Lonzo Ball saw his phone buzzing with an incoming call, but ignored it. A player of his renown would go insane trying to answer every call that came his way. However, when the same number called his phone a second and then a third time, his interest was piqued, and when it called for the fourth time in a minute, he answered it. “Yo, it’s Lonzo.”
“Bro, I might have gotten myself into a bad situation here,” came the familiar voice of his brother LiAngelo. “You gotta help me out.”
Lonzo knew that LiAngelo was on a trip to China with the rest of his UCLA teammates to play a game there, but he couldn’t think of what LiAngelo might be referring to when he used the words “bad situation”. Was he lost in Shanghai? Had he been abducted by Chinese mobsters? “You’re kinda far away, dude, but I can try.”
“First, you gotta promise not to get mad at me for being a dumbass,” LiAngelo said.
“Yeah, sure, whatever,” Lonzo replied. “Just tell me.”
LiAngelo took a big breath before telling the entire story in a single run-on sentence. “I kinda stole some expensive sunglasses from a store here and they caught me and arrested me and now I’m being detained in this prison camp out in the middle of nowhere and nobody speaks English and I’m probably going to be here for the rest of my life so please come get me and I’m really really sorry.”
“At least you can protect your retinas from the rays of the sun in style,” Lonzo quipped.
“Well, actually, I traded the sunglasses to use my cellmate’s smuggled cell phone for an hour,” LiAngelo answered. “I thought that was a good deal because I was afraid he might ask me to…you know. Do prison things with him.”
Lonzo didn’t want to think about that. “So, what, I gotta get dad to bribe some public officials and then come pick you up?”
“NO!” LiAngelo yelled. “Don’t tell dad. Just…just come get me, bro.” His next words were whispered. “I gotta go, the warden’s coming…YES SIR, I’LL GET RIGHT BACK TO WORK SIR, PLEASE, NO MORE BEATINGS!” Then the call ended.
For his stowaway spot, Lonzo had picked a shipping container that had Asian-looking writing on it. He hoped that it was on a boat that was on its way to China, but he couldn’t know for sure. All he knew was that it was very cramped, it was very hot, and half of his rations were already consumed. His phone told him that flights to China took about fourteen hours, and as he turned off the screen of his phone and was plunged into total darkness, he wondered if boats were any faster than that. He hoped they were.
When a dockworker finally opened the container that Lonzo was hiding in, he was dehydrated, disoriented, and hungry. Luckily, it was nighttime, so he was able to deliriously tumble out of the crate without being noticed by any workers. His phone, down to six percent battery, told him that there was a hostel just a few miles away. There he could find some people who spoke English and would tell him how to get to the prison camp where his brother was being held indefinitely and probably getting tortured.
He stumble-walked for a while, stopping only to get some food from a street vendor (paid for in an unnecessarily large wad of American bills). When he got to the hostel, he was slightly more lucid and was able to speak intelligently to the front-desk worker. “My brother got arrested for stealing some sunglasses and I need to find out where he’s being detained.”
The man behind the desk seemed confused by this statement. “You’ll have to talk to the police, then. I don’t know where all the prisons are.”
“But there’s gotta be one, like, in the mountains somewhere, where all the Americans go to get waterboarded until they give up false confessions,” Lonzo pressed. “Not like I don’t think my dumbass brother really did steal those sunglasses, because he totally did. He’s a moron. I’m like, dad has money, he’ll buy you as many damn pairs of sunglasses as you want.”
“Hey, who you calling a moron?” spoke a familiar voice from the doorway.
Lonzo turned around to see his brother LiAngelo standing there, looking a little worse for wear but smiling regardless. “Wow, security in Chinese prisons must be really lax,” Lonzo commented.
“Nah dude, it’s actually crazy tight, I saw a dude get ripped up by machine guns trying to crawl over the fence,” LiAngelo said. “They let me out because I guess Trump called the king of China or whatever and told him to let me out or he would declare nuclear war, and then some dude named John Kerry called him too and threatened ‘sanctions’, whatever those are.”
“So you’re telling me that I nearly died hiding on a cargo ship to come get you, and now you don’t even need my help?” Lonzo asked, relief quickly giving way to annoyance.
Rolling his eyes, LiAngelo retorted, “Not my fault you didn’t just get on a plane like a normal person. Hey, do you think we could stop at the mall later and buy some sunglasses? My cellmate wouldn’t give mine back.”
Lonzo gave his brother a cold stare. “No.”