A Season In Green Hills‟

sweat drops were falling of his blond hair.


“Don‟t foul them until you see that the clock pass the
twenty five seconds mark,” I answered, “Keep your man to
man defense, and help Bobby with the double team in the
corners.”
“Coach, it‟s time,” Bobby said while he gave back
the water bottle to Johnny. Elliot, Patrick, Mark and Ryan
were my choices to play those final seconds of the regular
time.
The game resumed; Lake Highland put the ball in the
game from the sideline. They tied our defense, but anyhow
managed the point guard to cross the back court line. There
were fifty seconds on the time clock. The opponent team
placed one player on each cavity of our defensive territory
and one in the top of the key. They made one, two, three
passes while the time was running out, the crowd was crying
out as the other coaches and I were doing too. When the
time marked thirty-one seconds, the husky player turned in
front Ryan‟s defense, and shot the basketball fifteen feet
from the hoop. Everyone in the building jumped from the
ground with arms apart just when all the athletes on the court

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J.V. Rosario

fought for rebound. The prep school took it and tried a


second shot to the basket without success. After a second
battle for the bounce Mark Hilltop ended with the globe in
his hands. Bobby ran to approach Mark and asked him to
pass the basketball.
While all these were happening, I was on the sideline
jumping and shouting to Bobby Hunter asking he to call our
last time-out. The young man dribbled the ball to get a better
position and asked a referee for a time out.
We were down by three, remaining twenty-six
seconds from the regular time, and the only thing that was
going to help us was a three-point-shot.
“Good, good job Mark,” I said. “Victor, you‟re going
in, now.”
“For whom, Coach?”
“You‟re going for Elliot,” I answered his question.
Victor wasn‟t only a strong player but he was also a good
outside shooters.
“Bobby, you‟re going to take your time to tide this
game, when the clock gets to fifteen seconds that‟s when I
want you to start the offense. The rest of you are going to
play our four corners offense. Mark, you‟re going to be on

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A Season In Green Hills‟

the top of the key, and when you see Bobby making his
move, you‟re going to pick his man. No fouls, you
understand? No fouls . . . You‟re going to be available to
receive a pass and to rebound after the shot. But listen to
me, and hear me good. Bobby‟s the one who is going to try
the shot . . . After he tried his shot. You‟re going to press in
a 2-2-1.”
“Coach is late,” one referee came to our bench and
requested us to move on.
A referee gave the ball to Mark on the sideline and he
passed it to Bobby. Lake Highland Prep organized a
man-to-man defense. The basketball crossed the court‟s
middle line (twenty-nine seconds). Bobby passed it to Patrick
(twenty-five seconds). The boy dribbled the basketball and
then returned it to his team captain (twenty-one seconds).
Nobody inside the structure made a sound; it was as if a
funeral were on its way (eighteen seconds). Mark moved out
of his position close the three-point-line on the top of the key
and his guard followed him. Bobby began his roadway to
the hoop by taking his defender near Mark‟s. The Hilltop
boy picked Bobby‟s follower, but his defender switched to

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J.V. Rosario

Bobby (eleven seconds). The captain lost the ball for a


second, and the mass on the platform went loony, the
basketball was nobody when Ryan tipped it back to Bobby.
The little guard moved his feet behind the three-point-line,
faked a man in front of him (six seconds). He faked again
(five seconds). The player jumped in front of him (four
seconds). Bobby jumped and released the globe of his right
hand (three seconds). The ball zigzagged through the air all
the way to the ring (two seconds). Then the game was tied.

Green Hills‟ Academy defeated the Prep School in


overtime for the first time in history, with a final score of
72-70. The celebration was incredible. Mr. Walden was so
excited that he offered a Steak Dinner to the team, he even
told us; “That‟s the most excited basketball game I ever
remember in this school.” He congratulated the players and
he told me that I did a good job.
By the time I got out of the locker room everyone
was gone, everyone but Edward Milano; “Coach, we need to
turn off the lights,” he said.
Alex who was behind him, waiting for me,
immediately answered; “Mr. Milano, let he enjoys the

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A Season In Green Hills‟

triumph.”
“Those lambs absorb too much electricity,” Milano
reacted to Alex.
“Are you going to congratulate me?” I asked him
while I smiled. I thought that he was out of line that at least
he should ask Coach McGuire to do the small shore.
He approached and shook my hand, “Congratulation,
Mr. Ferrer. Now we need to turn off the lights,” the man
said. I didn‟t say anything, but I was boiling inside; I let him
muffed the night.
After I closed the gym, I walked Alex to D.O.A.; I
was trying to cool down my anger with Mr. Milano bossy
attitude. I didn‟t understand why he was acting like that. At
one point I thought that maybe he was jealous about the way
the students favor me, or maybe because the basketball team
was doing a lot better than he expected. Then, I recalled
what Devin told me the day played Luther‟s Academy, but
when I thought that it wasn‟t possible. A grown man like
Milano acting like that, there wasn‟t reason for him to be
envious of me.
After I walked Alex to her dormitory I went back to

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J.V. Rosario

my place, that evening I lay in bed fully dresses. I


recollected the game; my players solved all my problems
with that victory over the Prep School. They kicked our
team‟s ass by thirty-five points in the beginning of this
basketball season, but this time we turned our fortune upside
down.
I untied my red poke dot tie, and took my shoes off. I
observed the apartment‟s ceiling, and reasoned that now
everything was going to be different. We were going to win
all the remaining games of the season. Florida Air was
going to pay what they did to us, and Luther, the number
seven team sited in the State of Florida, was going to receive
bad news from us. I calculated our season record with
seventeen victories and seven defeats, the reverse to Coach
Brown‟s last year record.
I was smiling and laughing like a fool who just won
the lotto‟s biggest jackpot. I never imagined that things were
going to be different from my expectations. Everything
began with our next bet, Deltona Trinity Christian.

11

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A Season In Green Hills‟

It was the Friday afternoon of the day we played


Deltona Trinity Christian Academy, when I found myself
doing the job of team‟s managers. Pierre and Johnny
despised each other because of a fight between them in
Eaton Hall Dormitory three days before. The brawl happened
in the same week that both kids accumulated several hours.
They forgot their duties as managers, and that the team‟s
uniforms were inside the washer under the gym‟s bleachers.
I ended taking them out of the washer and depositing
them inside a near dryer. The school day was already over,
so, I took my time to deal with the situation. I lingered in the
gym to do the occupation of the two kids I selected as
managers.
I found myself surrounded by moistening odors of
the boys‟ locker room, and the silent of an empty
gymnasium, when I heard someone coming. The gym‟s
doors were closed but not lock, and my vehicle was sitting in
front of the building. I believed that it was Coach McGuire,
coming to the office, but the door opened and Devin showed
through it.
“Hi, Kid!” I said to the boy that looked as if was

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J.V. Rosario

looking for some to talk. It was a surprise to see him there; I


didn‟t expect him that afternoon.
“What‟re you doin‟?” he asked. It was easy for me to
tell that he like me. He was wearing his P. E. T-shirt and
shorts, while he carried his book bag on his left shoulder.
“What do you think I‟m doing?” I answered with
another question. “I‟m doing your friends‟ job.”
“Pierre is working at the shop,” he said.
“I know!”
“You want help?”
“Oh, I was waiting to hear that,” I responded while I
glanced at him.
“After we finish here, can we play some b-ball?”
“I don‟t know, we have a game tonight,” I answered
“Yeah, but we aren‟t playing tonight.”
“Don‟t say that Kid, you don‟t know, anything can
happen. Patrick is sick, and he‟s not going. Maybe you can
take his position,” I was trying to give him some hope.
“OK, Ferrer,” he doubted what I said.
After Devin helped me to fold the uniforms, he sat on
top of the washer, and waited for me to finish putting
everything inside the canvas bag. We were going to take it

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A Season In Green Hills‟

to the match that night. While I put the last jersey in the bag,
I raised my eyes up to see where he was sitting on the top of
the white machine. He was observing me, through my mind
the same hunch came, a feeling of knowing him from a long
distance past that I could not pinpoint.
I didn't understand why this boy, who I considered to
be smart and of a good nature, was sent by his parent to a
place like this. This school, which until that moment,
showed me that it was money making machine, empty of
love for its pupils. I felt that he didn‟t need to be there,
because every moment that I spent with him was always
superb. Devin proofed to me that he was one of the best
disciples I ever taught.
So after the short reflection, I asked same bogging
question; “You know Devin. I steels don‟t understand why?”
I said.
“Understand what?” His voice sounded curious.
“I don‟t understand why you‟re here, in this place.”
“I told you before. I don‟t get alone with my
stepmother.”
“Yeah, but don‟t you love her. How old you were

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J.V. Rosario

when she married your Dad?”


“I was about three.”
“And, you don‟t love her?”
“Yes, I do, but I don‟t get alone with her.” This time
his return wasn‟t in the same tone. He looked confused and
disoriented, but I persisted with my questioning.
“What about your real Mom?”
“I never met her.”
“Did she die?”
“No, she left when I was two.”
“Did your bother know her?”
“He spent six months with her last year, but he came
back to live with us. He said that she is a bitch!”
“Don‟t say that, Devin.”
“You don‟t know her,” he said. “She is, Coach. Two
years ago she tried to contact, but I don‟t want anything to do
her. The bitch left and never communicated with me until I
was eleven. I hate her . . .”
“But, what about your stepmother?”
“What about her? She is another bitch,” he said.
“She is always complaining about me.”
“Why?”

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A Season In Green Hills‟

“Because the parties I gave when they were traveling


the word,” Devin continued. “If I stay in the house, I was
going to divorce them.”
“I doubt that Devin,” I said. “You aren‟t bad kid. In
fact you‟re one of the best kids I ever met in this dame
school.”
“My parents don‟t think like you . . .” At that point
his eyes and nose began to turn crimson, Devin dropped his
head and paused his yarn, he was trying hard to control the
tears that were coming out, but his face was already wet.
When he knew that couldn‟t stop; he jumped from the top of
the washing machine and ran out of the locker room.
I left what I was doing on the floor to go after him; I
was as confuses as the boy that I was after. I never expected
him to react in that way, I envisaged that he was strong
enough to answer my curiosity.
When I ran into the building main vault, I saw him in
the middle of the basketball floor. Devin was crying as if
someone he loves was about to die, while he held his face
with his hands. He alarmed me in that moment; he was in
pain, the worst of all pains, the one that isn‟t easy to cure. I

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J.V. Rosario

approached to touch his shoulder and then called his name.


“Devin . . .”
Devin turned around to face me, and then he put his
head over my shoulder and cried. I let him cry on it for
about a minute or two, while I put my hands over his neck. I
felt a deep affection for the boy in that instant.
“Devin, I‟m sorry. Oh God! You don‟t know how
sorry I am,” I said. “If I knew that I was going to hurt you. I
would never dare to ask anything about your Family, I‟m
sorry,” as I said that I felt a lump in my throat forming. I
didn‟t want to show that I could get weak too. So, I removed
his hands up of his face. “Com‟ on let‟s go sit over there . .
.” I maneuvered him to sit on the bleachers‟ stairs.
“Kid, I‟m sorry I didn‟t mean to make you feel like
this.”
Devin‟s face exposed surprise of his respond to my
nosiness. He was out of himself and could not say anything
else, and I didn‟t ask any thing else. I put my left hand on
his neck to show him that I understood and that I cared for
him. Although, I didn‟t say it, I kept my mouth shout; I did
not tell how much I love him. Maybe because I did not
know how much I did at that time.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

After a while he calmed, he spoke few words, and the


only thing I asked him was if he were all right to go outside
the building.
“Yes,” Devin answered with a sorrowful air on his
eyes. It was as if he were looking through a transparent
glass, to all effects I wasn‟t there but his mind was on his
personal dilemma. I implied then that he didn‟t trust me.
“Devin, stay here. I‟ll get your book bag,” I stood up
and went inside the locker room where we were folding the
basketball uniforms, and then I returned to where he was
sitting. He was composed, but his eyes were red.
“Listen, Kid, I don‟t want anyone to see you like that;
take your time. You don‟t have to leave now.”
“I‟m OK,” he said while he stood up. “I have to get
my allowance.”
I observed him while he walked throughout the gym
doors. The boy was feeling heavy-hearted, and I felt guilty
for it. I made him feel like that. This time I didn‟t see the
usual joyous fifteen-year-old boy, I saw a young man hit
hard time coping with what life throw at him.
Devin paused when he went through the door frame

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J.V. Rosario

then he turned to look at me and said, “Coach.”


“What, Kid?” I asked.
Devin took two seconds to respond, and when he did,
this was what came out of his mouth; “At what time we‟re
leaving for the game?”
“6:30, Kid . . .”
“I‟ll be ready . . .”
“I know you will.”
He crossed the road to get to the administration
buildings; he walked slowly and with his head down.

“What I have done?” I said to Alex, who was sitting


on the light blue couch in my apartment. “What idiot I am!
Why? Why I have to question everything all the time?” I
was moving from side to side of the room, like any typical
Hispanic man, moving my hands up and down while I talked
to her.
“Because you care for the boy,” she responded
“I don‟t want to care,” I said.
“Don‟t you think it‟s a little late?”
“You know, you‟re responsible,” I told her.
“Me?” There was an air of curiosity in her green

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A Season In Green Hills‟

eyes.
“Remember the night after the Luther game? You
told me that he looks up to me, before that I didn‟t notice
anything and I didn‟t care. Now I‟m trapped . . .”
“Don‟t worry too much, the time will come when
he‟ll open to you,” she said, “but he‟s the one that‟s going to
choose when.”
“You think so?”
“He knows that you care for him, that you have him
under your wins.” Alex smiled the same smile that helps me
to fall in love with her.
I grinned with her, I knew that she was right, Devin
was special for me, and there was not a turn around for that.
“If this ever happened to you?” I was looking for her
approval.
“The last day of my first year I tried to drive home
without saying a good-by to the girls. But, when I drove
between the two little towers near the tennis courts, I turned
around. I was crying when I stepped out of the car. When
you work here you learn to care for the kids and then you
miss them when its time to go,” Alex said while she

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J.V. Rosario

displayed her bright teeth. “I also had some students under


my wins.”
“Like me . . .”
“Like you, but went I have to say something to them.
I‟ll do it without any reservations. They knew,” she
continued. “I promised them that I was going to stay until
they graduate from their senior year, and that was last year.
Now I‟m ready to move on. I don‟t have any attachment
with any of my girls of this year.”
“What about Monica?” I asked while I sat with her
on the sofa and put my arms around her shoulders.
“She isn‟t as close as they were,” she answered while
I moved near for a kiss. “You and your blond son,” she said.
“My blond son?” I exclaimed, and then I kissed her.
It was almost 5:00 p.m. and it was time to go to
tonight‟s game.

12

I considered Trinity‟s team inferior from ours, but


anyhow we got beat by eighteen points that night. It was
true that Patrick, who was our best score, didn‟t go to the

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A Season In Green Hills‟

game; he was sick with the flu. However, the real reason that
we lost against this squad began to fold in the first encounter
with Lake Highland Pre, in the beginning of the season.
Victor Lopes antagonistic attitude against Bobby Hunter
came to float in the middle of the game.
His selfishness advanced to its climax; he conducted
like an ass hole criticizing Bobby‟s position as captain of the
team. In Victor‟s head there was only one thing, Victor the
star basketball player that no one passes the ball too, and
Bobby was responsible for that. So in the locker room, after
the game was over, he disclosed what was inside his head.
Bobby was overwhelmed and hurt by what the big
boy said to him while they shower after the match. He took
in consideration Victor‟s size because he didn‟t pick a fight
with Victor that night. Although, he brought his problem to
me the next morning, I was on duty and my thoughts were
divided in many pieces, on Devin‟s incident, the loss against
an inferior team and Victor‟s responsibility in that loss.
While all that was eating my inside, to add more to my
troubles, I wasn‟t feeling well that afternoon.
I was sitting on a chair observing a few Japanese

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J.V. Rosario

students playing basketball on the far hoop, when Bobby


tapped me on the shoulder.
“Hi, Bobby,” I said;
“Coach, what are we going to do with our team?”
“I know what you mean,” I responded. “I almost
didn‟t sleep last night. I have being thinking about Victor
screwing everything for us.”
“Coach, you know that you and I had some
difference before the Christmas. Still, we could fix them.”
“Yeah, I know,” I said and paused to have a good
glanced at him. “What‟s in your mind?” I noticed that he was
really serious, and that he was troubled with what he was
about to say.
“I think that I‟m going to quit the team.”
“Why?”
“I can‟t stand what its happening with my dame
teammates. You know. One day kick some ass, and win big
time. Then next day, when we‟re supposed to whip the other
team‟s butt, we lost.” His voice tone emerged with anger.
“And then Victor, that son of a bitch, was criticizing me last
night „cause I did pass the ball to him. Me, who gives the
hundred, percent every time we play . . .”

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A Season In Green Hills‟

“If Victor is what is bothering you,” I interrupted


him. “Don‟t worry, „cause he‟s history.”
“What do you mean?”
“He‟s out! I can‟t coach a guy like him . . .”

When I gave the news to Dr. Walden, he applauded


my decision, but he put a condition to it, “It‟s not that we
don‟t agree with your decision. It‟s that you want him to be
out of the team forever, and we think that when the districts
come you are going to need him.”
“I don‟t need him,” I reacted.
“Last year, we removed him from the varsity with a
temporary condition, and when he came back, he did a better
job.” Walden said while he stood up of his desk chair and
approached me. “We‟re going to say to Victor that it was
your decision to suspend him indefinitely until his behavior
change.”
I gave a quick thought to what they were saying and
then I agreed. Maybe Victor was going to change, but
something was telling me that was impossible, the boy was
as selfish as a Bengali Tiger.

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When the meeting was over and I was leaving


Walden‟s office the man said; “I hope you learned the
lesson, Coach. You can‟t deal with these kids the way
you‟re doing now. You have to hit them hard on rips. That‟s
the way they learn that you mean business . . .”
“You‟re right, Dr. Walden,” I said.
“Tomorrow, I‟ll call the boy here, and you‟ll break
the news to him,” Walden said. In a way I knew that he
thought that I wasn‟t going to have the balls to face Victor.
In that point I thought that Matthew Walden didn‟t know
who I really was.
“I‟ll be here,” I said.

12

The telephone rang early Monday morning, the first


day of the home coming week. I lifted up the receiver to
listen who was in the other side calling then; it was 7:21. I
am going through door frames when the phone stopped me
from leaving my place. I thought that was my mother who
had the habit of calling me early. My schedule did make it
difficult for her to find me. However, it wasn‟t she; I heart a

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A Season In Green Hills‟

female voice asking for me. “May I speak with Anthony


Ferrer?” The voice sounded almost mechanical.
“He‟s speaking.”
“Mr. Ferrer, my name is Donna Stuart, and I work for
the Department of Recreational Services of the City of St.
Cloud. You applied for the position of Sports Coordinator
with us. We‟re looking forward to schedule an interview
with you,” she made a pause, as if she were waiting for me to
speak something back. Her pronunciation of the English
language was clear, as if I were talking with a contraption.
Then, she continued with a question; “When it‟s possible for
you to come for an interview with Mr. Sanders, our
director?”
The time freezes in that moment; I felt enthusiastic
about this early phone call. I remembered when I read the
newspaper ad, and the starting salary of $26,000.00 a year.
Immediately, I set an appointment with the lady on the other
side of the phone.
“What about this Friday at 1:00?” I said.
“Perfect,” she exclaimed. “We‟re interviewing Friday
at 1:00 and 2:00.”

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J.V. Rosario

“One will be perfect for me too,” I responded.


“Well, Mr. Ferrer, we‟ll see you Friday then.”
“I‟ll see you then.”
“Have a good day,” she said.
After she hanged up, I rested to give thoughts to what
I just did. Then it came to me that the Home Coming game
was that Friday, and many people were coming to the Green
Hills. I was about to send the school to hell when I
remembered the stupid game. To complicate things, I didn‟t
want to miss it; we were going to play Masters‟ Academy.
I looked around the room; the sunlight was coming
through the front glass window. The light blue couch was
sitting under the sunrise. The VCR was flashing 12:00 A.M.
in blue neon numbers. I moved slowly while I scanned the
old latitude. I glanced at the sketches on the kitchen door,
between them there was Jose‟s picture. The sketches were
good, there wasn‟t doubt in my mind, and I drew these
portraits many years ago. They were hallmarks of the love I
felt for him in one point of my life, symbols of the truelove I
feel for teaching and coaching basketball.

I walked to the Dining Hall to eat my breakfast; the

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standard lines were in front of the building. I moved inside


between the two groups giving the good morning to the
students. When I got inside the lounge there was another
line of pupils waiting to be served. Today‟s menu was hot
cake and bacon, with the choice of orange juice, cereal or
coffee. As a teacher I had the prerogative to cut the kids in
line, but I never did it because it didn‟t feel right. So I made
the line as always.
Ahead were Pierre, Johnny and Devin, they were
presiding by other two students. Devin turned to face me
and said, “Coach, you want to sit with us?”
I made a gesture with my shoulder of approval, when
Pierre pivoted and came to where I was.
“Coach! What‟s up?” he said.
“Nothing much Kid,” I responded.
Pierre approached my ear as if he wanted to tell a
secret, “Coach, I think that Devin‟s going to be suspended
today,” he said with a mysterious tone in his voice.
“Why?”
“Because, he fought with that boy last night,” he
pointed at some in front of the line.

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J.V. Rosario

“With whom?”
“With that black boy.” Pierre pointed at a Bahamian
boy that was mopping the kitchen floor, and then continued.
“They‟re sitting in the game room, and the boy started to bug
Devin, so he threw a punch to the air when Mrs. Martin
came . . .” He hesitated.
“And?”
“She told Devin that he was going to be suspended
today.”
“What about him?” I asked while I gestured with my
head at the student mopping the kitchen floor.
“He isn‟t suspended. He is just working his hours, he
is always in trouble.”
“You said that he started everything and he‟s not
going to be suspended. Why?” I asked.
“Mrs. Martin likes him,” Pierre declared with a
curious smile on his face. “She doesn‟t like Devin.”
“No! She is not like that,” I exclaimed. Our gossip
ended the moment the line began to move. I picked my trade
with a spoon, a knife and a fork, and slid it through the
aluminum bars in front of the service counter. The ladies on
the other side were asking everyone what they were having

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A Season In Green Hills‟

for breakfast. My selection was hot cakes, bacon, coffee,


orange juice and bowl of cereal. When I finished picking
breakfast, I walked to the table where boys were sitting, they
saved me a space.
Every morning there was a constant movement in the
Dining Hall. The ethnic groups were sitting in their
respective tables. The Mexican boys were on the table fitted
to the far-right corner coming from the doors, while Monica,
Allison, Morgan and other three girls sat together opposite to
them. The Hawking, Marquez and Brubaker posed, as
always, on the first table on the entrance‟s right, while ours
made the middle of the large dining hall. There were about
fifty souls eating inside and about thirty waiting outside for
the people inside.
“A bird told me that someone it‟s going to be
suspended today,” I said with a direct asseverating to Devin.
Devin glanced at Pierre, as if he betrayed their
agreement of not telling me what happened in the dorm the
night before. Pierre smiled with an incriminating motion,
and said, “It wasn‟t I!”
“Well, are you going to be suspended or not?” I

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J.V. Rosario

asked.
“I don‟t think so,” Devin enunciated, he was angry
with Pierre. “I didn‟t start it. It wasn‟t a fight. She didn‟t let
me kick that nigger‟s ass. Mr. Hawking isn‟t going to
suspend me, when I tell him what happened he‟ll hang that
boy.”
“Are you sure about that?” I asked with a
disbelieving expression on my face.
“I‟m sure . . .” Devin said, with his mouth full of
food.
“Tell me what happened,” I pleaded.
“Nothing happened. I was sitting on a chair watching
the Celtic‟s game before Study Hall, and I stood up to buy
Diet coke to drink. When I came back, the ass-hole was
sitting on my place. So I told him to move his ass, when he
tried to kick me. Then I threw him three punches.”
“One, Devin, only one,” Pierre contradicted him.
“I was going to kill the punk . . .”
“Yeah, but you only threw one punch,” Johnny
interrupted.
“OK! That‟s not important,” he shouted at his friend.
“The thing is that I‟m not going to be suspended.”

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A Season In Green Hills‟

“Are you sure?”

As I walked from my place to my classroom, I saw


the boy cutting the bushes that boarded the building, with a
pair of big scissors. Devin was wearing his Celtic‟s hat and
a navy blue tan top with a Nike logo printed in front. He
wasn‟t aware that I was coming. Inside me there was
pleasant feeling, in a way I was happy to see him working, I
thought that this would keep him in line.
“I knew that you were working to today,” I said. He
jumped out of his skin; he didn‟t expect anyone behind him.
The boy face was light a white piece of paper, then he said as
his breathing calmed down; “Hawkings suspended me for
four days, and gave me work detail for the next two weeks.”
“What?”
“He said that Mrs. Martin told him that I had been
insubordinate to her.”
“Why?”
“Ferrer, she‟s a bitch. Nobody likes her, she doesn‟t
give anyone a chance . . . God, I hate this school,” this time
he was infuriated.

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J.V. Rosario

I didn‟t speak, I left him working on the field, in


another hour I was going to teach my Health Science period
and I didn‟t have time to spend with him. And a school
employee was on his back, they guarded him like a convict
on a southern farm jail. What happened to him troubled me
for the rest of the day. I even thought that the phone-call that
I received early that day was my salvation, the way out.
Repeatedly, I considered freeing myself from that prison.
However, there were other things to take considerations, my
team, and my dreams to become a basketball coach.

That morning I asked Mrs. Valdez to come to my


classroom because I wanted to talk to with someone about
my enigma. I conceived that she would understand, because
we both were from same land.
Mrs. Valdez dressed in a navy blue waistcoat over a
yellow blouse and a skirt matching the top piece. It was a
typical teacher‟s uniform from our island. Seen her dressing
like that brought to my mind my mother to my mind she
taught elementary social studies for thirty years.
They reduced the study hall hour to three girls, so I
asked Mrs. Valdez to talk with me, outside on the balcony in

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A Season In Green Hills‟

front of my classroom door. We conducted our conversation


in Spanish; I wanted it to be as private as possible.
“Today, the people of the City of St. Cloud called,” I
began to say. “They have a job offer me.”
“St. Cloud? Where‟s that?” she sounded happy.
“I don‟t know,” I said. “I don‟t know whether I want
to stay here or leave.”
“Tony, that‟s a good opportunity doesn‟t stay here.
It‟s not worthy. If I were you I leave,” she expressed
showing no doubt on her face.
“That‟s what my mind says, but my heart says
another thing.”
“What do you mean?” She changed the expression of
her eyes.
“María, I had found what I was looking in this
place.” I noticed a lump in my throat and my eyes were
getting tearful. I dropped my head on the balcony‟s
handrails and to my surprise cried. At that point I didn‟t
know what was hitting so hart. “I‟m sorry . . . I‟m sorry,” I
cried.
“You don‟t want to leave the school because you

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J.V. Rosario

found someone you love,” she put her hand on my shoulder.


I made a big pause before I began to verbalize
something again. “I know if I leave this place now, I‟ll
never look back, no event for Alex or for anyone else, and
there are some many reasons that can make me depart. I
don‟t know if these people will renew my contract for this
coming school year. Mr. Walden doesn‟t like my teaching
style or my coaching, I don‟t know what it is, but if I stay, I
my find myself without a job on May.
“In the other side of this balance there is Alex. I love
her, but I have a goal that I want to fulfill. My professional
goals, and if I stay here they‟re going to destroy what I had
been working for so many years.” I paused and then said to
her, “And there is Devin too.”
“Who?” she asked.
“That boy is stealing my heart. Now he working like
a dog around the school ground for something that he didn‟t
start. It‟s not fair . . . I want too runaway and forget
everybody here. “ I stopped and thought about what I was
going to express, “Do you know how much that job pays?” I
continued my monologue while she observed me with
concern eyes. “$26,000.00 a year and it may go up to

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A Season In Green Hills‟

thirty-six depending on the experience. I got that experience


and the education to be successful there . . . “
“Tony, the only thing I can advise you it‟s to think
well what you are going to do. I know everything‟s hart in
this position, and I‟m saying that with my own experience.
They used me to get to Mrs. Hawking.”
Mrs. Valdez told her tale of all her problems with the
Green Hills‟ Academy, things that helped to confuse me
more. We conversed for the remaining minutes of the
period.
She left, and I sent my students to the dining hall. I felt
better by the time I crossed the yard, when I saw Devin
sitting on the back of the pick-up-truck with the rest of the
suspended kids. He tried to make eye contact with me, but I
avoided facing the boy. No, don‟t let it hit again. You can‟t
care for anyone, if I‟m leaving no one should know, I
thought.

Alex waited for me in our lunch table as she did for


the past three months. Coach McGuire and a boy from
Thailand were sitting in with her. I was last in line but also

364
J.V. Rosario

took my time to get where they were; my eyes were showing


red. I tried to elude any questions from her or anyone on that
table.
I guessed everything was fine because Alex only
asked me how the day was so far. I didn‟t say much. She
walked with me to pick up my mail after we finish our
midday meal. Then, we went separate ways, she to the dorm
and me to my chambers.
My fifth period was next but I wasn‟t in a good spirit
to deal with Johnny‟s group. I transmuted my clothes from a
white shirt and a tide to gym shorts and a T-chair, and then I
lay on my couch to take a catnap.

Hiding your feelings to a group of teenagers is hard.


