Raymond Felton opened his eyes blearily as his phone’s alarm went off, desperately slapping at his bedside table to try to get it to stop. When he finally disengaged the annoying chirp that was his selected alarm tone, he took a quick peek at his calendar: it was a game day. That meant he should be getting up even if the prospect of another hour or four of sleep was very enticing to him.
Not that game days were any more strenuous than any other day. In fact, game days were often less strenuous because he didn’t have to practice as much or travel as far. All he had to do was lazily get up some shots in shootaround, then prepare for another 48 minutes of sitting on the bench, clapping and getting paid game checks that he referred to as his “bench checks”. Overall, not a bad life, he decided as he reached into his underwear drawer and withdrew a cold McDonald’s cheeseburger from his secret snack stash.
After a few sleepy bites of cheeseburger while sitting on the edge of his bed, Raymond felt more energized. Taking the few steps to the microwave that was on the other side of the room, he popped the cheeseburger in and heated it up for ten seconds. While the half-eaten sandwich spun alluringly, Raymond looked around on the floor for an outfit that wasn’t too wrinkled to wear to the arena. As the microwave beeped at him, signalling the completion of its assigned task, Raymond pulled on a pair of jeans and a hoodie, neither of which had been washed for several months. He then returned to this cheeseburger and finished it while eyeing a nearly-full box of Whataburger onion rings that had been collecting dust on his desk for several days, waiting for the perfect consumption opportunity.
There was a part of Raymond’s mind that was reminding him that he should be eating healthily since there was a chance he could play, but he ignored that part of his mind. Instead, he listened to the part of his mind that was connected to his stomach, the part that incessantly craved unhealthy food. Especially onion rings. Delicious onion rings.
“Fifteen points, man! Hell yeah!” Paul George yelled after the game, giving Raymond a big high five and a bro-hug. “After a month of DNP’s! I’m surprised your body could take it!”
Raymond smiled sheepishly. “I felt good out there. Not gonna lie.”
Russell Westbrook came over. “We’re gonna hit up the clubs, man. You in?”
“Nah, I’m too old for that,” Raymond said, shaking his head. “You guys have fun.”
Russell shrugged and led a large group of Thunder players out of the locker room. Soon, Raymond was all alone. It was time.
Taking out his duffel bag, Raymond pushed aside several months’ worth of used game socks that had been haphazardly shoved in. After a few seconds of digging through the sweat-crusted, rank-smelling pile, he found what he was looking for: a single slice of pepperoni pizza, covered with little white fibers from the socks. Reverently removing the slice of pizza as if it were a sacred religious relic, he gently brushed off what sock fibers he could, then took a large whiff of it. Underneath the odor of stale sweat was the unmistakable aroma of cheese, pepperoni, and tomato sauce, all combined into one glorious food item.
Stomach grumbling in anticipation, Raymond placed the slice of pizza into his mouth and took a bite. Immediately, he was transported to a state of culinary bliss. The succulent, cold cheese and moldy crust merged to create a flavor combination that was unique, yet familiar as well.
A fine reward for a fine game played, Raymond thought.