If you play with people long enough, you get to know them pretty well. It’s true in team sports, and it’s true in writing. But sometimes, there’s just not enough room in the story. Sometimes we have to cut characters from the team.
That’s what happened to Jonesy. He’s Jack and Alex’s best friend and team captain. Stand-up guy. But he had to go. I just didn’t have room on my roster.
It’s hard to say goodbye to people you love. Best friends or book characters. So here’s another deleted scene about Jonesy. It takes place before Chapter 1 of Betting Game.
Just before practice, Jonesy calls on Jack and Alex. He breaks the news that he’s leaving the team. He’s been signed by big club in England. But it takes time to answer all their questions…
“We’ll throw you a party. Celebrate.” Alex tosses a pillow at me. “Right, Jack?”
“You bet.” I’m excited for Jonesy—really excited. But I can’t help feeling like he’s leaving us in the lurch. I have to ask.
“How are we going to find a new striker this close to the start of the season? All the good players are signed.”
Jonesy winces. “Coach told my dad I’m replaceable—he’s always turning away players. Said he’ll probably fill my roster spot within a day or two. Bit of a hit to my ego, actually.”
“Coach?” Alex stops dead. “Look at the clock, guys! We’re going to be late for practice.”
“No, no, no—I am not spoiling my perfect record at my last practice!”
Alex is already halfway up the stairs. I knock over my chair in my hurry to follow him. Jonesy’s right behind me.
“Where are you going? I ask. “You’re dressed–go ahead.”
“No way,” he says. “If we’re late, we’re all late.”
It’s a team effort. We rummage on the bedroom floor for soccer uniforms. Jonesy tosses me a pair of shorts. I throw Alex his keeper’s jersey. In the ankle-deep mess, we dig out four crusty, unmatched socks. The shin pads and cleats are easy to find. They stink so bad we could find them with our eyes closed.
“Where are my gloves?” asks Alex.
“Under your bed,” I tell him.
Jonesy pulls them out and waves a hand in front of his nose. “Either that, or something died under there.”
“Aw, shut up.” He checks the clock. “Oh, man. We’ll never make it.”
Jonesy takes off. “Sure we can!”
“Across the park in fifteen minutes?” Alex shakes his head. “No way.”
“Not a problem. For me.” I straight-arm my brother onto his bed and duck out the door, laughing. “Beat you there!”
I pound down the hall. Alex is right on my tail. I hit the hall running and take the stairs three at a time. Alex slides down the banister. We turn the corner together. He gives me a payback shove and I bounce off the wall. He gets through the front door first.
But Jonesy’s got a head start on both of us.
“Five bucks says I can catch him,” I say to Alex.
“Five bucks says you can’t even beat me.”
By the time the Lancers Centre comes into sight, the three of us run shoulder to shoulder. I feel the same thrill of pride every time I see it. The academy is just one step away from the pros—we practise on the same fields, use the same training centre, wear the same colours, belong to the same club. After three years, I still can’t believe it.
We reach the field just as the team curls around to the gate. Perfect timing. Coach is on the opposite side of the field, writing something on his clipboard. The three of us slide into the middle of the pack.
“Smooth,” someone mutters and we hear chuckles.
“Think he noticed?” Alex puffs.
We duck our heads as we pull even with Coach. He doesn’t raise his voice, just says, “You fellas gotta do everything together. Even showing up late.”
“There’s your answer,” says Jonesy.
The three of us pull up short and turn to face Coach. Alex tries the humble approach but the odds of that winning are a million to one. “Sorry, Coach. We, uh, lost track of time.”
“ ‘Sorries’ don’t buy me bubble gum. Drop and give me 100, boys.”
I hit the ground and start pumping. “Bet I finish first.”
Coach tries on a scowl, but it doesn’t work. He just snorts and walks away.