Doing so with my basketball players was doubling difficult,
especially if they consider you a good coach. They all knew
that something was bothering me the entire week, but they
didn‟t have a clue of what. I struggled to dodge all kind of
questions from their part. I showed not emotion even my
enthusiast for practice was in a low point in those days, but
the people that were more affected of apathy were Alex and
Devin. She tried to find out what was my problem, but I

365
A Season In Green Hills‟

wasn‟t in the disposition to express them to her. He got


affected, because I ignored him and stopped helping him
with his basketball.
I do not really know what came to me on the
afternoon before the Vanguard School game, but I told
everything to Alex. After dinner we walked to my place, and
there I confessed her my discontent the school
administrators. Then, I divulged to her about the job offers
in St. Cloud, and that I was prepared to leave.

All my players were waiting for me inside the locker


room, they all knew that something was going on, but they
were willing to help me feel better. That night the Vanguard
School loss against us, by fifty-two points, the whole team
played that evening; even Devin spent sometime on the
court. When the game was over and we were back inside the
locker room celebrating our victory Bobby Hunter said to
me, “Coach, we did it for you, because we know that you are
having a hard time here, and we want to make you feel
better!”
I didn‟t show for the interview; I remained in the

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J.V. Rosario

school and coached the Master Academy game. I decided to


finish the school year and find out if the school renews my
contract or not.

14

It was Thursday, when Mrs. Walden, Alex and a small group


of girls, journeyed around school taking pictures of the
faculty and kids for the yearbook. They interrupted the
classes for the same reason. The only people working, that
morning, were the suspended boys. It was a requirement for
all the staff members and students to be in the gymnasium
that afternoon. A photographer was going to take pictures of
the different clubs and teams. The students sat on the
bleachers while the faculty was on the basketball sidelines
where the home and the visitors‟ benches were usually
station.
I wasn‟t a joyous man, my decision was made, but I
wasn‟t really sure about it. As I postured on a metal chair in
front of the bleachers, my predicaments were passing
through my head. Everybody in the group was moving
around and doing what they were supposed to, everyone but

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A Season In Green Hills‟

me.
Mrs. Hawking, whom until this day I don‟t know
how she finds out about my puzzle, came next to me to ask,
“Are you leaving us?” I responded with a simple; “I‟ll stay!”
For her this was good news.
As I explained to her how I felt about the whole
thing, her husband brought inside the building the two boys
that worked through the whole morning. Devin was already
prepared for the photo section; they showered him. While I
spoke to Beverly Hawking, I observed how Devin lay down
on a bench with a tired gesticulation. He worked his ass up
in the shop for the last three days, and what he did during
those days were duties for man not for a boy. The people
around he didn‟t bother him; it was as if they hypnotized him
in a way that he could not hear a thing surrounding him. It
was then that I began to worry about him.
I stood up from my chairs posed a cross the
basketball court and walked to where he was. While I
marched through the Allison, I greeted some of my players
sitting on the bleachers‟ first line. When I got to where he
was sitting his eyes were closed and laid in a fetus position

368
J.V. Rosario

on the bench. I sat near him to ask if he were OK.


Devin opened his eyes and glanced at me showing
the same signs that I saw the day he came to help me with
the uniforms in locker room. “I‟m all right,” he verily said.
“I don‟t think you should fall a sleep here, Kid,” I
advised
“Why?” Devin asked.
“„Cause. I don‟t want you to get in more troubles.”
“I don‟t care. I‟m tired.”
“I know, but please, Devin. Do it for me, try to stay
awake . . . “
Devin understood. He knew that I was aggravated
with what was going on with him, because he sat up on the
bench.
“You know what‟s going to happen with you?” I
asked.
“The hawk man told me that I‟m going to be doing
some work detail next week.”
“Are you off dorm restriction?”
“Yeah, at least that what he told me.”
“That‟s good! If you‟re not tired, are you coming to
the game?”

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A Season In Green Hills‟

“Coach, I don‟t think so. I want to rest; I‟m going to


bed after this Shit is over. I‟m going sleep until tomorrow,”
Devin put a grin on his face that made me smile too.
“OK, Kid,” I said while I put my right hand on his
back neck. “Remember that you‟re one of my favorite people
here, and I don‟t want you to get kick out of the school.”
“You‟re my friend!”
“You bet I am.”
That night Devin got permission from Mr. Hawking
to be in the game against Master‟s Academy, he even played
around three minutes, but he didn‟t score, he didn‟t try a
shot.

Master‟s was easy game for us, as well as Warner


Christian from Daytona. While the other basketball teams of
the school were in a losing street, our varsity managed to win
the last three encounters. My players and I were in a high
during for the last two weeks, but we all knew that our next
venture wasn‟t going to be easy, because Luther‟s was next.
Everything was perfect to defeat this team, our
practices were excellent and consistent, and we were going

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J.V. Rosario

through our pick of the basketball season.


Still, nothing is perfect. By the time I rejected the
thoughts of withdrawing from the school, because everything
was going undamaged, Ryan LeCarre flicked out his
girlfriend, Christina.
This young couple began their romance last year.
Both were difficult to each other. The school expelled them
once because they were found with other two couples on the
track together around midnight when everybody was
supposed to be sleeping in their dorms. There were many
versions running around campus on what they were doing
then of the night on the field, but the fact was that they and
the others were having sex. After a week of investigation
they expelled Ryan, Christina and the other four from the
school. For Ryan that was the second time of been kicked
out of Green Hills, for Christina this was she first. The other
boys and girls involved only one came back to school for the
next year; the other three didn‟t. One of the boys was found
with a shot on his head after six months of been kick out of
the school. At age fifteen he committed suicide with his
father‟s gun.
Ryan was a constant problem for the teachers and the

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A Season In Green Hills‟

dorm parents. When he was fourteen years old, he escaped


from the dorm and went to the Circle „K‟ in town to snatch a
bottle of Bockak. He was going to make a party with some
of his friend in the dorm, but the store attendant, that was
Ryan first time, caught him. He was a drug user and dealer;
he confessed to me once that every summer before school
started he sold drugs to have some money for the year. Still,
I was too naive to believe him and put one thing over the
other.
Christina came from drugs‟ rehabilitation center, so
the next step was to be put by her parents in boarding school.
Initially she was with Ryan because she found him attractive,
but when everyone in her Family began to complain about
Ryan‟s skin tone their romance turn into an impossible love
that both wills going to fight against all the odds. Ryan was
with Christina because in the eyes of the other students of the
school. She was going to let him stand; Christina was one of
the prettiest girls of the school.
After a Thursday‟s assembly Ryan came to my
classroom crying that he was going to get in trouble with
school president. He thought that Walden saw him in a

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J.V. Rosario

verbal exchange with Christina‟s sister Amanda. Ryan broke


with his girlfriend and he said many words that we censured
in campus. Ryan believed that he was going to be suspended
the next day. Still, it never came true. Nobody heard what
he said Amanda.
Christina broke with her boyfriend and in less than a
week she became Mark Hilltop‟s mate. This was what hurt
Ryan the most, the young tall boy was aggravate because his
former girlfriend didn‟t wait two days to trade him for one of
his teammate.
The night of the Luther‟s game I got to the
gymnasium few minutes after the girls‟ game third quarter
was over. I didn‟t see any of my players on the bleachers, so
I imaged that they were inside the locker room getting ready
for the encounter. I directed myself to the locker‟s area to
prepare the team for the game, when I saw my two managers
coming out of the room.
“Coach, you don‟t want to go inside.” Johnny
prevented me with his typical fast and low voice tone; there
was an expression of disappointment on his face.
“What?” I asked while moved between the two boys.
“Nothing,” Pierre said just when he pushed Johnny‟s

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A Season In Green Hills‟

right shoulder with both hands. I continued walking inside


quarters‟ access without paying any attention to what they
said. When I opened the door, I found a line of spiritless
faces sitting on the cold floor. Mark sat in the left corner of
the shelter next to Bobby. Patrick, Devin and the rest of the
gang were sitting in a chain, as if they were waiting for
someone to confess. No one talked and their faces displayed
that something happened before I entered the room.
“What‟s wrong?” I asked. “You look as if your
grandma just dies,” I tried to be funny but they didn‟t
acknowledge my remark. I glimpsed around, again, and
noticed that Ryan and Elliot were missing,
“Where are Ryan and Elliot?”
Bobby took my click board and wrote on it; Ryan and
Mark fought. My reaction was to make connections in my
mind about these two people. “But, they‟re friends! What
happened?”
“Christina left Ryan, and now she is with Mark,”
Bobby continued talking with a diverting expression between
his eyes.
I glanced at Mark and he made an affirmative gesture

374
J.V. Rosario

with his hands and shoulders, as if he were saying that it


wasn‟t his fault. In the same instant I knew they fucker the
game out. “Where are they?” I asked again.
“They‟re in the next room,” Bobby answered. “Elliot
is trying to calm down Ryan. He is crazy.”
“I know how he can get,” I said with a sorrow taste in
my mouth.

Ryan LeCarre was crying, exactly as he did the night


with played Orangewood, as Elliot attempted to calm him
down. I didn‟t address him. I was tired of his fluctuations
produced of his constant use of marijuana and other stuff that
were being supply by someone in Wallace Hall. He was
using Christina as a „carte blanche‟ to be high always. So, I
abandoned them without saying a word.
In the other room the atmosphere was a lot relaxing.
I gave my instructions, and made arrangement to start with
Eric in the first half. He wasn‟t ready to start in a game like
the one we were about to incite, but he was the only choice
that I had that night to substitute Ryan. After I finished my
lecture, I glanced at the team captain, who tried to cheer his
teammate, and I felt sympathy to him. Bobby knew that I

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A Season In Green Hills‟

was angry, and that I was attempting to control it.


The team went out with our usual warm up routine
and the usual sound of the Eagles‟ cheerleaders. The
different were that there were only eight players‟ make it. I
gave the names of my players to the scorekeeper and talked a
few words with the visitor coach while our teams did the
warm up practice. When I was standing near the table,
looking at my players, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned
around and saw the President of Green Hills‟ Academy. It
was the first time that he came down from the bleachers to
say something to me before the beginning of the match. Dr.
Walden was the number one fan of Green Hill‟s basketball;
he coached their teams for many years. He noticed the no
present of two of the starters.
“Why you had only eight players been warming up,
Coach?” there was a suspicious tone in that question. I took
me five seconds to think if I were going to hide for him why
they weren‟t in practice line, or if I were going to tell the
truth. I didn‟t know what he was going to do, but at the
same time, I also thought that he could help with the
problem, so I spelled the truth.

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J.V. Rosario

Amazingly he didn‟t say anything after I told him


what went between Ryan and Mark, and Ryan and Christina.
He turned around and walked to the bleachers. Ryan came
out of the gymnasium‟s back wall‟s doors. I thought that he
saw them coming and I didn‟t say anything.
Elliot approached me and said; “I‟m ready to play,
Coach!”
“What about Ryan?” I asked.
“He told me that he‟s OK. He wants to play,” Elliot
had reservation about it.
“You think he‟ll play?”
“Give him a chance, Coach!”
“I don‟t know about that!” I responded to him.

15

I gave the chance to Ryan, but I didn‟t start him.


Luther put their five players on the floor and I began with
Mark, Bobby, Jason, Patrick and Eric. The opponent‟s squad
didn‟t have their black boy that killed us with his back door
shots in the last battle, but their height was the same. They
dominated the starting jump ball of the game and

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A Season In Green Hills‟

immediately scored the first two points of the match.


Jason Campbell put the ball into action with a pass to
Bobby, after Luther‟s basket. The visitors established a tide
man-to-man defense concentrating on our point guard; they
knew that he was the soul of our team. Bobby, whom they
heavily guarded, tried to manage the ball and cross the
back-court-line, while he called for our first play of the
night. He established his position on the center of the
offensive court and turned to his right side to pass the ball to
Patrick, who was coming out of a scream made by Mark
Hilltop. Shell received the leather globe with his standards‟
hand clamp, turned around to face the hoop and released it
with his fingertips. The basketball touched the ring and
bounced in two occasions before it went out. Mark and Eric
followed the rebound with other three Luther‟s athletes.
Their tallest players gripped the round object between my
two players, and immediately passed it to an outlet receiver,
who rushed a fast break to their offensive court and ended
with two easy points. Bobby and Jason tried to stop the
powerful drive of the opposite team, without any luck.
Luther scored the first five baskets of the game, and

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J.V. Rosario

we didn‟t score until the time clock crossed the 6:45 mark.
By the time we tried to put some pressure they were ahead
by eleven points.
Ryan, who didn‟t see action in the first three minutes
of the game, moved to where I was sitting on the bench to
say; “Coach, I‟m ready to play!”
I focused an angry look to him, but I didn‟t say a
thing. It wasn‟t the time to talk to the boy, it was in the
middle of the game, and we were losing.
“Coach, I can play, I‟m ready,” he repeated.
I took a deep breath they scored two more points with
an offensive rebound, and I thought we needed him inside
the boards, we needed his rebounds, So, I ended saying;
“Shit! Ryan, you better play good tonight.”

Ryan LeCarre went inside the basketball court to play


one of the worst games of his life. Yet the worst of all was
that he dragged the rest of the players with him. The only
one that played relatively well was Elliot. When the clock
marked 4:09 on the fourth quarter, I divided to let our second
team to play the rest of the gamble. The visitors were
kicking our butts by twenty-five points, and our players were

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A Season In Green Hills‟

criticizing each other inside the floor. It was a disagreeable


side. My first substitutions were Roger for Ryan and Devin,
who was going to play as the point guard, for Bobby.
Devin took the ball without any problem to the
offensive territory. He surprised everyone that night. His
ball handle was almost perfect. Luther‟s was in a man to
man and the kid was holding the pressure of their point
guard. He crossed the back court without any difficulties,
and passed the ball where he had. However, that wasn‟t the
only thing he did right, he turned to be the leader on the
floor. Luther‟s didn‟t advance on their advantage over us
because of Devin. As I saw him playing, my enthusiast built
up again.
Devin gave the ball to Jason on the left corner and
changed position with Roger, who was in the far right corner
facing the rim. Jason dribbled to find an open shot, but
finally he passed the ball back to Roger on top of the key,
while Devin was preparing to his set shot from the
three-point-line. Roger tried to dribble the ball, but Luther‟s
guards made a trap on him. He stopped the dribble and then
passed the basketball to Devin, who received it and without

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J.V. Rosario

thinking shot it.


The ball crossed the indoor sky in a slow motion, like
those old videos that show the best plays of the professional
NBA athletes. It took a high arch and came down without
touching the rim, but it burned the net making a whoosh
sound.
I heard someone in our bench saying; “All right
Devin!” I turned to see whom, and then I saw Devin crossing
the court looking at me with a big grin on his face. At that
point I felt a wet drop running through my face. I made eye
contact with my boy and smiled back at him. Then, I looked
at the bleachers where Alex was sitting; she smiled too. She
knew how much he meant to me. We lost by twenty-three
points, but Devin‟s shot helped to last my anger.
After the match was over, we did what the protocol
demanded from two basketball teams that just concluded a
game. Luther‟s acknowledged our players, and I
congratulated their Coach. By the time our players got to the
locker room everyone was irate of each other. When I got to
the room, the casts of characters were changing their clothes,
and nobody was speaking. I thought that wasn‟t the time to
converse about what happened that the best thing to do was

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to wait until next practice. The only thing I said was that I
needed to address the issue in the coming practice. So, I let
the boys go to their dormitories without any reservations.

16

Mark and Bobby were the first two to leave the room that
night. Patrick, Jason, Jaime, Eric and Ryan in that order
followed them. Devin was getting dress with a glow on his
face, while Pierre and Johnny were picking the uniforms, and
deposited then inside the canvas bag. I sat on a bench and
waited for the boys to leave the small room. I know that I
had a disappointed look on my exterior; I appreciated that if
our team played these people in better conditions we could
beat them.
We were ready to leave the room when Elliot
approached me to ask, “Coach, how did I play tonight?”
I glanced directly into his dark eyes, he surprised me
with the inquiry, it was the first time I noticed a real interest
on his part for the game. “Elliot, you did well,” I answered,
with a total sincerity in my response.

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By the time we went out of the chamber all the gym‟s


main lights were off, the place was partially empty; only the
front lobby was lighted. From the back of the gym I
observed some of my players standing inside the building‟s
entrance making a circle. They were listening to someone
that was talking in the center of the human ring. Devin, who
was walking beside me, gave me a concert glimpse when he
knew who was lecturing my players.
My reaction was to say, “Oh Shit,” a loud.
Matthew Walden discharged his anger on the boys.
“If your coach doesn‟t say anything to you all, I will,” I
heard him howl. “You guys stunk the court tonight. You
should stop thinking in your girlfriends and put your mind on
the ball game,” while he screamed, his face turned red, his
eyes went out their orbits, and with each word that came out
of his mouth spit was coming out too.
My amazement was so colossal that I could not move
my feet from the ground. For me believing the show that
this man precipitated in front of the group was hard. He
insulted the boys without coursing at them using gestures
totally out of order.
OK, fine, let him finish, I thought. Then, in that

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precise moment a pair snickers crossed near the air space


where Doctor Walden was gesturing out him anger. The pair
of shoes didn‟t hit him, but they made a loud sound against
the brick wall behind the man. The silence that came after
the timbre was obvious. Everybody turned their heads
simultaneously to find out who threw his shoes to the big
guy, when a voice shouted; “You can‟t treat us like that. I
played good tonight!”
Elliot came forward to the light saying other things
that were hard to comprehend. Walden held Elliot by his
T-shirts and shouted; “Tomorrow you‟re out of here, boy!”
He took Walden‟s right hand and twisted it; making
the man let go the shirt. Mark and Ryan, who were beside
the two bodies in conflict, held Elliot by his arms, while Mr.
Hawking did the same with Walden. Then, the kid began
shouting at the man. “That‟s how you fix all the problems
here, giving us hours and sending us home . . . I don‟t care . .
. You may do anything you want with me . . . “
Then I woke up of my astonishment and ran to help
Ryan and Mark to hold the upset boy. “Take him to the
dorm,” I mouthed.

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Mr. Milano, who was outside the building leading the


others to their dorms, transpired inside to find the mess that
his boss made. Eric was shouting and kicking; “Why? Why
you never let us, express? You never let us express what we
feel . . . “
“Elliot calm down,” I said while we took him out of
the gym. Finally, Milano and the boys eased him down and
took him to Wallace Hall.
Devin, Pierre and Johnny observed the reactions of
the Principal, and of the other adults, who were trying to act
as if nothing was happening. Devin shook his head sideways
as if he didn‟t endorse their actions. The other two young
fellows were angry too; but they didn‟t speak in front of
Walden or Hawking; they were to close to them.
Mr. and Mrs. Thomas stood in the doorway when the
whole incident occurred; they were the only nearby
witnesses beside my players. Yet they didn‟t say anything.
They were afraid of the Doctor. I acted like the Thomas until
then, too afraid to lose my „moods‟ vividness‟.
“You better go to the dorm. I don‟t want you to get
in trouble,”
I said to the three boys.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

“You‟re OK?” Devin asked me.


“Yeah, go to the dorm, Kid.”
“Coach, I need to take the uniforms to the office,”
Pierre told me. I moved my head in an affirmative and began
walking to where Walden and Mr. Hawking were standing.
Devin and Johnny deserted at this point the gym, while
Pierre took the uniforms‟ bag to the coaches‟ office.
Doctor Walden was standing facing to the basketball
floor; he was in a silent mode. Mr. Hawking was clearing
out the place from the students and the visitor‟s team. I
approached the President of the Academy to tell him off
when everything cleared up inside the gym. Without giving
many thoughts I said, “I think that you were wrong tonight!”
“What?” I surprised the man with my remark.
“You were wrong. You choose the wrong time and
the wrong way to approach them!” I continued.
“What?” the man asked again. “You should keep
your players in the locker room . . . and talk to them about
why their loss . . . “
“As you just did?” I said.
“I was trying to prevent a confrontation against Ryan

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J.V. Rosario

and Mark.” When he said that I discovered that deep inside


him there were doubts about his own actions, but he was the
type would never admit any wrongdoing.
“You prevent that one but got yourself another,” I
continued. “That‟s why I don‟t believe in making a
conference inside the locker room after a game that they had
loosed in that way. You set the best example for me . . . “
While we argued about what he did and what I didn‟t
do, Pierre came from the office. When we saw him, we
moved our confrontation to the bleachers. Mr. Hawking
jointed Walden in the discussion that turned into a two
against one. They told me that should it stay in the lockers
after every game with the team, to discuss the encounter with
them. I expressed them that condition weren‟t appropriated
to do so. Hawking suggested that the team should pray
before every game, Mr. Walden asked me to be more
aggressive and mean with the team. Something inside me
was saying, “It‟s late, and I‟m tired, let‟s go home.”
On the next morning every shadow in campus knew
about the incident. Pamela Wang, Elliot‟s girlfriend, was in a
state of shock, she almost cried the whole day, and the
rumors were that school was going to ship her boyfriend

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A Season In Green Hills‟

home that day. Ryan felt guilty and responsible for what
was happening to his best friend, so his only scope from it
was to get high. Pierre told everyone in the school before
what I said to Walden the night. While the Waldens, Mr.
Hawking, Mr. Milano, and the entire dorm parents were
involved in a DC meeting, which occurred the whole
morning in the President‟s office, to decide Elliot‟s future?
I didn‟t eat my breakfast in the Dining Hall; I tried to
avoid any questions from students about what happened after
the match. I felt bad for Elliot. It wasn‟t fair that he was
going to be the one to be punished; I thought if someone was
to be punished, Green Hills‟ Academy President was the best
choice. I spent the day with a harmful pain in my chest, and
dragged my feet to accomplish my duties and
responsibilities. I deliberated through the night hundreds of
time. The why I didn‟t accept Brother Efrain‟s job offer and
why I didn‟t go to go to St. Cloud.
I didn‟t lecture my students on my third period, but I
discussed with them their motivation in this life. I guessed I
did teach, because the topic got their attention. By the fourth
period all the girls were really knowledgeable of what

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J.V. Rosario

happened in gym that cold night of February.


I didn‟t lunch with the students, because Doctor
Walden requested me to come to his office, there was going
to be another meeting, and this time Ryan was a target.

When I entered the room, the boy was sitting in a


chair near the door away from Walden‟s desk. Mr. Milano
and Mr. Hawking posted them on two vinyl chairs in front of
Matthew Walden, who was on his executive black leather
chair in the other side of the desk.
The Doctor did all talking; he even offered Ryan a
week off as cool down period. I didn‟t know if these three
men were aware of Ryan condition, he was totally out of
himself. His nervousness reactions were clear to me; the boy
was on the borderline to become an addict to whatever he
was consuming. When President of the school offered him a
mini sabbatical, something jumped inside me. Still, I didn‟t
speak out, again. I kept my silence.
Ryan didn‟t accept. He told us that he didn‟t have a
home to go at this time of the year because his parents were
in Holland and his brother was in the States. While he was
answering the questions, I noticed a peculiar smile on his

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A Season In Green Hills‟

face. He always told me that Green Hills‟ needed him,


because his athletic abilities, and that he was never going to
be kicked out. The fact was that they sent him in three
occasions home, and the school always ended accepting him
back every year. So, he always thought that he could get
away with murder.
When the meeting was over the only thing I got clear
from it was that Ryan was going to visit Mr. Milano every
week to converse about his problems.
The kid abandoned the office and the gathering turn
into my D. C. Meeting, and I became the target this time.
Doctor Walden discharged all his bullets to me saying that I
was responsible for the last night‟s incident.
“You should keep the boys in the locker room after
the games are over, and until everyone goes out the gym,” he
said to repeat what he said to me in our little confrontation
after the match. “Mr. Ferrer, I didn‟t sleep well last night . . .

“That‟s my fault,” I said cynically, I caught myself
smiling, an angry glow that I didn‟t know how to dodge.
“Yes, it‟s your fault, Coach! If you didn‟t let them

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J.V. Rosario

go out, and confronted them with what they do, provably we


wouldn‟t be in this mess now . . . “
“Like you did last night?” I interrupted him. “Doctor
Walden, I don‟t find myself responsible for what you did! I
think that you brought that to yourself, if you didn‟t
intervene with the team matters, like you had been doing
since the beginning of the school year, the whole thing could
it be avoided.”
“I‟m not going to apologies for my actions, because I
was trying to prevent feather problems between the two
boys. If you would be thinking right last night, you would
keep both boys inside the locker room. I was trying to
prevent more fighting between them.”
“You don‟t know what‟s going in my team,” I
observed.
“Coach, it isn‟t your team, it‟s the school team . . .
“Walden responded, this time he was the one that smile.
“You know what I‟m trying to say . . . “
“No, I don‟t know,” I answered.
“The team‟s a school property, and if they keep
giving me problems, I‟ll cancel the rest of the season, and
you will be responsible.”

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A Season In Green Hills‟

At that point I thought that the best to do was to shut


my mouth, and let them finish the beating. My only answer
after that was to move my shoulders as if I don‟t care. I
remained quiet for about a minute waiting for someone to
intervene, and Mr. Hawking comprehended the message,
because he tried to find a solution for our disagreement.
A half hour later, after Hawking and Milano spoke
their points of view. I bargained to keep the basketball
players five minutes extra inside the locker room after the
games were over.
It was noon when I dodged them out. I was wearing
my morning clothes to my fifth period. The students were
waiting for me inside the gymnasium for me. The meeting
ate my lunch hour. I was hungry, agitated with the bosses
and Ryan‟s selfishness. It was his attitude what made my
resilience unavailing. If he wouldn‟t bring his predicament to
the court, I wouldn‟t be teaching my fifth period with hunger
and a tie.
They destroyed the boys‟ basketball team and with it
my good determination to continue fighting the rest of the
season. My dreams to become the best basketball coach of

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J.V. Rosario

the district tournament vanished with these two boys bad


attitudes. There wasn‟t hope for me in Green Hills‟
Academy I thought that I made a mistake by not taking the
two jobs offers. When I pushed the administration
building‟s glass door, the students were heading to the
respective classrooms. It was a Wednesday afternoon, the
middle of the week, and everyone since to be in a hurry,
everyone but Devin who waited on the bench in front the
structure.
He saw me coming and then ran with his typical
gleam on his face. I stopped to see what he wanted.
“What‟s up, Kid?” he said.
“The same Shit.” I answered.
“Well at least you got my shot,” he smiled at me
again. “Yeah, Well, I got to go, Kid,” and he began running
to the McKinley Building, where he was going to take
Spanish with Mrs. Valdez.
“Hey, Dev,” I called him.
He stopped and turned to face me; “What?”
“You‟re going to be good,” I said to him.
“I know. I got the best coach ever!”
Devin turned around and ran. I knew that he was late

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A Season In Green Hills‟

for class and for that he was going to get an hour. He, also,
knew that I was in trouble and that I needed someone to
cheer me up after last night episodes.
The whole afternoon was a mess, I didn‟t have the
chance to change and the students were aware of the whole
situation. The worst part was they were asking what
happened n the meetings with Elliot, and I didn‟t know what
happened. It was like being in a roller coaster blind folder.
Knowing how things were going to turn for the poor kid was
impossible. Walden‟s approach was wrong; he and his
servants were using SS interrogation tactics with the
children. They were having meetings with all the students
involved with the basketball team. They were supposedly to
find more information about the incident between Ryan,
Mark and Christina, but I was suspecting that he was trying
to have more information about me, and my coaching
abilities. I knew that to them I was out of the job for the next
year, which was final, they weren‟t going to renew my
contract.
My level headlines weren‟t conformable; there were
anger and indignation, because Walden blamed on me what

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J.V. Rosario

he did. I knew that he was going to use the incident, as


reasons for not renew my contract.

The view of problems was so immense that I forgot


who I was. I needed to get in touch of with my being and
soul, so when the school day was over I ran away from that
environment. I drove my car to Dr. Philip‟s Y looking for a
pair of ears, to play basketball and liberate my stress.
The regulars were there, and they surprised them all
to see me back after that long time since I moved to Green
Hills. Between the crow Chris was shooting baskets, he kept
in touch with me during the first semester, and he called me
at school to tell me his progress. I was amazed about the
way they all received me.
I played Chris and the others; I mustered out my
mind from the pressure put on me by the school. I played
well; I even made moves that I thought me loss many years
ago.
By the time I left the gym it was dark and cold
outside. I ran to my car because I wasn‟t ready for the
coldness of a late February night in Florida. I started my car
when possible and let it gets warm. The two and haft hours

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A Season In Green Hills‟

that I spent lifted my problems playing in the Y.


Green Hills was quiet when I returned from the city.
The campus looked as the side of a cheap mystery movie
made in black and white during the 50s. The moon was
shining over the almond trees that were near the bell tower,
and there were lights in each window of Eaton Hall and
DOA. I drove my car all the way back to my apartment
without stopping in the buildings. I didn‟t want to talk to
anyone that night, not even the two most important people in
the school.
Attached to my door there was a white envelope. It
wasn‟t from Alex. In all those long hours that I consumed at
the Y, I didn‟t think on her one moment. She was close with
the Waldens, and at that point I thought that she was going to
be with them in any matter. They were like her Family away
from home, and I was a third party, the guy that came from
outside to alter the order of things, by creating a revolution.
For the Walden I was bad news, and I began to believe that
at one point she was going to reject me, because she was
going to be forced to choose between us, because she was
going to be on their side.

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J.V. Rosario

17

There was someone at the door, knocking with a


timid fist as if he or she was afraid to receive an answer from
my side of the wooden. The portal unveiled slowly in front
of us; Alex and I stood face to face without saying a word to
each other. Obviously, she had been crying before she came
to the apartment that night. Her olive eyes showed a worry
expression that was hard to cover.
Alex was an attractive woman. There was something
on her that exhibits security, insurance in her talk and in her
eyes, but this time there was something wrong.
“You‟re crying?” I asked her while I took her hand
and made her coming in the room.
“Where were you?” she asked.
“I went to play ball in Orlando with some friends,” I
said.
“I was worry about you,” she continued. “I didn‟t
know where you went or what you did do. The kids were
saying all that stuff about you and about the basketball team,
and Mr. Walden.”

