The Japanese man was very tall and thin. He wore skinny glasses and skinny pants. His shoes were scrupulous and his faded yellow shirt was smudged with integrity. Mr. Wagner spit out two numbers and hit the white plastic ball at the Japanese man.
Mr. Wagner had forgotten to shave again; his wife was out of town. He wore an inside out gray undershirt and maroon sweatpants. His little pointed teeth were ever-present through the huffs and pants. He envied his Japanese friend. Mr. Nakosumi was especially quick with his little wooden paddle.
Mr. Wagner knew the Japanese were comfortable with ping pong; He watched television. He knew the Japanese had small houses with small cars and small offices and small hotel rooms because of their small, overpopulated country. He also knew that they had smaller games. In Japan, Ping Pong was the little version of tennis. Thinking about this made him smile and forget about losing.
Mr. Nakosumi, single and tall, bent way down to his shoes, untied the double knots, and retied them. He waited for his friend to chase the ball. He watched it roll behind the stairs that led up toward the kitchen.
Mike fell to his knees and slid his furry arm under the stairs. He was embarrassed that the ball had gotten away from him. When he stood, sweeping dust off his maroon pants, he motioned for Mr. Nakosumi to open a new package of balls.
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