It starts, like all things do, in Bothell.
He is shy, at first, when he is young. Avoids eye contact, stares at the ground, mumbles, sweats, offers to do too many things too eagerly. Fetches water and towels. Lays out the uniforms. Smooths out all the wrinkles. All of them. It’s important that they’re smooth. Tries to make himself useful.
He is there for most of the season, is there when they finally make it to state. In the confusion, they hoist him up to their shoulders. Hooray for the unofficial waterboy! Go team! He gets dizzy from the height.
So then to Everett along the Bothell-Everett Highway. Another game, another shoulder ride. Cascade, Mariner, Kamiak, Everett, Shoreline, Snohomish, Mount Vernon and points north, south and east. He becomes a fixture, grows older and heavier. They start to talk about him, to write about him, even. He has all the newspaper articles saved on his computer. The Piggyback Bandit. Pchow. He is less shy, now; after all, isn’t he famous?
He shakes the dust from his prophet’s sandals and turns his back on his disrespectful hometown. From the mountains he hears the squeak of sneaker on wood and the muezzin of the half-time buzzer.