Pop knew everybody. Didn’t have a dime but took me everywhere. We’d pull up to the Garden parking lot in our old beater. No hope. It was full when I was born, and now I’m in grammar school. I cringed until the face leans out of the booth and it’s his nephew in there. Right over there, Uncle Buddy. Where the players park.
You couldn’t buy a ticket with money. The Garden would thrum with excitement and no one would miss it for filthy lucre. Pop had four. Conjured them like a wizard at work because the boss was already wearing white shoes for the season and wouldn’t sweat in a seat in that hellhole when he could be on the Vineyard. Pop says he’ll sit behind the pole and stare at the big rusty rivets but I’d always end up there because I fit.
Uncle Smokey would come and puff his Tiparillos and jape with Dad and I was in the company of men and stood in awe like at the foot of marble Lincolns.
There was weather inside there. Cumulus clouds of smoke would meet the smog from the drunken exhalations and clash with the cold front coming up from Bobby Orr’s ice under the rickety parquet wood floor.
Then we’d stand and the floor was lost to me, nothing but the boles of men in an endless forest swaying in the breeze of excitement.
I’d kill ten innocent men to go back there for ten minutes.