Two boys are playing basketball.
James: Hey, Josh, look at that. Three points to me.
Joshua: I know. That’s probably the best shot you’ve ever made.
James: Probably so. You think you can beat it?
Joshua: I don’t know, but I’ll give it my best shot. (He lines up a shot and makes it.)
James: I don’t believe it, you did it again. You beat the best I’ve ever done. You always do, Joshua. You’re the Hoops King. Nobody in the whole city is as good as you are.
(Enter a rough-looking character with three friends.)
Dan: Who says he’s the best basketball player in the city? You runt, what do you know? You think Minnesota is gonna win the Super Bowl someday.
James: Who says they won’t, Dan? They’ve got as much of a chance as anybody.
Dan: They have no more chance of winning the Super Bowl than your friend here has a chance of beating me at the lag line.
Joshua: Come on, James, let’s get out of here. It’s time to go home.
Friend 1: What’s the matter, Joshua ol’ boy, you don’t like to be in the presence of greatness?
Joshua: On the contrary. I like to be in the presence of greatness. It’s just that great people don’t have to inform others of their greatness. It’s usually obvious.
Friend 2: What do you mean by that, lizard brain?
James: You can’t talk to my friend like that!
Friend 3: (rolling up a fist) He can talk to anybody any way he wants.
James: Who says?
Friend 3: I say!
Joshua: Just hold it! What on earth is so important that you guys would consider fighting over?
(Another person enters.)
Person 1: Fight? Fight! Fight! Hey, you all, there’s a fight over here.
(Four other people come running in.)
All 4: Fight! Fight! Fight!
Person 2: Where’s the fight?
Joshua: There is no fight, and there isn’t gonna be a fight around here.
Person 3: What a drag!
Person 4: Why isn’t there gonna be a fight?
Joshua: Because there isn’t anything going on here worth fighting about.
Dan: What do you mean, there isn’t anything going on around here worth fighting about?
Person 5: Yeah! Being number one is worth fighting anybody for. Why do you think sprinters line up to race Usain Bolt? Why do you think Butler keeps making runs in the NCAA Tournament? Why do you think Kia keeps offering quality cars at a lower price? To be number one.
Joshua: There’s no such thing on this earth. Bolt may be the fastest human, but on any given day he can lose to someone who has a career day. Butler could win a national championship, but people would not believe they are the best basketball team in the country. And Kia could build a car that flies and people would still by Toyotas, Fords, and Mercedes Benz. There’s no such thing as being number one on this earth.
Dan: Sounds like the words of a coward to me.
James: What did you say?
Friend 1: He said Joshua is a coward.
Friend 2: A sissy!
Friend 3: A real loser!
Joshua: Let’s go home, James.
James: Joshua, could I have a few minutes with you–alone?
Joshua: Yes, James.
James: You are the best player in the city. Why don’t you take this guy on and beat him? You’ll be the king.
Joshua: There’s no such thing as king!
Dan: Hey, little Miss Joshua.
Joshua: Yes, Dan.
Dan: I think this needs to be settled once and for all. We have to decide who’s number one.
Joshua: I don’t believe this. Why is this so important? This is dumb, stupid, making something out of nothing. Somebody needs to show these people what being number one is really all about. But how, how…I think I’ve got it! Hey, Dan!
Dan: What’s that, the sound of a bird? A chicken, perhaps?
Joshua: Maybe so, but I’ve got an idea. Let’s do it.
Dan: Do what?
Joshua: Have a shoot off.
Dan: Hey, everybody, listen to this. The chicken is asking to be plucked.
Friend 1: Roasted chicken about to be served.
Friend 2: This is the guy who doesn’t care about being number one. You’re a number one liar!
Friend 3: (walks up to Joshua) Look, goody two shoes. Dan’s gonna mop the floor with you and I’m gonna spread the wax all over your dead body!
James: Watch your mouth, airhead.
Joshua: Take it easy, James. Dan, listen. I want to play you, but look, there’s a condition.
Dan: A condition?
Joshua: Yep, I’ll play you, if the winner puts pie all over the face of the loser.
Dan: A pie…in the face…I don’t know.
Person 1: Come on, Dan, give it a try. You’re not chicken are you?
Person 2: Yeah, Dan, this will be great…for somebody.
Persons 3, 4, 5: We want pie. We want pie. We want pie.
Joshua: Dan, you get your pie, I’ll get mine, and I’ll meet you here in one hour.
Dan: That’s a deal.
(Everyone runs off.)
(Enter a little person who’s been watching from the corner.)
Little person: I’m really confused. Joshua has always been the hope of the little people. He never thought it was important to be better than anyone else. What’s going on? Has he changed? If he gets to be number one, maybe he won’t have time for people like me anymore.
(Everyone runs back in.)
James: Do you see this pie, Dan? I’m gonna smear it all over your ugly face.
Friend 1: Look out, stupid. What we don’t smear over your dumb friend we’ll smear on you.
Everyone: (screaming) Go, Joshua! Go, Dan!
Joshua: Hold it. Let’s just do it!
Everyone: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Dan: Okay. Who goes first? You want to flip for it?
Joshua: No, I’ll just go first.
Dan: Go ahead, stupid!
(Joshua takes his shot.)
James: Way to go, Joshua!
Everyone else: No way, no way. Dan will kill him!
Dan: Watch this and weep, you loser. Get that pie ready. (Dan shoots and misses.)
James: He lost, he lost. You won, Joshua.
Everyone else: No, no, we can’t believe it!
James: (runs and gets the pie, then gives it to Joshua) Let him have it, buddy!
Joshua: (runs up to Dan, who glares. Joshua takes a pie in one hand and Dan’s head in the other) Let’s eat!
Dan: What, you’re not gonna smear me?
Originally published in Youth Ministry Quarterly 90:4, Winter 1990.
Republished and revised in April 2011 for thESource.