Is this story real? Come on bro. -ed
Victoria’s Pasta Shop is dead and still and Sam Presti is in the upstairs loft, suited up to the nines in a black Tom Ford number. The suit and the tie are black like night, the shirt heaven white. Black Salvatore Ferragamo plain toe Oxfords on his feet, he’s picking at some baked mushroom caps, a half sipped Blackstone Merlot on the table in front of him. He stares at his phone. He’s signing up for Twitter. He chooses his name.
Alex, the waitress, a twenty-two year old with an affinity for upper ear piercings and hip-hop covers of Lykke Li songs, approaches. He quickly puts the phone down.
“Can I get anything for you, Mr. Presti?” she says.
He looks up and smiles.
“Good for now, dear,” says Presti, “Thank you, though.”
His phone lights up as she leaves. It’s a text message. The name on the message reads “Fran Chise”.
I’m out here. It’s good to come in?
You’re straight. Yea. Come on in. We got the whole place rented out. I’m in the loft.
Presti downs the Blackstone and pours another glass. He then turns in his chair and his eyes pan the room till he finds Alex.
“Al,” he says, “Could I get a Native Amber for my friend?”
Alex nods and leaves.
Then Kevin Durant walks in.
Presti motions to him from above and Durant begins the walk to him. His outfit is the outfit of a man who was equally inspired, sartorially speaking, by Carlton Banks, Andy Bernard, and 808’s era Kanye West.
Jet blue suit. Shirt underneath it a limy, Seattle Seahawk had a baby with Jay Gatsby-ish green. The bow tie a deep kind of violet. He’s got a broach on, too, because his broach game is on point and, if you can pull it off, you wear a broach. It’s a rose. The same violet as the tie. His shoes are Vans by J. Crew. Sailor white. No socks.
His glasses and Presti’s match. The same pair of Cream Soda Warby Parker Percey’s. Durant’s at the top of the stairs now. Presti rises from his chair to meet him.
“My dude,” Durant says.
“Chise,” says Presti.
They dap and Durant sits at the other end of the table across from Presti.
“You good?” asks Presti, “Find the place alright?”
“Yea,” says Durant, “Tony took the wrong exit off 35, but that wasn’t you, that was him and his, what’s the word, nitwittedness.”
Alex approaches the table. She’s carrying the Native Amber with her and sits it down in front of Durant.
“That’s your drink, right? Native Amber?” asks Presti.
“That it is,” says Durant.
Durant takes a healthy swig and sits the cup down beside the coaster in front of him. He looks around. The restaurant itself is empty, save Alex and those in the kitchen. The neon lights of the sign out in front twinkle red and a green the same lime as his shirt. There are lights strung up in the restaurant itself. White Christmas ones that let the room rest in a softer glow, nobody harshing the mellow.
“That’s a real Book of Mormon look for you,” says Durant, “You bout to bust into a song? Orlandoooooo.”
Presti laughs and sips some more of the Blackstone.
“You can keep the rainbow,” says Presti as he gestures at Durant’s outfit, “This way’s easier.”
Alex approaches with their food. Two chicken lasagnas.
“Figured you wouldn’t want to wait to order,” says Presti, “And this chicken lasagna is the jam.”
“Saaaaam,” says Durant, “Killing it.”
They pick at their food for a bit without saying anything. The restaurant has started to feed Norah Jones’ “Don’t Know Why” through the speakers. Durant looks up from his plate and raises his eyebrows.
“I got ’em playing one for me, then one for you,” says Presti.
“I see,” says Durant, “So, why am I here?”
“I need your help with something,” says Presti.
“Yea? What?” asks Durant.
“The draft,” says Presti, “For the first time I don’t know who I’m going to take. We’re less that 24 hours from the first round, and our board’s jumbled, man. We’ve talked about trying to trade into either the one or the two spot, but Cleveland and Orlando are both valuing those picks too high, trying to get us to give up Serge and stuff, and I’m not trying to do that. Sometimes I think we should stand pat. I don’t know, though, is what I’m saying.”
Durant sits his fork down and stares across the table at Presti, the candle in front of him being thrown about by the air conditioner every so often, the soft gold-yellow flickering away at his face like he’s about to tell a ghost story. Presti, the architect of whatever success the Thunder have enjoyed these last five years, had never been that open, that vulnerable. Durant didn’t know what to make of it. Presti rambled on.
“I hear people shouting about Oladipo. Some want us to make a play for Noel. Some Len. Carter-Williams. Zeller. Steven Adams. Olynyk…”
“Olynyk has awesome hair,” Durant says.
“He really does,” says Presti, “And then some people think it’s gonna be Muscala with that second pick late. What kind of name is Muscala, man? There’s Bennett…”
Presti’s getting louder with each player he names. He’s starting to hit the table a little with each syllable, too. The silverware jangling and blinging away against itself, their drinks rocking and waving in their glasses.
“Burke. Like we don’t have two solid PG’s already. Muhammad. Porter. McLemore…”
“Whoa. Whoa. Whoa. Easyyyyyy, Sammy,” says Durant, “Easyyyy. You’re good, dude. You’re good.”
Presti’s out of breath and takes another drink of Blackstone.
“I’m just worried, Chise,” says Presti.
“I’m not,” says Durant.
“You’re not?” asks Presti.
“No,” says Durant.
“Why not?” asks Presti.
“Because you do your work. You do your work and, more often than not, you get it right. You did with me. You did with Russell. Same with James and Serge. Hell, most everyone on the planet thought that Russ pick was a reach. People were saying for a couple years you should’ve taken Steph over James, too. Then you find Serge, hidden gem he was. You drafted Reggie when he was a huge unknown and dude averaged 14 after Russ went down. You know what you’re doing, alright? Don’t forget that. You know what you’re doing.”
Durant finishes his beer and reaches into his pocket. He pulls from it a wad of twenties and lays five of them down.
“I got this. You go home. Get some sleep. Play some of that Pink Floyd you like. Chill, alright? You’re going to get us someone good.”
Presti looks up at him and smiles.
“Thanks, Chise,” he says.
Durant pats him on the back. When he does, “1 Train” by A$AP Rocky begins to play. He turns around to see Presti still smiling.
“One for me then one for you,” says Presti.
Durant laughs and walks toward the front door. Alex holds it open for him. As he walks through the doorway she stops him.
“You didn’t feel like mentioning Cole Aldrich?” she asks.
“Happy thoughts, Alex,” he says, “Hey, you wanna do me a favor?”
Durant pulls from his pocket an iPod. He flicks his thumb on the screen and shows her a song.
“Would you play this for me after I leave?” he asks.
She nods yes and Durant disappears into the murdered out Benz parked on the curb just outside the restaurant. The system within the car booms and bangs some old Wu Tang and he’s bringing ruckus wherever he goes next. The car flashes for an instant in the buzzing glow of a street light, then retreats into the darkness. Alex stands at the door while the Norman wind plays with her hair.
Inside Presti’s leaned back in his chair, glass full once more. A song comes on. It’s Neil Young’s “Long May You Run”. The harmonica’s dripping out of the speakers. Presti didn’t put this on the playlist. He looks up and Alex is approaching.
“He asked me to play this after he left,” she says.
Presti smiles and shuts his eyes.
We’ve been through some things together
With trunks of memories still to come
We found things to do in stormy weather
Long may you run.