Old School Tennis

In the year of our Lord 2011, several young lords have gathered to do battle on this ground.  Lord Shan, Berserker King, hath paired with the gallant Murph Dragonsbane against Lord Leo the Magnificent and Ryan, last descendent of a noble but cursed race of giants.  At the evenin’ repast – a culinary delight featuring the finest Italian cheese of the Mac, stuffed Arctic sea bass, and meat of the loaf – the gauntlet had fallen among these lusty young men, eager for battle and opportunity to prove their worth. Not since the Versailles Oath of 1789 have such a momentous occasion graced a tennis court.  Lord Leo and his partner Ryan the Stouthearted quickly announced their readiness to play while Shan the Great and Dragonsbane braced their spirits with a rowdy shout.

“We await your serve, sir,” speaketh Murph Dragonsbane, champion of the Undead Court.  “Lest you be a coward as well as a knave.”

“No knaves we have here, sir,” Ryan sneereth.  “We come to play with men not babes lost in the woods.  Play on!”

“Yeah, yeah,” Leo mutterest in the common tongue.  “If you ladies are finished playing knights or whatever the hell you call it, we can play some tennis.”

The sport of tennis is a sacred one in these parts.  To the Murphey family it transcends the mere appellation of ‘game’ or ‘sport;’  tennis is life here, robbing young men of glory as it bestows it upon another.  Thus, the common tongue cannot adequately illustrate the gore-strewn horror and beauty of the game.  I, your humble narrator, shall describe the game in the kings-speech, the language of God’s living representatives on this sin-soaked sphere.

The game began with a crackle of electricity as if Zeus himself had hurled his bolts from Olympus.  Shan scored an ‘ace,’ striking at his fellows pride like a Spartan incarnate.  It is said years afterwards that the warriors this night echoed the spirits of the world’s greatest warriors, men who’s very breathe might crack the Earth to it’s very core: the Sampras and the Djokovic.  Others attest that the force of their blows stirred the very air itself, prompting storms of thunder and lightning.  Ryan’s queenly mother confides that certain narrators should lay off the sacred ale and stop hallucinating — ha!  Not blooming likely, ya old Sod!

Above the sacred court, the birds and beasts choosing sides did battle among the branches and clouds.  Bats let slip from the Gates of Hell itself devoured the stately moth and her ignoble cousins, fly and mosquito.  Owls pluck tick-ridden mice from their dens; clever foxes claw at cackling hens; chipmunks nibble furiously at their walnuts.  Geese from the house gardens honked from high above the trees bombarding the tennis court with the sound of trumpets and bird excrement.

“Ugh,” Leo pauseth his swing mid-stroke.  “One of those damn birds shit on me.  It just fell out of the sky on my . . . damn my new shirt.”

“Indeed sir, I am betwixt!”

“Betwixt?”

“Truly.  Dumfounded.  Confuscated.  Befuddled.  Indeed the poor ass amuseth me.”

“Look guys can we can the Shakespeare and play the game?”

Lord Leo did indeed seem aflutter.  Being down a point and two, the spleen was on him.  The glare from his pate – clean and shaven like our most revered Benedictine – obfuscated the other lords as they practiced their noble swings.

“And someone please tell Charley to stop narrating . . .”

“Thine partner must be a sheep ere he bleet so,”  Dragonsbane chided, wielding his racket Ball Buster.

“Thou art a wastral as well as a villain!”  Sir Ryan volleyed, hurling slander like a golden lance.

“If thy served the tennis ball as skillfully as thou curse, thy score mightest be the greater, pig!”  Shan the Stately and Proud sayeth.

“Bloody bastard, his words cut deep!”

The ball doth seem addled liketh Good King George III departing for the darkest climes of human reason.  The woods anon doth hinder any efforts for retrieval at this late hour.  Darkness swallows the round sphere liketh Lady Fate hath consumed Lord Leo’s chance of victory.

“Someone shut him up, please.  We’re all just too friggin’ lazy to go into the woods after the ball that’s all.  Ryan and I are just warming up . . .”

Lord Leonardo asserts himself, fortified as he is with the will to achieve victory, though all the gods, angels of Hell, or plain honest fact assert otherwise.  Such is the mark of a true hero!  A man ready to lay his life and fragile soon-to-be-smited self-esteem before the butcher’s block.

“What the hell does that even mean?!  Does anyone have anymore balls?  Was that the last one?”

Many of the tennis balls hath disappeared atop the fencing that surroundeth the court.  It be spoken among babe and baron alike that Shan the Mighty knew not his own strength and hath caused many a tennis ball to go fly over this very fence as well as incite the Great Fire of 1666 in his fury to light his favorite pipe.  Many a London man, woman and child perished that night, and many yet still were saved from the plague that dwelt within the shoddy housing.  Still it is said that life and death walk hand-in-hand with the young lad — particularly afra’ a spot or three of whiskey.

Ryan the Brave volunteered to enter the dark forest to retrieve more balls from the periphery.  Tales of his valiant courage are still told today as the seconds, minutes passed silently among the trees while wolves and squirrels alike howled at thy moon, Heaven’s most sacred orb.

“Fear not, sir!”  Lord Ryan shoutest, this Heaven-blessed Achilles, emerging from the thicket with nary a cut or bruise.  “We still possess four balls of tennis!  A troupe of squirrel had sought to feast on their innards, to construct a purse for their autumn storage.  Let us cheer Heaven’s kind fortune!”

“Oh, ‘tis a wondrous night!” Prince Shan exclaims in delight.

“Frabjous day, callooh callah!”  Murph Dragonsbane chortled jubilantly.

“Just someone serve the ball,” Leo the Most Impatient grumbled amid his cohorts’ ebullience.

“Methinks your partner is afflicted with brain fever,” sniggered Shan, son of Shagra, Sultan of Shamballa and Sushi-eater Supreme.

“A bit of the chloric, no more,” Good Ryan asserteth.  “He fears defeat and thus agitation plagues his spirit.”

“Guys, seriously, I’m fine.  Let’s finish this game.  Your sister will kill me if I’m late for . . . uhg, “The Bachelorette.”

Indeed Lord Leonardo has anon been betrothed to Lady Katie the Fair and longs her reassuring hand lest he go mad with love sickedness.

“Charley, I’m going to kill you . . .”

“Ha, thy team-mate ist a craven coward as well as a fool,” Dragonsbane mutters beneath is breath, long-since tainted with brandy and the shire’s last cask of Guiness Stout.

“Recind they words, lest you feel the prick of my steel piece your gullet,” Ryan the Vicious growls from the farthest side of the court, wielding his racket like a Persian saber.

“Speak with thine actions, dog!  The braggart may win his battles with a forked tongue, but the soldier’s cut is the more severe.”

“Seriously, I have to stop coming over here,” Leo the Meek moaned, much like a saloon slattern may cry to her nightly patrons, those rich dandy darlings who slip their manhood deep within . . .

“CHARLEY!”

Well, that spells the end of this tourney.  Many heartfelt thanks (and apologies) to our most noble contenders.  Lads, remember to stay true to your King, your Country and your God as befits our most revered knights.  As for meself, ah’m off to take the mickey and grab’a fresh pint.  On behalf of Sir Charles the Magnificent and Slight Pickeled, I bid you all adieu . . . wankers one and all!

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