Thursday, August 5, 2021

Blank Slate, A Tale in Two Parts blog post #509

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Thanks for indulging me in a personal moment last week. I’ll try to get on an even keel today. I’d like to do a two-parter that has to do with a couple of tennis jocks and their rivalry on and off the court, Pete and Dominic by name.

Here we go.



Part One of Two Parts


No skin off his nose. So why was it bothering him so much? He was a reasonably good-looking guy, played a mean game of tennis, rapped with the best of them. Rap, as in talk, not the other kind.

When Pete Marcell looked deep down inside himself, he knew it was because no girlfriend had thrown him over like Marisue did. One day they were copasetic; the next day she informed him she was dumping him for Dominic Duran. Dominic Duran, for cripes sake. She coulda picked someone other than Pete’s rival on the tennis court. That was partly his fault. She’d been at his side a few times as he watched Dom on the court and pointed out this and that about the handsome bastard. Hell, he even introduced the two of them. Didn’t seem likely they hadn’t run into one another on campus, but both of them claimed they hadn’t.

Today, Pete was sitting in the bleachers watching Dom duel with the tennis coach. The ball was flying over the net at lightning speed. The coach was no slouch, either. After the game, Pete watched as Dom wiped his face with a towel, stowed his racket in its cover, and then paused to give him a stare. Pete stared right back. He was a little surprised when Dom walked over and stood in front of him.

“You got something to say to me, Pete?” The tone was about halfway between friendly and belligerent.

Pete looked straight into those chocolate mousse eyes for a long moment. “Nah. Just checking out the competition.”

“You can read that a couple of ways,” Dom said. “You talking about on the court or about courting.”

“Funny. Does it matter?”

Dom squinted at something in the distance. “Yeah, it might. Me, I’m not a physical guy.” He threw a thumb over his shoulder toward the deserted tennis court. “If you got a score to settle, let’s do it right over there.”

“Okay by me. I’d rather beat your butt over there than anywhere else.”

“You can try. Tomorrow’s Saturday. No tennis classes. Right here, say nine o’clock?”

“You got it.”

Dom put two fingers to his forehead in a sort of salute. “See you in the morning.”

Pete’s insides seethed as he watched the arrogant prick stride toward the locker room. What did Marisue see in the bastard? He snickered to himself. That was easy. The guy was good looking if you liked the Latin types. And yeah, he was graceful. Had good moves. But crap, so did he. Maybe she liked dark hair better than honey blond. Pete sucked up his resentment and headed to the dorm.


Word of the duel must have gotten out somehow because the bleachers were about half full when he showed up the next morning. Dom probably told all his cronies. Pete had only told his roommate Mickey Styles. Course, Mickey had a mouth on him, so he might have blabbed.

Dom was already there, warming up by hitting easy ones lobbed by one of his friends. As soon as Pete arrived, Mickey stepped forward to be his warmup man. After a few minutes, the two of them were ready.

Dom won the toss and took the first serve. He sent a blazer into the court, but Pete fired it back at him. No ace on the first serve. That was good. It didn’t take long before he knew this would be a long match.  Dom had a strong forehand, and his two-fisted backhand was nothing to sneeze at. They went deuce a dozen times before Dom managed to put away the game.

No sweat. Now it was his time to serve. A lefty, the right court was his best serve. He put a mean curve on the first ball and got an ace. That lifted his morale. Premature. Dom fired back his weaker left court serve to the far left. Pete covered ground and managed to get it across the net, but Dom put it away on the right side before Pete even recovered his balance.

The next serve to the right court didn’t get him an ace. Dom knew about the slice on the ball now and managed to get it back across. Pete took the point, anyway. And that’s the way it went for damned near half an hour until—on an advantage serve—Pete lost the slice and caught Dom out of position. His game.

After four hours in the boiling sun, they each had two sets. Pete was getting tired… and careless. The only saving grace was that Dom was showing stress too. Before serving the first ball on the tiebreaker, Dom lifted his hands and shrugged his shoulders. Pete mustered enough strength to nod acceptance. The match was a draw.

In the shower at the locker room, Pete realized how lucky he was Dom had called the match. He could hardly muster the strength to soap himself, but Dom was rubbing his skin energetically. From beneath lowered eyes, he studied his nemesis’ wiry frame. Slim but muscular. Wide at the shoulder, small at the waist. Legs long enough to get him around the court in a hurry. Ruefully, Pete came to understand some of Marisue’s decision. Dom was not only a good tennis player, he was also a well put together, good-looking guy.

As they dried off before the sinks, Dom turned friendly. After good naturedly poking fun at some of Pete’s boners on the court, he joked about his own mistakes.

Once dressed, they stood in front of the mirrors combing their hair, Dom turned to him. “What say we ditch the girls this evening and hit a bar. I haven’t got high in a coon’s age.”

Pete smiled. “I’ve never figured that out. Does a coon live a long time, or a short time?”

“Damned if I know. But what do you say?”

“Yeah, sure.”

“You got a car?”


“Why don’t you pick me up about eight. We’ll make a night of it.”

“Don’t you live on campus?”

“Naw. Got a pad on Roma, not far from the U.”

“Okay. See you then.” It was his turn to give a two-fingered salute and walk away.


What is Dominic Duran up to? He can’t beat Pete Marsell on the tennis court, so is he plotting some nefarious form of revenge. He sure turned nice all of a sudden. We’ll find out next week.

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 See you next Thursday.



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