Obituary #1: Jimmy Gunther

In the early rounds of junior tournaments they’d send us far away from check-in. To courts that turned our shoe soles red. To cement courts dimpled with fool’s gold and trilobites. To courts with foxtail grass in the cracks and bird shit stains the rain hadn’t washed away. To that roadside park by a corn field that had two courts with chain-link nets.

You and Jesus sit at a picnic bench, Jimmy, waiting for your name to be called. A farmer drops a red handkerchief over a sparrow pecking in the dirt. The farmer picks the bundle up. Throws it like a racquet to the ground. Splat.

Geez, man, Jesus says.

“You like that PDP there?” the farmer asks you. You are a 12-year-old with a blood condition, and you'll be dead in 12 years from a bad transfusion. You hand him your white, fiberglass racquet from the future. It is the tennis boom and farmers had memberships at racquet clubs, wore tennis togs like celebrities.

He unzips the cover and hands it to you. He takes a swing or two with the racquet. Forehand. Backhand.

“God almighty that’s light,” he says to himself.

Bird Report

Wind advisory today. Gusts up to 45+mph. Nothing but turkey vultures in the sky. They’re hanging in the air absentmindedly. They rise and drop against the current of the wind, calm as fish in a brook.