toni and cesar

August 16, 2011 § Leave a comment

Toni used to look after Cesar. Now he didn’t have to, for the most part. They spent their time goofing off. In situations where others were on the verge of being broadsided by Cesar’s temper Toni sometimes intervened to defuse the situation and sometimes provoked Cesar to even greater snits, in the way that only people who knew you best could do. He did this to spare others by drawing Cesar’s ire onto himself; or because he just wanted to see what the fresh hell Cesar would get up to. They called each other horrible wounding things, bawled each other out for muddling that through ball, missing that shot, stormed off on one another spitting venom and swearing to make the other rue the day he was born, but in a minute again they were slapping each other on the shoulder and joking in the locker room, their shouts ringing off the tiles. The more terrible they were to one another the more they proved to each other their deep, abiding affection.

Toni had once cut Cesar’s head out from a team photograph and glued it onto the picture of a wheelchair bound cripple, then papered the halls of their training ground with black and white photocopies; Cesar had been in the middle of a goal drought and Toni knew that though Cesar would refuse to speak to him for a week afterward, public humiliation would enrage him to success. And Cesar had left a gift of unwrapped raw fish in Toni’s car soon after that, as a joke about Toni’s own drought, as it related to the women Toni loved, pursued, and moped and pined for, who tormented him ceaselessly though he only ever wanted to make them happy. Then Cesar tried to arrange dates for Toni, once even hiring a call girl as a joke, but Toni and the woman recognized each other at the dinner table, greeting one another with exclamations of surprise and delight, and then Toni had to explain to Cesar over the phone that the girl was a family friend’s younger sister who had fallen on hard times, what with the recession and the strikes that had waylaid funds initially dog-eared for federal educational loans, and that Cesar was disgracing Toni’s reputation by thinking it necessary to purchase women for a man such as himself, who all women wanted and who all men aspired to be, and that furthermore, it was pure exploitation to have called this young woman, a student and a good girl, whose future Toni would make it a priority to take care of, by inquiring if any open administrative spots needed filling at their organization. In concluding the conversation Toni hung up smartly, not realizing that Cesar had disconnected the call out of sheer boredom ten minutes earlier.

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