“Although I have no way to tell what time it is, I know that my torment will start soon.
I face east. And the long shadow projecting before me and down the length of this ragged basketball court tells me that the sun behind me is at its lowest ebb. The shadow itself, although exaggerated by the distance and the long-angled sunlight, is, like always, definite and unmistakable; it is of the concrete bench where I am seated, beneath the western goal. The shadow is all of straight lines and square corners. There is no human shape; no profile of me. Though I have experienced the same thing a hundred times or more and by now I should know that the laws of physics no longer apply to me, the old neural pathways are too well established. I cannot escape the register of shock. I still cannot avoid the unconscious and automatic processing of all my sensory data the feel of the hard concrete bench beneath me, my view of this familiar court, my certainty of the identity of the shadow, and my absence from it – against that certain knowledge of light and shade, cause and effect that my 52 years on the earth burned into me.
I am not there. How can that be? And then, of course, the deeper question, the one that still frightens me and the one that I am no nearer to answering even after these long months of invisibility and immobility, why am I here?”
— Overtime: A Basketball Parable, by Larry Ellis
How can you not be intrigued by that first sentence? His torment is about to begin, though he has no way of knowing time.
He must be a prisoner.
But no. He’s outside, sitting on a bench. As the sun sets, he sees the shadow of the bench, but not his own shadow.
And it happens to him all the time.
Hmmm. What’s going on here?
He says he’s not there. After clearly stating that he’s sitting on the bench, yet he’s not there?
He says he’s immobile. He says he’s invisible.
He doesn’t know how. He doesn’t know why.
The why is the deeper question he needs to have answered.
That’s enough for me to keep reading. A great beginning that promises a different kind of mystery and a different kind of story.
If you want to know more about this prisoner of time, you can find Ellis’s book here.