Imagining LeBron James Through the Lens of an Edward Hopper Painting
Do I even have to preface this story? The Cavs lost, and they lost in shocking fashion. That is all.
LeBron James just spent the last six hours altering his destiny, crossing out every appointment and meeting on his calendar from now until July, making each box of the week into a transparent window, as if time were now transparent and of little consequence–only, how can the moments of our lives be of little consequence?
Moments tend to build and stack into cinder block walls, gather momentum like a freight train, or increase in mass like a snowball, but, with each stroke of his pen, LeBron took a block off the wall, shoveled coal out of the furnace, and unrolled a snowball into a white carpet; and even he was uncertain as to whether his actions were driven by freedom or recklessness. Maybe freedom is reckless. LeBron did not want to think about it, yet one’s own thoughts are rabid dogs, hard to put down. LeBron stared through the windows of his office, taking in the cloudless sky before him. He was a man without obligations. He could go anywhere, but he chose to stay seated, doing absolutely nothing.
A pulley squeaked outside LeBron’s window, as two men lowered themselves by feeding rope to metal wheels. When they found themselves level with the floor of LeBron’s office, they stopped and tapped on the window. LeBron didn’t budge. He didn’t even blink. They tapped again. Still nothing.
“I guess it don’t matter to him whether we wash it or not. He ain’t movin. Look at his eyes,” the man pressed his index finger against the glass, leaving his fingerprint. “Jus’ look at ‘im, Antwan. He’s got goldfish eyes. I bet if we wait he puffs his cheeks out.” The man demonstrates his theory by puffing out his own cheeks.
“Mo, quit clowning. If, Mr. James, doesn’t want to communicate that’s fine, but we ain’t gaining nothing by inciting the man.” Antwan begins to wipe the window down with a wet rag, obscuring their view of the office from the outside, and as they washed the window, LeBron didn’t budge.
“Mr. James? Mr. James, Mr. Brown wanted me to deliver this,” in comes LeBron’s secretary, Ms. Varejao, carrying a fish bowl. “Where do you want this?” LeBron doesn’t answer. He continues to stare out the window now streaming with water, and he begins to feel sad. The emotion catches him off guard. In fact, LeBron’s not sure if the emotion is even his. In fact, he decides the tears welling up in his eyes must belong to his reflection, in the window, and not him. No, this sadness can not be his. It must belong to the window. It must be part of a daily routine: a part of the building’s daily maintenance. That’s right. At age twenty-five, he’s too young to cry. This emotion that’s not even his is just upkeep, something that must happen.
“Mr. James, you can ignore me if you want to, but I’m leaving the bowl in here. I don’t need it, and I don’t want it,” Ms. Varejao places the bowl in front of LeBron on his desk. The water sloshes a bit as she places it on the cherry wood desk and lands on an envelope, addressed LeBron, that Ms. Varaejao has also delivered. “Good day, sir.” She walks out and shuts the door.
In the bowl are two Siamese fighting fish, slowly circling one another, flaring their gills, each displaying its colorful fins like a matador’s red cloth. LeBron watches them, studies them, wonders why Mr. Brown wants him to be the proud owner of two Betta fish. He opens the envelope as the smaller Betta fish charges the larger one:
LeBron, I need you in Boston this week–make that the company needs you. You need to inform Mr. Garnett, Mr. Pierce, and Mr. Allen that their services are no longer necessary. I don’t care how you do it, just as long as it gets done. If you need any further motivation, just observe my two fighting fish, MJ and Kobe. They will teach you all you need to know about competition and survival of the fittest.
LeBron balled the note up and let it fall to the floor. The smaller fish was now floating belly up in the bowl, its fins wrapping around it like a shroud. The larger fish wobbled in the water, drunk on violence, numb to the cost of victory. LeBron picks up the bowl, raises it above his head, and hurls it at the window, screaming. The bowl bursts, less like glass, and more like a bubble against the double paned window of the office.
“Daaaaammmmmnnnnnn!” calls one of the window washers, as both the men in their jumpsuits stare into the office window. The other window washer calls back, “I don’t know, but the dude seems a lil temperamental.”
Standing in a puddle of water and glass shards, with a dead fighting fish beside his left foot and a flopping one beside his right foot, LeBron flares his nostrils as if they were gills.
Bryan Harvey originally posted this story over on The Lawn Chair Boys, on May 14, 2010.
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