Ted Powers
A New Friend


George and I were nervous. Only
wo weeks until badminton season
and something was up with Bill,
our head cheerleader and occasional
alternate. Where once Bill dove for birdies
as if someone had shoved him over
and spelled out our names from the bench
with gusto, he now seemed distant,
detached. And he began missing practice.
At first we thought a girl had taken
pity on him -- George and I agreed
Bill was no looker -- but soon
we ran out of shuttlecock puns
and began to miss him. "Bill would have
said something really gross right now,"
George said, and I agreed. But Bill
didn't have a girl. He wasn't even sick.
We found this out when we showed up at his
house with a thermos of chicken soup, most
of which George had eaten on the ride over.
"I just need some rest," Bill explained.
After that we only dropped in every
so often, and usually just to take
back something Bill had borrowed,
or something we claimed he had borrowed.
We never stayed long. One Sunday
we called him about a tournament.
"I want to be a starter," he said,
sounding more like Bill than
I could ever remember. "Oh no,"
I said to George after I had hung up,
"our roster is in turmoil."
When we arrived, breathless
at Bill's, someone else was wearing
his skin. "Hey buddy," we said, but it
was too late, we had lost Bill to Bill.