The Franchise

Free The Franchise by Peter Gent

Book: The Franchise by Peter Gent Read Free Book Online
Authors: Peter Gent
Tags: Sports
Terry Dudley said, “and let me do all the talking when we get there. I’ll get you out of a lot of the shit. I do believe my future will eventually be in politics, you just watch.” Dudley grinned.
    “We’ll do a lot of pick and roll and short dump-offs on these guys. Okay, Taylor?”
    “I follow you,” Taylor agreed. “You’re the tallest.”
    “Hold it scum! ” a voice bellowed from the interior shadows of the Tower. Green lights glowed against the monolith.
    “See what I mean?” Dudley whispered. “Let me do all the talking.”
    “Did you bring your onion, scum? ” said the voice from inside the Tower. Terry Dudley grinned; he recognized the voice. The ornate heavy oak door was opened slightly.
    Normally the Tower was kept locked, because it was such a favorite spot for suicides and snipers. That night the door was ajar and the reedy, vicious voice demanded to see the onions.
    “Let me see that onion, scum .” The voice attempted strength but broke. Taylor could see a flickering of candlelight through the arched granite doorway. Taylor Rusk held up his onion.
    “Where are the bra and panties, scum? ”
    “We are wearing them,” Dudley said. Then he whispered to Taylor, “There isn’t a son of a bitch in there gonna want to check on that after I do my entrance. Now, key on me.”
    “You are two and one-half minutes late, scum. Stop whispering.”
    Terry Dudley paused, then said slowly, “We were discussing psychotic behavior and obligations.”
    The voice didn’t quite know what to do with that, and there was some loud whispering inside the glowing, throbbing Tower.
    “Okay, scum ,” the voice finally said, “you may pass to join your fellow scum already gathered and waiting above. When you pass through, keep your eyes down and don’t look in our faces.”
    Taylor was thinking there would have to be some pretty tall faces inside for him and Dudley to look down and not see them. But before he could think more, Terry Dudley grabbed the first person he saw inside the Tower, the student commander of ROTC—who topped out at five feet eight—and went berserk. Seized by his uniform lapels, the ROTC student flopped around like a rag doll.
    “Don’t you ever call me scum again, you little sawed-off Nazi dog turd, or I’ll kill you.” Taylor could hear the guy’s brass rattling. “I got pride , you hear me? P-R-I-D-E. ” Feigning madness, seven-foot-tall, 250-pound Terry Dudley shook the student soldier like a dirty mop.
    In the flickering candlelight Taylor Rusk squinted into the dark corners of the octagonal first floor of the Tower. He could see humanoid shadows, motionless, stunned to inaction, paralyzed by the immense ferocity of the angry giant, the nine other outgoing members of Spur turned to furniture.
    “You understand, Jack? Pride is why I’m here.” Dudley stopped shaking the man as suddenly as he had begun, his voice flat, calm. “Now, I assume you are going to want to discuss other virtues, like dedication, loyalty, honesty.”
    “Don’t forget height,” Taylor added, still watching the motionless nine look at their shoes.
    “Well, I’ll be glad to talk about them rationally upstairs.” Dudley was now brushing off the man’s coat and straightening his medals. “I’m sorry, buddy. I sort of lost it there .. . pride , you know?”
    Dudley pointed up the winding staircase. “You say the other scum are up there?” The small shattered man nodded dumbly. “Hey, you okay? I’m sorry. You just sort of got to me. Let’s go, Taylor.” Dudley strode over and mounted the staircase. “Geez, man, I’m really sorry, but it’s like a trigger with me, my pride. I’m thoroughly embarrassed. I hope this doesn’t mean we can’t be friends, maybe do this more often.”
    As soon as Terry Dudley and Taylor Rusk disappeared above the first level of the Tower, frenzied whispering broke out on the ground floor.
    “I doubt they’ll be fucking with our pride anymore tonight,”

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