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A Season In Green Hills‟

“What did they say?”


“That you were going too quick the school, and that
you‟re going back to your country,” Alex gestured her words
with a slow movement of her finger through her light brown
hair. “They made me nervous, I didn‟t want to believe them,
but they all were talking.”
I looked at this beautiful woman, and tried to
understand why she was feeling like lost. I didn‟t
comprehend her motives; I thought that she was going to line
up with the academy and the Waldens against me. I thought
that I was going to be painted by them as the bad teacher,
and that she wasn‟t going to want anything with me.
I crossed the room and sat on a chair, to break the
silent in the shelter. “I had been thinking about that, but
there‟s something in me that it telling me no to quit.”
“What happened?” she asked. “I‟m in the dark here!
There are rumors about everything throughout the campus . .
.“
“You don‟t know about the incident with Walden and
Elliot?”
“Yeah, but no much. I know that there was an

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J.V. Rosario

argument between them, but I wasn‟t there. I took the girls


to the dorm when that happened.”
“Well, our boss waited for the team in the gym‟s
lobby, and began to blare to the players like I haven‟t seen
anyone in my life. Elliot got offended and threw his shoes to
Walden. You can image the rest.”
“So what‟s that got to do with you?” Alex threw the
question to the air.
“To my understanding, nothing. He started
everything and now I‟m the bad boy because according to
him I don‟t have control of my team. He thinks that he‟s the
coach that he can intervene every time his balls tell him to
do,” I said while my anger begun to build up again.
“I know he gets carries away with the basketball
teams. Since I was a student here, he‟s being like that,” she
looked at me and then said; “I feel sorry for you. It‟s not
your fault, he is like that you know but he doesn‟t mean any
harm. It‟s his character.”
“Alex, he‟s putting doubt in my mind, about which I
am, and what I do for living. That bastard thinks that he
owns us, and every student in this campus hates him because
of that. I don‟t know what to do, if I stay or if I should go

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A Season In Green Hills‟

home with my people.”


She stared at me, and a small drop came out of her
eyes, “Tony, don‟t leave. They are going to do nothing to
you. They just want you to be a good teacher that doesn‟t
mean that they are going to fire you . . . “
“I know that, baby. Don‟t cry!” I ran where she was
standing and held her in my arms.
“Don‟t go. I don‟t want to lose you,” I cried on her
shoulder.
“You‟re going to...
I‟ll stay to see what‟s going to happen. I fight the
rest of the year for you, just because of you asked me too,” I
said.
She lifted her puerile eyes and exclaimed; “Don‟t do
it just because of me, do it because the kids, they need you
too. I know what‟s to be here without any friends or Family.
You‟re helping many of those kids.”
When she pronounced these sentences, I put inside
me the image the boy that I was helping with his basketball.
I could not leave Green Hills now that I knew Devin needed
my help. The boy was in need of a friend.

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J.V. Rosario

“I love you, Alex,” I said while my eyes felt the


drops falling throughout my face. “I thought that you were
going to stop loving me that you were going to agree with
them and not with me. For that I‟m sorry, please for give
me.”
“I love you,” she responded.
We remained on the sofa kissing each other for a
long time. Our skins caressed with heat and passion while
the time felt like when a rose loses its petals from the win.

18

That night I dreamed that my Dad was sitting in the dining


table reading the newspapers, as if he always did when I was
a little boy. His glasses were hanging from his nose, and his
eyes were moving from side to side while they went through
what was written on the page.
I was old and he was young my senses were telling
that being there wasn‟t possible for me that he was gone.
Nevertheless, it was so real that I assumed that it was certain
that we both were sitting in our dining room. The windows
were open and the breeze was coming from the North; the

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A Season In Green Hills‟

sunlight reflected over the shining terrace floor.


I looked at my dad and asked him; “What are we
doing here?”
“I need to talk to you,” he said without taking his
eyes from the paper.
“About what?” I was overwhelmed he was real; he
was there to talk to me, to give me advice, to help me with
my predicament.
“That girl loves you,” he said.
“What?” I asked. I could not understand how he
knew about Alex.
“Once you crossed, you‟ll understand that life if more
simple that we believed it was,” he continued. “Never let a
bird fly from your hands, Tony. She is what is for you in
this life.”
I observed how he moved his head to glance at me,
and then smiled. “The boy was your brother and your son.
He needs you more than ever. He‟ll make you proud one
day!”
My heart shrunk of emotion; it was a rear
combination of happiness and sadness, of agony and ecstasy.

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J.V. Rosario

“I love you, Dad!”


“I know, I always knew!”
I woke up and sat on the bed, I cried like I never did
before like I didn‟t do in his funeral. The sun was coming
out and my face was wet with tears. I didn‟t know if I were
crying because I miss him or because what of the good news
he gave me.
Then I knew why I was there. Why the newspaper‟s
ad called my attention that Sunday morning? Why I always
felt that Devin was something more that a simple student.
Why Alex was becoming so important to me. It was as if
everything was written since the beginning.
That morning I went to eat in the dining hall as if
nothing happened the day before or the night before.
Clearly, I was there for one purpose, and that I have to finish
it, that something bigger put me in that path to help my love
once.

19

As I waited for my seventh period to show, I saw Pierre and


Jason, who were buddies since last summer school. Jason

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A Season In Green Hills‟

was even a better friend than Devin for Pierre; they were
always into something, especially in matters of girls.
Jason‟s girl was Theresa White. She was as hard head as he
was; they if there were an excuse for fighting these two
invented it. Once they got into one both swore and threw
their rings to each other as if they were playing a contact
sport. The two of them held Green Hills records of
breakouts.
The two boys were coming from the dorm, and they
were horse playing as they always did. When they saw me
standing in near my black car, they ran to where I was.
“Coach, coach . . . “Pierre was excited he looked as if
he wanted to tell me something.
“What‟s up, Kid?” I said.
“Guess who is going to get a smoking violation?” the
boy said like it was a well-known secret.
“Who?”
“Guess, Coach,” Pierre smiled.
“I don‟t know!”
“Devin,” Jason helped with the puzzle.
“Devin?”

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J.V. Rosario

“Your player,” Pierre said.


“No, that‟s not possible. He doesn‟t smoke.”
They laughed at my naive respond; “Coach, like a
chimney, this is his second smoking violation, last summer
and now this one. Mrs. Martin found ashes inside a Pees cam
near his bed, and she gave him sixty hours and room
restriction,” Pierre exclaimed.
“What‟s that?” I asked.
“He can‟t move from his room, or even to buy a
drink,” Jason finished Pierre squabbled.
“It has to be a mistake,” I said.
“Ask him, there he comes,” the French boy pointed
out to a large group of students that were coming from the
buildings.
Devin knew that we were talking about him, because
his intentions were no to stop to converse with us. He kept
on walking inside the gymnasium with his head down and
with a little grin on his mouth.
“Hey, where you think your going?” I called the boy.
“Stop there. I want to ask you something.”
He finally stopped to face me; in his eyes there was
an embarrassing look, something that I didn‟t see before in

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A Season In Green Hills‟

him. Finally I asked; “It‟s that true?”


He glanced at his two friends, whom were laughing
of the whole situation. They thought that it was amusing.
Devin slowly turned his face and looked me directly to the
eyes, and then said; “It‟s true!”
“Why?” I was showing my surprise to him. “You
lied to me. You told me that you never smoke.”
“I can‟t handle the place . . . “Devin‟s thoughts were
loud; he wasn‟t speaking to me, or to that effect anyone near,
again. He submerged his feelings. “Coach, I got to go I have
to change for P. E.” And he left without giving any
explanation. He was in my physical education group, as
always he did what they expected it from him.

In this class we were doing an eight-man leave


basketball drill that involves everybody assigned to the
period. This was the largest group I had during the day,
forty students to be presiding. They attached Mr. Peters‟s
girls and McGuire‟s junior team to this curse with the boy‟s
varsity players, including Ryan, Mark and Christina.
Ryan wasn‟t over to the fact that Mark won his

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J.V. Rosario

girlfriend, and that he dumped him for one of his best friend
in the school. He was also feeling guilt about Elliot‟s two
weeks in school suspension, and all the work detail he got in
the workshop. The boy was coming to his class with dark
glasses and with much sleepless night attitude. Something
was wrong with him, but no of the teachers wanted to put the
collar to the dog. The boy spent twenty-four hours high on
the claws that surround Green Hills‟ Academy.
In this afternoon Ryan presented to class with an
attitude problem, as if he wanted to fight the world and its
population. He tried to pick on Mark. However, he ignored
him since the beginning, then Bobby, whom he laughed and
went away from his side, too finally picked on for a
confrontation Victor. They began to push each other in a
line that I established for the drill that we were doing.
Victor didn‟t want to fight Ryan; he was trying to show his
best behavior because he wanted to come back to the varsity.
Still, Ryan was aggravating his patience and my. By the
time Victor pushed him back, I screamed to them to stop and
with the same motion I commanded them to go to the
coaches‟ office.
Bobby and Mark followed us to the little room beside

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the bleachers while I followed Ryan, and the others inside


office. My head was boiling with the anger that he inflicted
in by him the night of the Luther game. I thought that I was
going to reprimand him. This was the boy that hit a girl in
my classroom. The boy that spoiled our winning street,
because of him Elliot was working under Florida sun as if he
were a maintenance worker. He created the problem for
everyone and nobody ever confronts him, or told him how
reprobate his actions were.
“What is with you two?” I began my speech. “Why
you‟re doing this? Why?”
“Coach, he started,” Victor pointed out.
“I don‟t care who did! I‟m very angry with you,
too,” I howled.
Ryan sat on one of the old executive chairs that the
administration of the school gave to the coaches. His right
foot was on top of a nylon bag full with basketballs inside,
while his back reclined on the seat. He was smiling as if the
thing weren‟t with him. His bearing infuriated me, as never
before, so I displayed my anger by kicking the plastic
garbage cam in front of him. The basket flew over the balls‟

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J.V. Rosario

bag and hit Ryan on his foot. He stood up and screeched;


“Hey, man what‟s up with you?” while he put his hand on
my chest and pushed me. I moved back with the motion, and
prepared my fists for the confrontation. Victor and Mark
acted immediately and held Ryan by the arms.
“Fuck you, man,” he howled at me.
“You‟re an ass hole, Ryan,” I said. “Come on you
want to fight, and waiting let him come, and going to kick
his ass.”
“Let me go, let me go . . . “Ryan kept on screaming.
“Who he thinks he is? Fuck you man, Fuck you . . . “
“Go to hell, boy.”
Mark and Victor managed to move him out of the
room. They were trying to calm him down. At this point I do
not how and why Mr. Milano came inside the room and
found the mess that I began.
“That son of a bitch put his hands on me. I don‟t
tolerate that from him or anybody,” I told him and then leave
the room.
The gym was empty already by the time I came out
of the room. Only Pierre and Devin were there. I was mad
and I wanted to hit something, so looked around acting as if

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A Season In Green Hills‟

was going to explode from the earth. The two boys observed
me while took a basketball and kicked up to the bleachers.
“Tony,” Devin called my name, “Are you OK?”
I put my head down, and said to him; “I guess I am.”
“Can I help?” he said.
“Why should I let you help me? You don‟t let me
help you,” I asked back to him, and then I left the building.

Mr. Milano required knowing more about the


incident, so he called me to his office; he wanted more
information so he could pass it to Doctor Walden and Mr.
Hawking. To all this I didn‟t see the garbage cam hit Ryan
on his foot so when I gave my version of the episode I
omitted this, The boy told his side in a separated meeting
with him and made a big issue of the plastic cam.
The DC meeting took place the morning after. Ryan,
Walden, Hawking, Milano and I sat to here each other‟s
account. As always happened, Doctor Walden was the
person that spoke the most.

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There were three more games left in our basketball


season; Trinity Christian Academy of Deltona, Person
Taylor High School, and Florida Air Academy. After we
lost against Luther, our team went to the lowest point of our
season. The morale of the boys was flattened, and this time it
didn‟t compare with the incident between Bobby and me at
the end of the first semester. I didn‟t know if continuing it
with the season was wise, Walden offered to cancel the rest
of our schedule. His excuse was that the players weren‟t
going to respect me after what Ryan did. However, when he
asked to consummate this I didn‟t acknowledge immediately,
I kept my answer for another day, mainly because Bobby‟s
want to play college ball. It would be unfair for him not to
have the chance at least to end with the full schedule. So, I
called for a team meeting in a non-practice day; I wanted to
have the boys‟ opinion on Walden‟s offer.
They all came to the coaches‟ office; everyone was
there but Devin, who was working his hours, and Ryan,
whom I didn‟t invite because I considered him out of the
team.
As they came inside the office, I detected their
frustration on their faces; it was as if they knew that

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everything was lost for the rest of the season.


“Well, I asked you to come, „cause . . . I have
something that I need to tell you,” I began with the formality
of a teacher who is ready to strike his students with a bad
news. “The President of the School had asked me to cancel
the rest of the season . . . He says that after what happened
between Ryan and me, you guys aren‟t going to respect your
Coach.”
“What a goose he is!” Mark Hilltop opened his
mouth. “Coach, the problem isn‟t you. The problem was
Ryan.”
“Yeah, if he wasn‟t high all the time, you wouldn‟t
have all the problems that you have with him,” Patrick said
smiling as if he were hiding something. It was common
knowledge that Patrick was a marijuana user, and that he
used it in the dorm behind his dorm parents.
“Yeah, that‟s all true but we need him,” Bobby
shouted at them. “You‟re not Saints, and you all know what
I‟m saying.” There wasn‟t one responded to Bobby‟s replay;
he could suspend his team in the air as a magician. “Coach,
we need Ryan back in the team!” he replayed to me.

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“Are you crazy?” I said.


“If we want to do something on the districts we need
to bring Ryan and Victor to the team,” Bobby said with a
firm voice.
“Bobby, what is what you saying? He pushed me
and wanted to fight me,” I told him. “I can‟t do that, you
don‟t put your hands on me and then expect me to forget you
just like that.”
“Why not? You pushed me coach and I still playing
for you,” Bobby gestured a push with his arm while he
spoke.
“But that‟s different, you don‟t come high to
practice,” I said.
“Coach, you don‟t know us,” Bobby expressed.
I looked around me to see their faces it was as if I
were talking to a new group; they all maintained a serious
expression mixed with a guilty aura. It took me a minute to
realize that there was something going on that I could not
believe. Guessing how naive I was impossible, “Wait a
moment, what is what you‟re telling me here, that all of you
are using that crack?” I shouted.
They were muted.

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“You are fucking with your life . . . “I said. “You


don‟t know that you are hurting yourself when you use that
garbage!”
“Coach, don‟t try to sound like our parents we know
more that people give us credit,” Bobby stopped me.
“Bobby, you‟re full of Shit!” I said. “You don‟t know
anything, if you keep using whatever you are using.” Bobby
boiled my anger with his know all attitude, at this point a
thought that talking about their habits was futile, because
that wasn‟t the reason we were gathering that Saturday
afternoon.
After long pause Mark broke silence, “Coach, we
were going to decide. Are we playing the rest of the
season?”
Inside me there weren‟t feelings of concluding with
the basketball squad. The team was one of the things that
made me come back to the school after Christmas. I wanted
to continue, and I knew that they all were thinking like me.
By knowing that they didn‟t want give up on what they start
three months ago let me to ask the question again, “Well, tell
me. Do you want to continue playing or not?”

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J.V. Rosario

“I do,” Mark shouted.


“Me too,” Elliot told us.
The rest of the player limited to move their heads
with an affirmative respond. They clearly wanted to finish
the season where the let it before the game against the
Lutheran School.
The only matter left to be resolved was Ryan
LeCarre. I didn‟t know how to approach the situation but I
promised to them that I was going to talk to him before the
day was over.
“Coach, I think that he wants to talk to you too, that
was what he said to me,” Bobby said when he was living the
room.
“Bobby if I‟m going to put him back in the team, it‟s
only because of your insistence,” I told him. “Because I
believe that you have a chance to play college ball, after you
get out of this school.”
“Coach, I know that, and I‟m really grateful to you,”
he said, and by the time he was making his exit he stopped to
say something else, “Coach, You‟re OK.”
In Bobby there was a heart, a heart that he hides from
the rest of the people around him. At first, I thought that he

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was a brad spoiled by the money that his mother pored into
the school banks. He tried to show everyone that he was
something else that he was the tough boy of the gang, when
in reality he was the most caring of all them.

Ryan came half an hour later. His pants were dirty


from the raking; he did during the afternoon. He was tired,
there were bags under his eyes and the sun he took
throughout the week doing works for the school maintenance
crow burned his neck.
I was shooting some hoops in the far corner of the
gym, when I saw him dragging his feet inside the building.
“You look as if a train ran over you,” I said.
“Yeah man. This is your foul!” Ryan said smiling at
me.
“No, Ryan it‟s your . . . “
“If you didn‟t kick the cam . . .”
“If you didn‟t use Christina as you did, you provably
would do all the damage you did to your friends, and
yourself,” I told him without backing out.
The young man smiled again as if the past incident

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J.V. Rosario

didn‟t matter much to him. “I was on something,” Ryan


confessed.
“You admitted that now, why you didn‟t do that in
the DC meeting, why?” I asked.
“I don‟t want to get kick out,” he responded, and on
his face there was a small air of a quietly feeling, but it only
lasted for a second.
“I can believe that you will destroy everyone else just
to keep yourself in this place,” I said almost shouting at him.
“You‟re to use to this school, kid. Why you want to be
here?”
“ . . . „causes I can go anywhere else, „cause my
Family doesn‟t want me near them . . . “
“I wonder why that is?”
Ryan didn‟t answer back the rhetoric question, he just
limited to sit on the floor and smile as if I joked with the
situation. His smile wasn‟t a defiant one. It was a
displacement of the truth; he didn‟t want to deal with the
problem.
“Ryan, what‟s going to happen with you?” I asked
him. “Not now, what is going to happen with you in five
years or maybe ten? Are you going to survive your habit? . .

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A Season In Green Hills‟

. You think that you can stop to use that crack, but you don‟t
show me any other thing, but to believe that you aren‟t
addictive. You‟re going to die young, boy. What‟s going to
happen to your athletics abilities in four more years? You
aren‟t going to be able to do single lay-up if you keep on
trying your marijuana and your cocaine. You‟re going to
die, and your body is going to be meat for the warms . . . “I
said.
“I can stop anytime I want to,” he shouted.
“Yeah and why you‟re so high all the time?”
“ . . . „cause I want too,” he said. “You don‟t know
how hard is to be in this place.”
“But you just told me that you don‟t want to be
kicked out of this wonderful school,” I told him
“I don‟t want to go home,” he blared out a painful
cry. “I don‟t want to go home, Coach. I don‟t have anyone
there for me . . . “Ryan paused and began to sob his tears in.
The boy felt on the basketball floor discomforted and
crying, he was lost. He needed someone to hold, and care
for him. I put my arms around him and said, “It‟s all right,
and it‟s all right . . . “

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Ryan came back to the team to play the last three


games of the season after his conversation with me. I didn‟t
have any more problems with his for the rest of the year, in
away Ryan turned to be a person too.

20

I parked my car in front of DOA and waited for Alex to


come out of the building. She usually came out after she put
all her girls to study, and the other dorm parents went to their
respecting floor.
The dorm was the oldest dormitory of the school.
The building‟s structure was the only one that didn‟t match
the Spanish tradition of the school foundations. Its three
floors gave the academy a capacity of a hundred and ten
beds, but during those days they filled it with only sixty-four
girls.
It was there where Alex boarded her last days in
Green Hills as a student, back in 1981. After she went two
years in college, the Waldens called to replace her former
dorm parent.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

Alex was more aware of the school rules than me,


and the example that as adults‟ members of the school‟s staff
were supposed to give to the students. So, when she brought
me inside the building in all those occasions the students
never knew that I was visiting her. My stops to the dorm
were almost every night, and in all of then I never detected
any of the girls walking around or maybe trying to look to
what we were doing in the lobby of the building.
That night I waited outside until she came out
looking for me. She was wearing her blue jeans and a light
olive green sweater; the one she used the night we went out
for the first time. As she approached me, I noticed light
movement of her walk; it was as if she were flouting five
inches of the ground. There was something on her that
aroused my senses, maybe was her perfume, or maybe was
her small physique that created an agitation in me.
“How was your game?” she asked, while she moved
to kiss me on the lips.
“We won, but as always there is someone that spoiled
the night,” I answered just when put arms around her.
“Who was this time?”

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J.V. Rosario

“Canon? I think he‟s nervous, „cause he‟s afraid to


lose his status as the only winning coach of the school.”
“Ignore him. He‟s an old fool.”
“He‟s a Dick head! He and Mr. Milano are two Dick
heads,” I said.
Alex began laughing as if I made a joke; her laughter
was so contagious that it made me laugh with her.
“I‟m sorry,” she said. “This is the first time that I
ever heard you talking like that. I think it‟s funny.”
“You‟re the funny one, look at you. You‟re going to
fall apart laughing,” I said.
I took a good glimpse of her, inside that woman‟s
body there was a shark sense of humor that made it was easy
to talk to her. There were those light green eyes making her
face looked perfect. I was attractive to her as I had not been
attracted to another human being. I was lost in her figure,
and she was on my body. We kissed, from where my car
was parked, all the way to the building‟s lobby. Our hands
didn‟t let go each other, our clothes dropped in the middle of
all that touching, and without knowing it I was inside
throughout her, shaking, sweating and pushing myself into
hers. There were noises, moans and groans but nobody came

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A Season In Green Hills‟

to found out what was going on. When I unloaded my


essence inside her, I finished it with three words; “I love
you!”
I left the dorm an hour after our encounter of passion.
I felt sorry that she could not come with me that night to
finish what we started inside the lobby. So, I moved into my
apartment, I thought that we took a risk, “What if someone
comes to see what we were doing?” I asked myself. We both
would be looking for a different job the next day. Yet we
did what we did because were in love and because our flesh
was asking for that kind of tryst. We were in need of each
other.
The next day I felt that I was the talk of the campus,
and in a way I got scared, I thought that someone knew about
Alex and me. It was as if every student in school was talking
about me, or maybe about us. I began to shake in a nervous
way throughout the morning, and by the time in was
lunchtime I could not wait to talk to Alex.
She was waiting in the table that we picked for
lunchtime right there in the middle of the school-dining hall,
where people could come and see us, and talk more about us.

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J.V. Rosario

“Hello! How did you sleep last night?” she asked.


“I miss you a lot,” I said, we a destructive look.
“What‟s wrong with you today?” she smiled as if she
knew what I was thinking. “Don‟t worry.”
“How could you be so sure? How do you now what
I‟m thinking?” I questioned her certainly.
“I know!”
“I don‟t know,” I said. “I feel as if everyone is talking
about me. As if you and I are the talk of the town, I mean
the school. You know what I say?”
She paused and closed her eyes while she put her
right hand on her cheek, then opened her green tabs to smile
with them, and said; “Everyone is talking about you and your
team. They were surprise that you beat Person Taylor, no
one thought that they were going to win against a school
where all the players were black.”
“Are you sure?” I could not believe what she was
saying. “The kids are saying that?”
“The kids, the dorm parents and the administration,”
she told.
“No, I can‟t believe what you say?”
“When I went this morning to the office, I heard Mr.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

Milano talking with Mr. Walden about the game. Mr.


Milano told him that you did a good coaching last night. He
thought that at the beginning of the game we were going to
lose by a lot,” her voice tone was soft while she spoke.
“What did Walden say?” I asked.
“He said that he was impressed with you,” Alex
answered without pausing this time, she wasn‟t a lair, but
about this; she just wants me to feel better.
“I don‟t know, I think that he‟s not going to renew
my contract for next year, he doesn‟t like me,” I said. “I
guess that I have too many problems this year to be renewed
for the next one.”
“Don‟t worry, he likes you, he told me,” Alex
pressed this time she words. “I had worked here for the past
five years I haven‟t see any teacher been dismissed like that.
You‟re doing your job like everyone else, and the kids like
you.”
“Do you think so?” I asked her to assure what she
just said. In a manner her words gave me a sense of security
that I needed then. “Maybe you‟re right, and maybe our next
game is going to be my security blanket,” I frizzed for a

424
J.V. Rosario

minute to gain some courage to tell her what I thought after I


left to my apartment the last night. “I tell you what, if we
winning against Florida Air Academy, I‟ll take you to San
Juan Bautista to meet my Family.”
“I‟ll like that,” she said. “I‟ll go with you any where
you want me too,” and then she smiled with her eyes again.
I assumed my daily routine as the day unfolded, but
the images of her and the night before never went away.

I completed my afternoon periods without any


eventuality; they became really easy. I wasn‟t doing
basketball any more with my last class. The coaches and Mr.
Milano decided that it was time to move to the spring sports.
So, I found myself with nine girls, which were going to do
track and field with me in my last period. They decided that
while I was with the girls‟ team Milano, Peters, McGuire and
Vasquez were going to do boys‟ track, girls‟ softball, and
tennis team in that other. Coach McGuire and Coach Peters
were going to work with the girls‟ softball team together.
All that made my last period of the day one easy to
handle, the girls were hard workers and they weren‟t
discipline problems. In a way I was happy to have them with

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A Season In Green Hills‟

me. Teachers give more when you know that their students
are giving them a 100 per cent all time.
My first class with them went very well, they ran two
miles and then they did some reps on the track. I did all the
drills and the running with the girls, and when the period was
over I was as tired as mule. I thought that I was going to rest
in my study hall time because I didn‟t have anyone coming
in that hour.
However, Johnny Bovies came to visit me that
afternoon. The boy was dress up in his PE shorts and t-shirt,
he was moving his body as if he needed someone to speak
too; that someone was going to be me. I thought that he
might want to chat with me about the school pressure and his
grades, but sometime telling what was in his mind was
laborious.
I knew that Johnny trusted me, but I wasn‟t ready for
what he was about to tell me. He sat on a chair in front of
my desk and look to me as if he were about to grieve. I
observed his body language, and I felt that he was about to
explode. The steam accumulated on his head was in a
burning point.

426
J.V. Rosario

He didn‟t say anything when he came into the room;


he walked between the students‟ desks back and forward,
and then sat on one of them. His hair wasn‟t combed, and
his T-shirt was partially wet with his sweat from the
shoulders down.
“You were running?” I asked him with caution.
The answer was, “I hate this place,” he cried.
“What happened kid?”
“I went to Mrs. Pots' office, because I need to talk to
my therapist, and you know what she told me.”
“No, what?”
“That I was supposed to come earlier,” he screamed.
“So the bitch didn‟t let me make the fucking call.”
“Wait a minute Kid, don‟t take with me, I don‟t need
to take that Shit from you.”
I boiled Johnny‟s blood with my answer; his face was
so red that seeing his blood vessels rising from his neck was
easy. He gave me a dirty look and went out of the
classroom‟s door. I observed his reaction with my back
against my chair, I knew that he went down stairs on the side
of the building, and then he came back up to the room.
“Why you treat me like that?” he asked.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

“Why you have to scream to make a point?” I


returned his question with another one.
Johnny put his hands on his waist, “Coach, I need to
talk to someone today or I‟m going to hurt somebody.”
“Sit,” I pointed to the chair in front of my desk.
“Before we start, I want to tell you that I‟m not a therapist
and that I don‟t have all the answers.”
“I know.”
“What are you problem, kid?”
The boy put his right hand over his forehead to move
his hair from it. He looked distress of something more than a
simple NO from the student guidance. There was water in
his eyes, but it didn‟t look as he was going to let it come out.
He was trying to stop the tears before he began to speak;
“My Dad called this morning to tell me that he‟s fighting for
my guardian. I don‟t want to live with him.”
“Why don‟t you tell him?” I advised him.
“I had, Coach!” he raised his voice. “But the son of a
bitch thinks that he‟ll do a better job than my Mom.”
“Can you tell me why he thinks that way?”
“It‟s a long story, Coach,” he moved his head from

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J.V. Rosario

left to right with a tired expression on his face.


