Dennis Schröder walked around in the darkness. “Where am I?” he asked of the void. His voice echoed weirdly off of unseen barriers, but he did not receive an answer, so he continued to walk.
All of a sudden, a jovial voice issued out from behind him. “Guten tag, Dennis! Guten tag!”
Dennis whipped around to see who was addressing him. At first, there was nobody, but then a tall, humanlike form began to compose itself in front of Dennis, bit by bit. He looked on in wonder as the picture became more complete. “Detlef…Schrempf?”
“The very same,” Detlef answered. “I’ve wanted to meet you for so long, Dennis.”
Faced with one of his basketball idols, the only question Dennis could think to ask was, “Where are we?”
Detlef looked around with a smile of amusement curling his lips. “Reality, dream, what difference is there, anyway?”
Not wanting to appear stupid, Dennis responded, “Not much of one, I suppose.”
“Let us walk,” Detlef offered, draping his arm over Dennis’ shoulder. Dennis didn’t see the point, as every location in this place looked the same as every other location, but he went along, eager to have some time to talk.
After a minute or so of silence, Detlef said, “I’ve been watching you, Dennis, and I’m really liking what I’m seeing. The way you approach the game, the way you play it, the word ‘artistic’ doesn’t even begin to describe it. It’s like you’re conducting a symphony out there.”
Dennis felt flattered and didn’t know how to respond. “Uh, thanks,” he murmured, looking down at his feet.
“There’s no reason to be shy, Dennis. You’d kick my ass in one-on-one these days. You’re the future of German basketball.”
“I guess,” Dennis said, still not wanting to be boastful. “But I’m not even the starter.”
Detlef abruptly stopped walking and, turning to face his companion, placed his hands on Dennis’ shoulders. “Minutes don’t matter. It’s what you do with those minutes that count.”
Now Dennis felt foolish for his complaint. “I know. I just want to do more.”
“You will, in time. Here, I’ve got something that might help.” Detlef removed his hands from Dennis’ shoulders and now turned with his hands held out in front of him. Slowly, like an inconsistent television signal, an object began to materialize in between Detlef’s palms. A brown object, with some buckles and some suspenders…
“The Magic Lederhosen,” Dennis whispered in awe. “‘A basketball player’s friend, makes you better ’til the end’,” he quoted from memory. “I thought that was just a fairy tale.”
Detlef laughed, handing the enchanted garment to the younger player. “Why, yes, it is just a fairy tale, but why shouldn’t fairy tales be real?
Dennis woke up in his own bed. Immediately, he was overcome by disappointment, knowing that all of it had been a dream. The Magic Lederhosen couldn’t exist. It was just a story, a dumb one told to motivate young athletes.
Feeling something unfamiliar on his legs, he lifted up the sheets.
The brownness, the suspenders, the embroidered orange sphere on the front; the garment was unmistakable. He was wearing the Magic Lederhosen.