Bumbastories would like to salute all the athletes from all over the world who are competing in this year’s Olympics. I’m posting an excerpt from my new novella, The Phantom Speaks. In this brief chapter, the Phantom, a character from my novel One Life or the Lives of Chester Knowles, discourses in his fanciful and irreverent way on the subjects of spirituality and Sports.

The Phantom is what Chester Knowles calls himself since his mysterious reincarnation in the first book; The Phantom Speaks is a continuation/sequel to the One Life novel. However, these characters I’ve created, particularly the Phantom, seem to take on a life of their own after a while. And I must say that by now I take no responsibility for anything he says. Anyway here is the excerpt. The illustration – and all the illustrations in the book – are by Alexandria Skaltsounis.


The Phantom on Sports

OK, let’s get spiritual. There is, you know, a spirit on the face of the waters. In fact, there are lots of them. All around. Call it a spirit world, call it the Divine Presence, call it the Omnipresence. Call it what you will, but something is out there.

And, as a phantom, I tend to look – indeed I tend to actively search – for evidence and manifestations, if you will, of the spirit. And the manifestations are everywhere. Ya can’t miss ’em. Really.

In today’s world, even on TV (and I suppose TV does represent today’s world as well as anything else I can think of) the sports arena, the baseball diamond, the basketball court are some of the best places to look for the Spirit. That’s why I mention it. Because even if they wrap the sports up in multiple layers of taped replays, promos, commercials, and endless commentary/chatter, etc., etc., the spirit – the brave spirit of the human species inevitably comes shining through. It’s a great thing, and you can see it all the time. Especially on the playing field. Ah, the glory of the champion as he crosses the finish line, arms upraised. Then, too, there’s the sportsman’s grace in defeat. His extra effort, his hustle. The warrior spirit. The beauty of a double play, a good bounce pass, a soaring ski jump, a slam dunk, a close play at the plate, a reverse lay-up.

They’re all beautiful things. And what, I ask you, is beauty, anyway?

It’s all just the spirit, the identification with it, and it’s all in front of you. All the time. Eat what’s on your plate. Open your eyes, that’s what I say.

The difficulty with being a phantom, I suppose, is that your eyes are open nearly all the time. Never a dull moment for a phantom. No rest for the weary. Because a phantom in his or her brain and in his or her heart of hearts also knows that he or she is a lucky happenstance, a fortuitous coalescence of myriads of large molecules and events – living events – all for a brief moment. That moment can appear endless. But it isn’t. A phantom is here, and then he’s gone too.