“We have an hour and fifteen minutes,” I said. “Do
you think that‟s enough time?”
Johnny Bovies paused to charge his batteries; it was
as if he were going to open a dark secret to me. His light
blue eyes didn‟t have an expression of any feeling when
began talking; “I was seven when parents divorced, the same
year that I began to drink. I drank a beer with my Mom‟s
boyfriend . . . He‟s my sister‟s father. The man is Hispanic
like you Coach.
“At first everything was great we were buddies, I
began to love him as if he were my own father. But they
used to drink a lot, it was an everyday thing after work, and
that‟s when everything began to change. I don‟t know what
happened but he turned incensed and began to hit my Mom
almost every day so they split by the time my sister was two
...“
“Johnny, they never got marry?” I interrupted his
narrative.
“No, in those days my Mom didn‟t believe in that
institution,” Johnny continued. “She immediately moved
another man to live with us. This guy was different he didn‟t

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A Season In Green Hills‟

drink like Gorge, but, he was nasty . . . “the boy stopped and
glanced at my face, as if he knew that he was about to choke
me with his tale.
“What was wrong with him, Johnny?” I asked.
“During the night he used to come to my bed,
Coach,” he said with his typical monotone way of speaking.
“What do you mean, Johnny?” I asked.
“He raped me the first night, and then he continued
coming to my bed until they split . . . “he finished remarks.
There weren‟t tears or angry expression when he told this
repulsive story. Johnny was totally calm.
“Jesus Christ . . . “I said loud. “What you just said?
Did your mother know about it?”
“She didn‟t know until I began going to the treatment
center. That‟s when the truth came out. My therapist is
from your country you know, he is a great guy I like him like
I do you . . . “
“How can you say a thing like that, like it doesn‟t
bother you?” I asked him, while I stood up from my desk
and went to sit close to him.
“My therapist told me to be honest, and accept the

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J.V. Rosario

truth. It‟s the only thing that will realize the pain for us,” he
answered as if he were an old man.
“That‟s why you were using drugs . . . “
“That‟s why I have this scare in my arm,” he said. “I
was so angry with myself and Mom that I wasn‟t able to see
that it wasn‟t her fault or it was that man‟s. She didn‟t know
that he was doing that to me. But now my Dad wants me to
come to live with him, something that I don‟t want to do. I
want to live with my Mom and my sister, I think they need
me now . . . “
I think that I let go a tear because he stopped. I was
really uncomfortable with his tale. Understanding why
people do things like that to a child was hard. Johnny was
only thirteen when his came to Green Hills, and according to
what he told me that afternoon he probably was nine when
all this transpired. I moved close to him and gave him a hug,
and then I said; “Johnny, I don‟t want to know more about
this. I think that there are things that people should not talk
about it . . . Tell your father that he an ass hole if he thinks
that you‟re going be comfortable in a place that you don‟t
want to be. It‟s as simple as that . . . Kid fight . . . Don‟t let
people push you around any more . . . “We both stood up

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A Season In Green Hills‟

simultaneously. I didn‟t say anything else and he remained


quiet. It was as if we both were mute with the apprehension
incident.
I didn‟t want to say anything because I was afraid to
uncover other truth that could turn into something worse than
what it was. I never asked him for that information; it was as
if I were sweet to receive other people‟s sorrows.
It was time for me to leave for practice; my players
were waiting in the gym, as Johnny‟s teammates and coach
were doing too. Both teams were going to practice together
in the same building. As we walked together to that facility,
we didn‟t discuss anything else. He and I crossed the school
campus as if we didn‟t know each other. I felt that I could
not handle his scrupulousness. I was choked with his
honesty and courage of speaking out his history of abuse. In
a way I admired him for having the strong will to tell all, and
then be healed in the process. I could never confront my
pains. The way Johnny was able to do, so, in a strange way I
was jealous of him for having that bravery.

21

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Devin came to practice that afternoon; it was his first show


since he got caught deeding in tobacco in Eaton Hall. He
was close to complete his sixty-five hours, so he could go to
his Family reunion the coming weekend. The jobs that he
did during those days varied from cleaning dishes in the
dining hall kitchen to pulling old carpets of the classroom
floors. Coming to practice was one of the best therapists for
his anger, and a release for me to see him there. By this time
I was really attached to the boy. I felt that what my father
told me in my dream was as close to the truth. I knew that
the there was something different about it that I could not
ping point, so I accepted that idea.
Johnny was with me when I crossed the gym‟s doors
to see who else came to practice. His team was going to
practice for their last game of the season; they didn‟t have
districts like us. Coach McGuire was giving drills as if he
were in tryouts with his players.
The boy standing beside me looked at me was
enervated of running suicide down the court, specially for a
losing team that won three games of twenty-four.
Devin came dribbling a basketball showing the skills

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that taught him three months ago. The kid impressed me


with his way of embraced the passion for the basketball
game. He approached us Johnny and me, who stood in front
of the gym‟s entrance observing the movement inside the
building. “I‟m back, Coach,” he said with a smile on his
face.
“I can see that, Kid,” I said.
“How many hours you need know?” Johnny asked
him. His question came out of his mouth with tone of
sarcasm.
“I‟m ready to play Coach,” Devin ignored Johnny‟s
question.
This was the first time I noticed that these two didn‟t
like each other. In time I discovered that Devin dislikes
Johnny because his attitude of fighting everyone in the
dormitory. While Johnny‟s clash with Devin was because he
thought that Devin wasn‟t honest, especially with me. For
my part I found this entire amusing, why is that a person can
be a friend with two others, and then these two wouldn‟t be
friends of each other?

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Practice went well. I prepared my players in how to


guard the Charleston boy, Florida Air Academy‟s stellar
center. This game was more important for me that any other
played before in the season. In my head I was going to
decide if I were going to stay in Green Hills Academy for the
next school year.
The encounter was pact for the next Friday, so I
planned four more practices before the match. Conditioning
and defense were the two major factors if we wanted to
defeat them. The boys were consumed with the idea of
beating the team the put the biggest loss in our record this
year. Still, It wasn‟t only that we lost by fifty-two points, it
was the remark made by Mr. Carson throughout the week
preview to the game, that helped me to put our motivation
way up high.
Our motivations made it easy for me to establish our
new offensive pattern. This game was going to be in the
hands of my big players‟ defense. Mark, Patrick and Ryan
were getting ready for the confrontation with the gain boy.
They were interrupted to make a sandwich with the six feet,
six inches, two hundred‟s pounds and all muscle players. My
plan was to reduce Charleston thirty-five point averages to

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A Season In Green Hills‟

fifteen points, and add the combine scores of the four players
that didn‟t go to our first game with them.
I knew that this wasn‟t going to be an easy task after
all. The problems that we had preview to this game were
enough to destroy any other team capacity to play.
I worked hard the whole week, my classes were in
order, and the students were happy with how I was
conducting them. Since the second semester started the
students had compared me with Coach Peters‟s ways to
handle his groups, and according to them I was winning by a
mile. In a way this gave satisfaction, it made me feel that I
was a better teacher than he.
I always knew that I was a good basketball coach, but
when I began working in Green Hills‟ doubts were created in
my mind. The lack of support had mined my confidence of
the people in charge of the school gave I during the crises I
confronted in the first semester. They made teachers felt as
if they were the bad educators, when the reality was that
many students were problems in other school and even in
their homes.
Our team‟s record was twelve and twelve at to this

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point, before the game with the Air Academy. I used to help
the kids concentrate in the importance of the match. If we
were about to come, victorious, Green Hills‟ varsity was
going to have the first winning record since Mr. Carson
coached the team seventeen years ago. That made the
players excited to try to do the impossible.

22

Florida Air‟s players came one by one out of the school bus,
as if they were in a line to get food from a cook out a picnic.
Their record was nineteen and three before the put foot on
our school gym. They were dress in blue military uniforms
with the different hats, white gloves and navy blue bands on
their shoulders. The two boys that served as their point
guards were first in coming out of the muster yellow vehicle,
and then other players less important came of the door.
“Maybe they let him home,” Bobby said to Mark
who was shooting hoops in the west side of the gym.
Charleston came out last, as the team‟s star should be
it did. It was as he was waiting to sign some autograph for
some of his fan. The black boy wore the navy blue habit like

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his teammates with the distention of a pair of dark


sunglasses. There was a white smile on his face that lighted
the inside the building.
“There he is,” said Mark. I noticed that there wasn‟t
fear in that statement; it was an announcement of anxiety, the
one that didn‟t have any tremble for the opponent.
“That boy thinks that he‟s God,” Bobby declared to
his teammates.
Inside me there was a good feeling about this game,
“We can win this one.”

After all the pre-game preparation they tossed the


ball to the air, and Charleston dominated the jump over
Mark, but Bobby stole it to complete the first two points of
the game. The crow went wild after the basketball crossed
our net.
Bobby moved to his defensive position over the one
of the two small point guards. They were fast but no as fast
as Bobby, who marked his path all the way inside our
constricted zone.
“Charlie, moved to five,” the young guard called

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J.V. Rosario

their play.
The tall boy maneuvered his corpulent body between
my boys to find out that he was between two of my players
at all time.
The guard passed the ball throughout the air, and
Ryan robbed the coming pass. Without any trouble put the
object in Jason Campbell hands, which passed it to Bobby,
who lay up the one of the most beautiful shot I have ever see
in my life.

We began the game with two points over them. The


spectators were into the wager, as always leading by the
cheerleaders‟ squad. Florida Air brought the ball down the
basketball court to strike out that they could not pass the ball
again to the Charleston. The first ten minutes of the match
became a nightmare for the over mature player; he could not
get a pass from any of his teammates. So he began fighting
with them, and my players whom we assigned to him. His
frustration was so visible that his. Coach put him out of the
game for the last five minutes of the first quarter, giving us
the chance to increase our lead up to twelve points.
When we went to the locker room in the half time, I

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A Season In Green Hills‟

knew that we were going to win the game that nothing was
going to stop Green Hills‟ Boys Varsity to have their first
winning record in seventeen years. The game resumed, our
spirits were so high that we came to increase our lead up to
twenty points.
I decided to put my receiver players with two minutes
remaining of the game and with a good lead over the Air
Academy team. Devin, Roger, and Eric were going to see
some battle that night. We achieved the goal, our team
turned around fifty-two points defeat to a twenty points lead
over the team that everyone fears in our conference, and we
ended our regular season with a 13-12 record.
However, the most interesting part of the match
turned out to be the final two minutes. Devin, Roger and
Eric --the three players that I brought from the Junior
Varsity-- were on the court with Elliot and Bobby. Roger,
who was a well developed, took forward position with Eric,
while Elliot and Bobby jointed forces to play the point guard
positions. Devin, who didn‟t have any player assigned to
him by the opponent Coach, began to shoot three points with
an accurate rate of a 100 percent. He ran the court to our

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J.V. Rosario

offensive area and then received a pass from Bobby. He shot


from the three-point-line in three occasions and drilled the
basketball in the hoop as if he were the master of the line.
I could not believe what I was beholding; it was as if
Devin could make his shots blind folded. Every time one of
his tries traversed the net. The audience inside the gym went
insane. It was the final touch for our victory celebration. I
was more than proud to see the progress of my boy. Yes my
boy, I felt as if I were watching my very own son producing
points for my basketball team.

When the closing buzzed stopped the game, the


cheerleaders, and the students jumped inside the basketball
floor, and Victor Lopes was one of the first one who did so.
He was trying to make a come back to the team after his
suspension. He wasn‟t to be allowed to see any of the games
for the entered season, but he snacked in to see the final
game.
I ran to my players to rejoice our season ending, after
all the problems that the team had previously. We could put
together a winning season for the school after seventeen
years.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

I was really aware of all the people in the court,


especially where Mr. Carson was. He left the gymnasium
before the game was over. I thought, in that moment, that he
wasn‟t going to congratulate me; the man was acting like a
child. During the progress of the whole term, Mr. Carson
was one of my most brutal critics of my coaching. He
thought that his record was going to stand after this game
was over.
As I moved to the locker room with my players, I
began to greet Alex, who was standing on the bleachers
waving her hands at me. She knew that I was feeling
fortunate that evening, so she was trying to express her
joyous feeling to me from the platform. This made me
shifted heading to where she was. I ran to where she was; my
intentions were to hug her and then kiss her in front of
everybody in the gym. So I did.
“Did you see the whole game?” I asked her.
“The last two quarters. They played great tonight,”
she told me, while she hugged me around the waist.
“I love you!” I said to her.
“I know you do, Kid,” she pronounced.

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J.V. Rosario

Then, I felt a tap on my shoulder. Alex signaled with


her head that there was someone behind me, and when I
turned around I saw a couple holding hands. A tall man
neatly dresses in a white sweater and long cocky pants. A
woman, a lot shorter than he, was holding the man by the
waist while she smiles to both of us. I didn‟t know who
they were. Their faces didn‟t produce any reaction in me.
There was a silent period before any of us said
something to each other. I broke the ice, with a simple, “Hi!”
“Hi! We are Devin‟s parents,” the man said, “I‟m Jim
and this is my wife Margie.”
“How do you do?” Alex and I said simultaneously,
like a pair stereo speaker.
“Devin talks about you all the time and we wanted to
meet for a long time,” he continued saying other things that I
really didn‟t pay attention. I watched all his manners, as if I
wanted to see any resemble between the father and the son,
but I could not find any, the boy was more in his mother
side.
“You got a great kid,” I told him, and then I crossed
the teacher‟s line and said, “I feel as if he is my own.” I felt
totally stupid when I finished the sentence; I didn‟t have the

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right to say something like that to this couple. Another


soundless period came over the two groups. So, I excused
myself; the team was in the locker room waiting for me.
As I left the group, I thought that I didn‟t have any
impression or hunch for the two beings that I just left behind.
It was as if they were blank-sheet for me, very different from
the feeling I got from their son the first time I saw him. I
didn‟t know them as I knew Devin.

In the locker room the boys were having a soiree;


they were making laughingstocks of the Florida Air‟s
Coach‟s mustache, and his reaction at the end of the game. I
thought that it was time for them to have a good time. The
whole season was cover with the shadows of what happened
between the players and the administration and the other
stuff. So I let them be themselves, I was happy for them and
for me. I broke Carson‟s record and beat one of the best team
in the single „A‟ division in the State of Florida. It was the
second time we did that in the regular season. Now we were
about to see if we were good enough to pass the districts‟
first round.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

Chapter VIII

1
There were times that I detested to go asleep, my
recurring dream got dark and nasty at time, and I didn‟t want
to confront it in occasions. I do not like to be in conditions
where I cannot have control. I hated to see the poor child get
drawn by the turbulent water of that unknown coast. It was
as if the young man meant a lot to me, and to lose him in that
manner wasn‟t something that I did want to relive in every
night. Somehow I felt that he was running from me, as if I
frightened him.
I didn‟t pinpoint why this bad dream was a
companion for such a long time. It came to me one night
when I was around seven years old and since then it has not
stops. At first I could only see the horses running in a bright
day, it was a heavenly vision. However, as I grew up
everything turned to be dark and creepy.
Alex understood what I was telling her about my
reoccurring dream; she herself had one of those. Hers was

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J.V. Rosario

unpleasant; she used to see herself shot in a parking lot


during a foggy night, after a long chase by a man that she
didn‟t recognize.
We spent our dinner talking about what happened in
our life, about Mr. Destiny, and about the future. On
Thursdays we used to escape from the dress up dinner at the
Academy‟s Dining Hall. Our favorite stop was the Pizza Hut
in Claremont; we turned out to be regular in the
establishment. The same waitress and the same tables were
always there for us. Alex and I felt that having a getaway
was romantic; to forget the students and just be ourselves in
the hour and half that usually took us to have dinner.
“How long have you been working in Green Hills?” I
asked her one night.
“Five years,” she said, there was an expression on her
face that gave away that she was tired of the place.
“How long are you planning to be . . .?”
“I am ready to leave,” she didn‟t let me finish the
question.
“Why?”
“Because things aren‟t the same, as when I was in
school,” she stated. “When I was in Green Hills as a student,

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the atmosphere was different. It was more relaxing to be


here; there weren‟t that many suspensions or ship out, as
today. The kids were more friendly, and the use to care
more for the school. Now it is like if they don‟t care their
own parent. There isn‟t a sense of innocence.”
“Whatever happened to innocence?” I asked myself.
“It‟s curious I asked that same question to Victor Lopes, the
day that Devin and him staid with me to see the conference
tournament at Mont. Dora.”
“And, what did he say?” she asked me. This time her
face made a gesture with his mouth as if she knew the
answer.
“Well,” I bided. “He told me that we only live once.
That we are young only once in our lifetime,” then I
continued. “They only think they have is the present. It‟s as
if they forget that there is a future ahead . . . My father was
always telling me that I should take it easy that things will
fall in place, from the sky. These kids only think with their
dicks, what they want to do is have sex and use drugs. They
do not take the time to smell the roses, they want to be ahead
of their age, and in the process they screw their life. And

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J.V. Rosario

their parents don‟t help much; they take Devin for example.
I don‟t know a nicer boy in this school, but the relationship
between his Dad and him had screwed his life. It‟s like if he
doesn‟t feel love from his parents, and he wants them to
show that they care for him.” I concluded my argument.
She was observing my face with much interest, and
then asked me, “Do you miss your Dad?”
I didn‟t answer the question at first. I didn‟t know
why she changed the matter so abruptly. Nevertheless, then I
reviewed my relationship with my own father, and what I
said was, “My Dad was a great man. However, I only came
to know him in his last years. Of my youth I only recall him
behind a newspaper when he wasn‟t drinking. Then, I didn‟t
have a relationship with him. Still, in his later years he
found help in AA, and I grew up and began to understand
him more.” I paused for a second, and put it in words, “Yes,
I miss my Dad, he was a noble man.” As I said these words,
I felt a tear rolling down on my face.
“I love you, Tony,” she said to me while she put her
lips my chic.
“I am sorry! It‟s that every time I think on him I
remember my mother, and the way they loved each other.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

She never gave up on him, even in the worst of time; she


kept herself by his site. She really loved that man. I wish
you can meet her.”
“I will like to meet her too,” Alex said.
It fell from the sky, what I told her after that, “Hey,
why don‟t you come to the island with me, this coming
Spring Break.”
“I‟ll love to go with you,” she smiled
“Well let‟s go then,” we smiled to each other, as if
we knew that we were going to have fun in the short time.

The morning after Alex made our reservations with


the school‟s travel agency to leave the first day of Spring
Break to San Juan Bautista. In a strange way I thought that
my mother was going to allow us to come together to her
house even Though we weren‟t marry.

We were supposed to play in the district‟s tournament


against Trinity Prep School from Winter Park. They were in

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J.V. Rosario

our conference three years before I assumed the head coach


position of the school, but Coach Brown took them out of
our schedule. Walden or Milano never told the reason he
did that, but the kids said that it was because there were big
fisticuffs between the two schools when Coach Brown was
in charged.
The day before the game I missed a school day,
because I was sick with stomach crams. So I received a visit
from Mr. Milano in my apartment, he brought a full scout
report from one of the Mont. Dora Bibles‟ coaches; the man
was excited about his accomplishment. I really didn‟t see
what the big deal was then. In a way I thought that he
wanted me to be that thrilled too. He even made me called
the coach that gave him the report.
The day of the game we bordered the school van with
the confidence that we were going to win the first round of
the joust, only one player wasn‟t in an emotional high, Jason
Campbell. In this afternoon his girlfriend dumped him, and
he was crying like a little boy that just lost his puppy dog.
We all tried to comfort him but he didn‟t pay attention to any
of us.
I thought that he was going to be fine when the ball

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A Season In Green Hills‟

game begins, so I didn‟t pay attention to him. We drove one


of the small fifteen passengers‟ vans; the cheerleaders didn‟t
go with us this time. Dr. Walden thought that the group of
girls was a distraction for my players. I imagined that he
was right in this, because the game that the cheerleaders
made company to us we ended with a loss.
By the time we arrived to the gymnasium the
committed in charge assigned our locker room to us the
event. My players continued to the humid room to get
preparing for the final count down.
I observed them carefully, they were boys in men‟s
bodies, and the only one that didn‟t look mature enough was
Devin. He had that boyish visage of a thirteen-year- old; his
development was slow. I felt that his progress as a
basketball player was really impressive but he wasn‟t ready
to play in a game like the one we were about to stake.
The players did what they were supposed to do; each
of them had a different way to warm-up for the up coming
game. Ryan was sitting on the bench, in the center of the
room, pulling his mass toward his legs. Bobby made little
hops in sequence, while Mark Hilltop crossed Patrick‟s arms

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J.V. Rosario

around his chest and cracked his back by pulling both limbs
--it sounded like bones cracking.
When the pre game warms up was over, I called my
players to the center of the room to make a circle and put our
hands together. “Well kids,” I began my pet talk, “it‟s being
fun, if we don‟t pass this round, want to tell you that I‟m
proud of each of you . . . “
“Coach,” Ryan interrupted my line of thoughts, “I
want to say something to you and the team. May I?”
“Go ahead.”
“Guys, you know that I haven‟t been a good friend
lately,” Ryan vocalized, his eyes were looking around to
everyone in the circle. “I want to say that I‟m sorry about
what happened between us, it was all my fall. And, I hope
you can forgive me that and the others.”
No one said anything after that; we all thought that it
was a rear confession coming from him. “OK, Lets go out
there and kick some ass,” I shouted.
“Win, win, and win . . . “they all shouted in a united
voice.
They ran out to the court one behind the other, and
circle the basketball court. They looked shark and were on

453
A Season In Green Hills‟

the peek of their physical condition and basketball skill. I


thought that I made a good job with them, I was really
presumptuous of this my first team in America.
When the referee tossed the ball to the air, we jumped
ahead with twenty points by the end of the first half of the
game. We came to our locker area overconfident with our
victory that night. Something inside me was telling me that
the game was over for Trinity Prep School‟s Boys‟ Varsity
Basketball Team.

Our opponent blew away a twenty-point difference


when the game was over, to beat us at the end of the
encounter. It was one of the few games that Jason Campbell
didn‟t put any effort. The boy didn‟t play at his full
potential, so we paid for it and all because his girlfriend
returned his ring an hour before we left to Mont. Dora.
Our dream to go for this loss in the district first round
shadowed the gold. When we walked inside the locker room,
the boys‟ auras were grim to forecast. They all moved in
slow motion, as if there were weights on their shoulders.
They displaced to do their own thing, get on dress to take a

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J.V. Rosario

shower, and arrayed up in their jackets and ties, weren‟t the


fastest.
I observed Bobby, who was only in his basketball
shorts, appearing disoriented moving from side to side of the
small smelly room. I knew that something was wrong with
him. I approached him and asked, “Bobby, what‟s wrong?
Do you want to talk?”
The young man moved his head in a negative
respond. However, then he put his arms around my shoulders
and embraced me, and the sobbed on my chest. When his
teammates recognized what going on they was immobilized
as if they were marmot statues.
Bobby cried as I did when I faced elimination with
my first basketball team. I understood him at that point, so I
left him poured his teardrops on me. “Coach, we lost,” he
sobbed.
“Man, stop! You don‟t want me to cry too,” I told
him.
“I can‟t . . . I can‟t . . .” He hanged of my body, as
children do to their parents when they feel frighten, while the
rest of the team watched. “I can‟t help this. I will never go
to play basketball again. This was my last game.”

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A Season In Green Hills‟

“Don‟t say that, you have another chance to play


after you graduate from high school,” I told him, and as I
spoke these words I felt a nod in my throat.

We left Mont. Dora Bible passed ten o‟clock after Bobby


was calmed and everyone in the team said something to him
about how well he played the whole season. Even Elliot put
in a pleasant appraisal for Bobby.
I stopped the school van in the parking lot of a
Burger King on Highway 441, to eat something before we go
back to school. I was feeling down with what happened in
the locker room with Bobby, the incident gave me a new
perspective of what the kid consisted off.
Everyone was in line to get the burgers, but Devin
who didn‟t see any action in the game that night. I thought
that he was a little upset of that, so I came in the back of the
restaurant to see how he was.
Devin was sitting in a booth by himself looking to the
empty air in front of him. He didn‟t move a muscle or even

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J.V. Rosario

blinked an eye. His nose and eyes were in a light red tone,
like the time he was sitting on top of the washing machine
under our gymnasium‟s bleachers. I smelled problems as I
maneuvered between the chairs and the tables of the small
establishment to get where he was sitting. I postured near
him with a very natural move, and asked he, “Are you OK?”
He made an affirmative gesture with his head, but he
didn‟t say a word. Something wasn‟t right; his face was
unsettled, like if he had been crying hard. He didn‟t want to
look at me; his eyes were evasive.
Seeing him like this disturbed me deeply, I wanted to
know what was going on with him, so I could not help to tell
him, “Don‟t do this to me Devin, something is wrong and I
want to know what. You know that I care for you. We are
friends. Tell me what is bothering you, I can help you, you
know that.”
The kid stirred his head, and then he covered his face
with hand. He shook his head again if a negative gesture,
but nothing came out of his mouth.
“Kid, are you OK?” I asked anew.
Devin stood up from the table and walked away from
me, to my surprise. Until that moment I thought that there

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A Season In Green Hills‟

was a good trust between the two of us. Yet this time I saw
him displacing to another booth away from me, in the far
corner of the restaurant.
“Well that‟s fine with me,” I said a loud; maybe I
wanted him to hear me. I was hurt with his behavior; I
thought that after all I did for him this wasn‟t way to pay me.
When we returned to Green Hills late that Saturday, I
made a stop in DOA to give the news to Alex, and to tell her
about the boys‟ reactions. I was puzzled with Devin‟s
responded to whatever was that was happening with him. It
was as if the boy were becoming more important than the
game that we just lost against the Trinity Prep. School. I
needed to know the why, and just when I wanted to kill the
little bastard too.
Alex was waiting for me I told that after the game I
was going to come by the dorm to talk before we go to bed
that night. She was in her boxer shorts and the loose T-shirt
that she took from my apartment when she spent the night
with me. She was ready to go to bed, but she waited
patiently for me.
The lights inside the building were all out, I glanced

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at my watch to see the time and it was ten passed


eleven-o‟clock. It was time for the dormitory to be shut and
ready for the next working day.
“You are early,” she said. “I was expecting you later
than this.”
“Well the game went fast to night,” I responded.
“I presume you lost it,” she said with an
understanding expression on her face.
“Yeah, seeing them toppling at the end of the game
were bad,” I told her, “But you know what after we were
winning the game for twenty points, they came back in the
last seven minutes and there it was. They fell to keep it
together. I don‟t understand yet what happened.”
“Anyone in particular or it was a common effort?”
she asked.
“Jason gave them about five balls, in turnovers.” I
sighed, and then said to her, “I don‟t feel bad about this
team, with all the things that happened during this season I
feel that they came a better team, better than last year.”
Alex observed the building windows to see if there
were girls eyeing what we were saying or doing, and when
she was sure that there wasn‟t anyone she invited me to

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come inside the lobby. This was something that we did in


often, sit in the lobby room to talk, kiss and watch TV.
I felt befuddle with what was happening with Devin;
my thoughts were somewhere else. Alex was trying to have
conversation with me but I answered in monosyllables to
what she said that evening, to the point that she ended asking
me, “What is wrong with you tonight?”
“Tonight, two things happened, that I could not make
senses of it,” I told her. “First after the game was over
Bobby cried on my shoulder, like a baby. He was sobbing,
Alex. I never thought I was going to see him like this.
Bobby appears to be so tough that it blew my mind to see his
like that,” I finished looking at her eyes, as if she could give
me an answer.
“Bobby is very sentimental,” she said. “One of my
favorite students used to be her girlfriend, and she dumped
him for another student who used to come here. He didn‟t
take it very well.”
“Well I can see that now,” I continued. “The other
thing happened in the restaurant.”
“What was that?”

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J.V. Rosario

“Devin!”
“What came with your blond son?” she said.
“You see, you keep on saying that,” I told her. “And
that is not how I feel about him.”
“So, why you are so upset?”
“I don‟t know,” I sounded baffled. I didn‟t know
why but she was right, why I was so upset with kid. There
wasn‟t a good reason to disturb.
“What happened?” she asked me, while she put her
around my jaw.
“He was sitting back in the fast food dining area, it
looked that something was bothering, so I went to see what
happened. Alex, he was crying too.”
“Why?” she asked.
“I don‟t know, he didn‟t say a thing,” I said. “He
closed his communication channels to me, like if didn‟t trust
me any more.”
“That‟s why you are hurt.”
“No!”
“No! Then tell me why?” she vocalized, “The only
reason is that you care for that kid than any other in the
school. You are worry about him.” Alex was aware that I

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A Season In Green Hills‟

care for Devin, even more than I was. In that moment I


thought that he was important to me because he was another
player of the team, at least that was what I was telling
myself.
“Well something most is wrong with him.”
“Tony, you love that kid,” Alex vented to the air, “He
is in your head all the time, and you always talk about him to
me, and tell me about his progress.”
“No, I‟m not,” I shouted. “I don‟t want to go through
this again. I don‟t want to care for that boy.”
“Why is that you say?” she was puzzled with my
remark. “Why you don‟t want to care or love anyone else?
Are you including me too?”
“No, you don‟t understand.”
“Well make me understand,” she demanded.
I made silence, I wasn‟t sure if I were going to tell
her about Josh
died. I didn‟t want to relive that unpleasant experience again
and open that scar again. Yet I wanted to come clean with
her also. So I opened the door then. “Five years ago I had a
student like Devin; the same type of temper the same type of

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J.V. Rosario

. . . kids. I loved him very much too.”


“Why are you saying that you loved him?” she asked.
“Josh
a couple of his friend,” I continued. “Man, they like to drink
. . . I got killed in a car accident. I never told him that I
loved him. I never said it to him. It‟s funny, but I didn‟t
react when my mother told me that he was death, but when it
was time to bury him. I felt as if my heart shrunk, like if
someone was squeezing it to suffocate me. I could not speak
to anyone that day without crying.”
“I‟m sorry!” she said.
I glanced at her and smiled, “Don‟t be; it‟s not your
fault; it‟s not anyone faults,” I said. “I love Devin as I loved
Josh ‟t want to be in that position again. I don‟t
like to say good-by. I know that being here, in this great
place of Green Hills Academy,” I said while I opened my
arms as if I were in a shrine. “You have to say good-by a lot
at the end of the school year. Especially if you don‟t get a
contract for the next.”
“Why are you saying that?” Alex asked with a puzzle
expression on her green eyes.
“„Cause I don‟t think that they are going to renew my

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contract, Alex.”
“I don‟t see why not,” she said.
“Why you said that,” I was looking for some sign,
she was almost a daughter for the Waldens, and I thought
that she might know something that I didn‟t know.
“They don‟t do things like that. They like stability
with their teachers.”
“That might be true, but I have had to many problems
with the kids, and provably they would ask me back, we‟ll
see,” I was heavy-hearted that night. “I don‟t want to face
that, Alex. I don‟t want to face the prospect of missing him.”
“You should not worry about that now I bet you that
everything is going to be fine, Devin will be backed next
year and you too. I guess I‟ll be back for another year to be
with you.”
“I love you, Alex,” I said.

