Brad and Joel’s Pick-up Game


(A fun scene from Chapter 8. While it was critical to a subplot, it wasn't needed for the main storyline, and the POV is inconsistent.)

Saturday, September 1

“I’m not too late am I?” Brad caught his mother in the kitchen just as she was starting to make dinner.

“Never,” Bobbi said, leaning over so he could kiss her cheek. “What a wonderful surprise. You’re not working tonight?”

“I have one last shift tomorrow night.” He grabbed an apple from the basket on the counter and took a large bite.

“Is school any better?” Bobbi pulled a sack of potatoes from the bin, and began sorting through them, dropping the chosen ones in the sink.

“I don’t want to talk about school,” he said through a mouthful of apple. “Where’s everybody at?”

“Out back.” Bobbi pointed out the window. “There’s Shannon and Dad. Joel’s out there somewhere.”

“Good. There’s just enough time to beat the mama’s boy in basketball.” Brad crunched the next bite from his apple and headed toward the back door, but then he turned back and grinned. “No offense.”

“None taken.”

There was a large plastic trashcan by the back door that held an assortment of sports equipment. Brad dug through it until he found the basketball, then he called to his little brother. “Come on, sissy boy. Show me what you got!” He dribbled the ball on the driveway while he waited.

Joel smiled and shook his head, then trotted over. As soon as he got close enough, Joel swatted the ball from his brother’s hand. “What are you, like thirty now? Can you even still play?” He dribbled away from the basket.

“How did Mom take your news?” Brad asked, guarding Joel closely.

“About as well as you expected.” Joel pivoted around Brad for a perfect jump shot.

“What about Dad?”

“He’s arbitrating the dispute,” Joel said, handing Brad the ball. “I don’t think he has any reservations about Abby particularly.”

“You’re extremely naïve about this, but then you’ve always been naïve.” Brad took a shot over Joel’s head, but it bounced off the rim.

“How am I naïve?” Joel asked, picking up the basketball.

“Marriage is tough enough, but you want to go into it with a big strike against you. Plus, trying to raise somebody else’s kid… you’re asking for it.”

“Brad, what do you know about marriage? You don’t even have a girlfriend.”

“It never goes away, Joel. Look at Mom and Dad. Everything was clicking along, then out of nowhere, more fallout from his affair. Granted, Abby’s not gonna have some long lost son show up, but there’s gotta be consequences. Things you’ve never considered.”

“Thank you, Mr. Unforgiving Legalist.” Joel took a shot from the left side. ”Consequences and payment,” he said in a mock deep voice. “What about grace and restoration?”

“I’m not saying Abby doesn’t deserve grace and restoration, but those don’t, they can’t, erase the effects of the sin.”

“What about redemption? What about God taking something terrible and bringing good out of it? Like Shannon? Shannon was one of those consequences.”

“Joel, listen to what you’re saying. God redeems, not you. You can’t make this into something good on your own. You need to stop being so self-righteous and listen to Mom. She’s dealt with sexual sin, too, but from the other side.”

“The close-minded, unreasonable side,” Joel muttered.

“She’s not that way, and you know it.” Brad picked up the basketball. “You’re just torqued cause she yelled at her widdle boy.” Joel scowled at his brother, and knocked the ball out of Brad’s hand. “Of course, I kinda like being the ‘good son’ for a change.”

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