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Excerpt from

I, Racquetball Coach
By Keith Rutledge
illustrated by Robin Eagleton


Ashem vohu vahistem asti ushta asti, ushta ahama'ai, hyat asha'ai vahistai ashem. "Righteousness is the best of all things that are good. Righteousness is a radiant blessing. Happiness comes to him who is righteous for the sake of purity for everyone." This is the first prayer of Zoroastrianism, the most holy, correct, and righteous religion, of which I am a faithful practitioner. I write this now in praise of Ohrmazd, the bright and glorious, the originator of all things, who has seen fit to grant me the ability to defeat my enemies, on the racquetball court and off. His is truly the most bounteous spirit.

O, Ohrmazd, make my voice strong and clear as I tell the story of my troubled twin brother John Henshaw, who chose to make public his uncleanliness and lack of insight through a filthy and adulterated version of the disco tradition over which we bonded when we were teenagers in Illinois. Let me also eloquently and meaningfully describe the difficulties of my life this summer as I have attempted to provide training (and personal and spiritual growth) to a bunch of snot-nosed teenage kids who do not understand the grace and generosity of my tutelage.

Grant me, O Ohrmazd, freedom from the nagging voice in my mind of the unbeliever Cheryl, and from the suffering she continues to cause during our interminable separation and inevitable divorce; and from the cynicism and bitterness of the unbeliever Clara, who at age fifteen refuses to accept the teachings and wisdom of her father (me), and who backed out of tuition-free attendance at the summer camp for academically excellent high-school students for which I am a coach; also, O Ohrmazd, grant me the ability to calmly and without emotion see my intentionally irritating punk students as different and separate entities from the frustrating and stubborn Clara, and to understand that they are worthy of basic levels of respect and thus do not deserve any undue punishment due to any similarities they may have to my daughter.


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