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J.V. Rosario

The physical education department turned to a new era in


Green Hills‟ Academy. Walden called for a meeting to
reorganize the area, because he didn‟t like that almost
everyone in the school was getting good grades in P. E.
Until that moment all the classes followed the physical
education policies of Coach Brown. Coach Monroe, Chris
McGuire and I were following the line that Coach Brown let
in the school after five years in the school. We thought that
the policy had the blessing of the school administrators, so
we didn‟t ask any question about it. The three of us were
practically new in the academy center, so we didn‟t discuss
the procedure.
Coach Peters, who used the affair to kiss some ass
with Walden and Milano, blew the whole thing out of
proportion. He was the one that brought to Walden‟s
attention that many students were getting good grades in P.
E. There were few Ds and less Fs for him and too many A‟s,
and B‟s.
The doctor, who was in his good old times a Physical
Ed. Instructor, given us new guidelines to take care of our
classes from then on. It turned out to be that the new

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A Season In Green Hills‟

direction that the P. E. Class was going to follow was a


conceivable copy of Mr. Peters' plan of action. Walden
prayed his work in from us, it sounded as if he were talking
about the prodigious son, the one that was going to inherit
Green Hills in the future.
I came out of the meeting disliking Peters more than I
did before; He was a brown nose to the maximum potency,
and there is nothing that I disapprove the most. Still, it was
done, no matter, we were to follow his betrayed to us with
his new policies. Now he was going to tell us what we were
supposed to do in our grades every two weeks. If he were
doing football during the spring, we were to follow him too.
Now that basketball was over, I was to coach the
girls‟ track team in my last period of the day, but the first
three terms I was to do what Peters was doing in his classes.
In other world he was named department chief, without the
pay.

Devin crossed in front of me in different occasions and he

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J.V. Rosario

even didn‟t say a hello to me, I felt that he was avoiding me.
He was still working hours from his previous smoking
volition, and he took as a task to take all the hours of at once.
Pierre told me that Devin‟s Dad sent him a plain ticket few
days ago, and the only chance he had to use them was to get
out of the discipline board before the date the tag was set.
The kid‟s appearance in those days didn‟t gaze that
favorable to me, he was walking as if he didn‟t have much
sleep, and as if he was mad about something. I thought that
he was mad about me, but I didn‟t know why. I wasn‟t
taking the silent treatments that well, at one point I wanted to
smash his head over the wall but it didn‟t do it. I was busy
with the track team that Mr. Milano didn‟t want to do.
Because he had a problem relating with the girls in sport, at
least that what everyone was saying?
I found Devin one afternoon I went to Mr. Hawking‟
office, I wanted more disciplinary action sheet for my
classes. I really didn‟t want over to hear the conversation but
I was there and the door was opened. Devin was arguing
with the man, as I never saw him before. Until that moment
I thought that the mellow disposition was all there was in
that boy, but this time he was really angry.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

“He promised me,” Devin told Hawking. “He said


that he was going to give me some hours so I could go home
during the week.”
“Mr. Devin, you know that it‟s a prerogative of the
house parents to give you hours our not,” the man told the
boy with a firm voice, while he lay back in his executive
burgundy chair. “I can do anything about that. He is the
boss in the dorm.”
“Don‟t you see if I don‟t get off the board I wouldn‟t
go home to my Family reunion, and my father will kill me?”
this time there was an anguish tone in Devin‟s voice. He
was afraid of his Dad‟s response more than anything.
It broke my heart to see him upset like that, but I also
put myself in Mr. Martin‟s position there most be the reason
of this situation. Devin wasn‟t a clean boy, his room
provably was a mess and Mr. Martin was putting pressure on
him to clean up the space.
“Devin, I can‟t do anything for you,” Hawking told
him. “You have to solve the problem by yourself.”
“Oh!” he made that angry sound and left the room,
and when he traversed the doorframe he made a full stop in

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J.V. Rosario

front of me. He avoided having eye-to-eye contact with me;


he went around me and then ran through the building‟s
doors.
“What‟s wrong with him?” I asked Hawking.
“Oh! Nothing Mr. Martin promised him that he was
going to give him some hours so he could get out of the
board,” he made a don‟t care gesture with his right hand, as
if he were tired. “He‟s fearful that his going to lose his
airplane tickets. What can I do for you Coach?”
I forgot my reason for being there, I wanted to go
after Devin in that moment, “Don‟t worry I was looking for
Ms. Alex they told me that she was here,” and as I said that I
began to walk out of his office.
When I went out of the building, my eyes took time
to adjust to the bright sunlight of the outdoor. I was looking
for Devin, but I lost him between the trees around the bell
tower. So I whistled for him. My particular whistle was like
a signal for us; there were five people who knew it, my
mother, my sister, Alex and Devin.
Devin turned around and walked toward me, I
noticed that they wrapped his right hand on a ban aid and he
was holding it as he was coming. “What?” he asked. “What

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A Season In Green Hills‟

do you want?”
“How many hours you need to work before the week
you supposed to go home?” I requested the facts from him.
“Why?” he asked with a distrusted expression
between his eyes.
“Cause I can help you,” I said.
“You‟re going to help me again,” the boy whipped
his sweat drops from his upper lips.
“Yeah, why you asked that, kid. Are we friends?”
Devin made a short pause; his response was
screaming that he didn‟t want my help in this matter or
maybe anymore. Still, he was more afraid of his that than of
his pride, so he ended saying, “What can I do for you?”
“Whatever!” I said. “It‟s up to you if you want to
help me or not. You can help me to sweep the gym floor, or
correct some paper for me.”
“That‟s fine I can do that,” he said, and then
continued, “I need twenty hours before the first Friday of
April.”
“OK! When can you start?”
“Tonight, if you want,” he responded

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J.V. Rosario

“Good, I‟ll be in the gym after dinner,” I told him,


and then I asked him about his hand.
“I punched the wall after Mr. Martin told me that he
wasn‟t going to give my hours, the son of a bitch is a two
face.”
“Maybe we can play basketball after you finish the
floor.”
He smiled but he didn‟t answer; he turned around and
walked back to the dormitory. As I saw him walking away
from me, I said to myself that finally I found Devin‟s dark
side. Then the deja-vu sensation advanced over me, the
feeling that I knew him before.

Devin came to the gym with his two best bodies in school,
Pierre and Jason. I was in the coaches‟ office waiting for
him the show; one thing he had that was really good was that
he was punctual. He came through the door and immediately
asked me, “What is what you want me to clean.”
I glanced at him, I was a little irritated with his
attitude, and I was more interested to know what was going

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A Season In Green Hills‟

on with him than to get the gym‟s floor dusted. So I opened


my talk with a question, “What‟s wrong with you?” I
wanted to sound harsh because I wanted him to understand
that I was upset with him.
“With me, nothing,” he responded just when he made
a gesture with his shoulders.
“I know you better than you think, so cut the crack
and tell me,” I said.
“Tony . . . “he began to say something but he paused,
then he articulated, “It a Family thing. I don‟t want to bother
you with it.”
I was disappointed with his answered; „cause I knew
that he was lying to me. This wrathful me more, after all I
did for him during the basketball season. I felt that he
distrusted me, “What is wrong then, can you tell me?” I
asked him.
Devin paused again as if he were trying to construct a
story in his head, then he uttered, “It‟s my brother, Brad. He
wants to leave college, he met this girl and he thinks he is in
love, the ass wants to get marrying, and my father is giving
him a hard time.”

472
J.V. Rosario

“It‟s that why you were crying after the basketball


game?” I recognized that he distinguished that I knew that he
lied to me. “Devin, I want to tell you something. It doesn‟t
matter what. I‟m your friend. I love you, as if you are my
own kid,” I got across what I was I afraid to say, then there
was a space between words and I repeated myself again, “I
love you, kid.”
Something clicked inside the boy; I felt it. It was a
little twist between his blue eyes and his black eye browses.
Still, he only circumscribed to make a signal pointing out of
the office, outside in the basketball floor. Pierre was
heehawing while Jason blared at him. It was as if what was
happening between the other two gave Devin a reason to get
out of the office.
“You want to play basketball?” I asked him.
“Can we do the floor another day?”
“Sure!”
He didn‟t acknowledge my declaration, and that
made me feel stupid after he left the room. I waited in the
office to put my thoughts together. I pitied myself in that
moment cause I thought that I was going to lose his respect
with the thickheaded confession.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

That night I jointed them to play a couple of games,


and we didn‟t talk for the rest of the evening, as if we were
tired of each other.

I am always going to be a basketball coach. I am not


volleyball or a track and field coach, just a basketball coach.
This was evident when I began to instruct the girls‟ track
team, I knew something about this discipline, but, no as
much as I should to be the girls‟ mentor. They weren‟t the
most important things for the school, the Athletic Director
was a guy sport fanatic, and in his mind the girls were
something that wasn‟t in the top of his list. In the other hand
he wasn‟t that famous with the girls, they used to call him
the pig.
I was caught in the middle of the controversy, the
girls like me but they knew that I wasn‟t that good a coach.
Mr. Milano was a good boys‟ track coach but they hate him

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J.V. Rosario

with passion.
Several girls‟ volleyball team players came to the
tryout for the track team, including Christina who currently
was Mark Hilltop Girlfriend. She was one of the few girls
that played all the sports that academy offered for the girls.
It was the last period of the school day; the bell was
close to ring the closure of the segment. My plan for that
class was to make the students run around the track field and
to oblige them to do some fifty meters‟ repetitions.
Christina wasn‟t a runner; she was a shot-putter, so
that afternoon she threw that heavy instrument about twenty
times. She loved to do this cause Mark, her boyfriend, was
in the same event for the boys‟ team. This gave them the
opportunity to be together most the time while they were
training.
In the afternoon that followed I had the frustrating
conversation with Devin, Christina came crying to the
gymnasium, something happened between Mark and her that
generated in her a strong reaction. I was sitting on the
stances waiting for the bell to finish the period, and she came
and sat near me. I found it difficult to believe that she was
crying I thought that she was a strong person. She wasn‟t

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A Season In Green Hills‟

the type of girl that will make tears come out for any stupid
reason.
I watched her blurt her tears as if her world were to end, I
felt sorry for her so, I asked her, “What going on with you,
girl?”
“Coach, I can keep this secret any more I have to tell
someone,” she said while weep her words. “Mark doesn‟t
understand why I‟m like this.”
“Like what?” I asked her. I was to admit that I was
curious about the confession. I felt like a pry.
“Three men when I was thirteen years old raped me,”
she shouted. “I can‟t tell him, „cause he is going to reject
me, and I love him so much, I don‟t want to lose him.”
I could not believe what I heard; I didn‟t understand
why these kids were telling me, and not someone else, they
were betraying their most intimate truth. I wasn‟t rose like
this. I could not put in words my thoughts, as they were
doing. Devin, Johnny, and now this girl were opening to me.
I didn‟t want to know about theirs cause this will put me in
the spot to open my heart to them, and I wasn‟t prepared to
do so with anyone.

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Still, she was crying for help. Few months ago I


found her in the library with Devin sitting between the
shelves hiding from the librarian. They were talking about
the school and about how difficult being in it was, when I
approached them.
I said whispering; we didn‟t want the librarian on our
backs, “Hi Kids!”
“Coach, why you always call us Kid?” she asked
murmuring back. “We aren‟t kids any more.”
“Yeah, why you always call me Kid?” Devin
reinforced the questioning.
“It‟s a long story,” I responded in a mumble.
“Well, we have forty-five minutes,” she said.
“I have a nephew, who doesn‟t speak Spanish, „cause
he has lived all his life in New Jersey,” I began telling them,
“He used to come to the Island during summers when I was
coaching my first basketball team. He used to call my
players Kids so I took that as a trade mark, so now the
people that play for me or these for whom I care . . . “
“You call them, Kid,” Devin said.
“That‟s right.”
“That‟s nice, so I am your Kid now,” she said.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

“Yeah,” I answered. “But, enough about the kid


thing, what ups with you too?”
“Nothing we are just telling us our sad stories,” she
said.
“Yet, life socks, Coach,” Devin said with an
expression that I didn‟t like, it was as if he were tired of his
life, it frightened me.
“Yet life really socks,” she joined the choir.
“I don‟t understand why you people dare to say
something like that, it makes me angry too here from you
specially you, Devin that I know you better,” I whispered to
them. “Had you looked in a mirror lately? You are young
and good-looking kids, and God gave you a good brain that
you can use to become anything you want, so don‟t give me
that Shit that your life socks, because everything that it‟s
happening to you now it‟s just temporary,” I said. I could tell
that they surprised them with me remarks, Devin gave me
half a smile as if he were embarrassed with what he said and
fortunate too here my words.
Nevertheless, now Christina was in agony, she
thought that she could not give herself completely to Mark

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J.V. Rosario

without reveling her past. She was really in love with him.
I put my arms around her and let her put her head on
my shoulder, and then I said something that I didn‟t believe,
“You should be honest with him, and tells he. I think that
Mark is a good kid, and he will value more your honesty
than your evasions to this matter. Don‟t be afraid to tell
him if he loves you for real he will not let you go.”
Why that is from time to time us human beings‟ give
advises that we do not follow? It is a mystery for me,
because I went to my apartment to think about what she told
me. Being that honest with someone wasn‟t possible for me,
no evens my mother or my sister who before I came to Green
Hills‟ was to two most trusted people I had in this world.
I took off my sweaty clothes, and postured on the
light blue sofa in my living room. I looked around my
apartment and then told myself, “I can believe that she said
that to me.” I was talking to myself, as my grandma used to
do. It was in the Family to talk a loud our thoughts but not
to tell them to anyone. This characteristic sometime I
alarmed me; I reflected that I was going to end like my
grandma in a home for old people, insane.
On the door a timid knock announced that there was

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A Season In Green Hills‟

someone at out there asking to come in. “It‟s open,” I


invited the person to come inside.
Alex came inside, she smiles at me and they pecked
me on the lips. “What is wrong? You look as if you just saw
a ghost,” she was very perceptive.
“I guess I did,” I responded; while I scratch me head
with my right hand.
“What happened?”
“I don‟t know if I should tell you,” I said. “This girl,
who is in my track team, told me something that I could not
comprehend.”
“Who?” She asked with an inquiring expression
between her eyes.
“I don‟t know.”
Then she added, “Tony, don‟t believe everything
these kids say to you, they are a bunch of liars. Many of
them could drive between the devil‟s legs and he may not
notice it.”
I began to laugh with her, and then said, “That‟s the
funniest thing I have heard today. You know it‟s true, but not
here. This is different.”

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J.V. Rosario

“Who is this girl, and what did she say to you?”


“It‟s Christina Mallet,” I said sighing out my words.
“She told me that when she was thirteen she was gang rape
by a group of men in a party at her mother‟s house.”
“Jesus!” Alex put her hands on her face.
“She came to me, crying because, she was afraid to
tell Mark. She thinks that if she tells him he wouldn‟t like
her anymore.”
“The poor thing,” Alex murmured.
“Christina like this kid, I think she really loves him,
and she thinks that to love someone you should be
completely honestly with the other person, that the two of
them should open their secrets to each other.”
The air in the room turned thick, it was as if none of
us could speak the next word, I was in love with her, but I
also love my mother and me never told her my most
confidential thoughts.
Alex sat on the sofa and I stood up at the same
moment, then we look at each other. The air conditioning
was on but I didn‟t feel it, cause I was sweating as if I were
playing a twenty-one with Devin.
“I have to tell you something, Tony,” she said.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

“You don‟t have too,” I said.


“But, I do! I want too,” she responded with a smile
on her face. “It‟s my choice to tell you. I love you and I
think that Christina, it‟s right, there should not be secrets
between us.”
I stood in front of her muted, waiting to receive a
blow from her, an enormous true to come through my ears to
affect my brain, my thoughts about her. I didn‟t want to
know anything, because that would make me to expose mine
to her. It was as if we were going to march into the twilight
zone.
“Behind my mother‟s pharmacy, there is a storage
room,” Alex began her tale. “I used to spend time there,
„cause it‟s where my mother has the TV. Mother used to
have people that help with the business. She didn‟t have
time for my sister or me, she needed to make money for us
but she didn‟t have the time to share it with us. So, she
assigned us one of her helpers.” She made a stop to swallow
her saliva, then she continued with her account, “We got
attached to one of her, friend. He was a young man that lives
in the store for a long time. He was our safeguard. My

482
J.V. Rosario

mother trusted him with her life in those days. I think that he
was from Cuba, but I‟m not sure off that, he was Hispanic.
“One evening I was watching TV. He came to the
back room, and began touching me all over, he made me take
my clothes off and . . .” she hesitated to continue. Alex was
breathing hard, but there weren‟t tears or cries; there was an
embarrassment expression on her face. “He kept on doing
that to me until his Family move up north.”
I didn‟t say anything, I was feeling proud of her, and
embarrass for not being able to reciprocate her courage of
telling the truth. Alex never told this to anyone; it was her
dark secret.

They removed Devin from Mr. Marquez tennis class


and put him in my track and field course, he pounded a wall
in Eaton Hall after Mr. Martin told him that he wasn‟t going
to give him credits for the hours he worked in the dormitory.
Mr. Martin was doing one of his ugly jokes to the boy, but
when the old man saw the fracture hand he didn‟t find it
amusing. Mr. Hawking reprimanded him for provoking an

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A Season In Green Hills‟

injury in one of his resident.


Devin had on a Band-Aid on his right hand for a long
time. He wasn‟t in one of his best humor cause he wanted to
play for the school tennis team, a sport that he easily could
dominate. The Kid blamed the whole thing to Mr. Martin, he
was very angry with him, and he carried it to my class. He
was going to the only boy in this group.
My relationship with him began to spoil; we didn‟t
have a conversation for about two weeks after we talked in
the gymnasium. I thought that he was afraid of me or that he
didn‟t like me anymore, because what I told him. The other
reason was that he was very busy with the hours that he
wanted to cut down, and I with the team that I was unhappy
to coach. He came to me with Mr. Marquez note to allow
him to change courses with me. I thought that Marquez
didn‟t want him in his class anymore.
“What did you do that he threw you out of his team?”
I asked him.
“I pushed a wall,” he murmured.
“If you are going to be with us you are going to have
to run,” I told him.

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J.V. Rosario

“I can do that.”
“Are you sure that your hand is going to let you?”
He said yes, and they asked me if I were going run
too. One of my traits as a coach of the girls‟ team was that I
did the stretching exercises and the running routines with
them. So the first thing we did was to run two miles before
we did the other track routines. Devin ran beside me every
time we did these two miles, we let the girls go ahead and we
just talk the whole trajectory. It was as if he wanted to catch
on for the two weeks that we didn‟t see each other.
I felt that the kid was losing some of his aerobic
capacity, because he could not keep up with my running.
Inside me, I knew that he was smoking a lot, because he was
really wicked for a boy that just finished training for
basketball. We usually ran two miles around the school
campus, beginning with the in front of the gymnasium and
going behind the boys‟ dormitories, who where in the other
extreme to the school. Our track consisted of white sand,
asphalt pediment, and green grass, all over small hills and
prolonged plain trails, making the spoor a good surface for a
training cross-country team.
The girls were in front all the time, while Devin and I

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A Season In Green Hills‟

ran after them to see if they were going too quick the rout or
not. We ran behind the grassy field of Wallace Hall and
Eaton, the two boys‟ dormitories, and then we jumped into
an asphalt road out of the campus and behind the Fine Art
Center. The road used to take us around the school campus,
between the teachers‟ apartments and the classrooms all the
way to where the track was. The task was to be done twists
before the beginning of each track practice. It was close to
two miles run.
Devin and I didn‟t talk much during those first days
of his transfer to my class, but he kept my pace when we
were jogging with the girls, never stop or gave up. He was
in a good condition despise of his smoking habit. He never
stopped smoking inside the dorm regales of his two previous
violations of the school code in that matter.
I knew that his habit was an addiction to the nicotine,
but I never said anything to make him stop. I was concern
about what the cigarette and the chewing tobacco were going
to do to his health, but I thought that it wasn‟t my place to
tell him to stop. For a student to be able to smoke in campus
he needed to have his parents consent, and he dad didn‟t

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want him to smoke.


Anyhow Devin kept the pace very well, even Though
the warm temperatures that were happening in those days
were making us decrease our tread.
One Friday afternoon he made an immediately stop; he was
holding his right side, as if he were having a bad cramp o n
his stomach. I ended my jogging to see what was going on
with him; from my point of view I thought that the kid was
having a bad cramping. So I took him by his arm and tried
to make him walk the rest of the trail. The girls were in
front way ahead from us, but the kid needed my help.
“What‟s up with you?” I asked him.
“I can‟t keep on running,” he said, while he held his
side. “I got a cramp . . . “
“OK, let‟s walk to the track,” I said just when I held
his left arm and tried to give him some air space in his lungs
We walked by the teachers‟ apartment, where the
trees made a natural cave of green; it was the coolies‟
passage of the running trail, behind DOA Dormitory. While
Devin and I walked together the track, we saw Alex between
two edifices. She was cleaning something behind the three
stories‟ structures.

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I grinned and then blared at her, “They have you busy


. . .”
“No as busy as you . . .” she howled back at us as if
we surprised her that we were walking insteps of running
“Oh . . . This is Devin‟s fall! He can‟t keep up with
an old man.” I wailed.
Devin pushed me in a playful way, as if what I said
insulted him, but all in fun. It was the first time in with that I
got a reaction from him since the end of the basketball
season.
We kept on walking as if we didn‟t have anyone
waiting for us at the track. The boy was feeling better of his
cramp, so I said to him, “You want to run again?”
He looked at me with an unfavorable expression to
my question, and then he said, “Can we just walk to the
track, this is the only time that I feel as if I‟m not in this
school.”
“You hate it!” I smiled at him.
“You don‟t know how much,” he said. He closed his
eyes; there was detestation in them. “It takes our liberties
away; it makes me feel as if I‟m not a human being. As if

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I‟m the prisoner of Dr. Walden and his tags.” He paused,


and minded me; it was as if he grew up in front of me in that
moment. He wasn‟t the boy that asked me to teach him
basketball this time, he was different, and there was some
kind of maturity in his words. “Things that I take for granted
at home, I can‟t do it here, like going to the corner‟s
Seven-eleven to buy a Coca-Cola. I hate that Coach! I want
my freedom back . . . I don‟t want to come to this school
next year . . .”
“Devin, I know what you feel,” I told him, “I might
not be here next year too.”
“Why?” he asked.
I made a full stop to answer his ask, “I don‟t think
that Dr. Walden likes me, he blamed me for what happened
between him and Elliot that night at the gym, and he thinks
that I don‟t have any control of my students. So I don‟t think
he‟ll renew my contract.”
“But, what going to happen with you and Alex?” he
questioned me.
“I don‟t know.”
“Do you love her?”
I didn‟t feel if this were an appropriate subject to

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discuss with a fourteen-year- old boy, but there was a


genuine worry cast on his face that I could not let me close
the conversation then. “I love her very much,” I finally said,
“but there are things that will unable me to give myself
completely, things that I can‟t tell to other people. If you
don‟t express them to the people you love, „cause they‟re too
hard to tell, then you will never be free from those secrets
inside which we keep. Do you understand me, Devin?”
“But if you love her, what stop you from telling her?”
he said.
“Devin, you know that I know that you have a secret
too,” I said to him. “Would you tell someone, just because
you love that person? . . . I think that there are things that
we should take to our sepulcher.”
“You don‟t trust anyone, not even me.” There was a
discontented glimpse in his blue eyes after he said that.
“I . . . I do . . . “but I ate my words after that.
I began walking to the track, the girls were provably
wondering about our where above, and the kid wasn‟t in a
good spirit to keep on talking. I could it sense that he was
between disappointed and frustrated with what I said. I

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didn‟t see why he was acting like that. I knew that I put my
foot in my mouth, but I could not pinpoint what was the
main reason. I thought that what I said to him came out
honest.
The school week was over. I went home thinking of
what I told him, and what he told to me. It was a puzzle. I
felt that I needed to know why he was acting as if he were
disappointed of me. In a way I felt bad that he perceived that
I let him down, so that Friday night I went to his dormitory
room after dinner was over. I told Alex at dinner that I was
going to talk with Devin that night, and I asked her to wait
for me after the lights were out in her dormitory I wanted to
talk to her too.

I came to his room in two occasions before this one, the day
that Mrs. Martin showed me Eaton Hall, and the night that I
told him that he was going to be in the Varsity. I didn‟t
suspect that this time it was going to be an eye opener for
me.
Devin was sitting on the floor with Pierre. They were

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playing chess in an old chess board that the dormitory had


for the kids that play the Kings‟ game. They were surprised
that I was standing in the door watching them made their
moves. Pierre was younger than Devin and he weren‟t
supposed to be in that wing of the building, he was a ninth
grader wild Devin was a tenth. I presumed that Pierre got
scare of my present in the room because he let us alone
immediately he saw me.
“Do you want to play chess?” Devin asked me.
“Yeah, why not?” I said.
I sat on the floor in front of him and helped him to
put the board together. Devin suspected that I wasn‟t there
with the purpose of playing chess, so he asked, “Why are
you here?”
“It‟s your move,” I said referring to the white pieces
in front of him.
Devin moved a pawn to the King‟s fourth square, and
then asked me again, “Tony, why are you here?”
“I want to know why you were crying after last game
of the season, that‟s why I‟m here,” I told him.
“That‟s my secret, which I‟m going to take it to my

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sepulcher,” he said.
“You don‟t mean that, Devin.”
“Yeah, I do!” he said.
“Why are you so mad with me?” I asked him, “I
thought that we were friends.”
“You don‟t trust me, and I‟m tired of not to be trust
by anyone.” He paused and moved his face to the right in a
misery gesture, and then he continued with his sentence,
“Not even my Dad does that . . .”
“I do,” I said to him.
“Yeah . . . aha!”
It took me a minute to gun myself with courage to
begin talking again, “No one knows this. No even my
mother, not even my sister, who is two of the persons that I
love the most in this world . . .” I looked at him to see if he
were ready to hear me, he was sitting on the floor, and his
eyes were on me. “You know, Devin, since I came to this
school I have become the hearing of some students. They
just come to me and tell me their experience as if I really
want too now about them. First, Johnny, with his fast
monologue, and then Christina, she even cried on my
shoulder. You know what they told to me, Kid . . . That

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members or friends of their families raped them when they


were younger. Do you know what that, Devin is? How
shameful it is. Of course you don‟t. If you don‟t go through
it you will never understand . . . Well, I understand,” I
stopped to take air throughout my mouth, and then finished.
“That‟s my hidden truth . . .”
There was silent among the four walls in the little
space. He looked at me with eyes of amazement, as if he
were startled with the news. I thought that he was going to
reject me for now on that he was going to look at me as if I
were a phenomenon or a deranged person.
“A friend of my brother did that to me,” I continued.
“I was only eleven that happened. I didn‟t know anything
about the reality. Nobody took the time to tell me, my father
was an alcoholic and my mother was to busy fighting with
him. So I grew up without any malice, not like the kids
today . . . That boy took my innocence with him that night,
Devin.”
He didn‟t say anything; he just limited himself to
observe me as I divulged him my anecdote. The board game
was between the two of us on the floor. I looked around to

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see the room; he had a mess in it. He was by himself in the


room; they moved his roommate to another latitude because
they could not get alone, and Devin accused him from
stealing, so Mrs. Martin relocated him. There were socks
and underwear all around the room, and his pants, short, and
T-shirts were piled in a mountain under the sink, telling
whether they were clean was hard or not.
“You don‟t clean much in this place,” I said after a
while.
“I know,” he responded.
“Well, you know me better than, anyone else,” I said.
“I want to know you too.”
Devin contemplated me and gave me a half smile; his
shin was shaking as if he were going to begin weeping in
that very moment. His eyes began to turn sanguine, as it
happened the day he was sitting on the watching machine
inside the boys‟ locker room. He could not pronounce a
word; he was affected with what he was going to say. I
moved close to him and held him by his shoulders, and asked
him, “Are you OK?” I was afraid; I thought that I was
going to open a large door, too difficult to handle.
Then, the boy began talking, “The night . . . I . . . I

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saw you trying to . . . comfort Bobby. I knew that I was


going to miss you next year,” he said between sobs.
“Because, you‟re the only person that has ever had any
interest in me. That has ever taught me something. I don‟t
want to say good-by to you . . . Every time I think in that; I
can help it I just . . . get like this. I was embarrassed to admit
it to you.”
“That‟s why you are trying to avoid me in the past
days?” I asked him.
He made an affirmative gesture with his face.
“Don‟t you see I love you as if you were part of my
Family,” I said. “You don‟t have to miss me. I always am
going to be a phone call or a letter away from you. I always
am going to be there for you. It‟s a promise!”
“And you always keep your promises,” he said.
“That is a fact, Kid. I never made a promise that
could not fulfill, and this one is an easy one to make.”
Devin glanced at me with a mortified expression on
his face; he was feeling embarrass because he was sobbing in
front of me. As hard as he tried to idle his tears from coming
out, he could not stop them. And between his teardrops, he

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finally said to me, “I have always been over-look by my


parents, they don‟t care for me as you do . . .”
I made an agile move to get close to him, I wanted to
hug him, in that moment that was what he needed, and then I
told him, “They‟re fools if they don‟t know what a great kid
they have in you . . .”
I let him alone in his room that night, in my mind
there were thoughts of becoming a hero; I wanted to rescue
him from the dormitory and from his parents. The kid didn‟t
deserve a mistreatment like the one he was enduring. Just
when I was deliberating of how I could confess my disgrace,
the experience that hunted me since I was eleven years old
boy. As I was walking to Alex‟s dorm, I experienced that I
wasn‟t feeling ashamed of what happened to me almost
twenty years ago. I was still the same man; I wasn‟t less of a
person because a seventeen-year-old bully took advantage of
me.
Alex was waiting for me in front of the building. It
was bright nigh, the moon was full and the bell tower
spotlights were shining the white obelisk. All the lights in
the windows were out, as it was supposed to be then. There
was a light fog lifting from the ground; it gave a magical

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touch to that frame in where we were.


