Doubleday, E. Lynn Harris, Guest Contributor, Kingett Reads

Kingett Reads Basketball Jones Chapter Four


In chapter four of Basketball Jones, I am introduced to another character that definitely puts a new spin on the term “foreshadowing”, and I have a million predictions that make me want to investigate a few things. Intrigued? It’s time for Kingett to read Basketball Jones.

There are a lot of stories that contain what’s known as “foreshadowing.” To English teachers it’s cleverly placed hints as to what will happen later on in the story but are really hard to spot. To the casual reader they are just hints sprinkled into a narrative. Some catch them, some don’t.

Foreshadowing doesn’t have to be a vat of mystery, though, even though meeting Jade in this chapter’s enough mystery for a lifetime. Foreshadowing can also be a uniquely designed subplot, and I believe that’s what the author did in this chapter: design a subplot.

In this chapter AJ is sitting at the high rise New Orleans spot Café Du Monde, munching on, ironically, a bagel with sugar after that vigorous workout in chapter three, when all of a sudden this very spunky black girl just calls out to him and asks him why he’s sitting over there, wherever he is, all alone. AJ is actually there because he’s thinking about having an assistant, and he’s here to interview a prospect… I don’t know why he needs an assistant, though, because  Drey basically is his master, so AJ has to listen to Drey, or else… and an assistant would just get in the way anyway.

As AJ is waiting, the woman plops down across him and starts questioning him about what his life is like. The two have an introductory conversation where she reveals that her name is Jade; she was a waitress for a restaurant in LA where she saw my future husband – Denzel Washington. She didn’t go to college, because she isn’t the college type, but it appears that she is very down to earth. I’d even go as far as to say she’s very street smart because she makes comments about the houses here, and about her fellow black people following her here after the whites take back whatever housing development and sells it at a higher cost.

But the most interesting things she says comes in the middle of the chapter, after the conversation gets past all the beginning introductions. When AJ probes her on what she’s doing here, in this state, she says she’s hoping to meet a sexy ball player, and then she blurts out the below, almost as an afterthought.

“I got bigger fish to fry, and I need to catch my fish before everybody comes back here,” she said with a grin.

I have many feelings about that particular line based on the rest of her agenda, but I will get to that later.

Jade strikes me as the kind of woman who is very observant and she is definitely resourceful and translates what she perceives into very interesting topics.

“If you don’t have a job, why are you sitting in this café at ten o’clock in the morning? Are you independently wealthy? That must be nice,” she said.

Obviously it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to look at AJ and know he’s well to do, and that’s even more evident because of the kinds of clothes he has on and where he’s eating. People can definitely tell when people have money, AJ… you don’t need a degree to deduce that you have a lot of money.

Her perceptions are not the most interesting thing about her, however. This is the most interesting thing about her. She’s here for a job, to find a black rich boyfriend, and she has a special skill. What is her special skill?

“Tell me about your special skills.”

“Oh, that’s easy. I’m psychic, and I’m pretty sure we’re meeting for a reason.”

“You think so?”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure I’m gonna have something to do with your love life.”

Do I really believe that she’s a psychic? Yes and know. This is fiction, so that means I am at the mercy of whatever the author dictates. I can’t apply logic to something that is real, so she could very well be a psychic. Do I believe in this kind of special power, however? That’s a different can of fish.

Jade says she’s psychic. I don’t believe that at all. She’s very observant. What she witnessed, and told AJ, could have all been deductions based off of simple observations. He’s at a high-rise coffee shop… and he lives in a very rich part of town. He isn’t a celebrity so that would tell me that someone HAD to be helping him out. These are all basic deduction that jade COULD be making and just exacting her own fantasy of having powers.

The above quote, when she told AJ that she had bigger fish to fry and she hoped the small fish wouldn’t follow her here? That tells me that, possibly, she angered some people back home, possibly with her psychic ploy, and she had to leave town quick because she messed up the hoax.

I understand that she COULD be psychic, and I could be shooting myself in the foot with every word I type. If she is psychic, I KNOW she knows more than what she’s telling him at the moment, even if she doesn’t know what kind of relationship he is involved in. If she is a psychic, then this kind of foreshadowing, I’m sure, will repeat, creating one heck of a good roller coaster. Either way, the suspense is killing me.

Was this a good delivery? I’d say so. Jade’s character could be a fraud or a legitimate psychic, and either way that creates an epic story dynamic! Don’t you see? She could be a fraud and AJ will have to confront her lies, as well as his own, or she could have powers, and then AJ will just have to start planning even better and work on outing himself before she does in a very nasty way, possibly? She could just be a character to drop foreshadowing in my lap like they’re hints about my next birthday.

I’m just having a blast predicting!

Maybe that’s why she doesn’t want to have home follow her. What did she do? Oh my god, I want more Jade backstory!

After a few brief words where she tells him they will see each other again, oh my god, I can’t wait, AJ gets a call from his mother and Drey. His mom calls first, asking him to come home and see his sister performing in a really big dance performance. Just as AJ is about to say yes, Drey calls in a mess of neediness and tells AJ to book a ticket to California that very night, even though AJ is wanting to see his mom on the weekend. When AJ tells Drey this, Drey responds with:

“You see them all the time. Now do what I said, Mr. Richardson, and get that fine ass of yours on a plane ASAP.”

I understand that AJ and Drey haven’t seen each other in weeks, but I just want to hug AJ and tell him that Drey doesn’t appreciate him, so he needs to find a better man anyway. All Drey wants to do is just have sex. My heart breaks for AJ, though, because AJ wants to be loved by Drey, held, cuddled, and of course, fucked. I wouldn’t lie. I’d love that too, but I’d tell Drey no. AJ doesn’t, however, and soon, AJ is off to see Drey, leaving his mother disappointed, and that’s the end of the chapter.

The introduction to Jade is certainly a bucket of mysterious twists and turns that this story could veer towards. I think she and Drey are going to meet, and she puts him in check. I hope so, because Drey isn’t my favorite character at the moment. I’ve said that several times before and will say it again until I’m blue in the face. I don’t like you, Drey. I REALLY don’t like you. You need a lesson in love, idiot.

The writing is also very good. The description of Jade, a woman who wears confidence like a sleeve, is the best I have seen thus far. I wonder what kind of dynamic will play out with her piece now added to this game of chess.

I’m thinking that jade isn’t a character we will forget or see in passing the next time we spot her. I don’t know how she will shape the narrative or even if it would be a good model. We’ll just have to continue reading Basketball Jones. Stay tuned!

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