Mercy Rule

Prologue

The spring before my father came back I sprouted up to five-five in a hurry. The week after finishing seventh grade the growing pains kept me in bed for three days, but by Independence Day Felix and I were at the Mill Creek courts hustling preppy jocks from all over. The net-less rims stained the backboards with streaks of rust and dropped flecks of sun-faded orange paint onto the blacktop with every shot that didn’t slide through on nothing but air. We’d play twos—Felix always driving, driving, and me hanging back for open jumpers. Felix wasn’t subtle about winning. A celebration dance after a particularly demoralizing juke and score wasn’t uncommon. He had an extra tooth above the canine on the left, and when he laughed it pointed straight out as if to indicate the butt of every joke. The losers would stare and shake their heads as Felix salsa-ed, but they never had anything to say about it. Felix and I would head home with paint chips stuck in the sweat at our hairlines, rimming our scalps like crowns. read more

The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson

There is probably not another writer who could make me read a Shakespeare play. Jeanette Winterson, whose writing always excites me, has filled the role that no English teacher ever played for me during my school days. Because I had not realized she included a summary of The Winter’s Tale at the beginning of her retelling, I read the play first and enjoyed it more than I expected I would. That in turn enhanced the sheer fun of reading The Gap of Time. read more

TV Time

When Darby Doppler saw that his favorite comedian had a new vehicle premiering in the fall, he knew he would be writing a fan letter. He’d watched the old Grady Myers show from the second season, before it really got popular, and he felt a connection. But this new lineup seemed so far off Darby wanted to quit living his days. The last Grady Myers show had such a good run. Nine Seasons! And that loveable old show gave him a feeling of nostalgia that he wished he better shared with his wife, since he was a fan before he knew her. They watched reruns together, because she knew how he loved it, and she would always agree when he commented, “This show is so well written.” So the new Grady Myers show was too much to hope for. When he saw the preview, it was one of the moments in his life that seemed unreal. Like the time when he was a boy, outside during the eclipse that no one had told him about. And the neighbor came over and told him to play inside. “Go on now,” he said. “You go play inside.” Darby had never known darkness in the middle of the day. Or for the blinding sun to beckon so convincingly. So it was like that, only he knew it was coming now. He knew the date and time to watch, the network made sure of that. read more