Love and Competitiveness Existing Together


Ed: The following is a short fiction story, influenced by the great duality of Bean.

A room, a cavernous room, dome-shaped and dilapidated, blanketed with the dust of the past year, cloaked in a hazy darkness, waits for discovery. It’s familiar. The deep darkness in here has its own layers. Faint outlines of trophies and banners cast shadows on ascending rows of uneven shelves. Mini mountains of faded shirts and frayed shorts sprinkled on the ground add dimension to the darkness. Footsteps on the creaky hardwood ring out with an echo, with an echo, with an echo. Squint. There’s still some light in here, towards the back. It glows overhead, celestially, a break coming from somewhere unseen. Something wants to be found. Something is calling.

Be still. Let the vastness of the space be all-consuming. Be still. Let the background blend with the foreground. Be still. Let the surging storm winds that whip outside become rhythmic. Be still. Let everything get focused. Be still. The darkness won’t last.

Stand and accept that the unknown will be worth it, that the tactile feelings of the surrounding aged relics will bring an awakening that though it can’t be touched, it can, and it will, be experienced. 

Then keep it moving.

There’s a towering canvas against the wall, one side free of its beige tarp, the other still covered.

An imposing painting comes into focus, a work of art that would only be possible after 20 years of devotion. A golden mold with purple specks frames the craft. Tales are told with these strokes. The myths are confirmed, the legends of unrelenting dominance, of genius-level mastery, of a hunger that lived so deep that the only thing that could satisfy it was more work, of a terrifying desire… They’re all true. Scenes from atop sun-soaked hills and under bright lights are right next to moments of beautiful togetherness which are then contrasted by individual glory reserved only for the few, the type of prestige that is lonely by nature, that is thought to be unattainable by those who aren’t ruthless and ravenous and haunted by the pursuit of winning.

Decades of greatness sweeps all across the uncovered side of the painting, accented by stealthily slithering snakes.

The winds outside the dome rage. They build and build right up until the other side of the worn-out tarp falls to the floor, bringing the darkness and the dust and the downpour with it.

Quiet. For a moment.

The storm is passing. More light is coming. Those outlines aren’t so faint anymore.

The entirety of the canvas is revealed. And… it doesn’t make sense…

These brushstrokes are even older and even deeper. They’re raised. They don’t tell a story of athleticism or of malicious competitiveness. These images have been left with a vulnerable sincerity. These images are more true.

A happiness, dipped in goofiness and playfulness, shines off the canvas. An unlocked imagination, where the passion formed in childhood was never lost, can be seen. An appreciation of the past, with defining memories clocked in pen, and an awareness of the future, with lofty plans to inspire left in colors, play off each other. This side of the painting spans continents and features scenes that illustrate care and affection. Questions asked aloud, of the self and of family and friends, are joined by play-by-play actions that chronicle true love. Feelings, happy and sad, good and bad, cover the corners. Understanding of the consciousness is clear.

Creativity and expression demand attention here. Sometimes the tool is the mind, sometimes the voice, sometimes a pair of eyes, sometimes a sneaker, sometimes the legs, sometimes the hand, and by extension, a pen. Records written. Every step counted.

Four life-giving doves soar above all else.

And that desire to win at all costs, the theme of one half of the painting, can’t be found on the older half of it. The older side, the honest side, is dedicated to love.

How can this be the same painting? How can it all be true? Whose depiction can this be?

Light is starting to bleed into the dome. It’s not coming from overhead anymore. It’s instead coming from behind the canvas.

Take one more step.

A window, an enormous window, rectangle-shaped and dilapidated, blanketed with the dust of the past year, cloaked in a hazy brightness, waits for discovery. It reveals a rising sun, beaming with red and orange rays, coming in off the Pacific. The dawn rolls in, joined by calm waves.

And, with the new morning setting in, the back of the canvas has one more surprise. There’s an inscription left in sparkling gold. It reads: The Portrait of Kobe Bean Bryant

739





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