Ark: FIVE GOLDEN HOOPS


Ark: John Heldon

Can you relive your past in the present with the help of some interesting ghosts? What would happen if you came face to face with the members of a basketball team, long gone in body but not in spirit as you take a journey back in time and relive the games played in the old gym where you watched so many games called The Ark. Entering the gym, the door unlocked what our narrator encounters would shake the inner core of many but not John. Chance encounters happen when you least expect them too. Meeting a man named Calvin, talking about writing and finding his way to his old campus sends him on a dream trip that would change more than just his life in the present but those he encounters in the past. Some people retire and move away to a retirement village. Some decide that this is their chance to change their lives and start a whole new career. Imagine wanting to be a writer, an author and still maintain your love and passion to help out your alma mater’s men’s basketball program. Sunnyside College is a small college in Delaware. Driving home close to this campus is where we find our narrator as I stated. Getting inside the Ark, or old gym he hears a voice. Thinking he might be hearing things he never expects to see the person whose voice it is in person. Slick Johnson one of the team members, in ghostly form, faces him front and home court. But, when Slick relates an incident that happened in 2008 you begin to realize that he is no ordinary ghost and what happens next will definitely give you much pause for thought as a whole team of ghosts that played in this old gym are not only alive in the past but the present too. But, this team has a past and it almost won the championship over forty years ago. The other school was much larger. Relating that he and his teammates play there all the time and even when live games are played they continue to play in the gym even passing through the live players creates an interesting story for this reviewer.

Can you change the course of history? What about the final score of a lost game? When John realizes that he is seeing a ghost what happens when he sees a whole team of them? What would you do if you game face to face with the original basketball team from Sunnyside College? They look the same as they did in 1971, you identify them all, describing them          quite vividly, know their positions on the team and them proceed to have to figure out not only why they are still there but why you are there too? Ghosts are supposed to spook you but not these guys. As John talks with Slick and meets the rest of the team, the author describes them in such detail that the reader can visualize these players as if they were standing in front of you. Added in the conversation between Slick and John lets you know that he’ll be returning to the Ark and maybe see that championship game himself. But, what will he tell his wife Genna when he gets home? As he leaves and promises to return he replays the evening in his own mind and then quietly gets into bed without stirring his wife. The following morning he creates his story, some true some stretched as we meet Slick once again and learn more about his dreams, hopes and desires for himself even though he’s a spirit. But, returning he learns that Sunnyside is about to play Mega again and that they cannot see John as Slick states because his energy is with them.

Returning home he spends the day with his wife, enjoys the galleries, the shops and finds himself drawn to returning to the Ark when a voice beckons him to return and the need for Charlie to speak with him first. As he reenters the Ark and speaks with Charlie they both realize that there has to be a purpose for his being there and for the need for all of the players to talk to him. Added in is the fact that these men made a different on and off the court so why are they stuck in limbo and in this place with no where to really turn except the court. Playing the other team over and over again just reminds them of the original loss. Even Charlie states it’s as if they replay the game, the tape gets you might say erased, they seem to disappear and then it starts over again. But why? Why is the one that was guided there? How can there older selves be alive in the present and John knows them from the past. Replaying the same game over and over again and stuck in the Ark and not able to rest. Will they spend eternity there? What is the answer? Next, as John tries to find time to spend with his wife and a day to himself the voice returns asking him to speak with Quincy. Somehow, he needs to find a way to separate all of this but will he trust anyone with the truth? Then, he relates to his friend Calvin an oversight involving the team. But, the answer is unbelievable and the new coach does not want to blend the past and the present and the oversight will not be overturned even 40 years later. Harry and Byron were next and one thing became clearer is that all of this was linked to Charlie in some way and the team was lost in warp time and sort of suspended in their own world of animation. Each player playing the games over and over again as if by rote but not with any real passion or love for what they did in the past and wondering how this was linked to their lives in the present. John knew it was his job to fix whatever he could to help the players find a place for themselves in one of the worlds. What kind of lives were they living in the past and how can they live in two time periods? Reaching out to the present coach and writing to the Athletic Director, John hoped to get some positive results.

Emails sent, meetings in the works and the hope of getting the alumni involved, expanding membership in the Back Court, involving the community more and even having sign up tables at football games were just some of the ideas that John and Ken came up with. But, they needed to deal with the AD and the Coach who seems to resent their efforts at first.

Then, the author introduces the players on the team in the present as John reaches out to the team in the present, the alumni and we meet Slick (Reece), Johnny Bird, Byron, Harry and the rest in present or real time and learn about their lives, second chances and much more.

 

As we meet the players from the past we begin to understand why John was sent and the real mission that needs to be completed. It is more than just the loss, the one game that caused them to be defeated but redemption, owing one man more than they have given and to correct something from the past to make the present better for each one of them. So, how can the 1971-team members finally find a place for themselves in any world? How will that coincide with the alternate personality or person in the present?

The final ending and result you will have to read for yourself. What is reality and what is just one man’s hope to revive the past? Read the Ark and find out what happens to the team from the past, the one from the present and how one amazing gym would hold memories for everyone that they would never forget. Just what will John write in his first novel. Maybe you just read it and he just did!

Great book filled with lessons to be learned about giving back, helping those that helped us in the past, community spirit and much more. Ark: a must read.

FIVE GOLDEN HOOPS FOR THIS ONE!

Fran Lewis:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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