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The Hot Shot [MultiFormat]
eBook by Fletcher Flora

eBook Category: Mystery/Crime
eBook Description: Skimmer was the Hotshot--handsome, smart, arrogant ?. He had everything personality, looks, women. He was ready for success--regardless of the cost ? And then he met a girl and a gangster--and something went wrong! Hotshot is Skimmer's story--a unique candid portrait not of the knife-wielding delinquents who capture headlines but of today's troubled youth as they really are. The unforgettable story of a generation battling to find its way in a world it never made. Originally published in 1956, this exciting novel is now available as an eBook for a whole new generation.

eBook Publisher: Wonder Audiobooks, LLC/Wonder eBooks
Fictionwise Release Date: July 2010




Part I: DEAR OLD HIGH

My old man was a bum, and my old lady was a slob, and chances are I'd be a slob and a bum both if it wasn't for this God-damn crazy game.

Funny thing is, I didn't intend to play it. The way I got started was just one of those things. I was walking down the hall of the high school past the gym, and to tell the truth, I was thinking about going down to Beegie's pool room to pick up a few nickels playing rotation, but the door to the gym was open, and I just happened to look in while I was passing, and there was this guy I knew, name of Bugs, running around with all these other guys throwing a ball at a hoop. I gave old Bugs a hoot and a holler, and thumbed my nose at him, and he thumbed back and yelled for me to come on in, so I did, and I don't know why.

You weren't supposed to walk on the gym floor in your street shoes, so I went along the edge back to where Bugs was standing, and I asked him what the hell he was doing playing around with sissy stuff like that, and he said it wasn't so God-damn sissy when you got into it, and he'd bet two-bits I couldn't throw the ball through the hoop two times out of ten if I'd stand back where he told me to stand. It didn't seem to me to make a hell of a lot of difference whether I could throw the ball through the hoop two times out of ten or ten times out of ten, but old Bugs was so snotty about it, putting up his lousy two-bits that way, that I decided I'd take the bet, and besides, it was faster than five games of rotation. I saw how the other guys were sort of pushing the ball up toward the hoop with one hand, sometimes jumping up in the air a little when they did it, so Bugs got a ball and tossed it to me and told me where to stand, and I pushed it up the way I saw the others doing it, and damned if it didn't go through. Bugs just hooted and said it was plain pig luck and I couldn't do it again if I tried all day, so I pushed the ball up nine more times, and as a matter of fact, it went through the hoop seven times altogether. All the other guys were standing around watching me by that time, and they razzed Bugs pretty good, and Bugs said he'd pay off the next time he saw me at Beegie's, and I said the hell he would, he'd pay off right now.

It was just about then that someone said, "Skimmer! Skimmer Scaggs!" and the truth is, he said it so sudden and so close to my shoulder that it scared the hell out of me. I turned around to see who it was, and it was this spook Mulloy, coach of the team, and he'd sneaked up behind me on his Goddamn rubber-soled shoes. He was a big guy going kind of bald and with a lot of flab around the belly, even if he was athletic as hell and all that, and he was one of these man-to-man scoutmaster kind of bastards. I thought at first he was going to tell me to get the hell off the floor with my street shoes on, but it turned out he'd been watching me from the beginning and had something else on his mind. He started out telling me I ought to be ashamed of myself, and then he switched off on a sermon about how everyone owed something to the dear old school, and the more you had to offer, the more you owed, because it was the duty of the gifted to give a full measure of their gifts, and to make it short, I finally began to get the idea that I was gifted at throwing a ball through a hoop and was some kind of dirty son of a bitch because I hadn't been out there in the gym doing it a long time ago instead of hanging around Beegie's all the time, and altogether it was the kind of crap to make you puke. I was on the verge of telling old Mulloy to blow it, but then I happened to look around and see the faces of the other guys, and I didn't say it.