“How did it go?” she asked me on the front steps of
the building.
“He told me why he was acting so uncommunicative
in the past days,” I informed her. “But that‟s not what I want
to tell you.”
“OK! Come on in,” she smiled again with that
pleasant gesture that made me fall in love with her.
We both sat on the lobby‟s sofa, where we made love
once. She reclined herself from the chair‟s back, while I sat
on the edge assuming Rodan‟s Thinker posture. “What‟s
up?” she asked me, she knew that I was trouble with
whatever happened between Devin and me.
“So, what did he tell you?” she asked me.
“That‟s not important now,” I said.

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Chapter IX

1
Alex hanged around in hers dorms‟ lobby waiting for
me the night before the Spring Break began. She was going
to verify with me her arrangement for the next day. We were
to take an airplane at the Orlando International the next
morning. So she wanted to be ready with a departure plan in
our parts. She coordinated with Alma Walden so we didn‟t
have to help the students at the airport. Still, I was supposed
to help a school‟s drivers with the pupils inside a bus, while
Alex was going to drive my car and meet me at the
American Airline‟s ticket counter.
The dorm residents fill out the dormitory‟s foyer with
all kinds of bags and suitcases. They were to have them
ready so the process of shipping a hundred of them to their
respective homes and countries wouldn‟t dilate.
I walked between the obstacles to meet her in the
center of the small room. Everyone was asleep but us; we
were ready to hit the road that evening. We kissed and sat
on a heavy valise. Alex just stared at me with the desire that

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was burning in us since the begging of the second semester.


We didn‟t have secrets between us anymore; she knew about
my pass and I knew about her. I never felt so comfortable
with a person in my life; I could feel her body without any
repressive concerns. Our thoughts could not be more
synchronize; she and I were one-person thinking the same
musing.
Alex and I didn‟t discuss a thing on which night, we I
limited us to kiss between the baggage spread around the
room and made love with our clothes. We filled our bodies
with heat and sweat. We contacted each other with our lips,
our hands. Then we danced a rhythmic swing on each
other‟s bodies.

The following morning the classes were to be normal


until ten o‟clock when everyone was supposed to be
dismissal for the short vacation. My duties were the same as
in Christmas. I was to help Mr. Johnson with the kids that
were going to the airport, and then there I was to meet with
Alex to take the plane to San Juan.
I went to my classroom so I could organize some

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paper work that I had pending to grade for the next days after
the break. As I was doing that I received a visit from Alex
in my classroom, she wanted to take pictures of me. She had
her camera ready for the trip, so we could have some
memories of our excursion to the Caribbean Islands.
“You know Alex I will like to have a picture with
Devin.” I told her.
“That‟s a good idea,” she said. “Why don‟t you call
him?”
“Call him?”
“Yeah,” she said. “I think that no one is going to
mind if you call him. Do you know where he is?”
“He is with Coach Monroe.”
“He wouldn‟t care?”
Devin came few minutes later, we waited for him in
from of the new school library building, and it was in the
way to my classroom. We were to take the picture in front of
the white arches of the structure. It was a beautiful morning
to take images, the grass was green and the sky was simple
blue. The heaven didn‟t have any dark claws.
As Alex was getting ready to take the picture, Devin
and I stood shoulder to shoulder with the library as our

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background. Alex recited until three to take the first picture.


As she judged us through the lent Devin rested his arm
around my shoulders, and then pronounced loudly, “Dad!”
I didn‟t like that he called me that at first so I pushed
him with a friendly boost. He laughed and did it again with
the second picture. Then I realized that he wasn‟t joking that
he wasn‟t trying to make fun of my feeling for him. He
meant it.
We took pictures of Devin and me, Devin and Alex
and Alex and I. During the process we didn‟t talk, it was as
if his little remark muted our speech. I didn‟t know why he
said that but it made me feel honorable.
I ended sitting beside Devin in the school bus, where
they assigned me for duty. We didn‟t speak in the way to the
Orlando International; he was to get a fly to Tallahassee and
me to the island with Alex. It was as if he suddenly became
distrusted with me as if he has another personality coming
out of his body. I tried to start a conversation in several
occasions during the trip to the airport but he only answered
with monosyllables. His eyes were staring to the empty
space, and nothing disturbed this intense look through the

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whole way.
By the time we got near the last toll plaza on the
Beeline the boy said something that reflected his stage of
mind. “Freedom!” he pronounced between his teeth. The
word wasn‟t for me, or anyone inside the yellow vehicle.
His thoughts were for him something was worrying him but I
didn‟t know what and I didn‟t want to ask. As I looked at
him, I saw the same vulnerable emotion on his face as when
he came to see me the afternoon of the Trinity game. I didn‟t
absence to repeat that unfortunate episode. I wasn‟t strong
enough to echo it again.
I lost his site the terminal, but I was worry that Alex
was going to be late to catch the plane. Devin wasn‟t where
to be found, so I thought that he was already on his gate
waiting to board his airbus.
Alex showed up in time for us to take the car to its
parking, gave our bags to the America Air Line people, and
run to our assigned entrance. As we run to the station, I
caught a glance of a group of kids from Green Hills.
Amanda, her sister Christina, Mark and Roger were standing
in front of the restroom smoking their cigarette, and between
them Devin was smoking too.

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We kept on walking on a fast pace, ignoring them as


if we didn‟t have anything to do with the bunch.
Nevertheless, my heart dropped. I could not stand to see that
kid hurting himself with the hideous habit. I loved him too
much.

Alex and I jumped into the Atlantic Ocean that same


morning; she never visited the island before, so she had some
misconceptions about it. Alex thought, because Puerto Rico
looks small in the map, that she could open our home front
door and walk to the beach from the porch. The experience
enlightens her; it was going to be her first time in a Latin
American country. She traveled, as student in Green Hills, to
Europe in several occasions, but she never went south as this
time.
Mothers received us at the Airport; the sardines were
looking throughout the glass as always. The driving to our
hometown was as rough as it could be in the middle of the
rush hour. Alex could not believe how similar to driving

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was to the Daytona‟s 500.


Carmen parked the Honda Civic again in front of the
house. Three months later they changed nothing; it was as if
I never left to Green Hills. I love the house where my
parents raised me; it was a fortress of peace and concord.
We stepped out of the car and paused for a moment
to see the house and the neighborhood. The surroundings
were identical as when I left them.
“I was practically born there,” I told Alex.
“Oscar Rivera passed away two weeks ago,” mother
interrupted my contemplation. She was talking about the
front door neighbor. “Make sure that you go and say hello to
his wife.”
“I will Mom.”
I kept on looking around. Alex saw in me a nostalgic
element before which she never observed; she was watching
me. “I am sorry,” I said. “It‟s hard to see this place going
down.”
“It looks fine to me now,” she said.
“Well, it‟s not bad now,” I responded. “Still, you
should it see it when my brothers and I were growing up.
There wasn‟t traffic to fight, or commerce nearby as now.

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Today everything is contaminated from the cars that parks in


front of our homes. Back then everyone would watch us,
and things were more safe.”
“I know what you are saying,” Alex broke her
silence. “When I was growing up my mother‟s drugstore was
prospered, because our neighborhood was as you described
yours. Now the gangs are all over the place and nothing its
safe.”
“Gangs are all over the place here too,” my mother
told us.
“There is a fight for the drugs‟ pusher‟s corners, and
they all killing each other for . . . “
“Mother, don‟t scare her,” Carmen disconnected our
Mom from her line of thought. “She is going to think that we
live in a war zone.”
“Well a war zone is,” Mother said at the end.
“Let‟s go inside,” I said.

Inside the house Mother let us sleep together in her


bedroom; something that she didn‟t let does my brothers
with their girlfriends. I was the only child in our Family

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that didn‟t follow the Catholic tradition in my mother eyes.

We went to the beach the next afternoon; we were


determined to fulfill our spring vacation fantasy. So, I took
Alex to my secret place in the Island, Mar Chiquita --the
most beautiful beach in the world.
Alex and I sat on the sand and watched the waves
come back and forward; she felt in love the place. We swim
in the warm and clear waters of the pond. There was nobody
in the beach, only a couple of maintains workers that were in
charge to keep the ground stainless. However, they were to
far from where we were that they gave us the liberty to kiss
and at will. Alex bathed in the sunray and relaxed, and let
the hours go.
The sun was plunging into the water when we
decided to say a word. We merrily spoke with our eye, as if
we were telepathy that only used their mains to transmit our
thoughts.
“What are we going to do?” I asked her while.
“When?”
“What are we going to do after this school year is
over?” I rephrased my question.

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“I work in the school office and you in the shop.”


“What?”
“Yeah!” she said. “That‟s how the summer is in
Green Hills. The people that do not teach during summer
they help we the maintenance crews.”
“Yeah I know that. What I mean is you and I,” I told
her.
“You and I could move to live together,” she said.
There was a silly grin on her face.
I didn‟t answer her challenge earnestly. I know that
my facial expression change because she got somber with
my response. I didn‟t like the idea of living together and
thought this wasn‟t the right thing to do. In this aspect I was
old fashion; a man and a woman can only share a domicile
exclusively when they were married.
I knew in that moment that we were in loved that
there was an attraction between us that were more that a
simple flirt. Alex and I in many ways we were alike, two
alike to dismiss. We had the same tastes; we saw the world
with the same eyes. It was a bond that crosses the simple
superficialities. It wasn‟t that we like the same music, or the

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same TV programs, or movies; we had the same values and


introspection. It was as if God made us to be husband and
wife.
“I don‟t want to live with you,” I said.
“Why?” Her facial expression drops as if she
received a painful shock.
“I don‟t think it‟s right,” I continued. “I love you,
Alex, and I want to make you my wife.”
“You want to get marrying. That‟s what you‟re
saying!” She smiled.
“Yes,” I answered, “but, what about the unfolding.
What is going to happen in Green Hills Academy? I don‟t
know if they are going to renew my contract for next year.
What if I have to move back to this place again, because I
can‟t find another job?”
“They aren‟t going to fire you they don‟t do that,”
she said.
“Why you say that?”
“Because I haven‟t seen them do that to anybody,”
Alex responded. There was a certainty in her declaration
that gave me assurance. Maybe she was right; she knew
them better that I did at this time. “We can get marrying

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during the summer and you can work in the maintenance


department with Mr. Wood and Mr. Johnson. I can work in
the office with Mrs. Walden. They will give us one of the
new apartments . . . “
“You have everything planned,” I said.
She laughed and then added, “I have being thinking
about it.”
“Yeah, since when?”
“Since I saw you coming out of your car the day that
you came for the interview,” her eyes were grinning with
every word that came out of her lips. I thought that she was
beautiful.
“That long,” I said.
“And when did you . . .”
“I what . . . “
“You know,” she said. “When did you start liking
me?”
“Oh, that,” I didn‟t answer her inquest. I just
remembered that at first I didn‟t want to get near her that I
didn‟t want to get near anyone. I thought that my remaining
days in this earth were going to be along. Then I finally

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answered her curiosity, “When you opened the Waldens


front porch doors the day of our first date.”
“Why?”
“Because you were dressed in a green swatter and
blue jeans. I thought that you were very attractive that night.
Then the rest of the night went great.”
“Do you remember the movie we went to see?”
“Mr. Destiny . . . “
“Do you believe in destiny?” she asked.
“Yeah . . . I don‟t know. Why did you ask?”
“Because it looks that it made us to be together,”
Alex uttered. “I wouldn‟t think in my wildest dreams that I
was going to be with someone like you in a place like this a
year ago. It looks as if something pushes us to be together.”
I paused to response in that instant. I recalled what
my father told me in my dream, and the feelings that I was
having every time I look at Devin. There was something
more than a mire day-by-day experience of life. Something
cosmic was acting over us; we were supposed to be in Green
Hills in that year of the Lord. Alex and I were to be in those
same moments in time and space, because from our
interaction something was to happen to make the universe

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work. I didn‟t know what or why! I only knew then that it


was time to decide for our future for the path that we were up
to follow. When I was a kid, I used to believe that I was in a
movie or a TV shows that the world around me was the
stage. I was an actor reading some lines in front of a camera.
Now I began to believe that this child fantasy was taking
over.
“I don‟t know Alex sometimes I give credence to
what you said. Sometime I need proof to believe, I „m not
sure that God is what people say he is,” I said. “I know that
something is happening here between you and me, and
between Devin and me. I can feel it inside my bones. Ours is
just an attraction between us, and the rest is just mythology .
. . What I really know is that I love you and I want to marry
you.”
I kneeled in front of her and then voiced, “Alex,
would you marry me?”

When Alex and I came back to Green Hills‟ Academy, we

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didn‟t tell anyone about us. Our plans were to finish the
school year, and then reveal our status to the school officials.
Alex was going to stop working in the dormitory and I was
to keep on working as the school‟s physical education
teacher for another year.
I dropped Alex on the dormitory‟s doors and kept on
acting as if nothing happened. I was the most joyful man on
the planet, and I knew that Alex was as blissful as I was.
I went to the Dining Hall to eat dinner, after I
unpacked all my bags from the trip. I tried to act normal but
I thought that everyone knew about us; it was an uncertain
feeling of telling other people your secrets with your body
language. I gathered in a table with a group of dorm-parents,
and I felt as if they knew the news. I attempted to do small
talk with them for about fifteen minutes when I saw Devin
coming through the doors.
Devin crossed the room to come and sat with us in
the same table. He didn‟t pick up a trail to eat with us; he just
rested on the chair and contemplated me. I felt guilty in that
moment because after almost ten days in the island this was
the first time I ever thought on him.
“Hi, Kid,” I saluted him.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

He just grinned and then I felt it, the boy loved me;
this was the first time I ever feel this emotion coming from
him. No other student in the school would dare to sit with
the house parents during dinner. Devin was doing this just
because I was there with them. It was then that I knew that
something happened or it was about to happen.
I stop eating and asked he, “Are you OK?”
The boy acknowledged with single movement of his
head that I didn‟t know how to take it.
We went outside to talk. Devin was very happy to
see me; it was as if he were relived in a way. “I had a good
time in San Juan,” I said.
“Me too,” Devin responded. “I played basketball with
my brother and I beat him; I let him in zero.”
“That is good!”
“Did you play with your Dad?” I asked.
“No! I only saw him once. He went to London for
business.”
“Are you OK?”
“I guess I am,” he answered with sourer tone. “He
told me that I have to come back here next year.”

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“Do you want to come?” I asked.


“I don‟t want too, but also I want to come because I
know that you will be here. I want to play basketball for
you.”
“That makes me happy Devin,” I reacted by giving
him a blissful hug. “I am planning to come back next year
too. One thing that makes I want to come back here is that
you are going to play for me. You are going to be my point
guard next year.”
“That‟s the only thing that will keep my sanity,
Coach.”
We both moved on that night; it was Sunday and the
next day was a regular school day. Devin went Eaton Hall
and me to my apartment. Alex resumed her work in DOA, it
was going to be her last semester as the Director of the
dormitory, and at least that was what we were hoping.

The next day everything seemed normal, I have my two


classes in the morning with my two of the most disappear
groups I ever had as a teacher. Alex and I saw each other

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A Season In Green Hills‟

before my first class, while I went to the library to pick some


information for my first period.
She was outfitted in boxers and a white T-shirt, as if
she just woke from her second morning nap. During the
school days Alex used to wake early in the morning with all
the inhabitants of the dormitory. She maneuvered inside
their rooms with a water spray bottle in hand to boost young
women that weren‟t morning people. Then she sent them to
the dining hall to eat breakfast. After her mission was
accomplished, she jumped back in bed to continue her
interrupted snooze.
That morning she was waiting for me to go to the
library, she knew that I just to meet with Devin there. He
suffered his study hall with Coach Peters in the books‟ room.
I made it ritual to meet him in the library before my
first class. I thought he was having a hard time in those days
with the establishment of the boarding school. So I went to
make him company on a library table. He and I never talked
in that hour, he studied his homework and I prepare for my
Health Science class.
“What are you doing there?” I asked Alex who was

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looking at me from the dormitory‟s lobby.


“I was waiting for you,” she said.
“Why?”
“Because!”
“Because, what?”
“I want to see you. I missed you last night.”
“I missed you too,” I said.
“Come closer,” she said.
I felt as Romeo did when he climbed Juliet‟s
window‟s wall. She unclosed the large glass window and I
climbed over some flowers pots to steal a kiss from the
damsel.
While we were doing this a lady from the
administration office was going bye. The woman caught
between her fingers, as if she wanted to call our attention,
and let us know that she knew about us.
Alex and I looked at each other and them we said
simultaneously, “Oh!” Our secret was out; she was going to
tell everyone in the academy and to all folks in the
surrounding towns.

Inside the library Devin was reading his Moby-Dick

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A Season In Green Hills‟

copy; he liked to read long novels. During that year Devin


read about eight novels: from Stephen Kings‟ it and The
Stand, Anne Rice‟s Interview with a Vampire, and other
contemporaneous horror writers. It was amassing that he
was reading one of his English Literature assigned books.
He wasn‟t diligent with his homework; this was one
reason that brought him to Green Hills Academy. I always
thought that he was very intelligent, but with the same token
he was also severely indolent. At this point of our friendship
I was the one that was always pushing him to do his
homework. This was one of my purposes in going to the
library and sits with him. I began to act like a father for
him; something was telling that he could work better with
some kind of supervision.
Devin approached my table and sat after a couple of
minutes of being in the library. He read his book and I
corrected a group of paper that I had on my classroom desk.
We didn‟t talk that morning; it was as if we didn‟t need to
use communication to know what we were thinking.
I went back to my classroom building after we spent
a whole hour silently in a library table. I continued with my

518
J.V. Rosario

first period as if everything was going to be OK for the rest


of the school year. I was going to be back the next year,
Alex and I were going to get marrying and Devin was going
to be my point guard in the basketball team. She planned
everything and that gave me a sense of security.
The day was going great until the lunchtime when I
received a note from Mr. Walden‟s office. I was supposed to
meet with the man after lunch. I found it odd that he was
going to receive me in his office then and in the first day of
school after spring break. I thought that it could not be
anything adversely because I didn‟t do a thing wrong during
the last fourteen hours.
When I opened the Walden‟s door, he was sitting on
his black leather executive chair. I didn‟t have clues of why
he was calling me that night; I thought that maybe it was
another fuss about the track team that I was coaching.
I moved inside that dark room and cold room; he
usually kept that A/C in a low temperature; at times I thought
that I was dealing with a vampire, always in the dark and
cool corners.
“Mr. Ferrer please sits dawn,” the man said as he
chewed the world with his strong southern accent.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

I sat on the same chair I used in the other occasions


when he reprimanded me. When I was about to post in that
light brown furniture, I thought that it didn‟t look good what
was coming from him. It was the first day of school after the
spring break and there wasn‟t possible way that I was in
trouble. There was something more to it, but he began
talking and didn‟t give me chance to analysis it.
“Coach, I‟m not going to hang around the bunch to
say this,” the man started. “Green Hills Academy is not
going to renew your contract for next year.”
I didn‟t say a word and didn‟t make a gesture or
moved a muscle in my face. After all I didn‟t expect that.
The news came to me as if someone pored over me an ice
cooler filled with water and ice blocks to the top. I never
asked why or said a word back to him. He didn‟t give me a
chance to express me.
“Your job performance does not meet the standards
of Green Hills Academy. Your certification is not Physical
Education and the Board of Trustees is requiring from the
Academy that all their teachers meet this requirement,” he
said.

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J.V. Rosario

I didn‟t say anything to this point. He looked at me


with intriguing eyes and then, he continued with his
monologue, “Mr. Ferrer, you don‟t have to see this as a
failure in your part. The thing is that you aren‟t cut for Green
Hills Academy. You are too explosive and moody, and
sometimes lose the contact with what is going on with your
kids. Here we need to be on the task when to the kids is
rafting. “
Walden spoke about other things, but I didn‟t listen.
I was sitting on the chair in front of this man that was firing
me, and my first thoughts were for Alex. We were supposed
to get marrying in June, but now I wasn‟t going to have a job
for the next school year. Then, I heard him asking me, “Do
you have something to say, Mr. Ferrer?”
“What difference it‟s going to make?” I responded
with another question.
I think that he was a buffet with my answer; he was
ready to debate all my questions and all my remarks, but I
didn‟t fight him and this made him feel uneasy. A moment
of silent came between the two of us, for the first time in this
long year the man shut up.
“Did you ever have any suspicion?” Walden asked.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

“I knew it all a long,” I said. “Since you told me that


it was my fall that Elliot threw his shoes to you.”
He didn‟t speak, he limited himself to observe me,
but I knew that I hurt him with that statement. I thought it
carefully when he asked me that. I stood up from the yellow
chair and then asked he, “Do you need me for anything
else?”
“No, I don‟t,” he finally said.
I opened the door and left the room, and as I walked
out of the building I felt that I want to cry but I didn‟t. I
moved across the campus to get my mail in the teachers‟
launch. I walked with a heavy load on my shoulders I didn‟t
look at anyone or anything while I crossed the schoolyard. It
was the first time that something like this ever happened to
me. I felt as if my world were falling apart, as if I were
abnormal.
As I walked inside the building, I stumbled with
Devin and Bobby Hunter. They were waiting for me, in the
doorway of the old structure. “Coach, do you know that next
week Mr. Walden is going to give us the Steak Dinner that
he offered us,” Bobby said.

522
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“Yeah, whatever . . .?” I responded.


“What‟s up Kid?” Devin asked.
“The sky!” I said.
“Something is bothering you.” Bobby said.
Reading my mood in that moment was easy, but I
didn‟t want to say anything to any of them, especially Devin.
He was counting on me to be here for the next school year,
and I didn‟t want to disappoint him.
However, Bobby was an old fox in the school; he
could distinguish what was going on with me for some
reason. He gave me a good glance and then said, “You just
came from Walden‟s office. What did the ass-hole tell you?”
“Bobby, I don‟t want to talk about it now.” I stated to
him.
“Mr. Walden is not renewing you for next year,” he
asserted.
“No, he is not,” I said looking at Devin
simultaneously.
“That sucks.” Bobby declared, “What is wrong with
these people? When they have a good Coach for the first
time in many years, they let him go. What kind of school
they are running? Shit!”

523
A Season In Green Hills‟

Bobby surprised me with his defense, I always


thought that he didn‟t like me after the incident we have
before Christmas. In the other hand Devin remained mute to
all these. I didn‟t know how to take him, in that moment I
felt as if I fell him.
“What are you going to do now?” Bobby asked me.
“I don‟t know,” I said.
“I wished I could help you,” Bobby said, “You‟re the
best coach I ever had.”
This last remark coming from him was enough to
make me feel better. He was one of the best point guards I
ever have in a basketball team. However, in my mind was
how to break the news to Alex who already made plans our
future. I didn‟t know if this were going to put on whole or
desire to get merry.
I let the two boys and when to my apartment to see if
I could put in perspective what just happened. What I
wanted to do was to crow in my bed and not come out until
the next day. What was the use now that he fired me? I
asked myself. The man was ending me just because I didn‟t
think like him, I thought then. I forgot that in the dawning of

524
J.V. Rosario

the school year I slapped a girl. That Ryan and Brandy had
an altercation in my classroom, or that I almost fought with
Ryan inside the coaches‟ office. I only remembered that my
classes were excited for my pupils. That all my teams did
better than the presiding year, and I put around eighteen
hours every day to make that happened.
As I sat on my couch and thought about what,
Walden told me in his office. I didn‟t understand why they
didn‟t give me another chance. I worked hard in the last
days after the basketball season was over. I was really
frustrated with the school. I didn‟t care anymore so in that
moment I told myself that I wasn‟t going to give anything
else to it.

Although I didn‟t intuit how I was going to tell Alex,


when I told her she took very well. What she could not
understand Walden‟s action toward my employment?
“What did he say to you?” she asked me.
“I told you that already, he says that I wasn‟t cut for
the school, and frankly I beginning to think the same too.” I
said.
“But, what about all those hours that you put in your

525
A Season In Green Hills‟

teams and your classes? You are a hard worker,” she was
upset and confused with the situation. I always suspected
that Alex didn‟t really know the Doctor. When for me the
man was a mean spirit guy she saw him as loving father and
husband. She could not recognize that Mrs. Walden was as
manipulative as Mr. Walden.
Alex cared a great deal for Alma Walden. In
moments of adverse fortune Mr. Walden came true. When
her Alex‟s sister died, they drove her to Ft Lauderdale and
were her Family during those bad moments. Mrs. Walden
was like a second mother for her.
However, I could not see that, for me she was an old
witch that manipulated Alex to serve her at all moments.
She was the Demoiselle of the Feudal Kingdom, and
everyone was supposed to serve her. In a way I thought that
the best thing that happened to me was to get out of that
place. I wanted to take Alex with me to break the
dependency cycle for those people.
“Now, what are we going to do?” I asked her.
“We can postpone the wedding until you get another
position,” she answered.

526
J.V. Rosario

“If that what you really want?”


“No, I don‟t want that.”
“So let‟s continue with our plans to get marry this
summer. Let‟s put a real date.” I said. “I‟m not afraid about
the future; I think that I can find a job sooner than any of this
people could give me credit.”
She looked at me and then with a glow on her face
said to me, “Let‟s do it.”
“Alright,” I held her face in my hands and kissed her.
“I‟ll never go to disappoint you. I‟m going make you the
happiest woman in this world.”
We decided for a date in June after the classes were
over to take our bows. We didn‟t know where or how but
we were determined to achieve the goal that we put in
ourselves. The only thing we knew to all these were that we
were in love and that we wanted to get marry.

