When you’re writing a book, the words don’t always fit. You cut a character or change a scene. It may disappear from the page, but in your head, it’s still there. It’s real. It happened.
That’s what happened to Jonesy. There wasn’t room for him in the book. I found a different way to tell the story.
But I love this guy! Goofy sense of humour, loyal to the max. Perfect captain and perfect friend. So here’s another scene that happened before Betting Game.
Coach is holding a soccer ball between his fingers, and he spins it a couple of times. Here it comes, then.
“Got some good news and some bad news, fellas. As some of you already know, Khalil is leaving us.”
From all the groans, Jonesy only told me and Alex. But second time around, it still feels like a kick in the gut.
“You’re leaving us?” someone echoes.
I’ve never seen Jonesy lost for words. From his stricken look, he hasn’t had much time to think about what he’s leaving behind.
So I jump in.
“Guys! Didn’t you hear the “good news” part? Tell them where you’re going, Jonesy.”
Jonesy takes a breath and flashes me a grateful smile.
“I got signed by Leeds.”
And the questions fly.
“When do you leave?”
And then someone says what I’ve been thinking. “What are we going to do without you?”
In the silence, Alex and I look at each other.
“I think I can answer that,” says Coach. “Just so happens we found a new player to fill our vacant roster spot. Fell into our lap. Fella by the name of Gil Joseph.”
This I didn’t know. I listen as hard as everyone else.
“What position does he play, Coach?”
“Is he any good?”
“Where’d you find him?”
Coach holds off our questions with his hands. “One at a time. First, he’s a striker. And yeah, he’s good. Damned good, in fact.”
“As good as Jonesy?” I ask.
“No one’s as good as Jonesy,” says Alex. And everyone agrees.
Coach waits until we quiet down. “He’s from a military family, so he’s lived all over. He’s moving to Toronto as soon as school’s over. He’ll be with us in a couple of weeks. I want you all to make him feel welcome.”
Then he clears his throat. He looks around the circle, and his eyes settle on Jonesy. “Khalil, we wish you the very best of luck. You’re leaving a big hole. Team captain, leading scorer, friend. We’re going to miss you. On the field and off.”
Jonesy reaches out to shake his hand. “Thanks, Coach. I appreciate everything you’ve done—everything you’ve all done.”
“All right,” says Coach. “That’s it for now. Hit the showers.”
“Three cheers for Jonesy,” shouts Alex. “Hip-hip…”
“Hurray!” On the last hurray, we dog pile Jonesy until he begs for mercy.