BookTalks with Can You Stand the Game by Amelia Rucker

Chapter One:  BJ

“Come on, man! You know how the fellas are about us being on time.”

I stood in the doorway. Waiting on my cousin was like waiting for Santa Claus to come. I’ll admit it. Money was all a brotha cared about. Women came and left, but in the end, money was the motive. My cousin took his sweet time like he always did.

Let me give y’all a proper introduction of myself. My name is Benjamin Hakeem Johnson, but to all of my friends, I am known as BJ. My skin is dark caramel with not a single blemish on my face. Some thought I was Michael B. Jordan, but I really didn’t see a resemblance. Of course, I was even one of the best street ballers in the city of Atlanta.

Haters were everywhere I went, but I still shine. I drove a nice whip, but at the end of the day, I got everything I needed. I wasn’t your average street baller, for the love of the game was where my heart was. I was indeed a hustler, not a drug dealer. Money covered the rent as well as food, but love wasn’t a part of my life.

My cousin, Tyme, came strolling out of the room. He reminded some of the females of Ruben Studdard. This fool didn’t even have the voice of an angel, yet all of the females ran to him like he was a superstar. However, his swag was on point. He was always rocking the latest Jordan’s, and his outfits were so fresh and clean. I never cared about clothes much, for I was always balling in a pair of basketball shorts and Js.

“Man, when are you going to upgrade your wardrobe?” Tyme wondered.

“Man, I am a baller twenty-four/ seven. I ain’t out here trying to impress these females.”

I came from a single-parent home. My mother raised me into the young man I am today. God watched over me more than these fools. My grades were straight, but college wasn’t what I was looking into.

The courts were my playground. What I knew was I lived by the ball that I will die by the ball. Basketball has been my passion since I was a kid. I dreamed of playing for the NBA. What was killing me was how would I go about making my own dreams come true, but I certainly would not give up. A brotha like me didn’t have time to get involved the street life. The game was what most of my friends knew, but I distanced myself from them.

I drove off to the playground, which was the court. Street ballers all over came to compete, but money played a significant role. This was how I paid for my rent and food. My mother never understood how I did this. She always nagged that I should get a job since street balling wasn’t a real job. I even made sure she got a little bit of my income to pay for her own. Mama used to hustle real hard, but three jobs suddenly took a toll on her health.

“Hey, cous. When will you get into the real game?” Tyme asked.

“You have asked me that, and my answer still stands. I ain’t about that street life. I might be your family, but the last thing I want is to go down for some crap you did. I’m trying to make it out of the hood. You better find one of your homeboys to ride and die,” I retorted.

This fool didn’t want a thing in life. The part is the streets claimed kids who I knew lives. My life was way more important than just some roach. Again, street ball was my life, and there was no way I was going to trade it. We reached the courts in no time, and my eyes grew wide as saucers.

 There was this one team that had a good bit of females than it did males. They looked unique, but there was this one female who caught my eyes. She had to be about 5’5, but her rich dark chocolate skin made a brotha fall super hard. I just hope shawty can ball. Her booty was just right, for it wasn’t like a video vixen’s butt. Her abs were sculpted perfectly. I hustled toward shawty, for her mystic eyes caught me by surprise.

“Hello,” she greeted with a Colgate smile.

“Hey,” I greeted.

“Homie, she’s a baller and soldier on leave. What is it she could possibly see in you?” a dark-skinned brotha jumped in.

I gave the brother an eye, but shawty turned around and gave the fool the same expression. I knew there was something unique about the girl, for her presence welcomed me.

“First of all, the brotha told me, hey. Second, don’t hate because I don’t give you the time of day anymore,” she retorted.

“Whoo!” the rest of the teammates chorused.

“I’m sorry. You have to look over my friends.”

“Baby girl, you cool. I’m BJ.”

“I’m Amelia.”

“You got a little sister named Baby Bop?” one of her guy friends suggested.

“Tyshon, shut up!” Everyone ordered.

Amelia was tickled at the entire scene. Her cute laugh even brought out my hysterical laughter. All of her friends even joined in. From afar, my big-headed cousin gave me a skeptical look. What was his problem? I thought, turning back to my potential beautiful queen.

“What does the B stand for?” Amelia inquired.

“Benjamin.”

“Oh, I love that name!” she expressed, showing her pearly whites.

“All because of that punk you fell in love with,” the same fool blurted out.

“Dude, what is your problem?” I wondered.

“She fell for a punk fool…”

“John, shut up. That was when I was nine years old. I am twenty-four years old. Quit trying to get upset if a dude wants to talk to me.”