Places like Green Hills are difficult to keep a secret,


for more we tried there was someone that betrayed our
confidence. I don‟t know whether Alex‟s friends or my side
of the bargain double-crossed us, but in lest than a week the
whole campus knew our secret. However, that wasn‟t the

527
A Season In Green Hills‟

only thing that the student body knew. They also knew that I
wasn‟t coming back next year. The questions were multiples
form Alex and me. Some girls thought that it was very
romantic to get marrying for love and not for money. Other
members of the faculty believed that we weren‟t going to last
six months. My players thought that we were braved
because we were taking a step like that without me having a
secure job for next basketball season.
Still, we didn‟t care, the days passed and we got use
to the idea of getting marry. The end of the school year was
close and we were preparing for that event. We began to
plan for our wedding just when the school was preparing to
say goodbye to their senior students. The month of May
was an uninterrupted period of activities. There was one
after and other one. It was as if Green Hills wanted to keep
their students busy all the time.
It was in this period that many of them were
dismissed from the academy. The reasons for the dismissals
were various: smoking in the rooms, escaping from the
dormitories, students fighting, drugs, etc. . . . There wasn‟t a
particular indication for a dismissal, it could occur to a good

528
J.V. Rosario

or a bad student, it depend in many occasions in how good


you were with your house parent. A house parent could
make a bed for a child to be dismissed from school. If you
weren‟t in good terms with them, you could see yourself
walking out with bags in hand.
In those day lives inside campus was heavy for all.
The students were grouchy, the teachers wanted it to be over
and the administration was pushing everyone to keep the tie
schedule. For my part I wasn‟t impressed with any of their
bulldozing, I was out in less than thirty days and I didn‟t
care. My only concerns were Alex and Devin.
I wasn‟t sure if I were going to find a job soon
enough to sustain a marriage. I began to doubt in me. I
asked myself in many occasion if I were going to make it
any other school, if I were good enough to fulfill my dreams.
We caught Alex in the middle, but I never let her know that I
had some doubts. Devin in the other hand, I was having a
hard time let him go. I didn‟t know how to say goodbye to
him. I love the kid too much to say those words. I was
going to miss him a lot, and didn‟t want to show it to him,
because I knew that he was in the same situation with me.
As the days were getting closer to the end of the

529
A Season In Green Hills‟

school year, everyone began to feel the pressure of the final


exam and the decision of living the school or coming back
the next. It was something that it was in everyone mind. One
of my players, Patrick told me that he was going to move to
another boarding school in Georgia, and like him others
came to tell me the same thing. Johnny Bovies told me that
he was going to move with his father in Virginia. As for me
the school rejected me for the next school year. At first I had
a problem with the idea of being discounted for the next year
but in little time I began to get use to the idea. The only thing
that was making me feels bad about the whole thing was the
promise I made to Devin. I didn‟t like to break my promises,
but this time it was out of my control.
One morning in my classroom I received a postcard
from the administration office. They were inviting me to a
steak dinner; Dr. Walden promised the basketball team after
the ending of the Lake Highland game. The banquet was set
to be in the Dining Hall on a Thursday night. My players
were really excited about the invitation, for them it was
going to be an event. After eating the Dining Hall food for a
whole year this was going to be a change of menus that they

530
J.V. Rosario

were expecting seen the man offered it the night of the game.
In the invitation there was little note asking me to
write a list of all the components of the basketball team. I
responded the note by including everyone, even the two
managers that helped with the water and the uniforms. I
thought that we were going to give the opportunity to all
team members to have a great night.
During the afternoon classes in the days that
preceded the dinner I heard everyone talking about the juicy
steaks. Some former players had neared to ask me to include
them in the team roster again after they left it in the
beginning of the season. My answer to those poor sports
was that they didn‟t desert it.
I invited all my players from Bobby to Jaime, who
saw lest action on the court than anyone in the team. We
didn‟t invite Victor and Elliot turned dawn the invitation. He
decided not to go to the activity after what happened
between him and Walden the night of the Luther game. My
scorekeeper, my two managers and the assistant coach were
all welcomed to the fuss.
Alex worked with Mrs. Walden to prepare the
activity; they went to the market to buy the meat for the

531
A Season In Green Hills‟

small dinner. Mr. Johnson cooked the steaks in a big grill


behind the Dining Hall. Everyone in campus that didn‟t
have anything to do with the basketball team smelled the
steak searing on the grill. They were envious of my players,
not even. Milano‟s soccer team was feed like these during
that year for one game.
They mounted the stage in the front section of the
dining hall. It took five tables to sit all the people invited.
Mr. Walden and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Hawking, and Mr.
Milano sat on the presiding table while the players, Alex and
I assembled in the remaining tables.
Alex, Devin, Pierre, Johnny and I were in the same
table eating the 8 oz. steaks served with carrot, and match
potatoes, and beans. It was a typical Southern American
meal that tested like glory. They served us as if we were in a
restaurant by a group of volunteers, some cheerleaders that
Mrs. Hawking put to work.
I looked around to see how my players were feeling,
and the acknowledgment was very positive. They were
having a good time. In the background I could hear their
saying mixed with some light southern country music. I felt

532
J.V. Rosario

then that I was going to miss this group of players as I never


felt it before. I glanced at them one by one. Ryan was
moving his legs from side to side in his typical nervous way,
while beside his Patrick was staring at the empty space with
a Mona-Lisa-smile on his face. Bobby was talking to the
closest friend. He had in the team Mark Hilltop, both were
senior and they knew that their last chance to play basketball
was over. There was a kind of sadness in Bobby‟s eyes that
I think I was the only one that could understand.
A glass sound interrupted my thoughts. It was Mr.
Hawking; he wanted to say something to the group
assembled there that night
“I would like to congratulate you for the wonderful
season,” the man said with an enthusiastic tone of voice.
This was his treat mark, Mr. Hawking was from Boston and
his New England accent was heavy and connected with an
over enthusiastic tone. “I think that Coach and you did very
well under the climate we all live in this school.”
I didn‟t know how to take this word. I think that
Walden didn‟t know how to take them ether. Nevertheless,
Mr. Hawking didn‟t go farther; he limited to present the
players of the team. Everyone was supposed to say

533
A Season In Green Hills‟

something that night event me. I was next after Hawking,


and I didn‟t realize it until he turned to me.
I stood up to speak three sentences without any
meaning. “I think that we had a good season this year. I
would like to thank my players for making this year a good
one for the school and me. God blesses you all!” I remained
hurt with the school for the rest of the school year. So I was
bitterer and I didn‟t want to serve Walden‟s clan.
Bobby Hunter was the next one that addressed the
group. The young man got up and put his hands on his
chair‟s back, his head was down as if he were trying to get
inspiration from the floor. “I know that there are many
people talking badly about Green Hills,” he began. “And that
sometimes I have done that too. But, tonight when I closed
my last basketball season with my heart souring with pain. I
would give anything to have another season like this one
again. Green Hills have given me the opportunity to become
a good students and a good player, “he stopped and then I
could it see that he was crying with emotion.
Bobby made a prolonged pause to continue his little
speech, “I cannot give more thanks to Mr. and Mrs. Walden

534
J.V. Rosario

because they have being part of my Family seen I came here


to seventh grade, and to all the teachers and coaches that I
had during the past five years. I will try to make it in
College always thinking in what you gave me in this
wonderful place.”
While Bobby was pronouncing his emotional words,
I observed everyone around me, and the one that caught my
attention Walden himself. His eyes were glowing with a
proud ardor. If I didn‟t know him, I would it sourer that
there were tiers in his eyes. When Bobby finished his brief
speech, the man glanced at his wife, with an "I‟ll told you
so,' look. Look.
There were other people feeling emotionally moved
by the young man words. Alex was almost sharing tiers too.
After he sat on his chair again there was a minute pause,
longer that the whole year that just past. It was as if
everything was put on hold, or as if every person in that
room was remembering the basketball season or maybe
something more. As for me I was too upset with the school
to have feelings coming out like that.
“I want top say something,” someone said to the
gathering. It was Ryan he stood up with his nervous shake

535
A Season In Green Hills‟

and began talking, “Hey! I know that I haven‟t been a model


student and player, but I want to thanks Coach for all he has
done for us during this season. We could it gone far, but I
didn‟t help as I should, and I want to say that I‟m sorry for
that.” Ryan put an armoire coat to say that. He impressed
everyone in the room with his short claim.
Everyone came out of the Dining Hall better, when
the activity was over. As I heard all the players saying
something about the team and about the school I could
recognize that they matured during that year. Their words
were coming from their hearts, and in occasion they were
coming from their conscious. I think that Ryan felt guilty
after he heard Bobby talking he could not feel anything else.
As Alex and I were getting out of the building, Mr.
Milano called our attention. He wanted to say something to
me. “Mr. Ferrer, may I have a word with you,” he said. As
always there was a bizarre tone in his voice as if he weren‟t a
complete man.
Figuring out what he wanted was hard because we
didn‟t converse in a long time. It wasn‟t a secret that I didn‟t
like him and I think that the feeling was mutual.

536
J.V. Rosario

“Can we do it now?” I asked him.


“Sure!” he said.
I was holding hands with Alex while I tried to listen
to what he was going to say. Then in a dark spot between the
trees I detected kids‟ movement in front of Eaton Hall. They
were arguing between themselves. I could not see what was
going own that well. Mr. Milano was talking just when the
boys were too far to be able to hear what they were
vocalizing, but with their gesture I could tell that they were
about to hit each other.
“. . . we are going to have a meeting to decide who is
going to get the athletics award this year . . .” Milano was
saying, while I tried to figure out who was hitting who.
Then as they began to hit each other I saw Devin and Johnny
wrestling on the ground.
Milano was doing his gestures in his characteristic
manners and he was about to turn to look to where the boys
were rumbling. “Yes,” I shouted. The man opened his eyes
with a surprising expression. “I will count the equipment and
I will give you all the details tomorrow morning,” I said
while shifted my position to where could not see the boys
beating each other. I knew that Devin and Johnny were in

537
A Season In Green Hills‟

Jason, Pierre and Rogers Company, and that one of them was
getting into their senses to stop them.
Mr. Milano was about to leave after my abrupt
statement, so I grip him by his arm and asked, “Mr. Milano, I
need to know something.”
“Yes,” he was curious.
“How long you had being working here?”
Alex didn‟t know why I was asking such question so
here eyes opened. I guessed she thought that I was going to
say something rough to him.
“Twenty years, Coach.” He was proud of that
accomplishment. “I began as an English and math teacher . .
.”
While he gave us a brief history of his life, my eyes
were moving from his mouth to where the kids were. Jason
pulled Johnny from the ground while Roger and Pierre
dragged Devin, it was over.
“ . . . I even taught algebra to Ms. Alex . . .” he said.
Alex accompanied me to my apartment after Mr.
Milano shut up telling us his experience in the Academy. As
we walked behind her dormitory she asked me, “Why that

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J.V. Rosario

interest in Milano‟s career?”


“I saw some kids getting into one.”
“Into what?”
“A fight!”
“Where?” she asked.
“Behind the trees in front of Eaton.” I answered.
“Who?”
“Johnny and Devin.”
“That‟s why,” she said.
“What?”
“That‟s why you distracted Mr. Milano, „cause it was
Devin and Johnny,” Alex gave me a bad look. She
disapproved my action. “What if one of those two boys got
hurt?”
“No, I don‟t think so, Jason and Pierre were there to
stop them,” I responded.
“Why you protect that boy so much?” she asked.
There was some curiosity in her tone, as if she could not
understand my feelings for Devin.
“I don‟t know,” I said. “He is something especial for
me. I love him.”
“How is that?”

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A Season In Green Hills‟

“He like a little brother for me, or a son.” I told her.


“I don‟t think that if wrong to love someone like that. Love
is not exclusive to what happen between a man and a
woman. There are different kinds of love, but you know
that.” I paused to see if she were following me. “Friendship
is one of the most pure forms of love. For a true friend I
would do anything, Alex.”
I could see that she wasn‟t entirely persuaded with
my words. “He reminds me someone from the past, but I
cannot be Ping-Pong who.”
“What is what you see in him, he is just another
boy?”
“A feeling of knowing him from a previous time, and
not a common past. It‟s as if we live in another life some
disaster and we need to make right this time. It‟s a crazy
idea,” I said.
Alex remained quite. She walked with me the rest of
the way. I didn‟t know if she thought that I was strange or if
she bought my stupid reasoning. Before we say good night
to each other, we kissed.
I when to bed that night trying to figure out why

540
J.V. Rosario

those two boys fought after the steak dinner. I thought that
they were friends, everything since to be fine with them.
However, knowing Johnny, distinguishing who were his
friends was hard. The only thing that was sure about him was
that he was a time bump ready to explode.
The next morning I called Devin to my classroom, he
was in his study hall, and Coach Peters let him come to me.
He didn‟t have any idea why I was calling him. He thought
that I was going to talk about stuff.
“Hey Coach! What‟s up?” he said when he open the
door and walked inside the room with his usual sneer.
“Hello Devin.”
“Oh, oh!” Devin said while he sat on a chair in the
first row. “What‟s wrong?”
“I saw what happened last night after dinner,” I told
him. “I think that I was the only person that saw it. Don‟t
worry I‟m not saying anything.”
“OK,” he said with a question mark on his face. “So,
why I‟m here?”
“You don‟t know?”
“No!”
“Devin, don‟t you see what is going on around you.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

They are shipping people out of the school for nothing and
you take a risk like that.”
“He started everything,” he said. “The boy thinks that
his shit doesn‟t stink. So I punched him on the nose.”
“What did he say to you?” I asked.
He made a grin with his mouth, as if he didn‟t want
to answer the question. I crossed my arms while I stood in
front of him. “OK, I „ll. tell you, but it a little
embarrassing,” he finally said. “He told me that I suck in
basketball, and that you haven‟t taught me anything. That I
was your boy.”
“He said that?” Devin surprised me with the fib.
“Yeah! I don‟t like that so I punched him good.”
“I‟m sorry Devin,” I said. “I don‟t know what to
say.”
“Don‟t say anything. I don‟t care,” he said. “You are
the best friend I have ever had, and I don‟t care if people
talk. They don‟t know me and they don‟t know you.”
“Thanks,” I said.
“Why are you sad now?”
“I just don‟t what people to get the wrong

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J.V. Rosario

impression. I don‟t want to think that I‟m gay or some kind


a pervert. I just care for you, as if you were my brother or
my own son. Do you understand that?”
“Yeah,” he smiled.
I put my hand on his shoulder and smiled back to
him, and then I told him to go back to his classroom. It can‟t
be that people are saying something like that I thought after
while I observed him walking the campus back to his
classroom. I hate this place, I thought.

All the sports activities were over for the rest of the
school year. The only thing that we were to do was to decide
who was going to receive the Scholar-Athlete of the Year
award and the individual awards in every sport. These were
the MVP, the Most Improve Athlete, and the Best Behave
Athlete in each sport.
For my part I didn‟t have a problem in choosing any
of my players. Bobby was my MVP, Mark was the Best
Behave Athlete, and the most improve when to Jason
Campbell. I picked all awards for all female athletes without

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A Season In Green Hills‟

any difficulty. The coaches and Mr. Milano met in the


conference room to list the people that were going to get the
awards that year. Everyone presented the list of candidates,
and defended them from Mr. Milano‟s arguments.
He put objections to all the candidates. He wanted
the coaches to present their reasons why we selected them. I
was the first to go into his assortment, I described my reason
and he didn‟t argue them.
When Peters took his turn, his presentation looks
more as if he wanted to please everyone in his teams. He
wanted to give Allison and Cheryl the MVP‟s Awards on
basketball and for softball. Milano began with his questions
and he almost agreed with it.
“Coach, both good students and good athletes,”
Milano observed. “Whom had the best bat average in the
softball team?”
“Allison is by far.”
“Who was your best score in your basketball team?”
“Allison,” Peters answered.
“But why them you are giving Cheryl the MVP in
Basketball?”

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J.V. Rosario

“Well Sir, Allison has won all the major awards, and
Cheryl has been under her shadow all this year . . .”
“You‟re going to give her an award because feel pity
for her,” I said.
“No, she is the co-captain of the team, she has much
assistance, and she always came through went we needed
her.”
“Who are your rebounds and assistance leaders?” Mr.
Milano asked him.
“Well Allison is the rebounds‟ department and
another girl is in assists.”
“What department Cheryl won?” I asked.
“None!”
“I can‟t believe that you are just going to give an
award to an average player like Cheryl. You aren‟t giving the
MVP to Allison „cause she won other awards.” I said to the
almost screaming to him. “Peters, listen the best is the best,
and it will desert to be honor like the best. No because he or
she is your friend and your favorite. If she is the best, give it
to her.”
Peters wasn‟t angry with me, although I was a little
bit loaded in the meeting. He finally decided to give both

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A Season In Green Hills‟

awards to Allison. I could not believe that he almost gave in


to that girl‟s devious talks. There are students that would
talk their way into situations; they didn‟t realize that they
aren‟t as good as they believe they are.

After dinner that same evening Alex and I strolled in


front of her dormitory. We used to ambulate and sometimes
sat together on the old building‟s front steps. From there we
could see the campus yard, where the scholars bear on with
each other. We could observe their favorite games during
that free period that followed dinnertime. One of our
preferred pastimes was to see the old and new couples in
campus struggling with their relationships.
I waited for Devin to get out of the kitchen where he
was working his last two hours of his preview smoking
violation. As usual I took my time to sense his mood after
working his hours in the Dining Hall. Mrs. Martin, his dorm
mother, wrote him up for horse playing with Pierre. Devin
was taking his hours very well, but Pierre was aggravated
about the time that he got to spend in the workshop and the
kitchen. They were working together that evening „cause

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J.V. Rosario

Devin was concerned for Pierre‟s bad temperament. He


thought that his friend was going to do something wild that
would it turn into a worst punishment.
Alex told me that afternoon that Monica invited
Devin to Disney‟s Granite. This was an event that the
company celebrates with all the High School in Florida. One
full night, from dust to dawn, and all the kids could have a
fun and a safe celebration. The seniors were allowed to
invite someone from other class. So Monica chooses Devin
to be hers escort for the night‟s activity.
I was pleased for him, because lately he was having a
difficult time with his Family and the school. I thought that
this might be good for him to have a party night like that. In
those days I had in my mind the chat we had after the
basketball season ended. He worried me with what he said
to me that night.
Devin came out of the Dinning Hall and stopped to
talk with Monica, and her friends. The kids were
fraternizing when he approached them. From the distance it
looked as if he wanted to be in the conversation but the other
two guys didn‟t let him. So he left, showing them that he
was mad. Monica started to call him, but he didn‟t want to

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A Season In Green Hills‟

listen.
“Devin‟s upset,” I said.
“I know!” She said.
“What‟s going on there?”
“Monica told me that she thinking that Devin wants
to be more than a friend to her,” Alex announced while she
stared at my face.
“Well, that‟s his problem,” I told her. We both
observed each other; seeing how their behaviors were
different in the campus was funny. We didn‟t have a chance
to touch each other; we had to give an example to the
scholars. When inside us we were eating ourselves for a
small peck.
“He‟ll talk to you later,” she said.
“I guest.”
“Oh! ...” She murmurs with a grin on her face.
“So, how was your day?” I asked the everyday
question.
Alex glanced at me smiling and said, “It was OK.”
Our relation was becoming stronger with the passing of the
days. All eyes were on us. Some students admired us; we

548
J.V. Rosario

were „cool‟ because we hanged up in the Students‟ Center.


For some faculty members we were cute, they could not
believe how we found each other in this remote place. The
administrators acted really careful about us at first; they
thought that I was playing with her, and when they found out
that Alex and I were setting a date for our wedding we
dismayed them. Especially Mrs. Walden, who thought that I
was a worthless, and that I wasn‟t worthy of Alex.

I wasn‟t on duty that night, but I went to the gym to


play some basketball after I let Alex in GOD. It was one of
those nights; anything I shot went in. I played with people
younger than I and showoff a little. Coach McGuire, Ryan,
Patrick, Mark and other were under the hoop that I was.
They played on this side of the gym, because they were the
bad boys of the school. At the other side of the court the
juniors‟ players were having their fun in their level. Devin
was there, but he was out of his league. I always thought that
he was afraid to play with the big players, but for me, he was
ready to be on this side of the court.
I tried to concentrate in my game, but I knew that
something was wrong with him. He almost got into a fight

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A Season In Green Hills‟

with a boy from the Bahamas who played for Coach


McGuire during the basketball season.
After the incident Devin sat on the bleachers by
himself, and then Monica came to have a talk with him. I
ignored his situation, because I was playing basketball, and I
was doing well.
Our group played two games, Coach McGuire, a boy
named Pete, James and I depicted against Mark, Ryan,
Patrick and younger Maxwell. We won the first game, and
they loss the second, and didn‟t finish the third game because
the time was near closing. The gym opened on Saturdays
from 7:00 till 8:30, and after that the students have to move
to the dormitories or to the Students‟ Center.
Alex and I had a chocolate milk date in the Students‟
Center, and when I was ready to go I saw Devin in the gym
lobby. He was looking really upset.
“What‟s wrong, Kid?” I asked, while I was
approaching him.
“Nothing‟,” he answered, but he knew that he could
not bull-shit me.
“Are you going to the Students‟ Center?” I asked.

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J.V. Rosario

“I don‟t have money.”


“Don‟t worry, I pay for you,” I told him, looking at
his reaction.
“Come on,” I said. “Wait. I‟m going to change my T-shirt.”
I went to my car to find another shirt to wear. I was sweat,
and I didn‟t want Alex to see me like that. While I changed
it, everybody was already heading to the Student‟s Center,
and Devin waited for me in front of the car.
“What‟s wrong, Kid?” I asked for the second time.
“Many things,” he said with a depressing tone in his
voice.
“You want to talk about it?”
“I guest.”
“Come, let‟s go.” I put my right hand on his shoulder.
“Alex is waiting for me there.”

Devin, Alex and I took a table in front the small


building double glass doors. They built the place to take the
students‟ money out from their pokes; everything was
expensive. Even a Three-musketeer bar cost ten cents over
the regular prices than in any other store. The children were
prisoners of the school so they didn‟t have other alternative

551
A Season In Green Hills‟

than to buy these articles from the Academy. They used to


sale all kinds of materials; like shampoo V-05, soap,
toothbrush, notebooks, detergent, and other articles
overcharged from their regular prices.
Monica and Pierre joined us. Monica was confused
with Devin‟s actions, and he was disturbed. Alex and I
looked at each other, while Pierre had fun, as always with the
sound of the music box, that was playing “You can‟t touch
this!” Monica abandoned the table to chat to one of her
friend, as if she didn‟t want to deal with Devin.
The boy‟s facial expression was of sadness while set
with us on the table. So, I tried to cheer him up by giving
him the picture that we took the day that Spring break began.
He glanced at the picture and smiled, but changing his
attitude that night was hard. Alex glimpsed him and then
asked, “What‟s wrong with you tonight?”
“Many things,” that was his answer.
“It can‟t be that bad,” she said.
“Tony, I want to talk to you,” Devin told me. “Can
you come to the Eaton tonight?” He surprised me; it was the
first time that he ever asked for help in this way. Devin was

552
J.V. Rosario

direct and open. This time he was ready to say something.


“Sure!” I responded, looking at Alex simultaneously.
“You can go ahead,” she said.

I drove him to Eaton Hall and them to GOA to take


her back her night shift. Alex was curious about what was
bothering Devin. “What‟s wrong with him?” she asked me
while she opened the passenger‟s door.
“I don‟t really know,” I said. “Don‟t worry I‟ll find
out tonight. I think he is ready to speak out.”
“Well don‟t pressure him if he doesn‟t want to open
to you. Don‟t push, OK,” she asked while she reached for a
kiss.
“I love you,” I said.

As always, his room was messy; his pants, his shirts


and underwear were all over the place. Devin was sitting on
a chair with a guitar in hand facing a small desk, with his
legs hanging over it. He changed his sweat F.S.U. T-shirt for
a purple sweater. He was calm, but telling that something
was bothering him was easy.
Devin was playing a song from „Metallic‟ in the

553
A Season In Green Hills‟

guitar, he glanced at me but he didn‟t stop playing it. I posed


on a chair next to him to hear his solo.
“No . . . “he said.
“What?”
“It‟s not right!” He was trying to find the correct
notes in the song.
“Do you know how to read music?” I asked.
“I took piano lesson ones.” The door of the small
room opens; it was Pierre. He was carrying a Pepsi-Cola
cam in his hand, and when he was going to speak Devin
didn‟t let him, “Pierre, we are talking.”
“Are you playing chess?” Pierre asked.
“Go away. Pierre . . . We are talking.”
The boy finally left the room.
“I want a Coke,” I said.
“I‟ll get one for you. If you want too” he said. “I
want a Dr. Pepper,” and went out of the room to get the
sodas.
While he was out, I observed around the room. On
Devin‟s desk, two pictures were sitting on; Monica‟s, and the
one we gave him in the Student‟s Center of us. In a way I

554
J.V. Rosario

didn‟t expect the picture to be on his desk.


He returned with the two sodas in his hands when I
was playing the guitar the only song I know, Chicago‟s
„10326 to Go‟.
“You don‟t know how to play a guitar,” he said.
While I returned the guitar to Devin, he looked at the
two pictures on the desk and picked Monica‟s picture.
“What‟s wrong?” I asked.
“I don‟t know.”
“Why you were upset today at the gym?”
“She was ignoring me,” Devin stopped playing the
guitar and put it away.
“Tell me something; do you like her as a girlfriend or
as a friend?”
“As a friend,” he said.
“So, what happened?”
“You know that after dinner we were talking, and she
kept on ignoring me, so I walked out, I thought that she was
playing with me.”
“Sometime women do that, don‟t worry, she‟ll talk to
you,” I tried to give confidence.
He took her picture and put it away between two

555
A Season In Green Hills‟

books on the desk. “Today at the gym she was trying to talk
to me and she made me feel bad again,” he continued, while
a teardrop came down through his cheek.
“Did you cry in front of her?”
“Yes, I did. She was saying all this shit, and she
doesn‟t understand,” he explained. “You and Pierre are the
only Family I got. You understand me better than my
father.”
It was the second time that Devin said something like
that to me, and the first time was too hard to understand why.
“Devin, don‟t say that, I haven‟t done anything for
you.”
“I know, you just been yourself, but you‟re the only
person that has ever taught me something.”
The tears were running from his eyes, while he
cleaned his nose with his sleeves.
“I haven‟t done anything, Kid. That‟s what I do for
living, teaching basketball to kids like you.” I wanted to hug
him and calm his cry, but I didn‟t that, maybe because I was
afraid of getting involved.
“My father once tried to teach me to play tennis, but

556
J.V. Rosario

his never home. So, I learned by myself because I wanted to


show him how I can play.”
“I don‟t understand,” I said, like the first time I asked
him why he was in this school after our first game with
Luther. For me understanding how can Devin‟s father put
him in a boarding school like Green Hills Academy was
hard, “What happened that made you come to this place?” I
asked.
“One night, my stepmother, that bitch . . . She was
bitching on the dining table, because I didn‟t clean my
room,” he crying. “So I got up and I went to my room. She
followed me to the room and them she told me that I was a
slot, like my mother.” He paused to dry his eyes and they
continued, “I called her „bitch‟ and them she jumped on my
back, so I pushed her against my door. She felt. Then I ran
inside my room and closed the door. I didn‟t come out of the
room for the next four days until my Dad came from his
business trip.”
His eyes were lost in the space of the room; he never
discussed this with anyone before this something. It was the
first time he opened to someone; it was like if he were
putting his soul in my hands.

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“What happened after your dad came from his trip?”


I asked trying to be strong; I shucked on my words a little.
Devin turned his eyes on me and continued talking.
“I went inside my room and I didn‟t come out until my father
came from his trip, he almost brought the door down . . . He
is always traveling. Last year he spent half his salary in
airplane tickets . . . He is never in the house, you now this
summer, I going to see him for two weeks only.”
“What did he say, Devin?” I asked again.
“After beating the shit out of me, he told me that he
did care anymore, so, he offered me three hundred dollars
and a bus ticket to anywhere I wanted . . . “
“Boy, he said that to you?”
Devin made a big pause and looked at me like if I
gave him something to hold on to, like if I became his
security blanket. He smiled between the falling tears that
were coming from his blue eyes and hold on to his guitar.
I didn‟t want to ask another question, but the silent
prolong for a minute or two. So without think I interrogated,
“If that why you came to Green Hills Academy?”
He gave me a half smiled again and said, “I ran away

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J.V. Rosario

from home and spent three days in the woods . . . You know
I can live in the woods for a year without having hungry.”
“Who found you?”
“Some cops,” he said, “They took me to the police
station, and called my parents.” I most had a painful
expression on my face, because Devin interrupted line of
thought to ask me, “I bet that you didn‟t expect me to be this
bad.”
“Bad? You‟re not bad,” I told him. “You‟re great
kid! You have many things for you in the future. What
happened in the past is just that, past. You just have to learn
from it and try no to repeat it again if there was a mistake.
You‟re only fifteen, Kids. You look at yourself! You‟re
intelligent and smart. You can go anywhere you want, or do
whatever you want do with your life. The past is what you
can‟t shape but the future you can. I‟m sorry of what
happened, Kid, but now what? What are you going to do, my
friend?”
“Coach, I can‟t come here next year. I want my
freedom,” he said, and you aren‟t going to be here next year.
“I don‟t what to live with them, it‟s hard . . . and I don‟t want
to lose you friendship,” he said shucking in his cry. “You

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A Season In Green Hills‟

understand me better than anyone I ever know.”


So I approached him and held him in my arms in a
tied hug, and then said, “Devin, I‟ll always going to be there
for you, no matter where you decided to go. Remember
what Alex told you „you‟re my blond son‟,” and I smiled at
him.
I never cried in front of him, but when I left the dorm
that night my soul was suffused of anguish, and by the time
got into my car I was crying. I knew that he would never
call me for help or for nothing when the school year was
over. I will lose touch with him. Devin was the type that will
never put his trust in anyone. In away we were alike; we
have the same ways of looking a thing.
The most important people in our lives felt to show
their love for us, and we feel ignored at one point. They felt
to express it to us. For me it was late to try to break that
generation gap, but for him there was still time to solve it
with his father.

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J.V. Rosario

The year was almost over. The only mayor events that were
suppose to happen were the Grad-Night at Disney and the
Softball game between the faculty and the students. But
before all that Devin and his friend Pierre did the ultimate
prank.
It was time to go to dinner, when every one in Eaton
Hall was getting ready to cross the main road. Eaton was at
the other site of the school, in contrast with the dining hall.
So everyone was suppose to shower and leave building‟s
ground by time dinner was served. Mrs. and Mr. Martin were
two hawks in keeping track of everyone that was going to go
to dinner. But as always there were students that challenged
their authority, like Devin and Pierre. I
The night started as usual, we were going to diner in
the Dining Hall. Everything was completed by this time of
the year, no more sport activities, no more show or
assemblies to attend. This gave me the feeling a conclusion,
as if the school year was over. The full circle was almost
over. Nothing prepared us to what was going to happen in
that evening.
Alex and Devin were sitting in the table waiting for
me. I was running late that night I just got out of the phone,

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A Season In Green Hills‟

my mother called to tell me that she was sending me some


money for the wedding.
“What happened?” Alex asked me while I was sitting
on my chair.
“My Mom,” I said.
“What?” she asked.
“She is sending some money, for the . . .” I paused
because I wasn‟t sure that I should discuss the wedding in
front of Devin. He didn‟t know that we were planning to get
marry in a coming month.
“For what?” Alex asked.
“You know fort the thing that we are going to have in
June,” I said.
“Oh!”
“Are you got marry?” Devin asked us.
We cracked laughing. “How do you know?” I asked
the kid.
“You can‟t keep a secret from me, I know you” the
boy said.
“Well, if you know us so well, why you didn‟t
congratulate us?” Alex asked him.

562
J.V. Rosario

“Hey, I think that it‟s great!” Devin reached to kiss


Alex on the cheek. “Why you don‟t want to tell the rest.”
“We don‟t want to say anything because . . .”
“ . . . „cause people are going to start asking question
about Tony. You know why he‟s not coming back next
year,” Alex completed my sentence.
“I know what you mean.”
“We just are going to make a small thing, Family
only.”
“Are you going to invite me?” he asked.
We paused, I didn‟t what to say, We were
considering not to tell anyone in the school only the people
that were close to Alex were going to be invite. But, I
looked at the boy and feel that he was as close as a Family
could be, so I broke the silence, “Yeah, you‟re invited to
come to our wedding . . .”
At that same moment Bobby Hunter made his way
inside the building, he ran throughout the glass doors, and
almost landed on Mr. Walden table. Others followed Bobby
with an alarming stance; something was going outside,
Walden and everyone in the table let the room as if their life
depended on it. Bobby remained in the room as if he was

563
A Season In Green Hills‟

looking for someone.


Times were changing, after spring break it was easy
to go in and out of the dormitories, especially after dinner,
there was sun light outside. The days were getting longer
and the summer was approaching us. So after eating dinner
Alex and I have a little more time to spend in together. We
usually walk around campus holding hands but without
kissing. Rules did not allow it. Anyhow we always find the
way to squeezes one or two kisses when Mr. Vasquez or Mr.
Milano weren‟t looking. By this time we knew what we
were going to do next summer, we were going to get marry
as soon the school year was over. Our decision was made
during spring break, but nobody knew about it, no even Mrs.
Walden or neither any of the people that work with Alex in
the dorms.
In those days, Alex and me only eat in the school
diner three times a week, as Chris predicted it I learned to
despise their cooking. Because of that and because we really
wanted to get out of the school during Alex day off, we
ended eating pizza in a nearby town. Thursday was the day
that we usually avoided because it was formal night;

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J.V. Rosario

everyone in school was to go dress up to the dining hall.


