Written by Kinto
October 10, 2017 Wheeling, West Virginia
Rex Kearsarge moved boxes of pool chemicals around the stock room of his parents’ shop in Wheeling.
Rex was never one for flash and flair, unlike so many of his peers in the FBA. Even though he was technically a millionaire now, the hulking snapping turtle still came back to the Northern Panhandle every summer to live in his parents’ basement (though the basement was a lot more nicely furnished now than it ever had been – he was thrifty, not ascetic) and work in the back room of Kearsarge Pool & Spa. In three years in the league he’d never played for any team for more than one season – Tallahassee, Lorain, Winnipeg. There was no point in settling down anywhere.
His hard work had been noticed. Two teams had offered him multiyear contracts.
Rex grunted and lifted an entire crate onto the top shelf.
The Lorain Firestorm offered 4 years and 30 million dollars. The Plymouth Taproots offered 3 years and 21.5 million dollars.
Rex could barely wrap his head around the concept of ten million dollars. Either way, with judicious money management, he should be set for life.
Logically, the Firestorm offer was clearly better. More money, a longer tenure, and a team and organization he was already passingly familiar with. Lorain was closer to home. The team was a solid one, with a strong shot at the playoffs.
Rex rotated the stock, moving older buckets to the front of the shelves to make room for newer ones at the back.
Logically, it should be no contest. The Taproots were struggling, to put it mildly. They were firmly entombed in the basement of the league with no immediate prospects of digging their way out. A week before the preseason and they still lacked a complete lineup. Going to Plymouth was potential career suicide.
Rex had always been a big fan of logic.
But the Taproots had always been his father’s favorite team. Born and raised in Massachusetts, Reggie Kearsarge’s canine blood ran green-and-brown. There was a vintage Vicki Turner poster framed in the den flanked by souvenir pennants older than Rex. His father’s love of the Taproots had been Rex’s introduction to the sport in the first place, and Reggie had always been the one to encourage Rex to pursue it. Sports in general and basketball in particular was their bond, the thing that linked them unquestionably as father and son regardless of the biology involved.
And the Taproots clearly needed help. And they had called on Rex to help.
Rex was familiar with logic. Emotion and nostalgia were unexplored territory.
Rex hauled boxes of winter merchandise out of storage, preparing for the coming season.
His parents had stayed silent; Rex hadn’t asked for advice, and they hadn’t offered. It was his decision to make. Nevertheless, he knew he had to choose soon.
Lorain made a lot of sense. But just the idea of how proud his dad would be if he saw Rex in a Taproots jersey was worth at least a million dollars.
His agent, Corker, had been less silent. He called daily. Rex’s oPhone buzzed on cue and the turtle accepted the call as he tromped into the showroom where his parents were behind the counter.
“Good morning, Trolley Bus!” the platypus gabbed enthusiastically, “Made up your mind yet?”
“Now, Rex, you can’t keep putting this off forever. The GMs are breathing down my neck like a dragon with heartburn and a na—wait, you said yes?”
Rex was silent. He knew Corker had heard him. He didn’t need to repeat himself. His parents had heard him, too. His chelonian mother and his canine father were watching and listening intently.
“Well then out with it, Ironsides! I haven’t got all day! I’ve got a rhumba class at 3. But I am free again after that. At least until dinner anyway, I was thinking I’d have—“
Rex let the blather flow past him.
“—and then wrap the evening up with some “Monky” reruns on cable. That Tony Shalbabhoun always cracks me up.”
Rex spoke two syllables, the name of a city.
He had been wrong. His father’s beaming smile was easily worth ten million dollars.