 My eyes bulged almost out of my eye sockets. Shawty hammed ol’ boy, and the look on his face made the entire crew laughing. Her beautiful chocolate eyes had their attention on me. It was something about her that made me feel some type of way. Hopefully, shawty will be around a little longer, so this king can finally declare, “She’s my queen!”

“You have to look over them. My friends are something else whenever one of us meets someone new.”

“It’s okay, shawty! Well, are you a baller?” I wondered.

“Yes. I used to always think I was one of the greatest until I met my friends. We are unique,” Amelia stated.

“Well, I got to see how you move on the court. How about my crew against your crew?” I suggested.

“Sure. What’s the catch?”

“I’ll take you out to dinner.”

“Okay. Lunch will be on me if you win.”

“Whoo! Love and Basketball street ball edition,” Tyshon declared.

“Boy, please,” Amelia said, trying to control her giggle.

“It is only nine of us, so why don’t we take turns playing?” Tyshon suggested.

I suited up against shawty and her fine female friends. The other ballers I usually played with assisted me with the game, and it was instantly on. Amelia did kind of remind me of Monica Wright, but this was Street ball. Even her homeboys had skills. Keith and Tyshon’s crossover moves had the entire crowd go wow.

►►►

I only played for like two whole hours against them, but Amelia was all I could think about. She was standing on the sideline, acting as a coach, and yelling at the top of her lungs.

“Get your head in the game, BJ!” one of my teammates called.

“My bad, yo,” I said, for my eyes stayed glued to Amelia.

The Lord must have immediately taken His precious time to work on this beautiful masterpiece in front of me. There was something unique about her, and I couldn’t wait to get to know shawty later on. In the end, Amelia’s team became victorious. I had to be on the court all day anyway, but I had to get to know shawty before I might never see her again.

 I migrated over to the African beauty, and everything around us paused. Her dark brown eyes reminded me of brown M&M’s. Her smile was pearly white. She must have been an angel, for her dark ebony skin had a glow to it.

“So, how long are you going to be here?” I wondered.

“Three weeks. Why?”

“Is it okay I see you before you head back?”

“Sure.”

“Well, let me give you my number before you roll up out of here,” I said, taking out my phone.

Amelia took out hers and immediately added my number. I bit my lips; shawty was definitely turning a brother on. Hopefully, she was whom God intended for me to have. Lord, please don’t allow me to mess this up, I silently prayed.

“What are you going to do for the rest of the day?” I wondered.

“Just chill with my friends. Why?”

“I was wondering if you would like to watch me ball out of control?”

“We were going to grab some food, but I want to see what mad skills you do got on the court. To tell you the truth, my team took over the court,” Amelia answered.

“Well, what you waiting for?”

Amelia and her friends stayed and watch me dominate the court. She and her crew migrated to the bleachers. As soon as I headed to the court, I noticed Lonzo and his crew strolling as if they owned the court. Lonzo was definitely my rivalry. He actually reminded me of a younger version of Allen Iverson.

 I went hard on the court just to show this fool whose territory he was on. I made sure my skills never went unnoticed. Lonzo and his crew made complete fools out of themselves. They barely even scored one point. I migrated over to the bench where my cousin was. I didn’t appreciate the look he gave me, yet my mocha princess was with her friends. She glanced over at me, but I gave shawty a sexy wink.

I had one more game, but I really couldn’t wait to see my shawty. Heck. We didn’t even make it official yet, but a young king had to speak it to existence. The team that was approaching the court wasn’t too familiar. Apparently, with the looks on their faces, I had a feeling either they weren’t playing or being friendly. Everyone knew how much of a great street baller I am. It was game time, but if an agent or scout from the D-League was in the crowd, best believe I was going to play my heart out for him.

It was down to the last minute of the game. After all the crisscrossing and ankle-breaking on the court, I smelled another victory. Lonzo was out of breath, yet there was barely a single point scored by any of his teammates. I glanced over at Amelia, who was smiling at me. I winked at baby girl before scoring the winning slam dunk. My teammates and I did the Wakanda dance as if the court were indeed our territory. The court was where I eat, breathe, and repeat.

Before I could migrate toward Amelia, one of Lonzo’s ignorant teammates rushed over to me. He shoved, and one thing about me is that I don’t back down from anyone that tried me. My ma ain’t raised no punk.

“Hey, man! What is your problem?” I challenged.

“Look, man. I suggest that if you don’t want any smoke, then you should back off. It’s not my fault that y’all a bunch of sore losers,” I shot back.

