One Last Tournament

Tears welled up in her good eye. She’d finally tracked him down. It had taken her years, cost her countless hours and untold dollars. And now? He couldn’t even look at her.

“I never thought I’d see you again,” she whispered.

“I hoped you wouldn’t,” he told her. “I deserve to be alone.”

“It wasn’t your fault,” she said, adjusting her eye patch. “Polo is a dangerous sport. I knew that going in. We all did.” She paused. “We’re getting the team back together for a tournament. One time, big payoff. We want you in.”

He felt a chill go through his body. “Why me?” he asked.

“Because,” she said, “you’re the best.”

“Even if I wanted to, would the club let me back in?”

She pursed her lips into a tight smile. “I think we could pull some strings.”

“I don’t know,” he said. “What if I just don’t have it anymore?”

“John,” she said, “I don’t even need one good eye to know you’ve still got it.”

“One time?” he said, adjusting his tie.

“One time.”

His eyes narrowed into a steely and determined glare. Muscle memory informed him that his arm could still pull off that legendary swing. The blood in his veins was freezing over into ice water.

“First things first,” he said, “let’s go get my horse out of hock.”

(Photo of _Stigmata_ and Lady Diabla.)


Ray turned to Philip as they sat atop the fleshy, sensitive summit. “We made it,” he said to Phil. “We made the climb that nobody thought we could.”

Philip scratched his chin. “Lost a lot of men, though,” he said. “A lot of good men.”

“When Freddy slipped into the navel, I just …”

“Hey,” Philip said, his hand on Ray’s shoulder. “There was nothing you could have done. OK? There was nothing. You saw how smooth the skin was there. It could have happened to any of us.”

“You’re right.” He exhaled heavily. “It’s beautiful up here, though. You can see the other peak so clearly.”

“Maybe we’ll climb that one some day, too.” The men smiled at each other. “So,” Philip said, “what do you want to do?”

“What we came here to do,” Ray said. “I’m gonna pinch it.”

The clouds broke then, and at that moment, it felt like the sun was shining just for him.

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