Taj Gibson and Nemanja Bjelica sat at a table in the Orlando nightclub. Bjelica was high-fiving every patron that recognized him and making loud, drunken comments at women that passed by, but Taj did nothing but take an occasional sip of his beer. Even the basket of mozzarella sticks in front of him was untouched.
“Come on Taj, not be so sad, you make women not want to talk to me,” Nemanja scolded his teammate. “Every woman here would loving to touch your black mamba but sitting you there like sad child.”
Taj glumly looked up at his foreign teammate. “I have eyes for none but one, and that one isn’t here, so why should I even bother?”
Nemanja threw up his hands in exasperation. “You are still hung up on cheerleader woman Brianna? Even after Karl cuck you?” He shook his head in disappointment. “People thinking that Arron Afflalo deserving me to punch him, but maybe I should punching you instead, to make you have sense in your tiny American brain.”
“I wrote another poem for her today,” Taj said, and the thought of his poetic words being read by his one-and-only made him smile. “I gave it to one of the other cheerleaders to give to her. Inside the envelope are some tulip petals. I saw on her Facebook that tulips are her favorite flower.” Then he recited a line from the poem. “Like a tulip emerging from its bulb in spring, so does blossom the depth of our desiring.”
“Do you want know something, Taj?”
Taj while still grinning whimsically at nothing at all, and his gaze was fixed at nothing at all. “Hmm?”
“Yesterday, without aid of poem, I make banging with Brianna too.”
Taj’s eyes remained unfocused for a while, as if it was taking him a while to process this new information. Then, he glowered and looked back at his beer. His next words were spoken more towards the table than his teammate. “Why?” he asked softly. “You know the feelings I have for her.”
Nemanja shrugged. “She is hottest cheerleader, and Karl say she look better without wearing cheerleader outfit, so I see for myself.”
“I’m gonna go now,” Taj said flatly, standing up from his chair. “I don’t need to hear these lies.”
“Is not lie,” Nemanja replied. “Is truth.” But his words were barely heard by Taj, who had begun walking briskly towards the exit. When he got outside into the balmy Orlando night, he retrieved his wallet and pulled out the picture of Brianna that he kept in it. Looking at her beautiful face and deep-blue eyes, his heart gave a painful twinge, and he clutched the picture to his chest as tears began to pour from his eyes to spatter on the asphalt below.