Soldiers of God (Chapter 3, page 1 of 10)

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Chapter 3

Northeast Washington DC, December, 2077, Saturday…

Father Gomez easily sunk the basket from the top of the key.

"Good shot, padre," said Ricardo Jimenez. Sweat was pouring off him everywhere. The gym was hot. He and Father Gomez were leading in the half-court battle, twenty-eight to twenty, but Gustavo, Frank, and Pedro were gaining on them.

On the in-bounds at half court Father Gomez bounced Ricardo the ball, feinted left, and then headed down the right side of the key. He took the pass from Ricardo. Frank, already guarding the priest, was joined by Gustavo. Father Gomez dribbled twice as if to drive, and then passed back to Ricardo, who had squeezed by Pedro. Frank, by far the best player of the five, recovered quickly and timed his jump perfectly to block the smaller boy's lay-up.

"Goaltending!" screamed Ricardo.

"No way!" said Pedro. "He got the ball on the way up. Padre?"

Father Gomez was the referee in most of their games, whether he was playing or not. He was bent over, hands on knees, catching his breath. As he straightened, there was a smile on his face. He would make a test case out of this one.

"Muchachos, I didn't see it. Too much sweat in este viejo's eyes. So, Frank, you'll have to call this one yourself. Did you make the block?"

All eyes were now on Frank. Unlike the other players, he had hardly broken a sweat, although he had been playing as intensely as the rest. Not only was he the best basketball player in the group, he was also in better shape. At a little over 1.9 meters tall, he definitely had the height advantage on all of them. In high school he had set quite a few records. He had accepted a scholarship to play for the University of Maryland. Gustavo and Pedro most of the time just slowed him down but he unselfishly tried to get them in the clear to take a shot. His perfect white teeth flashed in a smile.

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