As Basil works to find the nexus btwn current events that have targeted individuals in his circle, he learns of his father's surprise appearance on "Over the Cliff," a sports talk show with a troll for a host. Quick thinking produces a plan that saves the elder Cooper from a planned pitfall, but how will their already strained relationship be impacted?
Brad cut the previous caller off and said under his breath, “what about your firstborn though huh Lincoln?” He cleared his throat, “next caller. Ms. Phylicia from Denver, you are on Over the Cliff. What do you have to say to the great Lincoln Cooper?”
At that moment, the thought that Lincoln had during the surprise montage came fully into focus. How could I be so stupid? I walked right into a trap that had nothing to do with me. And now I want to break this little prick’s neck.
“Thanks for taking my call, Brad. Hello Mr. Cooper.”
The even tone of the woman on the line was unmistakable.
Her voice was so calm and centering that it froze every thought that whirred by in the big man’s brain. She used to call him Mr. Cooper back in the beginning, before it was okay to let it be known that they were an item. Back when she fought like hell to avoid all of the blaxploitation superhero vibes he gave off while trying to court the one woman that wanted nothing to do with a pretty boy jock-- obviously out chasing his next skirt.
The effect that Yolanda Phylicia Cooper had on both of her sons, was magnified tenfold when her voice landed on Lincoln’s ears. It calmed him and put his mind at ease regardless of what was happening around them, even during their divorce.
“Good morning miss Phylicia,” he replied.
“Mr. Cooper, you seemed to react a certain way when the video of your firstborn was shown.”
This mention caused Lincoln to swallow harshly and his eyebrows to shoot up. Likewise, the line grabbed Brad’s attention, causing him to purse his lips and sit back in his chair with a wide-eyed cartoonish look.
Basil subconsciously reached for the back of the nearest chair.
“No, no ma, what are you doing,” he whispered to the screen from his hotel room.
Kenya walked out of the bathroom from where she was freshening up and noticed the pained expression on Basil’s features. She rushed over to him and pulled out the chair he was leaning on and sat him in it. Instinctively she caressed his face from behind and he laid his head back on her breasts. A reassuring hand worked its way down his chest, patted it, and made circular motions with a flat palm, coaxing him to breathe. “Trust your plan Bas, it’ll work out.”
“You come across as a very strong-willed, confident man," Phylicia continued. "One that clearly has raised the same in your youngest son. A man so self-assured in himself that it rubs others the wrong way. So that begs the question, is it wrong to assume your firstborn is the same? What truly ran through your mind when you saw that old footage?”
There was a knock at the door that caused Kenya to jump. The young man on the other side of it called out room service, which put her mind at ease.
“Lemme get that baby. Breathe.”
Ma, I really hope you know what you’re doing because...fuck. Basil thought.
Lincoln closed his eyes for a beat, processed what she said, and started to dump.
He expressed how the birth of his firstborn was akin to the birth of a son for any father. How proud it made him instantly. How he reveled in the idea that his heir not only loved the game that he loved, but excelled at it to an unbelievable level. He spoke of the heartache he felt when that same young man told him he was done with that very game before his senior year. How that confused and even upset him.
Then he paused and shook his head.
The big man's lips parted but nothing came out at first. The next time Lincoln spoke, he told of how ashamed he felt for the nature of their current relationship, and how he fought daily, for years wanting to make amends but not knowing how.
At this Basil had broken into a silent cry that gradually found its way to his shoulders. When he leaned over with his arms folded and began to rock, shaking his head from side to side softly, Kenya fell to her knees on the floor beside him.
“Baby, baby, listen, listen, listen.” Her tones were so soft, yet firm. Maternal. “I am not going to even try to pretend to understand what the situation is between you and your father. But I can tell that your reaction to what this man is saying to you, is something you needed to hear. I know it’s hard to hear and a bit clumsy, but this man is talking to you right now. Open your eyes and receive this.”
Basil looked back at the television just in time to see his father looking back at him. Their faces were identical, both possessing the same strong jawline, dark brown slightly downturned eyes with flecks of intensity in the irises.
“I love you son. Sorry for acting like a stubborn idiot for so many years.”
“What’s his name, Mr. Cooper?”
Yolanda Phylicia Cooper magically masked an ugly cry that was on the horizon when she asked this.
“Basil Lincoln Cooper, miss Phylicia. To this day, one of the proudest accomplishments of my life.”
Now Kenya was crying.
The look on Brad Radcliffe’s face was one of full-on irritation. However, his mood quickly shifted when someone in his ear told him that there was a breaking development happening at the Tennessee practice facility.