Christian Wood opened his eyes and, unexpectedly, saw another pair of eyes staring directly into his own. “Ah!”
The other man was not perturbed by Christian’s surprise. He continued to hold his head directly over Christian’s. “I’m glad you’re awake. I was thinking you would never come around.”
With those words, Christian immediately thought that he had suffered some kind of medical emergency and was now being tended to by medical personnel. That would explain why he was lying on a hard surface, like a floor, rather than a bed. But when he looked around, he could tell that he wasn’t in a hospital, or in the arena, or anywhere else that he could recognize.
Grey stone walls were on either side of him, featuring arched, cathedral-style windows that offered a view out towards nothing at all. There was no ceiling, just a hazy sheet of clouds that were lit from behind by a golden light source – probably the sun. That same source of light was gently warming the front of his naked body, while the back of his body was cooler from lying on smooth, bare marble.
“Can I get something to put on?” Christian asked the white-robed man, who had stepped away from his awkward position directly above Christian and was now standing to the side. If there was some kind of medical incident happening, the man didn’t seem hurried to address it.
“Of course,” the man said graciously, pulling out a folded robe similar to his own and handing it to Christian. Christian stood up and donned the garment while taking a better look at his surroundings. He was in some kind of hall whose beginning and end were shrouded in a distant haze, if there was a beginning or end at all. When he tried to think of what he had been doing before he had gotten here, he found his memories of the past to be extremely vague. He had been playing in a game, then he had gone to the locker room, and then…?
“Who are you?” Christian asked, that being one of many questions that had formed in his mind.
A look of disappointment crossed the man’s face. Christian didn’t know what he could have done to have caused it. “You don’t recognize me?” the man asked in response.
“Uh…no? Should I?”
“You must not pay much attention to Pistons legends of the past,” the man said. “My name is Carlos Delfino.”
“I might’ve heard that name,” Christian lied. His knowledge of Pistons players was limited to his current teammates and the Bad Boys teams. “So, Carlos, is this, like…your house?”
A small smile curved Carlos’ lips. “I guess you could call it that, since I spend all my time here. But the proper name for this realm is The Hall of the Thirty Point Scorers. It is a place of the utmost peace and solitude, a place where only the most successful NBA players are allowed to enjoy contemplation and meditation in total serenity. You can guess what the criteria for admission are.”
Christian now remembered more details about the game he had just played. He had scored thirty for the first time in his career. “So, if everybody who scored thirty points in the NBA is here, why is it just you and me?”
“You must have missed where I was talking about solitude,” Carlos replied. “The Hall would not be so relaxing a place if it was just one big party all the time.”
“Makes sense,” Christian said, even though nothing about the Hall really made sense. He still wasn’t sure if it was located somewhere on earth or if he was in a different dimension.
“Man, I was so afraid you weren’t going to make it,” Carlos went on. “I was watching the game from up here, the Overseers sometimes let me have a television if I haven’t screwed up recently.” That last phrase added more confusion to Christian’s conception of the place he was in. “When they subbed you out for that Thon dude, I almost chucked the TV out the window. But the Overseers get really mad when I treat the Void out there as my own personal garbage can.”
“Yeah, that would annoy me too,” Christian said. “But Coach put me back in eventually, so I made it. And now I’m here, I guess.”
“That you are,” Carlos said. “I’ll leave you alone now. Solitude, after all, is the entire point of the Hall.”
“How do I leave?” Christian asked, although he was already finding that he was in no hurry to return to his hectic mortal life.
Carlos smiled again. “Don’t worry about it. The Hall has its ways.” And with that, he walked away into the distant haze until he could no longer be seen.
Christian sat down on a nearby bench. It was extremely comfortable, more comfortable than a stone bench had any right to be. If this was the reward for scoring thirty points, he would have to do it more often. Thon Maker could never bother him here.