I might as well tell the truth about it. The truth is, I wasn't very popular around school, and I'd been thinking pretty hard about putting the place down for good and all, but now I saw these guys standing there with their teeth hanging out and a kind of old buddy-buddy look in their eyes, and I began to get the drift that I'd made a lot of points just by throwing that damn ball through the hoop seven times out of ten with no practice, and I began to think, What the hell, why not, a guy never knows when he can use a few suckers on his side. It was pretty plain these guys really swallowed the bull old Mulloy put out, and one of them, a tall skinny creep who wore contact lenses plastered on his eyeballs, spoke up and said that the team sure could use a sharpshooter like me, and everyone hoped I'd play, and as a matter of fact, this creep was Tizzy Davis, whose old man was president of the Farmers and Merchants Bank, and the whole family was snotty as the window in a nursery. Well, in the end I told a lot of God-damn lies about how I'd always wanted to play and had started to try out for the team two or three times but never had because I figured I wouldn't be any good at it, and old buller Mulloy put an arm around my shoulders so I got a good whiff of his lousy stinking sweat shirt that smelled like my old man's underwear, and he said in one of these loud jovial voices, "Skimmer, you get in that locker room and get a suit and a pair of shoes and get back out here for practice. Fellows, I got an idea Skimmer's just the fellow we've been looking for."

I went in the locker room and put on a suit and a pair of basketball shoes, and I felt pretty naked because I didn't have a jock strap. I was supposed to have one for gym class, but I didn't have it because I never went to the damn class, in spite of their threatening to throw me out of school for not going, and that was because all they ever did in gym class was a lot of corny squats and push-ups and stuff that didn't amount to anything but plain hard work, and I couldn't see any percentage in it. Anyhow, I decided I'd have to have a jock strap if I was going to play basketball in public, and I went back out and we played some, and I guess I just had the knack for it, because it turned out that I was pretty damn good. Every once in a while old Mulloy would stop us and show me how to catch the ball and pass it and a lot of stuff about pivoting and dribbling and things like that, and at first I just wished he'd let me the hell alone so I could throw the ball through the hoop, but after a while I was damn glad to have him stop us any time he wanted to, because the truth is, it pooped me out running up and down the damn court. He had us play what he called a firehorse game, and I learned later this was just the opposite of what was called a control game, which meant the teams that played a control game sort of took their time when they had the ball and tried to set up plays for good shots and all, while we just grabbed the ball and raced like hell for the basket that was ours and slammed away at it with the idea that the ball was bound to go through enough times to win the game if you tried often enough. As a matter of fact, it hadn't been going through so often, though, and that's why they wanted a sharpshooter like me, but to tell the truth, in the beginning I wished to hell we played a control game ourselves.

We kept at it so God-damn long I began to think, To hell with it, I wish I'd gone on down to Beegie's and played rotation, and before we were through I began to get sick in the belly, and I thought I was going to puke right there on the lousy floor, but then we quit and went in the locker room and had showers, and old Mulloy came out of his little cubbyhole of an office and had a shower too, and stood around all manly and naked and calling everyone fellow until you wanted to poke him right in his fat mouth, and he wound up saying, "Skimmer, old man, we're going to make the best dog-gone forward in the state out of you, and I'm predicting right now that this little old team is going to win the league championship and then go right on to take the state tournament. How about it, fellows?"

They all laughed and yelled like a bunch of boobs and said sure, that was right, and slapped each other on the bare butt, and no one but Tizzy Davis himself came over and sat down on the bench beside me and said, "Sure glad you've joined us, Scaggs. You're a natural." Then be gave me one of these damn virile slaps on the bare shoulders, and it stung like hell, the skinny fruit, and if it'd been anyone else I'd have knocked him on his ass, but as it was I let it go, and he stood up and said, "By the way, Scaggs, you ought to get together with some of us fellows some evening. We have some damn good times."

He said damn like it was something he just threw in to show what a hell of a guy he was underneath and I almost spit in his eyes, it was so damn funny, but it didn't turn out to be so funny after all, and a lot of those so-called nice guys really were a lot different underneath than you'd think to watch the prissy way they talked and carried on. That went for Tizzy Davis in spades, and I'm ashamed to say that right while I was talking to him that first time there in the locker room, I was a stinking virgin and he wasn't.

After I was dressed, I went out with Bugs, and old Mulloy yelled after me that practice was at three o'clock sharp tomorrow afternoon, and I said sure, I'd be there, and Bugs said, "Boy, you're solid. This game is the nuts."


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