“Man, who are you calling a sore loser? You think you own the court with your Kawhi Leonard looking head…” he tried to jawn.

“Hold up. You barely got a score on the board. I know good and well you are not trying to clown anyone around.”

I noticed Amelia was giggling along with her friends. Heck. I couldn’t definitely enjoy a good celebration without a punk getting all in his feelings. Dang. You win some. You lose some.

“Look, Trey. We didn’t come here to do anything crazy. All we came to do was play ball,” Lonzo told ol’ boy.

“Look. I would listen to your boy if I were you. The last thing I need to do is beat you to a bloody pole,” I threatened.

 I might not have had any clue who my father was, but the last thing I knew is the fact my mother did not raise a punk. My mother might have been a single parent, but one thing she taught me was never to allow any punk fool to walk all over me. I mean, was this fool insane in the brain? Some men tripped about the stuff their bitter baby mamas put them through. This clown was in his feelings over a stupid game.

“Man, what your punk behind gonna do about it?” He shoved me.

I charged at this fool, for my blood was boiling.

Bang! Bang! Bang!

The sound of gunshots immediately had everyone scattered. I ran toward my queen and her friends. I mean, I couldn’t play basketball without fools actually shooting up the courts anyway. Heck, the court might have been meant for shooting shots, but gunshots in the air. Amelia and her friends were far from the courts. Dang, it wasn’t like she lived here year-round in the A. She was on vacation. I thanked God not a single bullet touched me, her, or her friends as well.

“Is everyone alright? I wasn’t expecting dem fools to be shooting except for some hoops,” I inquired.

“Look, boy. We are fine. I just wanted to make sure Melia was good. As a matter of fact, who are you?” a short and stout plus-sized lady asked.

I did a double take at just to make sure I wasn’t about to answer Kim Parker from The Parkers. Her eyes were definitely big like ol’ girl’s.

“I’m BJ,” I answered, not wanting to be rude.

“You have to look over my friends. Let me give you a proper introduction of my friends. That’s Stephanie, whom you just answered. Along with Bri, Tyshon, RJ, Terrell, Kiara, Keith, and ol’ boy I don’t even claim as a friend. John is just leaving,” Amelia announced.

“Man, you acting brand new, especially in front of this clown,” John complained.

“Boy, I’ve always acted brand new, especially when you come around. Maybe if you’d be a father to my son, then maybe we could still be friends. Nothing more, nothing less,” Amelia stated, confirming her point.

 My eyes bulged out of my sockets. I couldn’t believe shawty had a son by this clown. Trust me. I never judged a woman with a child or even more. So, John’s biggest issue with Amelia was that Amelia moved on. I feel bad for the kid.

“You didn’t even give birth to him, so how the heck is he even your son?” John challenged.

“Any woman can open her legs and give a man her eggs like she is the Easter Bunny and give birth or have a C-section, but it takes a queen to raise a child whether or not she is the biological mother. That white tramp is not in his life. Ain’t no telling if she is dead or alive,” Amelia shot back.

“Whoo!” everyone, including myself, chorused.

I had no clue shawty had a lot of street smarts. To be honest, I needed a queen like that in my life. I wanted to meet her son. Yes, her son. John was a deadbeat along with the woman he created the child with. I wanted to get to know Amelia more than ever now. Yes, we might have to spend as much time with each other for the next three weeks. I had never felt this way about another woman, and I knew God allowed us to cross paths for a reason.

Yes, I have had women come my way, but none of them compared to Amelia. From her feisty personality to her hourglass figure, God took His sweet precious time to create her. Just staring at her made a King fall even harder. Maybe love at first sight really did exist, or perhaps this moment was indeed a blessing.

“Since we all know your name, are you positive that you don’t have a sister or cousin by the names of Baby Bop and Riff?” Tyshon blurted out.

I couldn’t help but laugh at ol’ boy. I mean, he seemed cool, yet he was a master on the court. His other three friends were even good, and all four of them reminded me of a Fantastic Four. Everyone else joined in along with me. I didn’t mind getting to know Amelia’s friends, but my primary intention was to get to know my future queen. I bit my lips as I continued to stare at her.

Her figure was definitely turning me on. I mean, her booty wasn’t that big, but it was still nice. Her eyes carried a mysterious spark in them. Maybe it had to do with her contagious, Colgate smile.

“What you about to do now?” I inquired.

“Hang out with the crew. You can come along,” Amelia invited. Although sex wasn’t on my mind, my soldier was standing at attention. Boy, I was thrilled.

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