playing hardball with life

(three teens dressed in shorts and t-shirts are standing around. one holds a basketball; they are waiting for their friend to arrive before they begin playing. names are male, and I'd prefer if males played the parts if only because it's a commercial for a local church and they tend to be pretty sexist about this sort of thing if you watch for it, but if necessary some can be female)

JASON: Didn't he say he'd meet us here at three?
CHUCK: Yeah, that's what he said. I don't know what's keeping him.
RANDY: Man, I wanna play some ball.
CHUCK: Slow down there, tiger. You'll get your chance.
RANDY: Why don't we just get some guy who's by himself to join us?
JASON: Look, will you relax? He'll be here!
CHUCK: This guy's got serious skills. It's worth waiting for him.
RANDY: So who is this guy, anyway?
CHUCK: Only the baddest game in town.
RANDY: What's his name?
CHUCK: Jesus.

(meaningful pause)

JASON: You've never played basketball with Jesus?
RANDY: No. Is he good?
CHUCK: "Is he good"? We're only talking the man who singlehandedly rewrote the bible of the blacktop...
JASON: Before he showed up, the game was totally different. It was all physical. We'd always play with hard fouls, you know. Some guy starts giving you trouble in the post, you smite him. That sort of thing. But Jesus was all about finesse.
CHUCK: You're totally right, man. When Jesus was driving the lane, he moved with the ball like it was of his own body. JASON: But he was cool! He wasn't a ballhog! If you had a shot, he'd give you this look like "Hey, my brother. Take of me my body and dunk that shit." Then he'd give you the sweetest pass...
CHUCK: No look! No look at all!
JASON: Which is not to say that he'd let you slack, though. If you didn't hustle for those boards...
CHUCK: He'd be all "Brother, I have enough lost balls to redeem without you throwing up wack-ass shots like that one."
JASON: And "There will indeed be a second coming of this possession, but only if you move your lazy ass and get the rebound."
RANDY: So Jesus played point guard, mostly?
JASON: Well, yeah, but the man was a born scorer too. He just liked to concentrate on teaching his teammates to play well, like we were his missionaries to the basket.
CHUCK: "Spread the score far and wide so that all mankind may see its glory", he'd say.
JASON: But yeah, the man could shoot. He'd do some amazing stuff. There was this one time that Jesus went up for a dunk, and Chuck here was supposed to put up a screen for him...
CHUCK: But I totally folded. The guy on the other team went right through me.
JASON: So Jesus is going up but this guy is coming at him. Jesus has the ball in his right hand but that's the direction the guy is coming at him from.
CHUCK: I'm standing there thinking "Oh, no! Jesus is gonna get nailed!"
JASON: And somehow Jesus stops in midair, just stops cold...
CHUCK: Switches to his left hand...and while he's in midair...
JASON: He rises again! And slams it in the hole!
CHUCK: He tore that net off like it was a freaking moneylender!
RANDY: Wow. Jesus sounds like a pretty good basketball player.
CHUCK: He sure is.
JASON: (to RANDY) You sound kind of glum all of a sudden. What's the matter?
RANDY: Well, what's the fun in playing against an infallible ballplayer? If he's not going to make any mistakes...
CHUCK: Oh, no, you've got it all wrong. When he's on the court, Jesus is as mortal as the rest of us.
JASON: Yeah, sometimes he tries to redeem the mistakes of the entire team all by himself.
CHUCK: He gets stuck on some of his fancy ballhandling moves.
JASON: Last time we were playing, it seemed like he got hung up on that cross-over dribble of his. And he can get you down sometimes. He's got pretty high standards, and if you screw up, he makes you feel like betrayed him personally.
CHUCK: One time in the middle of the game he said to me "Chuck, before this game is done, you will turn the rock over three times." And I said "Jesus, I'm on fire! Don't worry about it!"
JASON: But you did...
CHUCK: Yeah. (glumly stares at his feet) And he was all "Chuck, I took a charging foul for your sins."
JASON: Anyway, though, you'll have a great time playing ball with Jesus. Sometimes the cops hassle us for suspicion of graffiti or heresy or something, but Jesus knows how to handle it. He's cool.
RANDY: I wonder where he is?
JASON: I don't know. I mean, he doesn't have any classes on Friday, so he should be here...
RANDY: Well, I'm willing to wait. Jesus is alright with me.

(they smile wide and put their arms around each other. they then go still, as if on freezeframe)

VOICE: (intense) Jesus got next. A message from the Campus Inquisition for Christ.

(two ROMANS wielding spears chase the basketball players off the stage)

SEXTUS: Hey, get out of here! Shoo!
CORNELIA: Damn Christians! Get the hell off my lawn!
JASON: Screw you, Romans! You'll get yours!
CORNELIA: Yeah, my lion will get his too if I ever see your scrawny ass around here again!
CHUCK: Repent!
CORNELIA: Bite me!
CHUCK: You'll go to hell!
CORNELIA: You smell bad!
SEXTUS: I really don't get Christians.
CORNELIA: Kind of silly, aren't they?
SEXTUS: Exactly. There's so much that they overlook. Like, hello, if there's not a giant god holding the earth up, why doesn't it fall?
CORNELIA: Right, and I suppose their "Holy Ghost" is the one who drives the Sun Chariot through the sky each day? SEXTUS: Bunch of loonies, they are.

playing hardball with life by marc heiden july/september 1998