Whenever we did go to eat there; Alex always
cleared a table of students so we could sit by ourselves. She
got there first almost all the time. I have always been slow
to get to dinner. While I made the usual line, she waited for
me in our table. The first table by the door was ours. It was
placed in a strategy position. We were not close to the
administrators‟ table but we could see all the movements that
these people did.
At times we ended in the company of some of the
students, sometime Pierre sometime David, but it was Devin
who was the most logical to us. The one particular day, the
one that is going to be in our minds more than the others we
spent in Green Hills‟ Academy was going to make a mark in
our life for ever.
As we sit in the table, Devin was telling us what he
was going to do this summer, “My father is going to let me
spend sometime with my grandparents,” he said.
“Are you going to spend time with him?” I asked
him.
“Yeah, maybe two or three weeks I‟m going to be
with him helping with the family business,” he answered.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

“Devin, what‟s your family business?” Alex asked


the boy.
“Alligators skin,” he said.
“What?” we choirs.
“We catch gator for living,” he said.
“How do you make money, doing that?” Alex asked
him.
“Yeah, how?” I pumped.
“The skin!” he said. “You take the skin to make stuff,
belts, handbags and other stuff, plus you sale the meat.”
“And what do you do to help him?” I asked.
“I go in a boat and look for the gator‟s nets, and I get
the eggs for our farm.”
While Devin explained to us what he was going to
do during the summer, Pierre appeared through the two
dining hall glass doors. He was worry about something that
was going on outside. Pierre was hyperventilating, and
could not speak, as if something was squeezing his voice.
Everyone inside the large space stopped to see what was
going on with the French boy. He positioned in front of
Walden‟s table, and began to say something aloud which no

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one could understand. He bended his body and put his hands
on his knees. Then, he cleared his throat, and finally said
what he wanted to say, “Ryan . . . Ryan is standing on the
top ledge of the Tower,” he said.
Dr. Walden and Mr. Milano – who was sitting
together in the same table–, looked at him as if the kid was
crazy or something, “Calm down Pierre, what you want?”
“Dr. Walden, I‟m telling you . . . he‟s about to
jump,” the boy was almost crying at this point.
“Who?” they both said.
“Ryan!”
At first we didn‟t know what he was talking about,
but then Johnny came inside the building and uttered the
same thing. They were the only administrators on duty that
evening, the two observed each other, and then they ran out
to the yard, as if they were being chased by a mob.
Students, house-parents and everyone stood up to try
to run out through the doors at the same time to follow the
two administrators. In the rush Devin went ahead of us to
see what was going on, he jumped literally over two other
neophytes.
“What‟s going on?” Alex asked me.

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“I don‟t know, but I‟m going to find out, “I said as I


pushed out of the room.
The side of the tower that faced the dining room door
was not where the problem was. Everybody was on the
other perimeter looking up. We advanced to the other side
as fast as we could, then we saw Ryan; he was standing on
the ledge of a small window or opened space where the bell
was inside the structure. It was obvious that his intentions
were to jump from there to the empty space.
He was smiling with a joyous expression on his
semblance, and it was then that I knew that Ryan was out of
touch with reality. It was obvious that he was on something;
it was the only explanation I could come out of that.
“He‟s burned out,” someone announced from behind
me. Devin and Alex glance at each other as if they agreed
with the assertion.
From where I was I could observe what was going on
between the two administrators; they appeared to be puzzled
as if they didn‟t know what to do of the situation. So, I
decided to go near them, I wanted to help in some way and
the time was running out the boy was going to jump in any

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J.V. Rosario

moment. I thought that I was the only one that could help
Ryan in that moment. As I maneuvered between the crow to
where Milano and Walden were; I could hear some pupils
discussing the situation. I felt that the big majority were
nervous, many thought that Ryan was going to jump for sure.
“Dr. Walden, somebody has to go and bring him
down,” Mr. Milan said to his boss when I came near them.
“Ed, I know that,” Walden pronounced almost
shouting. “Who‟s going do that?”
“Send for Mrs. Pots, the guidance counselor,” Milano
contended.
“Where‟s she?”
“I don‟t know, I think she went to Orlando.” Mrs.
Hawkings told the two men. They were acting as if it was a
natural thing to them. They showed not signs of panic; they
were talking as if they were having the conference in the
middle of school yard surrounded by the students‟ body.
“I‟ll go there!” I interrupted their deliberation. They
both looked at me as if I was their salvation. To this day I
don‟t know what was going on in their minds, the only
explanation I have is that maybe they did not want to be
liable for Ryan‟s death.

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“I think this is a good idea,” Milano said to Walden.


There were some gazes between the two men that I
understood as a go-ahead.
“Coach, come alone.” Milano said while he pulled
my arm and headed to the backside of the bell tower.
The door‟s padlock was on the floor, but the door
was closed but it wasn‟t locked. Inside the concrete shell
there was a metal staircase, and the light was dim. The only
Sunshine that was coming inside the structure was from the
open spaces or windows by bells. I couldn‟t see Ryan from
below; I figured that he was on the ledge still. Milano and
Mrs. Hawkings, who tagged alone too, were behind me, we
moved slowly because we didn‟t want to alarm Ryan.
“Ryan,” I called the boy. “Can you hear me; I‟m
going up with you. I want to talk to you.”
I didn‟t get a response from him; the only sound that
came from the top of the tower was his insisted laughter.
That was when I realized that he was on something, it
sounded as if he was hallucinating. We continued moving
up the stairs on slow pace, the metal sound of steps and
Milano‟s breathing were the only two echoes I could feel at

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J.V. Rosario

that moment.
“Ryan, listen to me?” I cried out again. “Please,
don‟t do this. We can help you. Let me talk to you.” Still, I
did not get a respondent front the boy. The only thing I got
from him was the same foolish laughter.
It took the about one minute to get to the top, after
being inside below the sun light blinded me, for a second I
lost orientation. Ryan was standing on the ledge of window,
I could see his legs and half of his torso but I couldn‟t see his
head and shoulders. At that point I knew that it was going to
be impossible to rescue him using force by bring him down.
If I was going to bringing him in, it was going to use pure
persuasion; however I felt that Ryan was not in a talking
disposition.
“Ryan! It‟s me Coach Ferrer,” I said.
He laughed with the strangest glee I had ever heard in
my life; it was closed to psychotic. Then, he said, “I feel so
good that I could fight!” with that he took off.
“RYAN!” I shouted.
From on the ground I heard the people screaming and
crying, inside the tower Mr. Milano and Mrs. Hawkings ran
down the stairs as fast as they could. I sat down by the small

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bell on the floor of the little space. I did not look down or
peeked to see how the things were down there. I did not
have any emotions; it was as if nothing was real to me at that
point.
I did not move from that spot until Alex came for me
all the way up there. When she saw me sitting on that place,
she ran to hug me. Alex was lachrymose; we hugged for a
long time without saying anything, still I could not feel
anything for what happened. I could not cry or scream or
anything it as if it did not matter to me that the boy jumped
off the cliff.
“What happened?” Finally Alex asked me.
“He did let me get to him,” I answered. “He said that
he felt good and the he could fight, and them he jumped.”
“But, why you did stop him?”
“He didn‟t give me any chance.”
“He‟s so stupid,” she said while she clinched to me.
“He always was!”
We both came down holding hands, it was getting
dark, and the lights of the ambulance and patrol cars were
giving a sensation of outdoor discotheque. Ryan‟s body was

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in the center of a yellow crime tape, and it was covered by a


white blanket that Mrs. Martin brought from Eaton Hall.
She was awfully affected by the whole thing; Ryan was in
her dorm for three years before he moved to Wallace Hall as
a junior. So, she was inconsolable, Mrs. Walden drove her
to the clinic so she could take some tranquilizers.
Even though, Ryan was really hard to get alone,
people did like him, and the circumstances of his death were
shocking. Everyone in the school yard saw him coming head
down on the ground first. It was the sound that the head
made when it touch the ground that mostly affected the
students who were there.
Ryan family came the next day; we didn‟t have the
chance to see them. They came to pick Ryan‟s things, and to
get an explanation about what happened. Someone told us
that they weren‟t happy at all, they both were lawyers and
they came with other two people.
We were all interrogated by a detective from
Clermont; he wanted to know were every one was at the
moment of the jump. The detective asked Dr. Walden to let
him ask some questions to Ryan‟s friends in the dormitory.
And they also asked some people not to leave the school

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A Season In Green Hills‟

grounds until the investigation was over. I guessed then that


he wanted to find out how did the drugs got inside the boys‟
dormitories.
Mr. Hawkings subjected a mass for the students that
remained in campus after the tragedy, some parents recalled
their children after the find out what happened throughout
their kids, but the great majority stayed. There were a lot
people crying or morning the Ryan‟s death, students and
teachers. For me Christina was most affected by the whole
thing, she when home after the communal mass that Mr.
Milano and Mr. Hawkings gave the next morning. Some of
the boys gave the homily as a goodbye for the sports that he
played for the Academy.

The night before the last day of school I went to


Devin‟s dormitory, he was getting ready to leave the next
morning. He grandparents were to pick him and take him to
Lake Land, where they were living. As always he didn‟t
have an organized attitude toward the whole thing of
moving. The room was a mess and Mrs. Martin was getting

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J.V. Rosario

on his case at the moment I got there. Devin didn‟t care


much for what the lady was telling him, I sensed that she was
rough to him, and he didn‟t like her tone.
When he saw me coming over, he changed his
expression; from an angry punk to the happy kid I always
knew he could be. Mrs. Martin didn‟t like the idea that I was
there to see him, and I didn‟t care either. I thought I wasn‟t
going to like this lady ever and that my dealings with her
were about to end in one more day. So I didn‟t listen when
she asked to make the visit short.
Devin invited me inside his room, where Pierre was
hiding from Mrs. Martin inside the small closet next to
Devin‟s desk.
“What‟re you doing?” I asked Pierre.
“Please Coach, don‟t say anything. She doesn‟t know
I‟m here,” he begged me.
“I wouldn‟t,” I told him.
I sat on the floor next to Pierre and waited for Devin
to come inside the room. Mrs. Martin was stilled giving him
some blab about how disorganize he was. As if he didn‟t
know that already.
At this point I was relieved to leave the school I

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didn‟t like the place to work or to live, but at the same time I
was completely overwhelmed with the fact that I might not
see Devin again. I felt a deep pain in my heart, as if someone
put extra weight on my shoulders, but as always I kept my
feeling inside me. I didn‟t let anybody know about this.
Mainly because I didn‟t understand it myself, what I turned
to love this boy some much? It was something that was
puzzling my mind. I even care for him more than I ever care
for Jose, for me this was something that didn‟t have any
meaning, but that was how it was.
Pierre was quite next to me; we were listening to
Devin‟s conversation with Mrs. Martin. He was getting nasty
with the lady as she was with him. But he could not get
more hours from her anymore at least for that year. He
worked more hours for her than any other student in the
dormitory, so he hated her with passion.
“She is such bitch,” Pierre aired out.
“I know what you say.” I didn‟t want to agree with
the kid, but I didn‟t know how to defend the lady.
“Coach, can I call you?” he asked
“What?”

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J.V. Rosario

“Yeah, you know I‟m going to see you again so I


want to keep in touch.”
“That‟s nice Pierre, and I appreciate it, but I don‟t
know where I‟m going after here,” I told him. “And, I‟m
really badly to write back to people.” I felt that he was
paining me a complement with his willingness to keep in
touch with me. But I wasn‟t sure that I was going to be able
to do so.
“Are you getting married with Ms. Alex?” he asked.
“Yes, this coming June.”
“And you don‟t know where are you going to live?”
I smiled and then said, “No!”
“Cool!”
“Pierre, you are crazy.” I told him not realizing that
the crazy were I, or to other matter the crazy were we.
“Yeah, look who is talking.”
At this moment Devin came inside the cell, “She is a
witch,” Devin said to us. “I think she is looking for you
Pierre.”
“Let her look,” Pierre answered back. “I‟m already
packing. I‟m not like you. You‟re going to need bulldozers
to load all this junk in your grandpa‟s car.”

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A Season In Green Hills‟

“Pierre shut up!”


“This place looks like a horror chamber,” Pierre
didn‟t shut. “You even have potato chips under the bed. How
old they are, Devin?”
“They‟re being there since Christmas,” Devin
acknowledged.
“Devin, you‟re a pig,” I said to him.
“Well, nobody is perfect.”
He moved to the center of the room and picked up a
pile of dirty clothes and began to push them inside the small
bag. He shoved them in while he used or the force of his
body. Pierre and I were flabbergasted with Devin‟s
performance, it as if he wrestling with the black bag and his
clothes at the same time. We could not help it and laughed of
him. He frizzed and glanced at us, then said, “Shut up!”
He kept on cleaning the small room.
Mrs. Martin made another visit and gave Devin a
cleaning solution for the zinc and the mirror, and as she was
living the room she asked if any we saw Pierre around.
Devin and I shrank our shoulders at the same time, but we
didn‟t say “yes” or “no” to her question. She left the room,

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J.V. Rosario

and howled for Pierre in the corridor. We cracked laughing;


her expression was evil as if she knew what she was going to
do with Pierre when she finds him.
“Kid you are in trouble!” I said.
“What can she do to me?” Pierre asked.
“Nothing,” Devin told him. “You are leaving
tomorrow and she can do anything to you.” Something over
came him when he expressed this.
“What are you going to do?” Pierre asked him.
“I‟m going with my grandpa‟ for a week and then
two weeks with my uncle in Louisburg.”
“When are you going to see your dad?” I asked.
“I might see him in July. He in a business trip all this
month,” he said. “I‟m going to a camp; he found a job for me
this summer. He wants to keep me out of the house as much
as possible.”
“Eye, I like your dad,” Pierre said.
“Shut up, Pierre,” I barked at the boy.
“My bad,” Pierre knew that he struck a touchy topic
in his friend‟s life.
We all made a pause and look at each other, Devin
pored some the solution given by Mrs. Martin into the zinc,

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A Season In Green Hills‟

and began scrubbing the metal with a rag and hairbrush.


“She only gave me a rag, and this needs a brush,” the boy
said.
“I hope that you are going to throw it away after you
are done with it.” I said.
“What are you doing this summer, Pierre?” Devin
asked his friend.
“I‟m to West Palm Beach with my grandma‟ and then
I‟m going meet with my Mom in Paris, and then to Zaire.
We all hesitated to continue it was as if we didn‟t
want to talk about leaving Green Hills. We knew that it was
going to be the last time that we were going to be together
again. Devin sat on the floor next to me, while Pierre
remained in the small closet. I felt that the atmosphere was
getting a little tense so I tried to relax it. “You know when I
was a kid my friends and I used to sit like this and talk about
different things, mainly about horror stories. About dreams
or nightmares. You know.”
“Yeah, I used to do that with my friends,” Devin said.
“I got one,” Pierre told us. “Can I tell mine?”
“Sure, go ahead,” we said to him.

580
J.V. Rosario

Pierre swallowed syllabi before he began talking. I


never expected what came after he finished. He told us a
dream about the moon and his Family. It was bizarre. He told
us that one night he dreamed that he, his mother and his
young brother were waiting in front of their house in Zaire.
He said that while they were waiting for someone to come to
their house they saw a group of people driving an old
convertible Cadillac. “They were six of them, and they
looked like zombies. Their eyes were red, like in the
movies.”
“What do you mean?” Devin asked him.
“You know, like in the Night of the Living Death.
You have seen it!”
“No, but it‟s OK!” Devin said. “Go on!”
“Well after the Cadillac passed in front of our house,
we heard an explosion.” Pierre continued with his story.
“The car began to fill with smoke, a lot of smoke. So much
that our porch began to fill with it. I got alarmed and told
my Mom that we should get out of the house.” Pierre paused;
he was a little agitated as if he was frightened by the dream.
“So, we did and soon after we found ourselves walking on a
dirt road in France we weren‟t in Zaire any more.”

581
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“How do you know that you were in France?” I asked


him.
“Because, it was the same dirt road that we take to go
to my grandpa‟s vine fields.”
“OK, go on,” Devin asked Pierre.
“Well, we didn‟t see anyone after us, but the moon
that was covered by the fog cleared up and it has the same
red eyes as the zombies . . .”
“Pierre, you‟re weird,” Devin told him.
“That was what my father told me, when I told him
my dream.”
“OK, then what?” I asked.
“We kept on moving this time we were running, my
Mom and my little brother. Them we so the Cadillac in front
of us. It was smoking but this time the zombies were coming
out of the care, they were more than twenty, I got scared and
turned around and pulled my mother from her hand . . .”
Pierre paused and swallowed syllabi again.
“And?” Devin asked
“Yeah, what happened?”
“My mother and brother had the same red eyes.”

582
J.V. Rosario

“That was a dream?” Devin said.


“Yeah, I had that dream for weeks,” Pierre, said. “I
used to wake up sweating in my bed. And sometime I
screamed.”
“How old were you?” I was very curious of this
dream the fact that it was a recurring dream woke up my
sense of wanting more information.
“I was about nine.”
“I have a recurring dream too,” Devin said. “Can I
tell you my dream?”
Devin was very excited about telling his dream to
someone, I think because he didn‟t trust to many people he
provably never told anyone about this recurring dream.
Nothing prepared me to what followed next. It was as if was
in the Twilight Zone.
“It began about two years ago,” Devin departed as if
he was reading a novel to us. “And it looks to me that it‟s the
continuation of something more, like it‟s not complete.”
“Like the end of something.” I said.
“Yeah, you know what I mean!”
“All dreams are the same,” Pierre said. “They have a
beginning and an end, like a story.”

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“Yeah, but this one is different! It‟s as if it has a story


behind.”
“OK, we know what you mean, can we get on with it,
before Mrs. Martin come and kick us out of here,” I said.
“I have never told this to anyone,” Devin said.
“Go on,” Pierre demanded.
“I found my self in a long beach, a place that doesn‟t
look familiar to me. I can even see the colors of the place,
the water is crystal blue and the sand is like gold. I‟m riding
a horse, a beauty like I haven‟t seen in my life.”
When Devin said this, I could not believe it; he began
his vision just as mine do. I never told anyone about the
stupid dream that tormented me for years and now this boy
whom I care for has the same hallucination. I didn‟t know
what to think, in other words I was in state of shock, and I
didn‟t move or say a thing. The only thing I wanted to do
was to find the meaning of all these.
The boy continued his story, “As I ride the horse I
see that another person if after me, in the distance, I don‟t
know who it is. The only thing I know is that I‟m afraid of
it.”

584
J.V. Rosario

“It?” I said loudly.


“Yeah, because I‟m not sure what it is a woman or a
man?”
“OK, and then what?” Pierre asked.
“I don‟t know how or why but the sky began to turn
dark, as if a storm was approaching the shore. Man, it is
rough,” he continued. “I never want to be in a storm like
that.”
“The waves,” I said. I wasn‟t thinking I could not
believe my ears, Devin was almost describing my dreams but
from his point of view.
“Yeah they were scary. I know that I don‟t want that
fellow to get me,” the boy said.
“What is to you?” Pierre asked.
“I don‟t know the only think I know is that he after
me because I did something and I‟m afraid of him.”
“What happened at the end?” I explored.
“I know that lightning hit the water very close to
where my horse and I were riding,” he stopped. “Here is
where my confusing began. I know I hit the ground and
everything moved forward. I am under water and this man is
helping me. But you know, I‟m not in my body I am looking

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A Season In Green Hills‟

all this from the distance. It‟s very weird it‟s as if my soul
left my body in that moment.”
“You were dead,” Pierre said to Devin. “My Mom
says that when someone dies the soul abandons the body and
move to another dimension.”
“And how does she know that?” Devin asked with a
sarcastic tone.
“My Mom knows things, stupid . . .”
“OK!” I shouted at them. “What did you see?”
They both looked at me as if I was some strange bird.
I was anxious to know more about this bizarre incident. My
stomach was cramping. “Go ahead with your story, Devin,” I
finally said to him.
“The man was holding the body and crying at the
same time,” he said, when the door opened.
It was Mrs. Martin she was very angry, “Where is
Pierre?” she asked Devin.
Pierre was sitting in the closet, and she could not see
him from her angle. The lady was so angry that she was
almost foaming through her mouth. “Coach, I think that you
better leave,” she said. “Devin needs time to pack his

586
J.V. Rosario

things.”
“I almost did,” he said to her.
“Boy, don‟t talk back to me,” she shouted.
“Don‟t worry Kid!” I said. “I need to go anyhow. I‟ll
see you tomorrow.”

I left the room and the dormitory and headed to my


apartment. I was confused; I could not understand what was
going on here, until this moment I thought that dreams were
unique in each individual. But now this little theory was
thrown out now. As I walked out of the building my
thoughts began to ramble around my head that this boy was,
and who were I. Why we have the same dream, but in
opposite sides of the coin, as if he was the boy in my dream
and I was the man in his dream. What all this meant to me?
And that I wasn‟t going to see him again. I love Devin with
all my heart but now I was going to lose him apparently for a
second time. I would do anything for him at that time, it seen
that our destinies were paying a joke on us.
It was night already, and as I was walking to my
apartment I felt a nausea feeling in my throat. I stopped in
front of the Fine Arts Center stairs. The revulsion was too

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A Season In Green Hills‟

great; it didn‟t let me continue the walk. My dinner came


out in that moment, I spilt my guts out, and it was as if my
stomach closed inside me. I could feel the hard of my core.
But, I wasn‟t throwing out because I was sick.
After I was done with my supper, a tremor over
came. All my limbs and my interiors were shaking as if my
body was going to break in little pieces. I sat on the building
steps to see if could make a stop. I could not understand why
I was feeling this way. I was scared of the out come of this
situation, and then I began to sob.
I cried like I haven‟t cried before in my entire life,
not even for my father, which it made me feel even worst. I
waited for an hour to get back my control. I was ashamed of
this situation, and I was glad that none saw me in these
conditions.
I wept all the way to my apartment. Once there I
crowed in bed and cover my self with a pillow. I wanted to
forget everything I wanted to stop thinking that tomorrow I
was going to say goodbye for good to this boy. And I was
afraid that I wasn‟t going to be strong enough to do so.
The dream world came to me with a lot of difficulties

588
J.V. Rosario

that night. I could not get the needed peace to collapse a


sleep. Nevertheless, I did.

The man was on the beach again, but this time he


could not see the boy or the horse that was sustaining him.
The storm was over him, the lightning was hitting the water
and the waves were like moving mountains that were
splashing on the sand with furry. His horse was fearful but
he didn‟t care for my surrounding conditions. He wanted the
boy back in the house. He was angry with him, but I also
could feel that he loved the boy that was running from him,
and in a way I could feel that he was worry for his life.
I howled his name, “Devin.” It was the first time that
a real name came out of my mouth. I wanted to stop this
nonsense, but I could not. Inside me there was an element of
curiosity I wanted to end this dream. Never before, I came
this far in this nightmare.
Then something happened Devin‟s horse ran toward
me, and the boy wasn‟t on it. He did all he could to stop the
animal but it was to scare to let him ambush. So, thinking
that Devin was more important he drove his animal forward
to see if he could find him. And there he was on the shore

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A Season In Green Hills‟

being dragged by the waves; his body was lifeless, In that


moment I knew that he wasn‟t a live, that my son was death.
The horse was carrying me to the boy, who was
under water. There was blood coming from his head. There
was a massive injury on the back of his head as if he hit
something hard when the horse dropped him. I dismounted
and ran to him and gripped him by his arms to pull him out
of the water. I looked to the dark sky and cried out, “Devin.”

I woke out of the dream in that moment. There was


light outside the window. It was around 5:30 in the morning
when I looked at my alarm clock. “Jesus,” I said, “What is
going on why I‟m having these dreams, what is the meaning
of all this shit?”
The day was Friday, May 31st of 1991 the last day
school. And I didn‟t have any answer to what happened the
night before. I just wanted to go to the dining hall to see
Devin for the last time. I did what I could to be on time to
see I could see him again maybe for the last time in my life.
There were two lines in front of the dining hall doors,
the girls were on the right and the boys were on the left.

590
J.V. Rosario

Some kids have their hair wet, and some appeared as if they
weren‟t fully awake. I saw Carla, Allison, Christina and
Monica in the girls‟ line, while Johnny, Jason, Pierre, Mark
and Patrick were in the boys‟ line. I say hello to all of then
and even said goodbye. I didn‟t know is I was going to see
then again. I looked inside the building to see if Devin was
eating already.
“Are you looking for Devin?” Pierre asked me.
“Yeah,” I said.
“He is inside, he told me that he wants to sit in your
table,” Pierre pointed at Devin. He was making the line
inside the building.
“OK,” I said, “why don‟t you sit with us?”
“I will.”
I cut the line inside to be with Devin. I knew that it
was going to be the last time we were going to be together so
I decided that I was going to spend the most time possible
with him.
“Hay, kid,” I greeted him.
In respond I received a half smile from him. There
was a dim look on his face.
“What‟s up?” I asked.

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A Season In Green Hills‟

“No much,” he said. “I‟m living in an hour; my grand


parents are taking me to spend the summer with them.”
“The whole summer?”
“No,” he voices sound discouraging. “They are
taking me for about two weeks and them I‟m going with my
brother, and then to my house to work in my Dad‟s
business.”
“What is what he does” I asked
“We have a ranch!”
“That sounds like fun.” I said while we move through
the line counter to pick up our breakfast.
“If you say so.”
“You don‟t like it?”
“I have worked for my father since I was eight years
old,” he said. There was a sourer gesture in his lips. “He
believes that we all should pay our dues to him.”
I didn‟t assert anything else until we sat in the table,
then Pierre, Jason and Johnny joined us. We really did talk
about nothing. I wasn‟t going to tell Devin about my dream
or about the coincident that both our dreams had such great
similarities. He provably would think that I was nut.

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We left the table, and went outside the building to the


schoolyard. Johnny, Johnny and Jason went ahead us. I was
going to say goodbye to Devin and I didn‟t want anyone to
interfere with I wanted to tell him in that point. Johnny
turned to where we were to say something but he didn‟t dare
too.
“What‟s up?” I demanded from Johnny.
“I just want to say that it was fun to be in your class,
Coach.” The boy pronounced while he was walking
backward, heading to Eaton Hall.
“It was more fun to have you in it, Kid.” I shouted
and gave him my thumb up.
“Coach, I living late today,” Johnny said then. “I
come to say goodbye to you later in your classroom.”
“I‟ll be there.”
I realized that it was going to be a difficult day after
all. The kids were going to come to say adios words to me
and to other students. It was going to be an emotional day
for everyone. After a full year in their company it was going
to be arduous to then say goodbye.
And the tougher of all was going to recite it to Devin.
“What are you going to do?” Devin asked me.

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“I‟m going to marry Alex this summer and then I will


look for another coaching job in a place less like Green
Hills,” I answered. “I‟m not worried for that, I don‟t think
that this is a set back. I take this as another experience of life.
Green Hills is not the only school in Florida or the only
school in the nation. There will be others . . .”
“And other Kids,” Devin said.
I paused to think well what I was going to say next.
He deserved something more than a simple goodbye. “No
like you Dev‟, you are going to be in my mind and in my
heart for the rest of my life.” As I told him my voice
trembled, “I love you Kid, like I haven‟t loved anyone in my
life.”
The sun wasn‟t fully out, there were gray and reddish
clouds coming from the east. The sunrays were extending
from between the cirrus and the heavens, over a crystal blue
sky. He didn‟t say a thing; we just strolled to the end of the
sidewalk where the road divided the campus in two large
parcels.
Then the boy pivoted around and opened his arms to
me, as if he wanted to be hugged. I know that if this was

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another child I would never dare to get close, but it was


Devin, the boy that I dear as my own son. And I wasn‟t
going to see him again.
“I‟m going to miss you, Kid,” he said to me on my
hear.
“I know,” was my answer. “I‟m goin‟ miss, a lot.”
Devin and I hugged for a minute, two cars passed in
front of us and I let him go. I remember that I put my hand
over his neck and closed my eyes when I was embracing
him. After I let go I turned around and head the opposite
way. I didn‟t want to look back at him.
“Keep in touch,” he shouted. But I didn‟t turn, I just
made a little gesture with me hand and kept on walking.
I bounced back to my place as fast as I could. I didn‟t
want any one to know that I was weeping. I didn‟t want
anyone to know that my heart was broken. I was
embarrassed to show my feelings for that boy.

Ten years had past from that season in Green Hills. I


try not to go there anymore, it is painful to reminisce. I don‟t
like the place, but I still do have to go in some occasions to
deal with the Waldens. Alex and I got marry two weeks

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A Season In Green Hills‟

after the school year was over, and she goes sometime to
visit her second Family. They helped Alex with all the
arrangement of the resection, which we did in the dinning
hall of the school.
Everyone told her that it was a mistake to marry me.
But, we proved them wrong; we still together and we have a
daughter, whom I named after my mother, and a son that I
named after Devin.
I am still teaching and coaching basketball. We
moved to Orlando after the wedding, and I found a position
in a Catholic High School. I had been their Basketball
Coach and Social Studies instructor until this day. I think
that they like me.
Sometimes, I hear some news about Green Hills‟
kids, but I tray not to listen. I don‟t want to remember them.
I moved on with my life. The only thing that I missed of that
year is the boy that I taught to play basketball behind Eaton
Hall. There is not a day that I don‟t think about him. Sadly
after he visited us, a couple of times after he graduated from
Green Hills, we lose contact with him. But, I don‟t worry
about him anymore he turn to be a formidable young man,

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and because I know that one day in another time we will


meet again. As for my dreams I haven‟t had them since the
night before the last day in Green Hills Academy.

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